It’s fall! Okay, here’s the bad news you already know: the days are getting shorter and temperatures are getting lower. But don’t despair because with those shorter days comes Christmas, and then… SHOW SEASON!! In preparation, I bought a lot (I mean a WHOLE lot) of plants this year. I like to have a chance to grow them up and get them settled in before I pass them along to you. Here’s the thing: I may have overdone it. Perhaps it’s just me, but I have a hard time controlling my orchid buying. What? I’m not alone? The problem is that it’s time to bring plants in from the outdoor growing area, and I’m realizing just how squinched for space I’m going to be. In hopes that you will help me out, I’m offering a 10% discount on orders over $50 (US orders only). Use coupon code FALL17 during checkout through October 15.
Travel this Fall
I will be doing a good amount of traveling this fall. I’ve already been at the Chicagoland Orchid Fest hosted by Natt’s Orchids (nicest people in orchids EVER). Next week I will be in Florida giving talks in Sarasota (Oct 2), St. Augustine (Oct 3), Venice (Oct 4), and Naples (Oct 5)—please come if you’re able! Later in October (21-22) we will be at the Mid-America Orchid Congress semi-annual show in Cincinnati at the Krohn Conservatory—a truly beautiful setting.
We start November in Boston at the Massachusetts Orchid Society’s show (Nov 3-5) at Mahoney’s Garden Center. I can’t wait to see my East Coast friends again. We close out shows for the year with the Thanksgiving Show in Saginaw, Michigan (Nov 26-27) which is kinda like having Thanksgiving with the family you choose (orchid people) rather than the family you were born into.
Growing Tips: Making Roots Happy
As a biologist, I’m always making hypotheses regarding what will make my plants grow better. I adjust light, water, fertilizer, and anything else I can think of. One point I have become convinced is true for most orchids (I’m not including those who like to stay moist all the time like the pleurothallids) is that a faster wet/dry cycle makes for happier roots—longer and healthier. We know that staying wet is the bane of most orchids, but if you can get them thoroughly wet and then have them become thoroughly dry again in, say, 24 hours, you can see massive root growth in a matter of a couple weeks.
The trick is how to achieve this in your home. In the greenhouse, pure air volume and movement combined with heat means that my plants are dry in a matter of hours (at least those in open pots). In the winter, many of you probably have no problem with plants drying out because no matter what kind of heating you have, it leaves the humidity well below 50%. While this can be hard on those pleuros, think of it as a chance to work on your phal or vanda roots. Give them a dunking as often as you can if they’re really drying out. Don’t be afraid to let them soak a while. Pour yourself a glass of wine after work, and while you’re making or eating dinner, settle your orchids in for a relaxing soak in a bucket of warm water (please forego the bath salts—that’s just a step too far). That will make their long day in the warm dry house a lot more pleasant.
Similarly, in the summer, put your plants out if you can. The air circulation does wonders for general plant health, the temperature fluctuation helps the orchids know when to bloom, and I am CONVINCED that it PREVENTS and does not create pest problems. This is the voice of experience talking, my friends. Plus Mother Nature does some of your watering work for you, and let’s face it—watering outside is way easier than inside.
Two caveats to my suggestions: (1) If you’re growing phenomenal plants right now using your own method, please don’t change a thing, and (2) If your schedule makes it impossible for you to do this much tending, please just keep it in mind and do what you can. You’re not a bad person because your orchids don’t come first. Really. They’re lucky to have you.
Happy growing, my friends!