The winter orchid season is taking hold, and local venues such as the Norfolk Botanical Garden are bringing out all the blooms they have to show visitors the beauty and reward of growing orchids. Our greenhouse is also beginning to pop with cattleyas, laelias, dendrobiums and phalaenopsis, from bud to flower. The yellow orchid pictured above is Brassolaeliocattleya Malworth Orchidglade, a historic hybrid of the genuses Brassia, Laelia and Cattleya, sporting a large frilly lip with a slight peach blush. Malworth Orchidglade is a sizable plant, and for us here, it has some characteristics that we are looking for in a healthy plant. Well-developed roots, not wrinkled but plump and white, are the core to a healthy, blooming plant. At this time of year they may not have green tips, but that is just a sign of a nongrowing phase. The green tips will return when the temperatures warm, and the plant begins to put on next year’s growth. The bloom is from a new pseudobulb, not wrinkled or stunted during the past growing season. These new growths are the key to new spikes and sheaths, which ultimately lead to new flowers. We are very careful here at the Kaplan to protect them when working with the plants. If your plant has these features, it may be on its way to a bloom soon.
WINTER ORCHID TIPS n Watch the temperature. Fifty-five degrees is the lowest temperature your orchids should experience in winter. However, keeping them at a constant 68 degrees may not help them start a bloom spike. They like a temperature change from day to night.
n Scout for pests. I would like to say our greenhouse is pest-free, but breaks occur frequently and it is scouting that keeps the pests from reaching a damaging threshold. Identify your pest first, then research the villains thoroughly for a remedy that suits your needs. Persistence and continued scouting are the actions most critical to controlling any pest.
n Do not water more than needed. It is important to water throroughly in the sink for a minute or two. Avoid watering too often this time of year because of the chance of rotting roots. Make sure your plant’s orchid mix dries between waterings.
Next time you’re craving fresh biscuits for breakfast, try out this recipe for Beer Biscuits. You might want to double it so you have leftovers for dinner.
Whisk together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ¼ teaspoon salt.
Melt 5 tablespoons butter and add it to the dry mixture along with 1 cup of light (but not cheap) beer and 1 tablespoon honey. Using a large spoon, mix the ingredients until they are well-incorporated.
With some flour on your hands, transfer the dough to a floured surface. Using your hands, evenly pat the dough out so it is 1 to 2 inches thick. Cut out biscuits using a biscuit cutter or a knife.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place your biscuits on it so that they are touching. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.