Style Observer

SO Gardening — Jan 27

Dear Orchid Doc

With Betty Ashley

Sunday, January 27, 2019

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Dear Orchid Doc:

I have had a few cymbidiums for a long time now but they won't bloom. What advice can you give me to help the situation? They look quite healthy otherwise and extremely fat with multiple bulbs.

Eunice

Dear Eunice:

The fact that your plants look quite healthy and have multiple shoots would suggest that you have the growing and fertilising aspect of it down pat.

However, I have to tell you that there are some cymbidiums that refuse to bloom in the warmer climates, though there are some hybrid types that are more tolerant of the heat and will therefore bloom at a temperature of higher than 80 degrees.

The older types require a drop in temperature at nights of about 10 to 15 degrees before a spike will initiate; however, when they bloom they last a very long time. The hybrid types are usually very short.

So it might be a good idea to send the plants up to the cooler areas for at least 30 days during the blooming season, to initiate the buds.

Best of luck.

Dear Orchid Doc:

Is it possible to safely store, and keep viable, cymbidium pollen? How long will it remain in good condition and how should it be stored? I would like to do some standard cymbidium breeding, but one cultivar, which is in spike, has not yet bloomed and I want to use it as the capsule parent plant.

Tom

Dear Tom:

For the short time you have in mind, remove the pollen, wrap in clean paper and store in a cool, dry place. Small Post-its can be folded up to store pollen. The pollen will keep this way for at least a year. For longer storage, the use of a dessicant is recommended. We have stored pollen in a stoppered test tube, with desiccant in the bottom held in by cotton. Pollen will keep for some years this way. Be sure to label and date the packets.

Dear Orchid Doc:

I am planning a long vacation and am concerned about my orchids. I have been looking at products like Wetnet, an automated drip system, for my 35 orchids. I am wondering whether drip watering would work for them, as they have been primarily grown in a bark mix. Do you know of anyone who has used a drip system, or of someone who has built some other type of small-scale watering system?

Monica

Dear Monica:

Yes, drip systems are used on orchids, particularly in large cymbidium ranges. Drip, however, is not a good solution for coarser-grade mixes. If most of your plants are in a fine-grade mix, it should work, but only as a temporary solution, as for extended vacations. I would suggest that you have it set to water only at a maintenance level; otherwise you run the risk of overwatering. Also, this will work best with good-quality water, which is low in dissolved solids, as hard or alkaline water will harm your plants if they are not leached occasionally.


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