Orchids forum: Cattleya care for dummies...

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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Jun 28, 2010 7:43 AM CST
Ok, I must admit, I've been somewhat of an orchid serial killer in the past, as I've not been all that great with houseplants in general. I'm getting better though, and have been having pretty good luck with my expanding Begonia collection and keeping a few things under lights.

Having worked in florists for years, I've brought home Phals, Dendros, and the occasional Cattleya that had finished blooming and were no longer sellable for the florist, only to watch them decline. Since its so hard for me to say no to a free plant, I find myself with 3 orchids that were identified as green Cattleyas. They're in plastic pots of bark and spagnum and have been outside in the shade. I'm seeing some new growth and considering repotting them into a clay pot all together. Would this be advisable? I have a bag of potting mix labeled Phalaenopsis mix that a friend gave me, and am wondering if it would be suited to Cattleyas too?
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
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Ursula
Jun 28, 2010 6:01 PM CST

Moderator

I would definitely take them out of the Sphagnum. Re-potting into a clay pot is fine. If the Cattleyas are of good size ( not small window- sill Orchids) a fairly coarse bark mix should do.
Just be aware that Cattleya roots will firmly attach to the clay pot and re-potting down the road might not be easy. Personally I don't think that is a problem, I would then consider the pot as a mount.
I also would get them gently used to more light exposure than the shade you have them in now - as bright as possible without burning the leaves. Fertilizing them all through the Summer with the rest of the Garden will help in adding good growth now and spikes down the road.
Have fun! Smiling
Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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boojum
Jun 29, 2010 8:42 AM CST
I wouldn't put them together, catts can grow big and it may be hard to separate them later. If you can't find a fresh mix in a box store (check the bag to feel for chunks (if more like dirt it's old) you can buy online at repotme.com etc.
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
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Ursula
Jun 29, 2010 9:04 AM CST

Moderator

Oh yes, I didn't make that clear, definitely not to pot them up together.
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Jun 29, 2010 12:47 PM CST
Ah, good to know, so I should pot them separately, and I guess its probably not a bad idea to soak the clay pot in water first.

The orchid media I have looks pretty chunky, I can see bark, pearlite, and looks like some charcoal in there. So as long as it hasn't broken down into small particles, it should be ok?
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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boojum
Jun 29, 2010 2:45 PM CST
Yes. As you can tell, many of us have had bad experiences with sphagnum....they look great for a while and then the roots rot. So any mix without it would be good.
Name: Susan
Southeast NE (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Lilies Irises Cat Lover Dog Lover
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stilldew
Jul 4, 2010 10:40 PM CST
Glad to hear your getting into orchids too Neal. I'm one of those serial houseplant killers too. Think it's from underwatering, so my hope is that orchids will do well for me since most die from overwatering. Too soon to tell, but they sure are interesting.

Seems like all the phals I've ordered are packed in spagum moss. I've repotted some that were in bloom and they didn't seem very happy about it, so am waiting on the others until they are done blooming. Hope it won't be too late for them. The instructions that came with some of them said to only water every 2 weeks.
Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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boojum
Jul 5, 2010 5:01 AM CST
The AOS would quake!!!!! http://www.aos.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Phalaenopsis&Temp...
Name: Susan
Southeast NE (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Lilies Irises Cat Lover Dog Lover
Heucheras Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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stilldew
Jul 5, 2010 11:22 AM CST
I'm not good at following directions. Have been watering them when they start to look dry. I do need to get them out of the sphagnum....
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Jul 5, 2010 2:40 PM CST
Kathy, do you repot immediately or wait till blooms have faded?

These freebies I'm nursing have some brown or browning leaves, I'm not sure if that's from sunburn or getting too cold. The poor things were given to a friend and me in early spring, we forgot them in her car for a few days, then she put them on her porch where they were exposed to bright sun and a couple of nights in the 30s. I'd completely forgotten about them till I was at her house a few weeks later, and they still looked pretty decent, considering all that. Now they've been potted in good medium, and have new growth developing.

Should those brown leaves be removed? What about the partially brown leaves?

Susan, what kind of winter conditions do you provide your orchids? I use humidity trays under lights for begonias, and thinking that may be good for the Orchids as well.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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boojum
Jul 5, 2010 2:56 PM CST
Humidity trays are fine as long as the pots never sit in water. I pull off brown leaves if they come off easily and I have trimmed partially brown leaves on occasion but usually I wait and see if they whole leaf turns brown. No rush. Sunburn is black spotting or sometimes it's a pale area before it turns dark. If I am really nervous, I repot when in bloom. Otherwise I wait but I watch closely.
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Jul 5, 2010 3:11 PM CST
Yep, this is dark brown spotting, so sunburn was the culprit. I've tugged lightly at these damaged leaves, not ready to come off on their own yet, but they are bugging me, LOL.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Susan
Southeast NE (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Lilies Irises Cat Lover Dog Lover
Heucheras Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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stilldew
Jul 6, 2010 3:23 AM CST
Neal, I've only started growing orchids the last few months, so haven't had to worry about winter yet. Most of mine I think will be OK in the southwest window where they are now. I do have some humidity trays and will use a fogger part of the time in the winter to add more humidity. I turn the heat down to about 55-60 at night and then up to around 70 during the day in the winter. The 3 cyms I have will stay outside as long as I can get by with it, them may have to move them down to the basement at nights. I'm very much at the bottom of the earning curve right now. Just glad to have some in bloom.
Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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boojum
Jul 6, 2010 5:30 AM CST
I hear ya. I basically started just like you Susan. Do you have good light?
Name: Susan
Southeast NE (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Lilies Irises Cat Lover Dog Lover
Heucheras Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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stilldew
Jul 7, 2010 6:50 AM CST
My light is good when the sun is shining, but you know how winters are. I do have a number of plant lights and may add at least one of the 6 bulb T5 ones over my main stand this winter. I used it for seed standing tbis last winter and like it.
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Jul 7, 2010 7:51 AM CST
I don't know what's wrong with me, I have great success with a particular genus for a few years, then they go down hill. I had gorgeous Rex Begonias for a few years, now I have a couple that are struggling, and the rest don't look like they're even going to live. Did the same several years ago with African Violets and Streptocarpus, they were gorgeous for a few years and now I have none. Maybe its time for a successful stint with Orchids, for ever how long it will last. Guess I better wait till I see my first bloom to make that prediction, LOL.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Kathy
Western MA

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US Orchids Irises
Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Image
boojum
Jul 7, 2010 8:29 AM CST
That happens to me too Neal. In general, I think I go wild and collect too many of one type of plant to give them all individual care. But there is something about orchid spikes and hope for the future that spur me on. If I lose one and love it, I pout for a while and then buy another one!

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