FEBRUARY 2015 in your orchid collection
brought to you by Motes Orchids
V. Arjuna 'Illumined' AM/AOS x V. cristata


We are so glad that you are signed up for our monthly newsletter. We hope that it inspires you to continue beautifully growing your orchids.


January began warmer and drier than usual and ended cooler and drier. The occasional but voluminous rain that usually is wrung from cold fronts colliding with warmer moister air has not occurred this year. Overall this cool dry weather is beneficial to most of our orchids. Cattleyas are loving it! Our dormant genera including our cool loving dendrobiums are happy too. The warmer growing dendrobiums (sections Phalaenopsis and Spathulata), on the other hand, have received many more hours below their preferred minimum of 60F (15C). If they haven't been pampered, they will be showing their displeasure with extensive leaf loss: unsightly but not fatal. The lack of rain may be causing some of our cattleyas to show dehydration in their deeply furrowing bulbs. Now is a good time to flush excess fertilizer from the pots and medium with repeated drenching which will also serve to reconstitute the dehydrated bulbs.


While a little colder than ideal, the swing of day to night temperature is suiting our vandas well. Cooler temperature and more overcast means our vandas will be drying more slowly. Watering early in the day is imperative at this time of year. Be sure their crowns are dry before nightfall. A preventative spraying with Alliette or the other chemicals prescribed in Florida Orchid Growing (pgs. 166-168) for control of black rot is highly recommended. Be sure they are fed to maintain their growth and apply extra Epsom salts (1Tbs. per gal.) at any sign of reddening of the foliage.


Snails are also taking advantage of the above average temperature to start early on their foraging in the dews of February. Remember snail bait is only effective if applied lightly (1 pellet per square yard) and often (every two weeks).


Enjoy the increasing day length and incrementally increasing warmth. Tomatoes planted now will be producing fruit till June!


This weather is why we live in Florida and why our orchids do too. Enjoy!


Martin Motes

President, Motes Orchids


Spread snail bait lightly
Spread snail bait lightly again in two weeks
Spray for Botrytis using Florida-recommended fungicides or bicarbonate of soda
Begin spring potting
Watch for mites





FEBRUARY 7-8: Venice Orchid Show

Venice Community Center / 26 Nokomis Av / Venice

For more info, contact Carol Wood by clicking here 


FEBRUARY 7, 11:00 am: Free Class at Motes Orchids: Potting, Mounting etc. 

Motes Orchids / 25000 SW 162 Av / Redland

For more info, contact Dr. Motes by clicking here


FEBRUARY 14-15: Boca Raton Orchid Show

Safe Schools Institute /1790 NW Spanish River Blvd / Boca

For more info, contact Lorraine Conover by clicking here 

FEBRUARY 14, 11:00 am: Free Class at Motes Orchids: Growing Dendrobiums 

Motes Orchids / 25000 SW 162 Av / Redland

FEBRUARY 14, 12:30 pm: American Orchid Society Judging

Fairchild Tropical Garden / 10900 Old Cutler Rd / C.Gables

FEBRUARY 20-22: Naples Orchid Show
Moorings Presbyterian Church / 791 Harbor Dr / Naples

FEBRUARY 20-22: Redland Growers Open House and 
Short Course - Schedule to follow
For more info, contact Dr. Motes by clicking here

APRIL 1, 11:00 am: Free Class at Motes Orchids: Growing Phalaenopsis
Motes Orchids / 25000 SW 162 Av / Redland



February Climate Data:

Average high: 77.7

Average low: 60.7

Average mean: 69.1

Average rainfall: 2.07"


Despite the bloom on the avocados and the burgeoning new leaves on the live oaks, February is not spring in South Florida. Danger of freeze continues past mid month and frost can occur still into March. Even if the weather is balmy, it's too early to let down our guard or take down andy protection we have mounted against the cold. The trend, however, is toward the positive as each lengthening day brings extra hours of warming sunshine to begin waking our plants from their longs winter's rest.


February characteristically brings a wide swing of day to night temperatures, ideal for spiking ascocendas and vandas, but also writing from the air heavy dews and dense fog. Whilst these add a romantic atmosphere to the South Florida landscape, Wuthering Heights is singularly devoid of snails and slugs (much less Botrytis). The silvery carpet of dew provides a silky path to our orchids for snails and slugs which can range far, under these favorable conditions. They are eager to make a nice meal of your Phalaenopsis leaves or the soft crowns of your vandas before they retire during the dry months of March and April only to dream of the fresh shoots of the sympodial orchids brought forth by the first rains of May. Now is the time to give them a rude awakening. Remember that snail bait is most effectively applied lightly (scatter the pellets every few feet) and frequently (every 7 to 10 days). Two or three applications should do the job.


The heavy fog which can cause condensation on leaves even under cover can also bring trouble. Botrytis is a fungus disease that can disfigure flowers with small black spots. Particularly apparent and annoying on white Phalaenopsis, Botrytis can ruin other flowers as well. Control is typically achieved in commercial greenhouses with fungicide in aerosol forms and by running fans to prevent condensation on the flowers. The latter option is also available to collectors. A small fan turned on the spiking and opened flowers at night will greatly alleviate the pressure of Botrytis. So will, to a degree, the application of soap which we suggested in January to control mites. Bicarbonate of soda, ordinary baking soda, at 1Tbs. per gal will help as well. Quaternary ammonium compounds (Physan, RD40, Consan, pool algicide) also give some control. Maintaining long lasting flowers like Phalaenopsis, dendrobiums and bi-foliate cattleyas in more perfect condition is well worth the effort. Having waited so long for the flowers we want to enjoy them as long as possible and they do all last longer in cool weather.


The lower overall temperatures of February call for less frequent and lighter applications of fertilizer as was the practice in January. If any reddening of the foliage persists another application of Epsom salts (1Tbs per gal), preferably in combination with Potassium nitrate, is called for; Nitrate nitrogen being more available to the plants under cooler conditions. If your resolve holds steady not to water (or above all) fertilize those Himalayan dendrobiums, your reward may shortly become evident in bursting flower spikes.


Like the avocados and the live oaks, many cattleyas and other sympodial orchids have bloomed and are just commencing new growth in February. Right after flowering is usually an excellent time for repotting from the plant's perspective and the cool day time temperatures in the greenhouse are hospitable to the orchid grower as well. It's still a bit early to re-basket vandas But an early start on the cattleyas will allow plenty of time and energy for those Spring chores which are right around the corner. With that thought setting out to secure a good supply of pots in anticipation of the potting season ahead is on February's agenda.


 Dr. Motes brings over 50 years of experience growing orchids to bear on the problems confronting Florida orchid growers.
The follow-up volume that provides even more information about 
Dr. Motes' favorite topic: Vandas!

Mary Motes' comic novel: a hilarious romp through an imagined world of orchids very similar to our own.

Follow @MotesOrchids

Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter  

Motes Orchids is open only on days when classes are held. Click here to see upcoming dates. You can shop for seedlings in our virtual nursery anytime by visiting:

For further info, email Martin.Motes@gmail.com