Happy Summer, friends! I hope that you have had a good one and the kids haven’t driven you too crazy. I wanted to touch on a couple of important topics to keep everyone updated:
Culture Corner: Flowering
Here is a list of upcoming event dates:
There is always a 10% discount on pre-orders for any event. This may not include pots or moss depending on whether or not I can bring them.
This Sunday, Aug 23, I will be in Memphis, Tennessee to give a talk to the Memphis Orchid Society.
11-13: Shore Orchid Festival at Silva Orchids; Neptune, NJ (http://www.silvaorchids.com for more details; I will be speaking on Saturday)
17: Central Ohio Orchid Society talk; Columbus, OH (www.coosinfo.info)
24: Ladies Garden Club talk; Ann Arbor, MI
26-27: Kentucky Orchid Society Show and Sale; Louisville, KY (http://kyorchidsociety.com/events/)
4: Kalamazoo Dunes Orchid Society talk; K’zoo, MI (http://dkos.proinnovation.com/)
11: Ann Arbor Orchid Society talk; AA, MI (www.aaosonline.org)
16-18: Internat’l Orchid Show and Sale at The Huntington; San Marino, CA (www.huntington.org)
20: Orchid Society of Middle Tennessee talk; Nashville, TN (http://tnorchid.org/osmt-meetings/meetings/)
27: Portland Orchid Society talk; Portland, OR (http://www.portlandorchidsociety.org/)
6-8: Massachusetts Orchid Society Show & Sale; Boston, MA (http://www.massorchid.org/show); I will also be doing a talk on the Tokyo Grand Prix
11: Miami Valley Orchid Society talk; Miamisburg, OH (http://www.miamivalleyorchidsociety.com/)
21: Greater Lansing Orchid Society talk; Lansing, MI (www.greaterlansingorchidsociety.com)
Ho, ho, ho! I’m not doing nothing!
10: Illinois Orchid Society talk; Chicago, IL (http://illinoisorchidsociety.nationbuilder.com/)
15-17: North Jersey Orchid Show & Sale; Rutgers University, NJ (www.njorchids.org)
23-24: Tamiami Internat’l Orchid Show; Miami, FL (http://tamiamiorchidfestival.com/)
There are more events scheduled for 2016 already, but aren’t you pooped just reading this much? Me, too.
Good news! We have one permit in hand and are working on the other two right now. They should be (SHOULD BE) much easier to obtain. I foresee shipment well before the end of September. I think I have spoken to most of you recently, but if you are wondering about the status of your plants or want to make any changes, now is the time. It’s been a nice summer for the plants–warm but with enough rain that I did not have to supplement much. Growth has been very good, and I have actually moved most of the Neos to the greenhouse because they seem to really like those warm days as long as they have sufficient water.
Perhaps the better news is that after talking with some other growers, I have determined that I should be able to get a CITES that will be good for four years (after going through the application process all over again, of course). In the application I will include all the Japanese species you usually choose from, but also a number of other species, too. I will then be able to offer a wider assortment of plants with much less delay (only two additional permits will be needed instead of all three). This may make it possible to send shipments twice a year–I don’t think my brain could handle much more than that!
Culture Corner: Flowering
I hope that you are seeing or saw great blooms and growth on your plants. Those of you who grow indoors seem to have earlier flowering times than the greenhouse growers who maintain lower winter temperatures, but timing is less important than just the flowering itself, right? When I give talks, one of the questions I am often asked is, “Why isn’t my Neo blooming? It’s growing like mad, but it won’t bloom!” As my 8-year-old son can now tell you, if you have a pine-needle type plant, that might be it right there as many of them don’t bloom (he pointed this out to one patron at SEPOS who then related the story to me). And Gus was right: some do bloom, but they are all reluctant at best. But what about everyone else? Once a plant has three leaves on a side (5-6 leaves overall), it is generally blooming size. Usually, flower spikes will arise from the third leaf axil down. It is surprising to see these very small plants bloom, but they do! If your plant is blooming size but not setting spikes, ask yourself about these possible problems:
- Insufficient fertilizer: although Neos are not heavy feeders, they are still plants, and they do need sufficient nutrients to grow. Because growth is slower in the colder months, cut fertilizer back in the late fall-early spring, but otherwise weakly weekly remains a good rule of thumb. Slow release fertilizers are also great for these plants and take all the remembering out of the equation.
- Plant Health: Here’s a funny thing—plants sometimes don’t bloom when they are unhappy (makes sense), but sometimes they bloom as a last-ditch effort to pass on their genes before they croak. Life finds a way, right? It could be that your plant is somewhere in between where it’s not sick enough to send up a last-ditch spike, but it’s not happy enough to send up a spike at all. That brings me to…
- Light: I am not sure which is more worrisome in Neos: light or water. I will say that my experience indicates that the plants will tolerate very high to very low light levels, but they are not so forgiving of heavy watering. In terms of growing the perfect plant, though, light may be the stickier of the two variables. I have been told (and do believe) that my plants were being grown at excessive light levels (50%) shade cloth. Do they grow? Yes. Do they bloom? Yes! Do the leaves look as good as they should? Um, no. And given that they are foliage plants, really, that’s a problem. This year we have increased to 70% shade in the outdoor area, but in the greenhouse, we recently supplemented the 50% with 70% shade cloth. Does that sound crazy? You would be amazed at how much light there is, still. Next year we will do the same in the outdoor Neo area (the Neos are all back in the greenhouse anyway now). In November, we will remove the 70% and just have the 50% shade as the sun is less intense in winter, and in their natural environment, the trees would have shed their leaves and exposed the plants to higher light intensities. Ok, but back to flowers! I think that lower light levels may affect flowering. The plants that people bring me to examine have the nice dark green color that I associate with well-grown plants but also with lower light levels. Could that be the key? I’m not saying that you need to over-expose your plants to get them to bloom, but IF you’re having trouble and you have passed the fertilizer and general health tests, you should consider boosting your light levels, even if it’s just for a couple months.
Your feedback and your experiences are very welcome here. Let me know if any of this has proven true (or false) for you. Do you have any other suggestions for boosting bloom production?