800px winter im oberdorf Fürstenau, Winter im Oberdorf. Photography credit: Jens Jäpel

Caring for Orchids in Winter

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by Anu Dharmani

Originally published in BellaOnline

Posted by Sys Admin over 3 years ago.

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Winter is upon us, in the Northern hemisphere. For some orchids, it is the lean period of the year, they shed their leaves and sort of go into ‘hibernation’, this term is generally used for animals :) Such orchids are known as summer orchids. They are susceptible to low temperatures and require more care to survive during this period. But, how will you find out whether your orchid belongs to this group or not?

Summer orchids have active growth during summer months when they flower. After the flowering season ends, these orchids shed their leaves and survive in various forms; like pseudobulbs, leafless pseudostems, and underground parts such as rhizomes. These include orchids like: Bulbophyllums, Dendrobiums, Phaius etc. 

During the winters, the summer orchids rest and require some care to survive the harsh weather. To protect these orchids, here’s what you need to do:

If you are living in an area with temperate climate, you need to be more careful. Low temperatures can be quite harmful to these orchids, so they required more care. What you can do is:
• Shift your orchids inside; by inside I mean any place which is warm enough for the orchids and they do not freeze.
• Put orchids together in a group. This will protect them from cold and create a comfortable microclimate around the individual orchid inside the group. This should be done with a few precautions; like no water logging, frequent inspection of plants to check any infection. Infected orchid has to be segregated.
• Reduce watering frequency to once in a week. Quantity of water given to the orchid should also be less; just wet the roots or sprinkle little amount by your hand. Avoid ice cold water and overflowing water. Stop the practice of dipping the orchid in water during winters.
• Frequency of supplying fertilizers can also be reduced. This is because the orchid is now have a period of reduced growth.
• In case of pseudobulbs, you can bury these in underground. Underground temperatures remain warm even in peak winters.
• For orchids which still bear leaves, they should be provided with adequate light. As the intensity of light decreases in winter months, so you need to keep your plants in place where they can get maximum sunlight. If you can bring your plants, then keeping them near a fully sunlit window is good option. But keep the window shut to keep out the cold air from freezing the orchid. 

For those of you who are in tropical areas, not much needs to done to protect your orchids. At best you can shift them to a place which can shade them from winter wind and frost, like under a tree or a shed. You too (like those in temperate zones) should reduce watering and fertilizer application. The amount of watering and fertilizing should be according to the response of the orchid. Water the orchid when it starts to dry out.

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