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Orchids not blooming

This is a discussion on Orchids not blooming within the Orchid Ailments / The Compost Pile forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I've been keeping six plants alive for about three years, succeeding at that--barely--but getting only ...

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  1. #1
    MiddleAgesMan is offline New to this
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    Default Orchids not blooming

    I've been keeping six plants alive for about three years, succeeding at that--barely--but getting only 3 or 4 spikes with blooms during that time.

    The greatest success has been with one of the Brassias (it grew a spike with a half-dozen blooms last year and currently has a spike with 9 blooms and a second spike found and freed up this morning; photo is in the Intro area).

    One of the Phals bloomed once in three years, though it has tried to bloom more. The closed buds have fallen off the last couple spikes without opening.

    The Laeliocattleya Trick or Treat has a few unhealthy looking leaves but hasn't done anything since I bought it in full bloom.

    The Oncidium Golden Trident looks even worse, with shriveling PBs and just one or two leaves.

    I took all of these orchids outside a couple weeks ago after reading on here that they should do better out there now that winter is gone. They got several good rains since as well as weekly fertilizer and almost daily artificial mistings and showers. I brought the blooming Brassia inside once the blooms opened and it is still doing well. The other Brassia appears healthy but refuses to bloom.

    I'm assuming my growing conditions must favor the Brassias but it is obviously the wrong environment for the rest. My greenhouse serves double duty as a master bath (it's one of those Four Seasons rooms). The Phals have been placed on high shelves (too warm?) while the rest of them were together on a lower shelf. The room is on the southeast side of a 2 story house so its all shaded by the upper level after 2 or 3 PM and gets partial shade off and on during mornings and early afternoons (it's a heavily wooded site). Temperatures range from low 60F nights, low 70F days (in winter) to 70F nights and 80F days in summer. I've been monitoring humidity for several months and it is usually 50 to 60% unless I shower at night which brings it up to 70% or so. Oddly, showering during daylight hours has very little impact on humidity.

    Two easy questions: (1) will the low-90s summer temps be too much for leaving the plants outside while they recover, and (B) what is wrong with my supposedly ideal indoor environment?

  2. #2
    uncasteeb's Avatar
    uncasteeb is offline Senior Member
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    1 thing i can see is that there is not a big difference between day & night temps.Phals require a good difference in temps(well the hybrids do) between night & day to iniate spiking.
    Also what about fert use ?
    To much can cause no blooms .
    Bud drop can be caused by many factors , a sudden change in temps/humidity will make the buds drop off very quickly.
    Light is also a major factor , i grow most of my plants with as much light as they can take(& a little more).I have some burned leaves & Phals with a good hint of yellow in their leaves but most of my plants bloom well.
    I don,t bother with bloom & grow fert.I actually blend the 2 half & half but i do feed quite lightly but regularly.

  3. #3
    MiddleAgesMan is offline New to this
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    I had a few burned leaves during the first year so I moved them slightly to give them a tad less light. I haven't had any obviously burned leaves since, though, now that they are outside and they are getting a couple hours of direct sun (there's a gap in overhanging bamboo) the Cat and Oncid look worse today than when I moved them outside; they might be getting too much sun or not enough water. The Brassia that remains outside and the Phals look better since moving them out but now I am a bit concerned that July and August temps may be too high for them.

    I have always fertilized weekly--and weakly--but I may not be doing it right. I use the tiny scoop that came in the tiny plastic can in a gallon of water, then share that mix roughly equally between the six plants. Most of the pots drain slowly enough to become completely filled with the fertilizer water very briefly, then it drains. I pour it in as fast as I can to get as much of the potting mix soaked.

    Thanks for pointing out that the temp differential may not be enough. I can't do a whole lot about it since the GH/master bath open directly into the master bedroom (no door) but I can probably find a way to make small adjustments if I think about it real hard.

  4. #4
    LJA's Avatar
    LJA
    LJA is offline OrchidTalk Tech Admin
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    It's really important when you put plants outside for the summer that you acclimate them to the higher light intensities slowly. Otherwise, light that should be totally fine for them will burn them in a heartbeat, especially any new growth that developed over last fall and winter. Also, more light means more heat means they'll need more water, so be sure you adjust for that too.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by lja
    It's really important when you put plants outside for the summer that you acclimate them to the higher light intensities slowly. Otherwise, light that should be totally fine for them will burn them in a heartbeat, especially any new growth that developed over last fall and winter.
    I really don't want to sound like an idiot here and I know this is standard advice given in every book and by every orchid grower. BUT..... Why don't I ever have a problem with this? Is it because of where I live - my latitude? I never harden anything off as the books say - orchids, seedlings, nothing and I never have a problem with stuff frying in the outside sun.

    I first discovered this a few years ago when I was late at putting my garden seedlings out and just didn't want to take the time to properly harden them off. They went directly from my basement under lights to outside. Nothing died. Nothing burned.

    After that, I got bold and started doing this with everything (including orchids) and still had no problems. The past few weeks, I've been planting out around 450 seedlings from my basement. Almost everything is out. Nothing is having problems.

    I'm not saying to do what I do, but I wonder why I can do this?

    Oh Master, speak

    Kev

  6. #6
    LJA's Avatar
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    Kev, I imagine it's your latitude. I put some tomato plants out from the greenhouse one year, right in full sun, in the ground, and I about killed em.

  7. #7
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    That's what I kind of thought. I've had people on another forum tell me I was nuts for doing this and that my plants MUST be frying etc. Then I've also had people tell me you can't give Phals any sun - they will burn. Of course, they couldn't see how the fact that they were in southern CA and I was in MN made a difference.

    So where am I going with all this?

    This has been a gripe of mine for a long time. When people give out cultural info to others, they don't take into consideration how things like this can make a difference. Please NOTE: I am Not making a comment on this thread or what Louis just suggested to this person. His advice makes sense since they are both in the same general region. I just wish that when folks ask for advice like this that whoever responds takes into consideration the possible differences in their conditions vs. the person asking the question. It can make a big difference.

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    MiddleAgesMan is offline New to this
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    Thanks for pointing that out, Tundra. Savannah is a good bit south of Arkansas and east, all the way on the coast, so Louis' advice probably applies doubly for me.

    The shift from the GH to outside was not the drastic shift from say a basement to outside, so it's probably a moisture problem for me more than light. I'll start giving them their shower a little more frequently and see if that helps.

    Somewhere on here someone mentioned dunking the pots in the fertilizer water; if that's better than pouring it in I'll try that too, but I'm concerned about possible disease transfer from dunking all six plants in the same water. Is that valid?

  9. #9
    LJA's Avatar
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    If there might be a problem, I try to err on the side of caution with any growing advice or tips. Plants can get severely burn damaged in half an hour under full summer sun here, and it can take years for an orchid plant to grow back from that. So regardless of latitude, just to avoid a potentially costly mistake, I would always recommend moving plants into higher light gradually. Even if you can get away without having to do that, it still won't hurt anything if you do.

    Middle, technically, you should avoid any kind of cultural practice that might transfer pests or diseases from one plant to another. Dunking several into a community fertilizer bath runs that risk.

    As a practical matter, if you know you have healthy plants, you won't have any problems.

    Here, space considerations force us to have plants hanging above other plants, where the drainage from one pot can enter the ones below it. This isn't ideal but it's what I've got to work with, so I make the best of it and stay on top of any pest or disease issues as soon as they crop up. In our situation, it's 1000 times more likely for insects and fungus spores to get pulled in from outside than it is for that stuff to get transfered plant to plant because of overspray or water-sharing.

  10. #10
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    Default

    hear, hear!
    i second TundraKev's gripe.
    so often i see advice (elsewhere, of course)
    about how plastic pots are deadly
    rot inducing
    evil tools of the devils,
    or about how no windowsill grower will ever rebloom their orchids.
    occasionally i will see qualified statements of
    ymmv/ime
    or if not mentioned hope it is just "understood"
    but sometimes i wish differences weren't so played down.
    /steps off soapbox
    sorry to hijack, MiddleAgesMan.
    ontopic,
    I water my orchids at the sink, in the kitchen.
    running the faucet on the right side of the sink,
    and then setting the pot in the left side of the sink in a premixed
    bath of fertilizer water.
    this method does not prevent cross-contamination of diseases, bugs &such,
    but i had 1 plant with crown rot
    (watered too late in the day, i believe)
    and I didn't infect a single other plant by sharing the fertilizer bath.
    maybe i was lucky, maybe i'll kill all my orchids,
    soon. but it hasn't happened yet.

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