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Friday, January 25, 2013

January Orchid Care vol. 2

orchid care calendar


Tempting though it may be to slack off rest during January or lose myself in orchid displays and spring catalogs, I know I will regret it if I take my eye off the greenhouse. Here's what's on this week.

4. Create a calendar for plant care.
I love creating a calendar for our plants. And while we often deviate from our schedule (postponing fertilizing if it's dark and rainy), or don't commit in writing (repotting and staking depend on developmental stage and therefore are indirectly weather dependent), it's often true that what doesn't get scheduled doesn't happen.

5. Remember to monitor for scale insects.
They're not sleeping. They've just slowed their reproductive cycle as the days have gotten shorter and cooler. But they are not going away if you ignore them or if you treat them only once. Scale are incredibly tenacious. And they will kill your orchid if they are not controlled. If you have a few now, you will have massive numbers by late spring. So roll up your sleeves and jump into the trenches. This is war.
  • Remove the adults. If your orchid has tough leaves like the Laelia (above) you can remove the adults by nozzling the leaves. A shut off valve on the hose helps to concentrate the water flow. Scale insects on soft-leaved orchids can be gently massaged off of the leaves.
  • Write a spray schedule on your calendar.
  • In the winter spray every two weeks over a six week period.
  • In spring and summer spray weekly for a month.
  • Use Neem or horticultural oil at the dosage recommended on the label. Make sure your plant is well watered the day before you spray any oil product.
6. Stake Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid) spikes.
A spike with fully developed flowers is heavy and needs the support of a stake. If you wait until the spike is mature you could end up with a spike that is bent like a crazy drain-pipe. When the young spike is six to eight inches tall you will need a 30 inch stake and a twist tie or clip. We love daisy clips {see Ties at this link} a terrific time saver when you have lots of plants to stake. When the spike reaches 12 inches its time for a second tie/clip.


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