Orchid Culture - Motes Notes
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.
by Dr. Martin Motes, from his monthly newsletter and book Florida Orchid Growing
Progress of the Season
This May has been the most perfect for our orchids and ourselves in a lifetime. Night time temperature in the sixties and day times in the eighties till the very end of the month. These swings in temperature so appreciated by our orchids have resulted from very dry air which has allowed the warmth of the day to radiate out rapidly and fully at night. Rapid drying has also taken place id this dry air enhanced by brisk breezes. These are perfect conditions for orchids which relish drought and are the perfect environment for the grower to have complete control of watering, always watering heavily and allowing the proper degree of drying for each genus. A May which is more like April has given our plants a healthy disease-free start to the growing season. Let’s keep them that way with the spray program in Fla. Orchid Growing and a careful watering regime.
Our vandas have been a bit stressed. Under the dry conditions that have prevailed, they will occasionally need a second watering in the afternoon. This is best applied at 3:30- 4:00 PM. The extra water will also cool the leaves allowing them to open their stomata earlier and benefit from some additional carbon dioxide. Although they may not be totally dry by nightfall, the slightly damp roots can absorb more water more slowly across the night. Careful observation for the first signs of crown rot is always warranted and an application of antiseptic strength hydrogen peroxide is curative if a small brown spot is observed.
Thrips while kept somewhat subdued by the lower temperatures, less to their liking, are always ready to take advantage of whatever opportunity they are presented with. Each passing day will see slight increases in temperature, placing the ball in the Thrips’ court. Use the methods in Fla. Orchid Growing to control them.
Our cattleyas, dendrodiums, and other sympodials have gotten off to a splendid start of the growing season. Careful watering through June will allow them to harden disease free bulbs. Be sure these plants are completely dry before watering them in June.
The first rains that ended May’s drought are not the real beginning of the rainy season but rather a continuation of the pattern of cold fronts but this time bringing heavy rain as is more typical of late April. The rainy season has truly arrived following this surge of moisture raising humidity to high enough levels for the month to end with thunder storms spawned on the land/sea breeze. On the last day of May the rainy season has finally come with its dangers of disease. This year we are well positioned to take it in stride.
Continue to enjoy the cool mornings while they last.
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
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
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
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 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 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
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
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 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 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
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 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