Orchid Culture - Questions & Answers from This Month
by Sue Bottom, from the St. Augustine Orchid Society Newsletter.
Email us with any orchid question. If we can't answer it, we'll find someone who can! Send photographs too!
C. skinneri Has Never Bloomed
Q. I raised a Cattleya skinnerii from a flask in 2002, now growing in 3 pots, but it hasn’t bloomed even though it is grown with my other cattleyas that do bloom. It has plenty of new growth, and lives in a sunroom with 3 sides and roof of glass, so it gets a lot of light. I about ready to discard them. I actually put the third one outside a couple of months ago, to see if that would make a difference, so far nothing. I think I am ready to say good-bye.
A. Some orchids have a genetic predisposition to be reluctant bloomers,
but this occasional trait is more likely in hybrids than in species. If you have other cattleyas that bloom and they are all in good bright light, it may be a genetic shortcoming. Your plants are fully mature, and look healthy with plenty of new growths; they should bloom for you. I think that if I had a plant for 17 years and it didn't bloom, I would be tempted to bid it adieu. Put it in the brightest location you have, and if it doesn't reward you with spring blooms, well, you tried!
Repot Too Tall Epidendrum
Q. This Epidendrum has really grown, and has 2 keikis. It is very top heavy for the plastic pot it came in, Should I repot in a larger clay pot?
A. That bark looks tired, so it does look like it would enjoy some fresh mix and being planted at the proper height. If you look at the roots, you can see how they were damaged as they grew toward the mix and then were abraded before they could enter the mix. However, the best time to repot is when new roots are forming, likely to occur in the spring. Until then, drop that plastic pot into a clay pot, or two clay pots, to help stabilize the plant.
Repot Overgrown Cattleya
Q. I was at a friend's house yesterday, an orchid lover. She does really well with them, but she doesn't know how to separate this overgrown monster. Can you help her?
A. If she is not comfortable tackling this repotting project, she should seek assistance from her local Orchid Society or a local nursery with experience in orchids. One approach might be to locate the youngest growth out of the pot and follow the rhizome back until there are three to five growths, and then sever the rhizome to create a division. Those aerial roots have acclimated to growing without mix around them, so placing in a basket with a minimimum, if any mix, might be preferable to a pot. Another alternative is the 'over the pot' technique where a pot is situated next to the growing lead and the plant is allowed to grow into the new pot and once three growths are situated in the pot, it can be cut from the mother plant. There are many suggestions on the SAOS Repotting
page, but sometimes help from an experienced grower can make the process less traumatic.