There is nothing better to brighten a dreary winter day than a beautiful orchid flower! Some think the orchid is difficult to care for but there are just three important things to remember.
These things are proper light, proper soil media, and proper watering.
1- Light needs to be bright but not hot direct sun. I keep my orchids on a northwest kitchen windowsill where the light is bright but not direct. It is filtered by the trees outside. The plants are also high enough to discourage my cats from chewing on the leaves.
2- Proper soil media should not be soil at all but a mix of bark, charcoal or other loose soil-less media. Retail stores carry special orchid mix which works great. Do not use regular potting mix which is too dense for orchids. Orchid roots need air space or they will rot.
3- Proper watering is very important. Orchids naturally live as epiphytes growing in tree notches and on the bark of trees in tropical regions. Rain water runs over the plant and catches in the nooks and crannies where it is used by the plant or soon evaporated. Potted orchids need water running through and out of the pot without sitting inside a decorative container or saucer. The roots need air circulation. Keeping the plants by the kitchen sink is convenient because I can let the faucet run rover the plant and out the pot right over the sink. I also see them every day so they are not forgotten. Orchids need to be watered frequently as in every day or every other day.
Full Circle Plant Probiotic can be fed once a month when watering. An even better choice is to use Full Circle Plant Tonic when watering.
Be sure to visit the Maryland Home and Garden Show March 11-13, 2017 at the MD State Fair Grounds for the MD Orchid Society Show and Sale! There will be beautiful displays and many orchids for sale.
Another place to see some beautiful orchids is the Rawlings Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Baltimore, MD.
Paphiopedilum orchids, aka. ‘Slipper Orchids’
Poinsettias are the traditional Christmas plant. They are in the Euphorbiaceae family. The bright red colored parts of the plant are not actually flowers, but colored bracts or modified leaves. There are more than 100 varieties available from the traditional red to white, pink, burgundy, marbled and speckled. The actual flowers of the plant are the small yellow blooms in the center of the bracts. Choose plants with little or no yellow pollen showing and the plant will last longer. It is a rumor that Poinsettias are poisonous. This is false. One would have to eat many leaves to become ill and the leaves are bitter so children and pets are not even likely to eat them. Many plants in the Euphorbiaceae family ooze a milky sap. People with latex allergies may have a skin reaction after touching the leaves.
Poinsettias are native to Central America where they can grow up to 10-15 feet tall. Joel Roberts Poinsett introduced the poinsettia plant to the United States in 1828 from Mexico. He was a botanist, physician and the first United States Ambassador to Mexico.
Re-blooming the Poinsettia the following year is possible but is not likely to be as beautiful as when first purchased. Homeowners without a greenhouse find it difficult to reproduce techniques and conditions used in commercial production.
After the holidays, maintain the plant indoors until night temperatures outside reach 60 degrees F. Keep the plant near a sunny window and barely moist, but not soggy. In early April cut the plant back to 6-8 inches tall. Repot before putting it outdoors for the summer. Use some Full Circle Plant Probiotic in the soil mix when repotting. Place plants where they will receive 6-8 hours of direct but not scalding sunlight. If placed in a flower bed keep the roots from spreading out of the pot into the soil. It will shock the plant if these are cut before bringing inside. In July, pinch the plants to keep stocky and well branched. When night temperatures get into the 50’s F, bring them inside. Place in a sunny window and feed Full Circle Plant Probiotic monthly.
Now the strict schedule begins. On October 1 the poinsettias must be kept in the dark from 5pm until 8am, and then place in bright light. Night temps between 65-70 F. Daytime 70-80 F. There must be a 10 degree difference so not a continuous 70 F. The dark period can be accomplished by placing the plant in a closet or under a box that has been painted black inside. There should be no interruptions of this light by opening of the door or lifting the box until the time period is up. When the bracts have begun to color, they will need 6-8 hours of full sun until bracts are completely colored. Discontinue feeding to prolong bloom and display for the holidays. Good Luck and enjoy!
By: H. Robertson
Thanksgiving time is here again. One common floral gift is the Florist Cyclamen. They are beautiful, but how does one keep them that way?
Florist Cyclamen are frost tender but do like cool temperatures. While flowering, they should be kept below 68 degrees F with nights even cooler, if possible. Temperatures above 68 degrees F may induce dormancy. That may be why the flowers don’t last too long once one gets it home!
Leaves and flowers sprout from the top of a tuber in white, pink, red, lavender or fuchsia. Place plant near a window but not in full sun. Keep soil moist but plant must not sit in water! If it came with a decorative pot cover, remove it. Air flow to the root system is needed. If leaves are twisted or stunted it may have cyclamen mites. These are not spider mites and flourish in humid conditions unlike the spider mite which likes dry conditions. Remove infested leaves.
After flowering, reduce watering and place pot on its side in a cool spot and keep dry till summertime. Repot the tuber with the soil level half-way up the tuber. Place in a cool, well-lit area. Keep moist. Enjoy, when it blooms again!
Many ask, “Why are the tips of my houseplants brown?” Caring for plants is a learning process. One can only be successful if a problem is noticed early, figure the cause, and change the environment to cure the problem.
Browning tips of houseplants could be over-watering, poor drainage, under watering, low humidity, or heat ducts blowing on plants. One needs to look at the care that has been given to the plant and see if these could be the cause. If so, change the watering habits or move the plant to another location.
Other reasons for leaf tips browning could be over-fertilizing and excessive salts in the soil. To remove excessive salts, leach the soil with water twice a year until it runs through the drainage holes and re-pot with new soil if in poor condition.
Another important factor is the water. Well water vs. city water. Big difference! City water is often treated with chlorine and fluoride. Some houseplants are very sensitive to these elements, causing leaf tip browning. Plants especially sensitive are Dracaenas, Palms, and Spider plants. Well water is great and so is rain water. Chlorine in city water will evaporate into the atmosphere if left in an open container or bucket overnight. One can also use distilled water or carbon filtered water to water the plants. Fluoride does not evaporate like chlorine so if your plants have a lot of leaf tip browning it may be best to use distilled, filtered, or rain water.