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Orchid Tips   



Recycle natural wine corks for use in vanda baskets or in pots with pebbles on the bottom. Plants show no preference for vintage, grape varietal or region of origin of the wine.



Dendrobium pierardii (or aphyllum or cucullatum) is also known as the ‘hooded orchid’ because of the cone shaped lip of the flower. It is attractive and easily cultivated and has long, pendulous stems that become leafless in the resting period. It carries numerous, pinkish violet, fragrant flowers with a pale yellow or whitish lip.


Orchid Potting Media
by, Monty McGinnis


Here are a couple of alternate choices for potting media beyond the traditional fir bark or fir bark mix with pearlite and charcoal which is the most widely used potting mix.
  • Aliflor (expanded clay pellets) works well for its ease of absorbing water but is weighty in larger plants.  It has good use as a base media at the bottom of a pot covered with bark or other.  It doesn’t break down and can be sterilized and reused.
  • Cork nuggets or chopped wine corks has been used successfully and can be cut as coarse or fine as needed.  I’m trying this media (old wine corks) in a Vulstekeara that I reset in a larger pot.  So far, it likes the cork and is sending out new pseudo bulb growth.
As you can see orchids can grow “on” most anything since they really don’t grow “in” things.



Winter is Coming!
by, Monty McGinnis

The cooler nights and warm days we’re enjoying are good for growing most plants including orchids.  However, as the night time temperatures dip to 40degF, or lower, we will be bringing plants inside or closing, maybe heating, the greenhouse.  These changing conditions mean a change in our attention to orchids.  Here are a few things to consider:

·       Orchids grow more slowly, thus, they need about ½ the amount of water and fertilizer, i.e. water once a week rather than twice.  Light fertilizer every two weeks instead of weekly.

·       Bringing in plants into forced air heated homes, or electrically heated greenhouses, means much lower humidity than the 60-70% optimum.  Mist regularly or set plants on wet pebble tray.

·       Protect plants from cold windows and cold drafts.

·       The sun is lower in Winter and trees are bare so sunlight through the South windows is stronger.  Consider moving low-light plants away from direct sun.

Enjoy the Winter season.  Summer will be back soon enough!!




Using Orchid Tips
by, Monty McGinnis

After years of “casual” growing I decided to get serious and learn how to grow Orchids.  I joined Galveston Bay Orchid Society and tapped the brains of long time growers.  I went to shows, visited greenhouses and surfed the net.  The answers were helpful but a “secret” was nowhere to be found.  The secret I came to know is my own.  Each of us must use the tips, suggestions, and hints, and adapt them to their unique growing environment.  There is no one right way to grow an Orchid.  You must find what works for you in your less-than-tropical environment.  The right amount of light and wet-to-dry watering cycle will result in a happy, blooming plant.  If a plant dies, inspect it closely to determine what went wrong, adjust, and don’t be discouraged.  Try, try, again!  

You’ll know you’re a real Orchid grower, and addict, when you’re just as excited about a new fat green root as you are a new flower.


This month’s tip is taken from a recent article
by, Frank Zacharia published by AOS

Many of you recognize the real estate adage about what three factors determine the price of a property, Location, Location, Location!  In growing orchids there is a similar adage.  THE three most important factors are: Light, Light, Light!  Plants get over 90% of their food by capturing the energy of the sun.  Not enough and the plant can starve or just languish and not bloom.  Different orchid types, genera, require different light levels and amounts.  Both the intensity and duration of light determines the health and blooming cycle of the orchid.  American Orchid Society culture sheets will tell you the optimum range of light each type needs.  A particular orchid can tolerate more light at cooler temperatures so in the Summer with more direct sun and higher temps air circulation is necessary to cool plants.  In the winter with lower temperatures more intense light is tolerated.  Today there are smartphone apps that will accurately read the light level.  Then, refer to the culture sheets to see if your plant is being fed properly.


by, Larry Baker

Early in my self-learning to become an orchid grower, I read lots of articles on growing.  Several were from England.  I developed the opinion that it is best to water early in the day to allow water to evaporate from leaves and crowns as the sun heats up the air and plants. This should minimize fungal rot problems.  In fact, because of my work schedule, I usually water around 5:00 am winter and summer.  On weekends I water after the sun comes up at a convenient time but always in the morning.  So my advice is to water in the mornings.

But… with all things about orchids, there will be someone who has a different plan.  At the recent Houston Orchid Society Workshop, Ron McHatton from the AOS stated that he waters late in the evenings but still early enough for the moisture to evaporate from leaves and crowns.  He feels this allows the plant to absorb more water as the roots will not dry as much during the evening/night.  This sounds like summer watering but I do not remember him stating that.



 Reblooming Phalaenopsis orchids from the supermarket
by, Monty McGinnis

Friends and family are buying beautiful hybrid Phalaenopsis orchids in the supermarket, and so am I.  They are more plentiful in a wide variety than ever before.  However, I often hear, "after it stopped blooming it died".  Or, "I could never get it to bloom again and later it died".

Here is a tip that will help your new blooming plant continue to thrive.  These plants are usually planted in a small plastic pot and placed in a colorful ceramic cup/vase.  Take the plant, plastic pot, out of the vase.  The orchid is usually planted in sphagnum moss in that plastic pot.  The grower uses the moss to hold water longer during shipment and display but it can cause the roots to rot.  The roots need air to allow them to dry and breathe.  So, turn the plant on its side and cut a 1.0-1.5" hole in the bottom center of the plastic pot using an X-acto knife or box cutter (carefully!).  Then, pull out some of the moss in center bottom of the pot being careful not to break green roots.   This will help the roots to dry out between watering during the blooming cycle.  After the blooms die you should replant in a similar size plastic pot, not much bigger, using a commercial orchid potting mix that includes bark available at nurseries, Home Depot, or Ace Hardware.



Watering Orchids with Ice Cubes…A good idea…or NOT!
by, Monty McGinnis

 Placing ice cubes on Phalaenopsis Orchids has become a popular method of watering the plant in a controlled manner.  The steady melting is aimed at preventing over-watering which is thought to be the most common reason Orchids die.  That’s not true if the Orchid is properly potted in a media that allows it to go through a wet-dry cycle compatible with its type.  Many Phalaenopsis Orchids purchased at the supermarket come from mass growers who pack the roots in moss to hold moisture until sold.  Ice cubes provide a constant drip which may keep the plant wet.  This leads to soggy, then rotten roots if the plant is not re-potted properly in a well-draining pot after purchase.  The proper Orchid mix (usually bark) flushed with water provides moist air around the roots to simulate their natural humid environment.  Orchid roots take the water from the humid air around the bark.  Finally, many Orchids, especially the Phalaenopsis, come from sub-tropical regions such as Indonesia which hasn’t seen ice since the last ice age!  They don’t thrive in temps below 40 degrees, let alone freezing. 


So, for healthy, long lasting and beautiful orchids repot with a good orchid media and get in “sync” with a regular wet to dry cycle using ambient temperature water.



Dendrobium Moschatum

C. Violacea