I have a Phalaenopsis that I received in the mail from my son. Once all the packing material was removed, I discovered that it was potted in a very small plastic cup. What material should I use to repot this plant? Robin E.
Fragile is one word to describe orchids and yet they are routinely stuffed in little boxes and shipped across the country unscathed! This amazing feat is accomplished by savvy growers who have developed packing techniques that utilize small plastic pots, shredded newspaper, and tightly budded plants. All the recipient has to do is open the box and enjoy!
Re-potting the plant is inevitable given the diminutive size of the container but the timing is critical. Always wait until after the orchid has finished blooming so as to not shorten the lifespan of the flowers. Adding moist sphagnum moss around the existing root ball, then gently tucking it into a slightly larger clay pot constitutes the entire re-potting directions.
My orchid blooms only lasted a few days in my office. Yet just down the hall, my co-worker has a ton of orchids that do very well. The rooms have huge windows with western exposure. What is happening? Lisa C.
The unsurpassed longevity of orchid flowers has contributed to their wild popularity. Typical blooms last several months and begin to challenge silk flowers in staying power. Stories abound of specimens belonging to everyday people that yield blossoms for two years straight!
It is, therefore, disappointing to hear of a lowly plant that did not perform. Sometimes, rough transportation can lead to premature folding of blooms. Other times, extreme temperatures (such as those found seasonally in cars) can wilt flowers. Occasionally, air contaminants in offices can be the culprit. Very rarely is the epiphyte, itself, defective.
The good news is that orchids bloom every year, so all that is required is 364 more days of patience!
I would like to put my collection of orchids outside for the summer, but I have no trees to protect them from direct light. What percent shade cloth would you recommend for Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, and Oncidiums? Eric S.
It can be challenging finding the perfect spot for orchids, both inside and out. Full sun will burn leaves, yet no sun will prevent many genera from blooming. During the months of May through September, Virginia weather is ideal for all tropical plants. High temperatures may reach 100 degrees F. and lows may fall into the 50's. Orchids will show their pleasure by making robust new foliar growths that yield bountiful blossoms in the fall and winter.
Filtering the intensity of full sun can be accomplished using a variety of techniques. Plastic netting or shade cloth can be hung over a dedicated orchid table to yield 3000 to 4000 foot candles of light. The goal is to grow plants with medium green leaves. Insufficient light yields dark green leaves and excessive light produces yellowy green leaves. The percent shade cloth varies with the season -- winter 40%, spring and fall 55%, and summer 70% - which means having to purchase three separate pieces of fabric and rotate them. Commercial growers traditionally change their shade cloth around the time of each equinox.
For small collections, individual pots may be hung from select tree branches using pot hangers. This arrangement provides a dappled effect similar to that found in the jungle. One has to be cognizant, however, of the ever-changing degree of the sun which can yield filtered light one month, then dangerous full sun the next.