Angraecum leonis

Monday, November 19, 2012

Angraecums & Old Man Winter

     This post should have been made about 3 - 4 weeks ago; as long as nothing is frozen over yet and there isn't several meters of snow, take the time to read it.  Especially those that haven't grown orchids through a winter season yet.

     For those of my Followers/Members and the many Regular Readers that live in the far reaches of the North and get to experience Old Man Winter at his most coldest and shortest of days; be prepared to pay extra attention to your Angraecums and other orchid genera's.  Believe me when I tell you that I have experienced winter.  I used to live in an area of the Northeast US that is greatly effected by Lake Effect Weather.  Examples follow:

     1.  Water turns to ice immediately upon contact:
2.  Rivers, lakes and your pool quickly freeze:
3.  The snow begins to fall, sometimes to much:
4.  How much clothing do you need to stay warm:
     If conditions are anything like the above images, its time to make some changes to your Angraecum/Orchid collection.  It is time to Winterize (actually, you should have started a couple of weeks ago)!
     As I have said in so many of these posts, "Angraecums are sub-tropical to tropical plants."  Think about putting your plants in areas that will not be as cold as the windowsill that they sat on most of the spring through the early fall.  Air temperature right next to that glass can be 10 - 20 degrees F cooler than a table that sits several feet away (1-2m).  Especially older homes that use the older type of storm windows if any at all.  The plants will deal with temperatures in the mid to upper 60s F (don't keep them there to long); but will fare much better in an area that is in the low to mid 70s F.
     If the air temperature is warm enough to keep them closer to the glass you may want to consider using a slight translucent material such as frosted plastic to soften the light. With the light coming in from one direction, you can rotate the plants every couple of days to prevent them from growing at harsh angles.
     Air quality is important.  Humans as well as plants can suffer when the air becomes stagnant.  Use a small fan to keep air circulation going.  When closed up in a house during these winter months, plants can begin to suffer without good air movement.
     You must also think about the amount of light you will loose when you move those plants away.  One option is to get a wire rack with shelves that can accommodate sets of grow lights.  The amount of time that your plants are exposed to light will be less during the cooler months.   If that isn't feasible, move the plants into a room or rooms that get east and/or west sunlight.  With the plants further away from the windows, the direct sunlight coming in from these directions will help.
     During drier and cooler times of the year it is suggested that the amount of watering be cut back.  This is a true statement, however, be sure to do the research on your plants (if unable to find the culture information for your Angraecum/Orchid, write in the comments section at the end of this post and I will certainly help).  Some of the Angraecums are year round growing plants and will require most of that moisture.  Keep the potting material moist/damp, do not let it dry out.  With winter's drier air, I suggest that you put the pot into a small dish with marbles in the bottom and keep the marbles just about, not quite submerged in water.
     One of the things I DO NOT forget to do is to fungicide my plants just before the on-set of winter.  It is warmer here in South Florida; but with temperatures getting ready to drop into the 50/60 degree average at night and even into the low 40s F, plants can be susceptible to fungus'.  Use a systemic fungicide and cover the entire plant with the liquid.  Do your best to get the underside of all of the leaves and the potting material in which your plant sets.
     You can back off on the frequency in which you fertilize.  That can be done by using a weaker dilution or by increasing the number of days in between fertilizing.  If you treat your plants every 7 days in warmer months; in drier and cooler months try every 14 days.
     For those of you that have green houses; be sure to continue to use fungicides.  Watering can be backed off as long as the humidity range doesn't drop below 65 - 70%.  Fertilizer can also be used with less frequency (every 10 - 14 days).
     These are suggestions.  Keep an eye on your Angraecums and other orchids.  Be prepared to deal with any and all issues.  I talk to numerous professional growers on a regular basis that successfully grow in these drier and cooler conditions.  I can only imagine what heating costs are when you're dealing with several feet of snow and temperatures that dip down below freezing.  I lived in that type of weather once upon a time.  I thoroughly enjoy the sand, sun and palm trees today.  But most of all, I enjoy the sub-tropical weather during the winter months that allows me to grow without a major fear of frozen plants.
     To all of you dealing with Old Man Winter, enjoy the skiing, ice skating, sledding (I miss this) and the snow mobiles.  In a couple of months, you'll be planting your gardens again and moving some of your orchids outdoors.  If you have any questions, please post it in the Comments section of the post or you can email me at .         

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Angraecum calceolus

     Angraecum calceolus originates from Madagascar and the surrounding islands.  It can be found extensively at the base of trees and thick brush in humid areas at sea level and to the altitude of about 6,700 feet (2,000m).  The English translation of the name means 'the little shoe'.
     The root system on Angcm. calceolus is very numerous and is heaviest at the base of the plant; however the more mature the plant becomes, it will put out roots from the stem to within about 4 inches (10cm) of the crown.  The stem itself can grow to a height of about 7 1/2 - 12 inches (20-30cm) although the average maximum height in culture doesn't exceed 8 inches (23cm).

Angraecum calceolus' root system

     There can be up to ten leaves on the plant which can reach a length of 6 1/2 - 8 inches (16-20cm).

Angraecum calceolus with additional plants at the base
and in flower on 6 - 18 inch (15-45cm) long wiry inflorescence.
     Angcm. calceolus will do well mounted to various slabs and wood as well as potted / baskets of 4 - 5 inches (10-13cm).  They have a tendency to grow like weeds and can become heavy clumped specimens in a short period of time.  New plants will develop at the base and often on the lower sections of the stem.  Angcm. calceolus is considered a compact plant and will do very well in the colder reaches of the northern hemisphere; it should however be kept out of temps of 60 degrees F or lower.  If you see ice forming on a window in the winter, keep the plant away from it. 
     During the warmer late spring into the early fall while temps are warm, water the plants that are potted or in baskets every three days.  Back off the watering to every 5 - 7 days during the cold winter months.  Any plants that are mounted should be watered every day during the warm months and every 3 - 4 days during the winter.  When watering both the mounted plants and those in containers, be sure to water the potting material, mounted material or bare roots only.  Try not to get excess water on the leaves.  Too much water sitting up against the stem can and will cause stem rot.  Fertilize every 7 days summer and winter.  Use a systemic fungicide every 30 days and a topical for minors issues when needed.  Be sure to spray the entire plant then; especially the bottoms of the leaves.
Angraecum calceolus
     The average inflorescence is usually about 12 inches (30cm) long and has reached a length of 18 inches (45cm) on several occasions.  There can be 1 - 3 branches on the inflorescence that are 4 - 6 inches (10-15cm).  The number of flowers will range from 4 -6 on a less mature plant with up to fifteen flowers on a mature specimen.  The peduncle is very stiff and wiry and have blackish bracts every 3/4 - 1 1/4 inches (2-3cm) apart. Flowers are about 1 1/4 inch (3cm) long with a club shaped nectar or spur.  Flowers are of a green tint.
     The flowers of Angcm. calceolus do not open in any one direction.  Because of their small make up on being borne on such a wiry platform, it is not unusual to see about 10% of them self pollinate.  They may not be the showiest Angraecums you can own; but they do grow quickly and have a very unusual flower.  Keep in mind that they take up very little room.
Angraecum calceolus with ants and aphids
     Up until recently, the only pest issue I've had to deal with was aphids.  As you can see in the image above, an ant is farming the aphids.  It collects the waste from the aphids to use as fertilizer for their own food source.  Using a mild insecticide will eliminate and prevent this problem from occurring.
Angraecum calceolus