SO Gardening — January 26

SO Gardening — January 26

Sunday, January 26, 2020

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Dear Orchid Doc:

Why are my orchid's leaves wrinkled?

Concerned Reader

Dear Concerned Reader:

Wrinkled or pleated leaves are caused by a lack of moisture reaching the vegetative part of the plant. This can be caused by not watering enough, or watering too much. If you can't figure out what you've done, tip the plant out of the pot and examine the roots. If they are white or tan, firm, and spread throughout the mix, you need to increase the frequency of watering. If the roots appear brown and mushy, trim them off, repot into a new mix, and decrease the frequency of watering. Always remember, orchids should never stand in water!

Dear Orchid Doc:

Why are my buds turning yellow and falling off?


Dear Karl:

This is referred to as bud blast, and can be caused by the following conditions:

1. The plant has been too dry between watering, causing it to withdraw moisture from the buds.

2. There may be some wide swings in temperature, where it may be too hot in direct sun, or the plant may be too close to an air conditioning or heating vent.

3. There may be some fumes in the air caused by paint, natural gas leaks, or other chemicals. Flowers naturally create their own methane and collapse after pollination to save energy for seed production. Certain forms of methane or ethylene may trigger bud or flower collapse.

4. Cattleyas in particular are sensitive while in bud to overwatering, causing the buds to actually turn black in the sheath.

5. All plants need an adequate amount of light in order to flower correctly. Placing a plant in the centre of a room, on a coffee table for example, is fine for display during an evening of entertaining, but to maintain proper growth and flower development it is best to keep the plant in its growing area (near a window or under lights).

Dear Orchid Doc:

Do I cut the spike back when my orchid is finished blooming?


Dear Marie:

This is a very common question that really depends on what type of orchid you have. In general, once orchids are finished blooming you can remove the spike with a scissors. If you do not remove the spike, the flower spike will dry up and turn brown over time. There are some orchids that can re-bloom off of the same flower spike more than once.

Certain species of Oncidium such as the Papilio can bloom off of a broken or cut-back spike. The most commonly re-blooming flower spike is that of the Phalaenopsis (moth orchid). If your Phalaenopsis is of mature size such as 12” or more in leaf-span, cut it halfway back just above one of the nodes (the little notches on the flower spike). It should branch out in 90-120 days with a new spike. Generally, we recommend trying this only once per flower spike. Trying it a second or third time will result in less flowers. Cutting the flower spike completely off will give the plant more energy in order to produce a new flower spike with more flowers.

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