Orchids keep their cool

Writhlington students in wet forest at 1400m altidude in Costa Rica in 2005
Writhlington students in wet forest at 1400m altidude in Costa Rica in 2005

It seems that the summer is really here…..it must be because the older members of greenhouse club are stuck in exams all day! Summer is the time that most tropical orchids do most of their growing as summer is the wet season in tropical climates.

 So what should you be doing to keep your orchids happy? Summer for Writhlington’s orchids means lots of water, frequent feeding and lots of fresh air. If you have a look at our webcams you can watch our summer temperatures which we keep down with a combination of ventilation (all of the vents are open most days and the cooler sections often have vents open at night too) damping down (spraying the floor and walls with water that then evaporates to cool the greenhouse and also keep the atmosphere from becoming too dry) and shading (our shading operates on light sensors but is across on all sunny days from April – October).Of course we are trying to mimic summer conditions from the orchids’ natural habitats and draw on our experience of visiting tropical habitats in the summer including the mountains of Costa Rica.

The plants in ‘Cool Americas’ require this climate. We found it very wet (as shown in this photo) and never very hot. So maximum day temperatures of around 28 degrees C. At night the temperature fell to around 15 degrees C.

We have also visited lowland Guatemala in the summer where is contrast it was very hot with day temperatures from 28-34 degrees C and night temperatures falling at best to 23 degrees C. This is the climate we replicate in Warm Americas. Oh yes, and it was wet but not as wet as Costa Rica.


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