Tips On Specific Types of Orchids
CS This time of year, many of those new growths have matured on your cattleyas. That sheath that surrounds the psuedobulbs begins to dry and turn white. It is a good idea to remove that sheath and expose the psuedobulb. Often, mealy bugs will be hiding in them.
CS More and more of the cattleyas are starting to form flowers. Some appear to have very thick sheaths. What you'll find is that there is a double layer of tissue. It you'd like to assist the bud formation you can clip the very top and peel off the outer sheath. You can do this same procedure if the sheath is looking a little dry. Sometimes the buds will form anyway.
CS Those outer leaves on your miltonias eventually yellow and fall off. They tend to leave a little brown, dry remnant at the base of the psuedobulbs. Miltonias, in particular, like to rot. It is very important to peel away the brown stuff and keep the base of those psuedobulbs clean. If it is stubborn, split the old leaf in two at the top and peel away in sections. Use this same splitting technique when removing old leaves from paphs and phrags because they are so tough to remove otherwise.
CS Remember some cattleya species put out roots on the new growth after the bloom, around Oct or November. That is the time to repot using medium bark and some foam peanuts in the bottom. There is as good website to learn more about cattleyas. It contains approximately 25 articles on various cattleya species as they appeared in Orchids magazine. All were written by A. A. Chadwick of Chadwick Orchids. The website is: www.chadwickorchids.com. A second website that is worth looking at is www.jborchids.com. They have good culture articles on some of the most popular orchids like cattleya, dendrobiums,phalonopsis and papheopedilums.
CS Many of our members grow cymbidiums and zygopetalums so successfully because of our favorable climate. I found a website with several extensive articles on both the orchids. Articles include repotting and dividing, culture, easy to build benches and shade houses, grooming for a show, even growing these orchids just out of the flask.
CS Not ready to repot, but have cymbidiums with several dormant backbulbs? Gently twist some of the healthiest looking bulbs to break them away from the underlying rhizome. This will tell the dormant eyes on the bulb to sprout new green leaves. Many growers use this technique because it saves time and space. If the bulb never sprouts, you can throw it away. The other option is to place groups of two or three bulb groups in a separate pot to sprout when dividing your larger cymbidiums. You may even speed this process by putting backbulbs in a plastic bag in an egg carton to keep them upright while they sprout. Some will add a small amount of moist vermiculite to the bag for the bulb to set in. You want the bulb upright so the new growth points upwards as you replant the bulb in new bark. It can take a few months for some bulbs to sprout, so don’t give up too soon!
CS I hope the month of June finds many of you have finished repotting your cymbidiums. The rush is on because most cymbidiums set their buds in August and the new growths need as much time as possible to mature for the winter bloom cycle. You don’t have to throw away the dormant bulbs either. If one is stuck in between live growths and is awkward to remove, don't. You can choose to repot those bulbs to see if they will sprout in 2-3 months. You could encourage them further by putting them in a plastic bag with slightly moist vermiculite and put them on top of the frig for warmth. Use an egg carton to sit them upright so the new sprouts don't grow sideways or downward. To save time, space and labeling you can twist the bulb loose from the underlying rhizome and leave it in the original pot with the Mother plant. If it sprouts, then you can decide to place it in a new pot or not. Feed with lots of nitrogen now through the end of September. Saving the biggest baddest cymbidiums for last? Bill Hale tells me of an "old time" grower who" would clean up those huge cymbidiums, but let them set outside the new pot for an extra day to let them dry out a little. Maybe that would cut down on theat bulb or new growth rot they sometimes get.
CS In the late fall cymbidiums start to spike. Begin staking those spikes up early for upright growth. Keep them out of the rain if possible as the buds expose themselves to prevent that blight. You can wrap cotton around the spike below the buds to protect them from slug damage. If you have a spike growing sideways, you can use pieces or who"le wine corks at the base to begin forcing them into a more upright position.
CS If you live on the peninsula, you may wonder when summer is coming, but the plants and trees are telling us that fall is in the air. If we have a cool Sept and Oct, you will want to cut down or eliminate the nitrogen in your fertilizer for your cymbidiums. Time to switch to a bloom booster fertilizer like 0-10-10. If we get a long heat wave, you can try and get some more growth out of them before spiking begins. Check the cyms now though. I have 2 or 3 showing spikes already.
CS Our nighttime temperatures will start to cool off now too as we have lost 2 hrs of daylight. For those of you with greenhouses, don't turn on the heat too soon. Those cool nights may stress out your plants a little bit. That can be a good thing as it will trigger some plants to put up spikes, especially the phalenopsis orchids. Right now my peninsula greenhouse is going down to 54 degrees at night. At about 48 degrees, I will have to turn the heat on. There will be some sticker shock if you use a natural gas heater this winter. Natural gas prices are already up 140% over this time last year. Katrina has crippled production, so they are predicted to go higher this winter. Fortunately there are many cool growing orchids like cymbidiums that can stay outside and take the cold. There are some successful orchid growers in our society who" have unheated greenhouses year round. So it can be done without supplemental heat if necessary.
Masdevallias Yellow Leaves
CS Some of the leaves on my masdevallias are yellowing or drying up this time of year. Be sure to remove those regularly. You will prevent further leaf drop, as masdevallias are particularly fussy about being kept clean. Miltonias like to be kept clean as well, or they like to rot. Those little brown leaf parts around the pseudobulbs should be removed regularly as well. I also cut off the bud sheaths and stems from my cattleyas because I see that water gets trapped in there where rot can occur. To summarize, take extra care with plant hygiene this time of year.
CS Have you ever had a masdevallia commit suicide. The plant will look okay one day and literally the next day or two, you will see a circle of leaves around the plant and it looks very dead...I've read that you can literally pour hydrogen peroxide from the bottle directly on the base of the masdevallia. This may avert it's planned suicide. Don't put the hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. It's exposure to air and light will change it to water before you get to use it since it is H2O2.
CS This time of year (Fall) you can put your phalaenopsis orchids out in the garage for the nights for about two weeks running. They need that cool-down at night usually to trigger new spikes. The day-night temperatures don't usually fluctuate enough to inspire the next blooms.
CS Attention pleurothallid lovers. I found a grower in Canby, Oregon who" sells draculas, masdevallias and pleurothallis. Good prices. My plants arrived today in perfect shape, real nice size, super fast shipping and they even included a gift plant!