Cultural Notes: April-May-June

Cattleya, species and hybrids 

Including those plants formerly labelled Laelia, Slc, Blc, etc, with the exception of C. dowiana which is happier with a minimum of 10-12deg.

Water, April: With temperatures now falling water sparingly and allow the mix to become rather dryish before watering again. When in doubt don’t water. May-June: Water sparingly and allow the mix to
become rather dryish before watering again. When in doubt don’t water.

Fertiliser, April: Half-strength every second or third watering. May-June: Quarter- to half-strength every second or third watering.

Light, April-May-June: 30% shade or less.

Temperature, April: Ambient day; 5C-plus at night. May-June: Ambient day; about 5C at night.

Other: Plants previously known as Laelia, eg anceps, gouldiana and purpurata, will prefer night temperatures of 2-5C.

Cymbidium, species & hybrids

Water, April-May-June: Unless in a really warm period, once a week is probably enough.

Fertiliser, April-May-June: Half-strength balanced fertiliser every second watering.

Light, April-May: No shading required. June: Only shading required might be for early-flowering Cymbids with green flowers.

Temperature, April-May-June: Over the winter period allow the temperature to be as warm as you can but don’t encourage soft growth. To avoid this ventilate well during warm sunny days. Avoid the chill factor of cold winter winds by providing adequate shelter.

Other: Mice love to find a warm home in winter and will climb spikes and eat pollen caps. Be aware! Avoid disturbing plants over the winter unless it’s a life and death situation for an unhealthy plant.

Dendrobium Australian types (eg kingianum, speciosum)

Water, April-May-June: Allow to dry out between watering.

Fertiliser, April: Reduce fertiliser. May-June: Reduce fertiliser to encourage flower buds. General: Withholding fertilisers or increasing potash at this time will promote flowering.

Light, April-May: Continue with good light. June: Increase the light.

Temperature, April: Ambient day and night. May: Apply more protection. June: Watch for cooler nights.

Flowering: Early-flowering types may be showing buds in May-June.

Dendrobium cool-intermediate types (eg densiflorum, thrysiflorum)

Water, April-May-June: Begin to decrease watering frequency and allow to become somewhat dry between waterings.

Fertiliser, April-May-June: These plants are now coming to maturity of the new growths so little is needed.

Light, April-May-June: Good bright light (30% shade or less) over this period gives a stronger more hardy plant and should increase flower production.

Temperature, April-May-June: Unless you are in a very cold area, ambient daytime temperatures should be fine – 10C and above; down to 3-5C at night is okay.

Dendrobium cool-intermediate types not needing a dry winter rest (eg latouria, cuthberstonii)

Water, April-May-June: Keep the plants moist but not wet, don’t let them become dry at the roots. These types typically originate from places where water is available at the roots all year and are in many cases growing all year. However, too wet and cold is dangerous.

Fertiliser, April-May-June: Although these types can be growing all year, at this time around half-strength should be fine.

Light, April-May-June: Good light, not too shady (30% shade). On a sunny day your hand should cast a fuzzy-edged, but definite, shadow.

Temperature, April-May-June: Ambient daytime; ambient at night but not below 4 -5C. Den cuthbertsonii is okay down to 0C in an enclosed situation.

Dendrobium Dockrillia types (eg linguiformis, teretifolium)

Water, April-May-June: With the onset of winter, and thus colder and shorter days, these plants will need less frequent watering. As a guide, every 7-10 days. Keep the leaves full and turgid, excessive wrinkling is a sign of not enough water.

Fertiliser, April-May-June: Half-strength balanced fertiliser every second watering.

Light, April-May-June: Bright light with little or no shading. Bright light short of burning the plant enhances flowering.

Temperature, April-May-June: Ambient day; 2-3C as a minimum at night.

Dendrobium soft cane & nobile types

Water, April: Decrease water frequency as new canes should be coming to maturity. May-June: Just a little, keep rather dry.

Fertiliser, April: Half-strength balanced fertiliser every second or third watering. May-June: Quarter- to half-strength balanced fertiliser every second or third watering.

Light, April-May: 30% shade or less. June: 30% shade.

Temperature, April-May-June: Ambient day; about 5C at night.

Masdevallia

Water, April-May-June: Over the colder months I have found that allowing the plants to become rather more drier between waterings has produced more profuse flowering of the spring/summer blooming types, eg, Masd. coccinea, veitchiana, rolfeana and many hybrids.

Fertiliser, April-May-June: Quarter- to half-strength fertiliser every second or third watering.

Light, April-May-June: 30-50% shade. Try to give the plants as much light as the plants were getting over the spring/summer period. This again will improve flowering.

Temperature, April-May-June:  Ambient during the day; 2-5C at night.

Miltonia species & hybrids

Water, April-May-June: Water sparingly, but ensure the mix stays damp but not wet. If in doubt, don’t water.

Fertiliser, April-May-June: Half-strength balanced NPK every second or third watering. 

Light, April-May-June: 30% shade or less.

Temperature, April-May-June: Ambient daytime; about 5C at night. Miltonia and its hybrids will benefit from a higher night temperature.

Miltoniopsis (pansy orchid)

Water, April-May-June: Water often enough to ensure that the mix stays damp but not wet.

Fertiliser, April-May-June: Half-strength balanced NPK every second or third watering.

Light, April-May-June: 50% shade.

Temperature, April: Ambient day and night. May-June: Ambient daytime; 5-10C at night.

Other: Repot when the plant has finished flowering, new growth is 5 cm or so tall, and when the new roots are just developing. Try to repot annually.

Odontoglossum (crispum types)

Water, April-May-June: Water sparingly but ensure the mix stays damp but not wet. If in doubt, don’t water. 

Fertiliser, April-May-June: Half-strength balanced NPK every second or third watering. 

Light, April-May-June: 50% shade.

Temperature, April-May-June: Ambient daytime; about 5C at night.

Oncidium dancing ladies types

Water, April-May-June: Water sparingly and allow the mix to become rather dryish before watering again. When in doubt don’t.

Fertiliser, April: Half-strength balanced fertiliser every second or third watering. May-June: Quarter- to half-strength balanced fertiliser every second or third watering

Light, April: 30% shade. May-June: 30% shade or less.

Temperature, April-May-June: Ambient day; about 5C at night.

Paphiopedilum (slipper orchid)

Water, April: Reduce watering with the cooling temperatures and shortening day length. If in doubt, don’t water. May-June: Reduce watering with the cooling temperatures and shortening day length. Let the mix at the base of the pot become less moist before watering. If in doubt, don’t water.

Fertiliser, April-May-June: Half-strength balanced NPK.

Light, April: Consider reducing shade a little, 50-60% shade. May-June: 30% shade.

Temperature, April: 25C during the day; 12C at night. May-June: Ambient during day; 12C at night.

Phalaenopsis (moth orchid)

Water, April-May-June: Often enough to keep the potting mix moist (not wet!) but allow the top layer to become dry looking before watering again. It is a good idea to use tepid water, especially during the colder months.

Fertiliser, April-May-June: Feed regularly, maybe every second watering, with half- to three-quarter-strength liquid fertiliser.

Light, April-May-June: 30-50% shade. 

Temperature, April-May-June: 20-25C during the day; about 15C at night.

Sarcochilus

Water, April: With falling temperatures you may need to reduce watering to suit conditions but do not let the plants dry out completely. May-June: Reduce watering to suit conditions but do not let the plants dry out completely.

Fertiliser, April-May-June: Half-strength balanced fertiliser every second watering.

Light, April-May-June: Try to give the plants give as much light as the plants were getting over the spring/summer period. This will improve flowering.

Temperature, April-May-June: Ambient during the day; 2-5C at night.

Other: Do not cram up your plants, leave plenty of room between them as this will help prevent the spread of scale.