Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Allow Your Orchids Some Rest this Winter

Orchids require "rest" time every year. The exact time for this depends on the species, but for most orchids it should start some time in the fall and continue through most of the winter. You should care for your plants differently at this time than you would during their exuberant growth periods (spring and summer usually). This is a necessary part of growing orchids successfully.

A good general practice is to provide your orchids rest from November through the middle of February. You can accomplish this by restricting your watering and by lowering the temperature in your orchid room.

For tropical species, keep the temperature at about 60 or 65. For species originating in colder locales, you can lower the temperature to around 45 degrees.

During this time, provide your plants just enough water to keep them from shriveling. Most of the moisture should be supplied by misting or by taking steps to keep the air humid. Occasionally, though, you should poke down into the soil and examine the stem, roots and rooting medium of your plants. If these are beginning to dry out you should water them directly.

A few species will continue to grow during the winter months. These will demand somewhat more water than those that truly go dormant. If you see new shoots emerging, though, try to avoid wetting them or they else they could rot.

Some orchids are deciduous. This means they will lose their leaves after they have finished their growing for the year. You must give these as much sun and light during their resting time as you can. This will allow their pseuduobulbs to ripen, which in turn causes them to grow stronger and flower more freely.

Caring properly for orchids during their rest is not that difficult. Preventing problems, though, necessitates a good bit more information than can be covered here. The most up-to-date guide to modern orchid care, it is widely acknowedged, is Orchid Care Expert by Nigel Howard, which can be downloaded online. Mr. Howard's guide is a full course in itself, great for neophytes as well as those more experienced. Also, visit the Orchid Secrets web site, which has an ever-growing database of postings on many facets of orchid cultivation.

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