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Dendrobiums in the middle of UK winter

This is a discussion on Dendrobiums in the middle of UK winter within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; I am currently coping with snow, ice & now sleety rain here, in Newcastle England ...

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  1. #1
    minda5 is offline Member
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    Default Dendrobiums in the middle of UK winter

    I am currently coping with snow, ice & now sleety rain here, in Newcastle England (January 2010). It makes the growing & tending orchids in my orchid house (particularly Dendrobiums) very problematic. This because of low temperatures in the orchid house (minimum 11 degrees centigrade for intermediate & cool plants & 16 degrees minmum for warm growing plants) . I also have short day lengths (about 9.00 am to 3.30pm) & poor quality light conditions.
    A major problem I, therefore, face is deciding what should be my pattern of spraying, the watering amounts & its frequency for my mix of species & hybrid dendrobiums (it is easier with my few Oncidiums & Phals.)

    The question I therefore raise is how would members deal with my major problem?

    Yours
    Minda

  2. #2
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    Cjcorner is offline Senior Member
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    One idea I came up with was to mark pots so I would keep them grouped together with other's that get watered at the same rate. Then I keep a calendar to remind me whn to water the different ones. At least, that's what I used to do. Now I try to keep only plants that have the same needs pretty much. I am down to two groups...those I water daily and the group I water every 4-5 days.

  3. #3
    Brutal_Dreamer's Avatar
    Brutal_Dreamer is offline Dreaming with my eyes open...
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    Perhaps some supplemental lighting in addition to Connie's suggestion about marking the pots and grouping your orchids. You could also consider raising the temperature with an oil filled heater.

    Regarding watering/spraying/feeding: Dendrobiums like to dry out between waterings, so be careful to allow them to completely dry out before watering again. Regarding spraying, I would only spray water on the leaves when there will be enough time for the orchid to dry off and the temperature is warm enough (along with the water) that it will not shock the plant. When we water in the greenhouse during the winter, we use tepid water instead of cold water and try to only put it in the orchid pots and avoid the leaves but it does get on the other plants so the tepid water is best. Also, keep fans blowing directly on the plants to help them dry off faster.

    Good luck!

    Cheers,
    BD

  4. #4
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    aesir22 is offline Member
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    Hi Minda 5, I'm just down the road from you (Darlington). I am watering much less frequently. I used to water around every 5-7 days. Now I can leave watering for up 2 three weeks on some of my orchids. Dends I water about once a fortnight at the moment.

    The weather sucks. I am sick of snow and ice and rain lol. Not good for growing!

  5. #5
    minda5 is offline Member
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    Dear All,
    Some intersting ideas, here. I have tried labelling (Dendrobium) plants & grouping, but my current collection is so diverse that I have identified 5 main ecological groups so far using Wood & Baker & Baker.(Mesial ie Cattleya conditions, Warm Tropical, Xerophtic ie warm, dry habitat & Very wet summers, Monsoon & Temperate Rain Forest). NB Some authors even suggest different groupings So what do I do? throw away those that say don't fit into watering every day or watering once a week? What do you suggest?
    Apart from making the mistake of having so many groupings what would be the ideal rationalisation plan to simplyfy my basic problem re watering etc? Incidently, I can't guarantee that I could be available every day to water every day let alone every week.

    Stupid questions, I know, but how do you label clearly all the different types of pots? ensuring that even permanent ink stays on (coloured) labels? that don't fall out of the pots? How do you group the plants in an overcrowded orchid house with hanging plants & plants on the bench which are already too close together? I can't expand the orchid house, and feel stressed about killing plants for a rationalisation plan!
    Brutual Dreamer, I thank you for the tepid, early in the morning and will try to do better. Unfortunately, with mid-winter day light of "quality" starting at say 10.00 am & deteriorating by 3.30 pm, or no sun for two weeks or more, it still is a problem. I wish I could afford the higher temperatures. What would you suggest?
    I welcome any replies & I assure you I am not trying to be defeatist or negative but as my Darlington friend says, "The weather sucks. I am sick of snow and ice and rain lol. Not good for growing." Thanks to every one.
    Yours
    Minda

  6. #6
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    cindiras is offline Senior Member
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    Add flourescent lights to your orchidhouse? Put in an oil-filled electri radiator? Use a layer of clear plastic bubble wrap on the glass walls as additional insulation?

  7. #7
    orcoholic is offline Senior Member
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    Without going to a lot of expense to improve the conditions, I think aesir22 has the best option for your weather. Water less, no fertilizer. Orchids are pretty tough and have developed to withstand periods that aren't ideal.

    Spring is somewhere out there.

  8. #8
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    Minda,

    I agree with the suggestions above- and think Michael is right when he says "water less, no fertilizer." I water significantly less in the winter. Less light and colder temps means the water in the pots evaporates more slowly. I cut my watering almost in half during the winter, and my temps are only about 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit cooler since I grow inside (65 versus 75-80), I just get much much less light.

    I water on the same watering schedule for almost all of my orchids. Instead of watering at different days and frequencies, I change the potting medium. I start out with a straight bark mix. Orchids I would normally water more, I add sphagnum to the mix-- the more water it needs, the great the amount of sphagnum compared to bark. Several orchids I have planted in 100% sphag. Orchids I would water less, I add perlite to the bark mix-- the less water it needs the more perlite I add and the greater amount of rocks on the bottom of the pot. (Both of those changes decrease the water that remains in the pot and reduce the effective pot size.) If you can't be around to water every day, an idea would be to repot those specific orchids in a medium that is conducive to your schedule (like sphag) and never, never mount your orchids.

    But with as many orchids as you have, changing the medium is probably not going to happen overnight, if at all. You could always buy several different colors of paint pens and assign a color to each day. Pots with yellow get watered Mon, pots with green get watered Wed, pots with red get watered Sat, pots with yellow and red get watered Mon and Sat. (Paint pens mark on both wood and clay, and for ceramics you can attach a plant tag with the appropriate marks. They seem to stay on pots and plant tags pretty well for me, and I take my orchids outside in the summer and shower them in the winter so the pots do get wet)

    Growing in windows in a 600 sq foot house, I am always a crunch for space. I just recently cleared out some of my noids. I still have far, far too many plants hanging in baskets, in leveled plant stands, on window shelves and basically blocking up my windows - lol - but getting rid of 10ish gave me that bit of extra space I needed to effectively care for them.

    I hope this helps in some way.

  9. #9
    minda5 is offline Member
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    Dear All,
    I am now beginning to see some the trees from the wood. I certainly need to reflect more on what has been said & need to think of a (low cost) solutions on supplemental lighting & heating - currently, I only use lighting for seedlings in a propogating frame & my heaters are electric fan heaters - good ones - blowing across water tanks (for humidity) with one quality humidifier. I have also covered the outside of the orchid house with additional double plastic covering to cut down heating costs. I particularly liked navyderek's ideas on the potting mixes & labelling - I need to think more about this.. I had until now been fairly haphard about the amount of perlite (and stones) in my mixes plus some dendrobium mixes were spaghnum when seedlings or New Zealand tree fern when I could find it. But oh, what am I going to do with all those hanging plants? Ugh!!! Thanks again all of you
    Minda

  10. #10
    minda5 is offline Member
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    Peter
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    Dear All,
    I am now beginning to see some the trees from the wood. I certainly need to reflect more on what has been said & need to think of a (low cost) solutions on supplemental lighting & heating - currently, I only use lighting for seedlings in a propogating frame & my heaters are electric fan heaters - good ones - blowing across water tanks (for humidity) with one quality humidifier. I have also covered the outside of the orchid house with additional double plastic covering to cut down heating costs. I particularly liked navyderek's ideas on the potting mixes & labelling - I need to think more about this.. I had until now been fairly haphard about the amount of perlite (and stones) in my mixes plus some dendrobium mixes were spaghnum when seedlings or New Zealand tree fern when I could find it. But oh, what am I going to do with all those hanging plants? Ugh!!! Thanks again all of you
    Minda

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