Extension News

Ask the ISU Extension Garden Experts: Pruning Shears and Moth Orchids

Note to media editors:

Got gardening questions? Call the Hortline at (515) 294-3108, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m., or e-mail us at hortline@iastate.edu. For more gardening information, visit us at Yard and Garden Online, http://www.yardandgarden.extension.iastate.edu.



Which type of pruning shears is best? 

Hand pruners or pruning shears are generally used for cutting branches up to 3/4 inch in diameter. There are two basic types of hand pruners. Scissor-types have curved blades that overlap (scissor action) when making the cut. Anvil-type pruners have a sharpened upper blade which cuts against a flat surface (anvil).  Each type is available in different sizes. Generally, scissor-type hand pruners are preferred over the anvil-types. Sharp, properly used scissor-type pruners make close, clean cuts. Anvil-types can’t cut as close as scissor-types and are more likely to crush stems when pruning. 

What is the proper care for a moth orchid? 

Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis spp.) are one of the easiest orchids to grow indoors. Moth orchids grow best in bright, indirect light. Direct sun actually may harm the foliage. Ideal sites are east- and north-facing windows. Plants in a south window will need to be shaded with a sheer curtain. Phalaenopsis orchids will not grow or flower well in poorly lit areas. Fluorescent lighting can be used to supplement natural lighting in poorly lit areas. Place the fluorescent fixture six to eight inches above the plants. The lights should be on for 12 to 16 hours each day. 

Moth orchids like a bark medium that is kept evenly moist. Plants should be watered well and then allowed to dry slightly between waterings. Water plants more frequently when they’re actively growing and during bloom. Plants are susceptible to root rots and death when watered too frequently. 

Moth orchids prefer temperatures between 65 and 80 F. Cool temperatures may help initiate flowers. Avoid exposing plants to temperatures below 60 F. 

Phalaenopsis orchids require a relative humidity of 40 to 60 percent. Unfortunately, the humidity levels in most homes during the winter months are well below this range. Humidity levels indoors can be increased with a room humidifier or by placing the plant on a tray or saucer filled with pebbles and water. The bottom of the pot should be kept above the water line. The evaporation of water from the tray will increase the relative humidity in the vicinity of the plant. 


Contacts :
Richard Jauron, Horticulture, (515) 294-1871, rjauron@iastate.edu

Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775, lsternwe@iastate.edu