Question and Answer

Subject: Growth cycles and watering
Date sent: Mon, 01 Oct 2001

Hi, My name is Sabrina,

I bought my first orchid about 6 months ago. I had it on a table in its original pot while it flowered for 3 months. When I bought the orchid it was already in flower, having 6 of its 8 buds open.

Under the advice of the nursery I bought the orchid from, I watered her once a week and keep it out of direct sunlight, but there was still sunlight on this pot for about 4 - 6 hours a day through an outdoor veranda with shade cloth and a sliding door. (What I would call filtered sunlight)

One by one the flowers died off, firstly becoming what I would call very vein like and falling off completely. I thought this was normal. I went back to the nursery to have a look around, like you do. And noticed a full table of orchids. I asked about them in more detail and was told that orchids do sleep for about 9 - 12 months before re-flowering again.

I do accept this piece of information, but is it right for my orchid to be "asleep" when all these others are out their flowering?
I have continued to water my orchid once a week and I do make sure she is moist all the time. The bottom two leaves have turned yellow and on the weekend just gone have fallen off. The remaining leaves are a beautiful green and nice and thick. (Although one, now the bottom one, is turning yellow) I would like some advice please. I want to make sure I am looking after my orchid right and ensure she has another flowering season.

I have gone through your site and looked at all the diseases and symptoms and my orchid isnít showing signs of anything you mentioned.

Thanks for all your help,

Hi Sabrina

Orchid flowers last 6-8 weeks on average - I presume you have a cattleya alliance plant - and they will rest. You can expect a flower when the new pseudobulb is made up, and that can take 9-12 months. So that is normal. There are many orchids, and they all flower at different times of the year, so it is normal to see different orchid flowers at different times of the year.

I note that your plant has leaves turning yellow and falling off. I would suspect that you may be over-watering. The mix of a cattleya alliance plant with its thick pseudobulbs needs to dry out slightly between waterings. It is very important that air be allowed to reach the roots as in nature these are exposed to the atmosphere. If kept wet all the time they will die, and this can affect the whole plant. It is always difficult to give watering guide-lines as growing conditions differ, but the top inch should be allowed to dry our for an inch or so before rewatering again. This can mean more that once a week watering in hot conditions, but may be longer in winter etc. I suspect that you may need to allow the plant to dry out. Have a look at the roots, they should be white with green growing tips. if they are black then they have died. If this is the case, allow the mix to dry out for a week or so, just mist the foliage, and then re-commence watering as noted above.

I presume you are in the US and that the plant is in a relatively fresh media - back or similar. If it has not been repotted for some time, you may have to repot in new mix

I hope these comments assist. You will appreciate it is difficult to diagnose by remote senses, but i suspect this may cover your situation


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