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 MID AUTUMN CULTURE

    Now that we are entering autumn, reduce the amount of shading over the plants if you have not already done so. Plenty of bright light helps ensure maturity of the pseudobulbs, and development of the spikes. With colder weather, at least during the evenings, bringing into a protected area will ensure continued good growth. If grown in a glasshouse, day ventilation only may be appropriate.


    With cooler conditions generally, watering should be able to be reduced in frequency.


    Water early in the mornings as the plants must be allowed to dry out before nightfall. Water lying in the axis of the growths under cold night temperatures can give rise to rots in the new growths, often leading to the loss of next years growths. The use of fans running at night providing air movement in the glasshouse can reduce the risk of this loss occurring.


    By now all the final repotting should be completed before winter. Sufficient time must be allowed for the plant and particularly the root system to become re-established before the winter to enable it to survive that period. The use of a propagating bed providing bottom heat assists re-establishment and extends the period when repotting is possible.


    Spikes should not be appearing in abundance on all plants of sufficient size. If a plant is of sufficient size, but is showing no flowers, dry it out for a period. This can assist in ensuring maturity of the pseudobulb and encourage spike development.


    As the flower spikes lengthen, insert stakes to protect them - there is nothing worse than breaking one off accidentally after months of anticipation. The use of bamboo or wire supports are satisfactory, but remember to bend the tops of wire stakes over to ensure they do not poke an eye out when you inspect a plant closely. Do not insert the stakes around the edge of the pot. Most roots extend to the outside edges, and then run around the container. Root damage from stake insertion will usually be less if it is placed 25 mm in from the edge.


    When tying the spike to the stake, ensure further growth can take place. Also, remember different plants have different spike habits. Some plants produce erect, some gracefully arching, and some sharply pendulous spikes. Allowing natural spikeshape to develop will generally produce the best and most attractive display.


    As the spikes develop, do not alter the orientation of the plants with respect to the light source. If you pick a plant up, and put it down turned around somewhat, this can cause the spike to grow in a different direction to where it was. A bend spike is not attractive. Try and provide good even all rough light. Strong top of side lighting can result in pulling spike development in that direction. The effect of light on flower colour is not important until the buds exit the sheaf, and this will be covered in detail next month. Spike managemeut is more fully detailed on this page, click on the link.


    It pays to separate flowering and non-flowering plants, As those in flower are identified, spend a few minutes tidying the plant and its container up. Remove dead leaves and old leaf bases from the cymbidium back bulbs (split down the centre line and pull half to each side), generally making sure all is in order. If you check your plants at th is stage you can ensure there are no hidden problems, and reduce the grooming that will be necessary when the flowers are out, and the plants taken into the home, or to orchid meetings and shows.

I hope that you find the information in this site useful