While on the hunt for that miltonia I talked about a few days ago, I had an email chat with a wonderful grower named John, who sold me several interesting orchids last year. I asked him what it would take to induce flowers on my c. percivaliana var. semi-alba, and here’s what he told me:
"In regard to the C. percivalliana, as a matter of fact, yes, there is something that you can do to persuade it. That species blooms around Christmas. The trigger is the long nights, beginning about right now. So, be sure that you give it short days and long, uninterrupted nights. That means total darkness for at least 12, preferably 14 or 15 hours. It needs this treatment for about 4 to 6 weeks. Soon after, if not already by then, you will see buds coming up inside the flower sheaths. Good luck!"
Hmmm, a dilemna. I love coming home from work to an entire evening of light in my grow room, where I sit and stare and poke to wind down from a day at the office. Turning the lights on later in the day won’t work, because there are too many windows in the room. So, I sucked it up and re-set the timer to go off at 8pm. In a couple of weeks, I’ll (gulp) set it off to go off at 6pm. Until Christmas, when I hope to have not only cattleya but also lots of blooms on my Epiphyllums as well (Christmas cactus) as a result of the "dark" treatment.
I know — I’ll start setting it later on the Solstice (Dec. 21st). It’ll be my own personal indoor solstice celebration.