December 21 officially brings us into winter. It is actually the shortest day of the year, so each day after gets longer. The reason I am exited about this is that for some of us, our orchids are not doing too much and the onset of longer days will encourage more growth from our orchids. But still, this is a good blooming season for Phalaenopsis, complex Paphiopedilums, Cattleyas, Angreacums, and others. Hopefully, our orchids have stored enough energy over the long summer months to give us a flowering holiday spectacular! This Covid 19 year has given me record blooms thus far and I hope to continue my good cultural roll into next year.
Finally it's been a little cooler and combined with the shorter days, I notice that I can really cut back on my watering. In fact, during this last rainy bout, things got over watered and I started to get some Black Rot or Phytophthora. This is the blackening of leaves and stems. It is a fungus that is easily spread by splashing water. As soon as you see the infection starting, get out your torch and pruners and start cutting back the infected tissue. Apply fungicide to the infected orchid and surrounding areas and try to keep them dry and aerated. This nasty fungus gets into the orchids vascular system and can spread rapidly if not controlled.
As fungal infections appear, insect problems tend to lessen, but mollusk (slugs and snail) problems become rampant. We are seeing all kinds of mollusk damage on our Orchid ER website page, so I know what you guys are facing. Your control should be preventative instead of curative, because once the damage is done to the orchid, it may take years for it to recover. So apply your slug/snail bait and make sure you reapply within two weeks to get the new emerging young. In time, you will notice that different pests will attack our orchids at different times of the year, remembering this will allow you to take preventative actions, saving the damage to your valuable collection. My goal, is that soon you will be able to self diagnose your problems and you will no longer need my guidance. Only then will I know that I have succeeded in making you master orchidists!
The Windward Orchid Society meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month at the King Intermediate School Cafeteria, located at 46-155 Kamehameha Hwy. in Kaneohe.
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