Cultural Notes: Jan-Feb-March

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, Jan-Feb: Water on demand as growths will be developing well but do allow to dry a little between waterings. March: As nights get cooler reduce water frequency.

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Half-strength every second watering.

Light, Jan-Feb: 30-50% shade. March: 30% shade.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Ambient day and night.

Flowering: Depending on the variety these plants can bloom at various times of the year but the flowers in all cases develop the same way – the spike/buds form within a ‘sheath’ on top of the most recent growth. It can be a good idea to split this sheath at the top to allow the flower stem to emerge easily, especially if the sheath has turned brown.

Cymbidium, species & hybrids

Water: In cases of neglect, bark can get dry – soaking plant in a bucket may be necessary.  Remember to water until it comes out the bottom of the pot. Jan-Feb: Water at least 3 times a week, small plants every second day. Spray floor each morning if practical. March: Water twice a week.

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Half-strength balanced fertiliser every second watering or full strength every week.

Light, Jan: Keep flowering size plants in bright conditions, max. 30% shade until mid-month to assist in initiation of next year’s flowers. From mid-month 50% shade. Feb-March: Flowering-size plants in 50% shade; small plants 70% shade.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Lots of fresh air to keep maximum temperature as low as possible, but as much shelter as necessary to avoid plants being blown over.

Other: Re-potting/dividing should be completed, but potting-on should be left till the end of March or April.

Dendrobium Australian types (eg kingianum, speciosum)

Water, Jan-Feb-March: Keep moist, do not let them dry out.

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: With every watering.

Light, Jan: Plants may be positioned outside with good light and air movement. Feb-March: Some light shading.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Ambient day and night.

Other: Plants now really react to being outside with good air movement and rain.

Dendrobium cool-intermediate types (eg densiflorum, thrysiflorum)

Water, Jan-Feb-March: Water well as new growths will be well developed but allow to dry a little between waterings. 

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Half-strength balanced fertiliser every second watering.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Ambient day and night.

Flowering: Attention to water and fertiliser for the developing new growths will increase flower production later in the year.

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

Water, Jan-Feb-March: Keep the plants well watered but not constantly wet!

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: With warm weather growths will be developing strongly so half-strength balanced fertiliser every second water.

Light, Jan-Feb-March: 50% shade. On a sunny day your hand should cast a fuzzy-edged but definite shadow.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Ambient day and night.

Dendrobium Dockrillia types (eg linguiformis, teretifolium)

Water, Jan-Feb-March: Due to their strongly pendulous or scrambling growth habit these plants are typically grown as mounted plants so will need more frequent water. With summer in full swing and especially in dry areas watering should be stepped up to every second or third day, and in very hot and dry conditions, every day.

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Half-strength balanced fertiliser every second watering.

Light, Jan-Feb-March: Bright light but 30% shade in strong ‘middle-of-the-day’ summer sun. Bright light short of burning the plant enhances flowering.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Ambient day and night.

Dendrobium soft cane & nobile types

Water, Jan-Feb: New growth roots will be developing strongly so water frequently but don’t keep continually wet. March: As night temperatures fall allow to dry somewhat between waterings.

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Half-strength balanced fertiliser every second watering.

Light, Jan-Feb: 30% to 50% shade. March: 30% shade.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Ambient day and night.

Flowering: Water, light and night temperature are important to produce a good show of blooms in the coming spring/summer. As night temperatures approach 10C water sparingly and give as much light as possible.

Masdevallia

Water, Jan-Feb-March: With warm summer temperatures keep the plants well watered and mist over the leaves several times a day (if you have time) as this will keep the plants cooler and happier.

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Quarter- to half-strength fertiliser every second or third watering.

Light: Shading to 50% or more to help keep day temperatures down.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March:  Ambient during the day but try to keep at about 25C or below. Ambient at night.

Flowering: This is a good time for flowers from many varieties. Flower stems arise from the base of the leaf and with good culture quite a number of flowers can be produced either together or over a period of time.

Miltonia species & hybrids

Water, Jan-Feb: Increase watering to 3 times a week to ensure the mix stays damp. March: Start to reduce watering as the temperatures drop to avoid the mix becoming waterlogged.

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Half-strength balanced NPK every second or third watering. Alternating fertiliser brands may give better results.

Light, Jan-Feb-March: 30% shade or less.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Try to keep plants below 30C in the day; misting and fans will help. Ambient at night.

Other: Suspend repotting until the cooler temperatures of March.

Miltoniopsis (pansy orchid)

Water, Jan-Feb: You may need to increase water with higher temperatures but don’t keep the pot continually wet. March: Water often enough to ensure that the mix stays damp but not wet.

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Half-strength balanced NPK every second or third watering.

Light, Jan-Feb-March: 50% shade.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Ambient day and 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, Jan-Feb: Increase watering to 3 times a week to ensure the mix stays damp. March: Start to reduce watering as the temperatures drop to avoid the mix becoming waterlogged.

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Half-strength balanced NPK every second or third watering. Alternating fertiliser brands may give better results.

Light, Jan-Feb-March: 50% shade.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Try to keep plants below 25C in the day; misting and fans will help. Ambient at night.

Other: Suspend repotting until the cooler temperatures of March.

Oncidium dancing ladies types

Water, Jan-Feb-March: Water on demand as growths will be developing well, but do allow to dry a little between waterings. Mounted plants may need more frequent watering.

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: New growths will be developing well so give half-strength balanced fertiliser every second watering.

Light, Jan-Feb-March: 30% to 50% shade.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Ambient day and night.

Paphiopedilum (slipper orchid)

Water, Jan-Feb-March: Water on demand, keeping the mix as near as possible to evenly moist. 

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Half-strength balanced NPK.

Light, Jan-Feb-March: 60-80% shade. 

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Aim for 25C during the day; 15C at night.

Phalaenopsis (moth orchid)

Water, Jan-Feb-March: Often enough to keep the potting mix moist (not wet!) but allow the top layer to become dry looking before watering again. 

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Feed regularly, maybe every second watering, with half to three-quarter-strength liquid fertiliser.

Light, Jan-Feb-March: 50% shade. 

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: 20-25C during the day; about 15C at night.

Flowering: Keep developing spikes staked and trained.

Sarcochilus

Water, Jan-Feb-March: Growth will be quite active so water frequently but do allow a little dry-off between waterings.

Fertiliser, Jan-Feb-March: Half-strength balanced fertiliser every second watering.

Light: 50% shade or a little more over this period.

Temperature, Jan-Feb-March: Ambient day and night.