All about orchids – Monthly Checklist

Because plant growth and flowering is in tune with the changing seasons, these monthly checklists will remind you of what needs to be done and when in your orchid collection throughout the year.

Organizing orchid culture and its chores by season is the best way to ensure your orchids get the proper care at the right time.  Becoming in tune with your plants’ growth cycles creates a connection with the natural world and makes you a better grower.

All Checklists are Courtesy of the American Orchid Society and Republished from The AOS copyright and contact information may not be removed or modified.

Checklist: January & February

Cattleya Watering and fertilizing will be at a minimum, as will potting. Be on the lookout for senescing sheaths on your winter-into-spring bloomers. Careful removal of the dying sheaths will still allow buds to develop without the danger of condensation-induced rot. Low light will lead to weak spikes, so, and as noted above, staking is critical. If you have a chance to get out to nurseries, there may still be a chance to acquire good plants in sheath for spring bloom. Getting them now not only ensures that you’ll have them, but allows them to acclimate to your conditions and bloom at their best.


Checklist: March & April

Cymbidium Plants should be putting on a spectacular show this time of year. Adjust all staking and twist-ties and be on the lookout for aphids, slugs and snails. Give adequate water because flowering strains the plants. As new growths appear later, increase the nitrogen level in the fertilizer. Should a plant look healthy but not be blooming, try increasing the light during the next growing season. The number-one reason for no flowers is lack of light.

Checklist: May & June

The Paphiopedilum Maudiae types will be well into their season now, so a careful eye should be used toward staking. Do not be too anxious to stake, however. Many of this type, if staked too soon, will develop nodding flowers that do not face the observer. It is better to allow the flowers to ripen naturally, then support the spike right below the ovary for best display. This is especially common in Paphiopedilum fairrieanum-derived hybrids. If you have to do something when you first see the emerging spikes, just put the stake in the pot next to the spiking growth. Not only will this help you, but you will be able to see where the spikes are, so you can continue to pay attention to their development.

Checklist: July & August

Phalaenopsis Most, if not all, potting should be complete by now. This month and next are when these plants achieve their maximum growth. This growth will be that from which they set their spikes for the coming season. The more leaves the plants grow, the better potential for spiking will be realized. Growers in cooler areas such as the Pacific coast have the advantage this month, should they choose, of cooling for early season spikes. Lots of heat and light call for liberal applications of water and fertilizer.


Checklist: September & October

Cycnoches This little-known and under-appreciated genus, which can have male or female flowers, is at its best in the autumn. Two of the spectacular varieties are Cycnoches loddigesii, with its large brown flowers resembling a prehistoric bird, and Cycnoches chlorochilon, the swan orchid. This last one has large, fragrant green flowers. The biggest problem, culturally, will be red spider mite infestations that require immediate attention. Plants are quite seasonal, requiring heavy watering in the growing season and then a drier dormant winter season.

Checklist: November & December

Vandaceous Genera Whereas the general decline in temperatures is beneficial to cool-growing orchids, it is not for vandaceous plants. The only cold-hardy member isNeofinetia falcata. Orient your plants in such a way as to take advantage of as much light as possible. This can be a problem in northern latitudes. Reduce watering and feeding schedules.