Lifestyle

Dear Doc - December 15

Gardening

Betty Ashley

Sunday, December 16, 2012    

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Dear Doc:

Can dendrobiums be placed in the sun?

— Marjorie

Dear Marjorie:

What I will tell you is that I have always had mine in sun. Here is what I have advised others to do: September on towards January is usually the best time to try to get them acclimatised. The time is cooler and as it gradually becomes warmer. Therefore, the orchid is getting accustomed to the sun.

If you choose to do it outside of this time, please note that you will get quite a few scorched leaves. Just fertilise and water as usual and the new growth will grow right into it.

If you are in an extra hot area, take your time and edge the plant a little farther into the sun each time.

Dear Doc:

Whenever I buy phalaenopsis orchids I notice that the blooms last for a few weeks, while other people have blooms that last for three to six months. Is there something I am doing wrong?

— Doreen

Dear Doreen:

Phalaenopsis orchids last much longer in the cool if all buds have opened. If you put them in an air-conditioned environment before all the buds have been opened, you will lose some of the buds. They will turn yellow and drop.

Smoke also contributes to early fading of your orchid blooms. Likewise, too much fertiliser contributes to your fading orchid bloom, and too much watering will not only make it fade, but will kill it.

I have often heard people being told to water once per week. What I suggest, however, is that you touch the sphagnum to feel how wet it is first. It should be 3/4 dried before watering again. Doing this properly will help your bloom to last longer.

If you have purchased an orchid with buds that are closed, point the spike with buds towards wherever the light is coming from into the room. This will enable the young buds to come to fruition.

Betty Ashley is an avid orchid enthusiast who has spent decades successfully cultivating orchids for herself, as well as for orchid lovers across the island, earning herself the title 'Orchid Doc'. Send your orchid questions and/or concerns to: bettymay@flowja.com.

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