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October is a good month to think about caring for your orchids as many orchids have finished flowering and are about to go into their major growth period.

Cymbidium Care

Cymbidiums are the most popular orchids. They’re the ones with the tall flower spikes and bulbous swellings at the base of the long strappy leaves. This is the best time of year to tidy them up and get them ready for the new growing season.

Start by taking a good look at the orchid to see if the clump is crowded enough to need dividing. Sometimes this decision is easy: the bulbous bases are so crowded together that they’re almost bursting out of the pot. Or, there are a lot of dead bulbs in the pot. With either of these situations, it’s worth re-potting. But don’t rush into it – a plant can stay in the same pot for a number of years. And remember, after orchids have been divided it can take two or three years for them to reach flowering stage again.


How to re-pot your Cymbidium Orchid:

  • Remove the plant from the pot. Sometimes, it may be necessary to break the pot in order to free the orchid.

  • Take a knife or another similar tool and use it to lever between the bulbs. Separate the clump into at least two sections.

  • Remove most of the leafless, dead-looking or squashy bulbs. You can leave a single row of these back bulbs next to the leafy shoots. 

  • Check the roots for damaged, rotted or tangled sections. Remove these.

  • Choose new pots. Look for ones with plenty of drainage holes. Good drainage is important for orchids.

  • Part-fill the pot with Yates Thrive Orchid Potting Mix.

  • Sit the orchid in the pot and fill around it with the mix. Make sure that each bulb is sitting above the mix. 

  • Water well and sprinkle some pellets of Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food on top of the pot.

  • Begin feeding with Yates Thrive Orchid Liquid Plant Food every two weeks.

Caring For Other Orchids

Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis spp.) are becoming increasingly popular. These can be kept indoors permanently in a well lit position but will, once it’s reliably warm, appreciate a spell outdoors in a lightly shaded spot. These plants really appreciate humidity, so keep them well watered in hot weather and mist over the leaves regularly. Moth orchids can produce new shoots and buds from the stem that flowered last year, so only trim dead sections from flowering shoots.

Moth orchids can be re-potted into fine orchid bark every three years or so. If you have many plants feed fortnightly during the warmer months with a cost-effective concentrated formula such as Yates Thrive Orchid Plant Food.  For those that prefer a reminder on when it's time to feed (& no measuring or mixing) try Yates Thrive Indoor Orchids  Liquid Plant Food Drippers (just write the date on the back of the dripper to remind yourself, insert into the pot for 4 weeks feeding).  The other option for plant lovers who prefer "hidden" feeding is Yates Thrive Orchid Plant Food Spikes  - where you can just push the spike into the potting mix, water well and your orchid is slowly fed for up to 8 weeks.

Watch for mealybugs – Yates Nature's Way Organic Citrus, Vegie & Ornamental Spray Ready to Use will take care of most of the common pests, including mealybug.

Slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum spp.), so-named because their flowers resemble a dainty piece of lady’s footwear, will appreciate similar care. A break outdoors can be good for these plants, too, but because they’re naturally understorey dwellers, they can tolerate more shade.

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