I bought a monkey-face orchid and it has bloomed for months, but the last flower just finished blooming. The plant looks healthy. Is there anything I can do to have it produce flowers again?
-- N. E. of Belleville
You really had me doing some research on this orchid. I knew it to be called the "moth orchid," and finally found that it's also called monkey-face in certain parts of the country. The scientific name is Phalaenopsis.
There are several different varieties, ranging from white to red and colors in between. This orchid needs a steady warm temperature as it doesn't bloom with air temperatures below 60 degrees. It also needs high humidity and floral buds will dry up and fall off if the air humidity drops too low.
It also needs bright light but never direct sunlight, which would burn the foliage. Water must be applied whenever the growing medium just begins to dry at the surface. You may need to mist it or place the plant and container on a tray of moistened pebbles.
Usually the growing medium does not hold too much water or many nutrients, so you will have to fertilize this orchid with an orchid fertilizer at one-quarter to one-half the recommended strength. If you do this, you could have these orchids blooming all year long. But if they have been under some environmental stress, you may have to baby them for a while to get them to bloom again.
I have a red twig dogwood. This plant has grown huge and I have noticed the twigs are not as red as when I first bought it. What can I do to get this great color back with the stems?
-- K. D. of O'Fallon
There are two different species of plants which people call red-twig dogwoods. One is Cornus sanguinea (blood-twig dogwood) and the other is Cornus sericea (Redosier dogwood). Hopefully you bought the Redosier dogwood, which will keep the bright red color on its stems. The blood-twig dogwood has only red portions of the stem. which have been exposed to bright sunlight; otherwise the shaded parts of the stem remain green. The true common name of the blood-twig dogwood comes from the fall leaf color and not the twig color.
In the spring, you will need to prune the stems as the bright red color is found only on the new stems formed that year. You need to prune the stems back to about 4 inches tall before any growth begins to form and the leaf buds begin to grow.
If your plant is not vigorous, you should remove only about one-third the length of the stem. This way, the shrub will only grow to 4 to 5 feet taller each year. Otherwise the shrub could grow to 10 feet or more if not pruned each year, and the older part of the stem does not color up well at all.
Do it now
SEEDS: Get your seed orders out. The earlier you send, them the better chance the company will not be sold out.
HOUSEPLANTS: Do not overwater your indoor plants as they should require less water during the winter months.
OLD SEEDS: Test any leftover vegetable and flower seeds for germination and do not plan on using them if there is less than 50 percent germination or if they seedlings do not look.
Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.