Orchid Culture - Motes Notes
by Dr. Martin Motes, from his monthly newsletter and book Florida Orchid Growing

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Monthly advice for orchid growers in South Florida. There's lots of information pertinent to North Florida growers too. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter so it will be delivered to you via email each month.
 

Progress of the Season

    Although the heavy storms that ended the month made up much if not all of the deficit, this May was drier than usual, almost more like April. The rain coming in large doses also created a wider swing of day to night temperatures. This has been good news for our orchids, allowing them to get relief from the added disease pressure that a wetter than average year had visited upon them. The wide swings of temperature delivered by radiant escape of heat into clear night skies has encouraged vigorous rooting in all genera. Careful watering now that the rains have begun in earnest will produce vibrant growth. Usually in the rainy season if plants require water, replacing water with liquid fertilizer is the best thing to do. Peter’s Excel (15-5-15) with extra calcium and magnesium is highly recommended and may prove on the long haul better than the Michigan State formula and at a much better price.
    May’s rains coming mostly in heavy bursts have washed away most of the Thrips who also were not best pleased by the lower than usual temperatures. Now that the rains have settled in, they should be less troublesome but be aware that any time that four- or five-days pass with no rain, the Thrips which abound in our landscapes are waiting to descend on the lush roots and tender growing tips of our orchids. Scout for them on the new roots of vandas and control them with the recommended means in Fla. Orchid Growing.
    Successive days of rain such as we are now experiencing, provide the opportunity for snails to travel long distances from your neighbor’s yards. Our plants are in tender new growth and are particularly vulnerable. Snail bait properly applied is very effective in controlling them. Remember, one pellet per square foot is plenty as the snails are irresistibly drawn to it. A five-pound bag treats our one acre plus nursery for two years. Applied judiciously one can keep both plants and pets safe.
    The beginning of the rainy season is a good time to remember that because of the cooling effects of rain, S. Florida enjoys fewer days of extreme heat than anywhere East of the Rockies. Stay dry but enjoy the rain cooled air. As a very young, but very perceptive Bartholomew Motes noted “Rain sweet as honey”.
 
 

January in Your Orchid Collection

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
 
 
February in Your Orchid Collection

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
 
 
March in Your Orchid Collection

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... read entire article
 
 
April in Your Orchid Collection

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
 
 
May in Your Orchid Collection

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
 
 
June in Your Orchid Collection

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
 
 
July in Your Orchid Collection

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
 
 
August in Your Orchid Collection

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
 
 
September in Your Orchid Collection

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
 
 
October in Your Orchid Collection

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, alternating periods of warmer and cooler... continue reading
 
 
November in Your Orchid Collection

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
 
 
December in Your Orchid Collection

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