Monthly Orchid Growing Advice

Monthly Orchid Growing Advice

Motes Notes - Florida Orchid Growing

Progress of the Season  

    February has been a dream for our orchids. With day temperature in the upper 70's and lower eighties and night temperatures in the sixties our plants have had nearly ideal swings of day to night temperatures that encourage both roots and flowers. Vandas have grown unabated and are rooting and spiking vigorously. Our sympodial orchids have benefited from the unusual lack of rain as cold fronts both failed to reach us or failed to stall over us as typically happens at least once or twice in February. The higher temperatures and drier air have yielded the rapid drying which all orchids crave. Our perpetual nemesis, snails have been slower to waken to their late winter marauding under these dry conditions but a light application of snail bait with the rains of the next passing front will be a wise move.
    Thrips have found the daily high temperatures a little lower than they desire but have still managed to cause some mischief. As temperatures rise and the air continues to become drier the control methods outlined in Florida Orchid Growing will be called for. Mites, while enjoying the higher temperatures, have been thwarted somewhat by the higher humidity. As the air becomes drier and temperatures rise, mites will likely be especially problematic this year. The next passing front should lower temperatures below the 85F (30C) threshold at which application of oil (3Tbs. cooking oil per gal.) as a remedy for mites is still advised. This followed in 7-10 days by soap at 2 oz. per gal. should get our plants off to a mite free start to the growing season.
    With this warm weather be sure to apply time release fertilizer early and liquid fertilizer as well.
    Whilst March has come in like a lamb, it can yet still go out like a lion. Be sure that all your preparation for cold stay in place should one of the massive storms that are devastating the northern states force its way south to us. Some of our tips from last year's newsletter are still very much relevant:
    With winter now in effect over, one can look to spring chores. First, before temperatures rise too high is to get control of mites and scale crawlers utilizing the most user friendly methods. As soon as possible, before temperatures rise above 86F(30C), spray with 3 Tbs. cooking oil in one gallon of water. Keep this agitated frequently and be sure to cover the undersides of all leaves. Follow this with 4 Tbs. of liquid dishwashing soap (Ajax, is very good) per gal. in precisely 7-10 days. These two sprayings will get our plants off to a pest free start on the growing season by controlling both mites and scale. As is always the case in spring, Thrips are waiting to attack our newly emerging spikes on our vandas. Eliminate them with the methods outlined in Florida Orchid Growing.
    With the warm temperatures and bright clear light of spring our plants will need plenty of food. Liquid fertilizer, the Michigan State formula or comparable can be applied weekly at 2-3 tsp per gallon. Now is also the perfect time to use time release fertilizer. The type available at Lowes and Home Depot under the brand name "Dynamite" is vastly superior to the name brand under our sub tropical conditions. These fertilizers are also available from the merchants listed in the "Sources" chapter of Florida Orchid Growing.
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

January in Your Orchid Collection

January is somewhat like December but in reverse, with each succeeding day bringing longer hours of sunlight until days are long enough that afternoons return at the end of the month with extra sunshine to warm us after the extra sharp cold snaps. January, like December, is cold and dry, in fact even colder and drier. Dry is good, cold can be very bad. We need to accentuate the positive by especially... read entire article
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

February in Your Orchid Collection

Despite the bloom on the avocados and the burgeoning new leaves on the live oaks, February is not spring in South Florida. Danger of freeze continues past mid month and frost can occur still into March. Even if the weather is balmy, it's too early to let down our guard or take down any protection we have mounted against the cold. The trend however is toward the positive as each lengthening day brings extra hours of warming sunshine... read entire article
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

March in Your Orchid Collection

Whilst March never comes in like a lion in South Florida, occasionally it slinks in like a bob cat. Frost is not unheard of in the first few days of the month. The more cold sensitive genera, hard cane dendrobiums, phalaenopsis and vandas may well need some protection even into the middle of the month. Overall, however, March brings us some of the most ideal orchid growing conditions...continue reading
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

April in Your Orchid Collection

Far from the cruelest, April is the kindest month to South Florida orchid growers. The weather in April is definitely settled into warm, even deliciously hot, with passing cold fronts only adding the delight of a pleasant change in temperature. The clean, bright days brimming with abundant sunlight and the low relative humidity create the high drying potential that orchids love. ... read entire article
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

May in Your Orchid Collection

May is a month of transition in South Florida. Early in the month we can expect the driest weather of the year. Because of the clarity of the air and lack of cloud cover, temperatures rise rapidly in the late morning and can reach the upper eighties or nineties by mid afternoon before cooling substantially in late afternoon. Fortunately, over night radiant cooling rapidly dissipates the previous day's... read entire article
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

June in Your Orchid Collection

June is the most dramatically tropical month in South Florida. As the southeast Trade Winds blow cool moist air off the Gulf Stream daily, as surely the heating effect of the center of the peninsula percolates up massive thunder heads. The increased cloud cover drawing a veil across the afternoon sun provides much cooling relief for our plants... read entire article
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

July in Your Orchid Collection

Although it mostly passes unnoticed to millions locked in their air-conditioned bubbles, July in South Florida is quite different from June. While the pattern of afternoon showers built from the moisture of the morning's sea breeze persists in July, the thunder-storms are sharper and shorter. The clouds linger less and the foliage dries more quickly. Less quantity of rain falls in July than in June... read entire article
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

August in Your Orchid Collection

July and August are the two most similar months in South Florida. Most of the advice on watering, disease and pest control in last month's calendar still apply but subtle changes are taking place. Although it may not seem so, as temperatures climb into the low nineties most afternoons, summer is in retreat: each day a little shorter, each night a little longer. With shorter days the importance of watering as early... read entire article
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

September in Your Orchid Collection

September looms as the only truly dismal month in South Florida. Even without the prospect of the unspeakable 'H' word, September disheartens since it is easily the dampest, dullest month in the year. Although more inches of rain fall in June, more hours of rain occur in the often slow, seemingly endless drizzles of September. Frequently a day or two can pass without so much as a solid hour of truly bright... read entire article
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

October in Your Orchid Collection

October is a month of change in South Florida. If the Romans had lived here where we do, they would have named this month for their two faced god Janus. Usually around the middle of the month, and certainly by the end of the month, the first strong cold front pushes into South Florida bringing to a close the monolithic heat and damp of summer and ushering in weather as most of the continent knows it... read entire article
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

November in Your Orchid Collection

In November we can no longer afford to be dominated by the illusion, so easy here at the northern edge of the tropics, that summer will never end. Although Indian Summer persists for the whole winter in South Florida, November is the month to prepare our plants for those short sharp blasts of cold which are inevitably coming as each successive cold front pushes the overall temperature a little lower... read entire article
Motes Notes Florida Orchid Growing

December in Your Orchid Collection

December marks the beginning of the serious dry season in South Florida. While this additional dryness provides relief from the autumnal rains that can bring so many fungal problems, December is also the month of shortest day lengths. This contracted period of light, on the contrary, reduces severely the drying potential for our plants. Nature thus both gives and takes away from us in December. We must... read entire article
by Dr. Martin Motes, from his monthly newsletter and book Florida Orchid Growing. Monthly advice for orchid growers in South Florida. There's lots of information pertinent to North Florida growers too. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter.
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