Orchid Care






 Summer Orchid Care  Part I

Summer is here and while some of us may not like hot or humid weather, most of our orchids, such as the dramatic spider(Brassia) orchid pictured below will! A few months with lots of sunshine and air movement will do wonders for your orchids, especially those that live on a windowsill most of the year.

brassia orchid


Light intensities in the great outdoors are much stronger than they are inside the house. Unless your outdoor space is very heavily shaded, chances are your orchids will enjoy more light than they will get indoors. But be warned! Do not to place your plants directly into bright direct sunlight otherwise you will risk burning leaves, even on cattleyas and other "high light" orchids. It takes a while for plants to get acclimatized to the brighter light. First, move your plants outside to a shady spot either under a tree of other large leafy patio plants. If you see large brown or black burn spots on the leaves, move your orchids back into a shady location. Most of your orchids, even those that like bright light, will do best in some dappled shade, or where
they only get a few hours of direct sunlight during the day. It is very hard to make broad recommendations here-conditions in Phoenix are totally different from those in Seattle. But the take-home message is the same: gradually expose your orchids to the optimal light conditions in which they will grow best and, as always, watch your plants carefully. 

Orchids will thrive outside as long as temperatures remain below 90°. This applies to intermediate and warm growing orchids, which cover most of the popular genera. Generally, a temperature range during the day of 75 to 85° will make most orchids happy. Those that like it's a little cooler can be kept a little shadier. When temperatures do rise above 90°, be sure your orchids remain moist and humid with plenty of air movement to keep them cool. You may wish to move them to shadier location if high temperatures persist. Many orchids are remarkably resilient, but if your Masdevallia succumbs to the heat, ask yourself why you are growing such an orchid in the first place!

Be prepared to change your watering regimen outdoors. Higher light, usually means higher temperatures. This will require more frequent watering as your plants will dry out more quickly. If you live in a very humid area, your orchids may be able to go longer without water, than in a drier climate. If it rains frequently, you may not have to worry about your plants very much at all. However, if it rains continuously for several days, you'll need to watch your plants to make sure they do not get waterlogged or are preyed upon by bacterial or fungal diseases. Orchids that require constant moisture are probably at most risk of drying out. Many orchid growers will keep their moisture loving orchids, such as paphs and phals, inside the house or greenhouse, rather than risk their plants totally drying out, which can be fatal. Orchids with pseudobulbs such as cattleyas or brassias will do a far better job in weathering any dry spells, as they have the capacity to store water to tide them over. In summary, be prepared to watch your orchids more closely and to pay more attention to their watering needs when they are outside. Try to water your plants early in the day so that they are dry by nightfall.

Continue to Part II of this article



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