Peonies Plant of The Week

Traveling American back roads, abandoned farmsteads come into view. More times than not, a thriving peony (Paeonia spp.) bush stands guard. Time your visit right, and you’ll be greeted by intoxicating blooms. The sight and smell testify to the tough beauty and resilience of these gorgeous old-time plants. Under the right conditions, they’ll live a century. Deserted homesteads provide excellent clues for peony care.


Most modern peony hybrids descend from Asian ancestors cultivated for thousands of years. Herbaceous plants, they die back to the ground every winter. Once established, like those farmstead stalwarts, peonies prefer to be left alone. For maximum blooms and health, give them permanent sites with direct, full sun at least six to eight hours daily. Hotter climates demand filtered sun for sunburn protection, but more shade means fewer flowers. Garden peonies need extended cold exposure to set their finest blooms. They flourish in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 9

Give peonies good air circulation and room to grow. Depending on variety, they reach 2 to 4 feet in height and spread. Humid climates or crowded situations leave peonies susceptible to fungal disease. Also, their shallow roots lose out on nutrients and moisture if they compete with other plants. For container peonies, select pots at least 18 to 24 inches in diameter and wider than they are deep. Remember, plants have less cold tolerance in containers than in the ground.

Peonies’ spring and early summer blooms are stunning. Ranging 2 to 10 inches wide and single to fully double, the flowers run pure white to deep chocolate-maroon. Colorful flares often splash their insides. By staggering varieties with different bloom times, peony season can stretch six to eight weeks. Deadheading keeps blooms coming, but the end is inevitable. Plan interesting companion plantings with later bloom times, complementary textures, fall color or interesting fruit.


Garden peonies grow back each spring from thick tuberous roots with growing points known as “eyes.” You can buy container-grown peonies, but consider fall-planting bare root instead. Look for roots with at least three to five eyes, and plant them about six weeks before your garden normally freezes. This gives roots time to settle in their new home. Don’t expect blooms for the first year.

Good drainage is critical to peony health. Poorly drained, soggy soil is their number one killer. Prepare the site by incorporating plenty of organic matter, and plant the fleshy tubers – “eyes” up – about 2 inches deep. Never plant deeper; roots need plenty of oxygen. Plant too deep and you may not see blooms for years. Wait until the ground freezes, and then apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch.


Throughout the growing season, water established peonies when the top several inches of soil feels dry. A finger’s length is a good measure. To reduce the risk of disease, avoid overhead watering. Use drip irrigation, or water the plant’s base instead. As soon as spring shoots emerge, get peony hoops in place for extra support. You’ll need them when heavy blooms fill with rain. Don’t worry; bushes fill in fast to camouflage the hoops.

To harvest cut flowers, always leave uncut stems with at least three to four leaves each. Limit your bouquets to less than one-third of the blooming stems. Garden peonies rely on their foliage to refuel underground tubers with food for next year. Like tulips, they need foliage in place as long as possible. Once frost turns your peonies black, cut them back to the ground. Disease can overwinter on peony debris, so dispose of all the cuttings. Never compost them. Then settle in yourself to await the next round of spectacular spring blooms.

Understanding Your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone

One of the first things gardeners should learn is their garden’s plant hardiness zone. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plant hardiness zone map is the most widely used zone system in the United States. Nearly every plant you purchase, other than an annual, comes with a tag that includes recommended USDA zones for that plant. By matching your garden’s zone with zone ratings on plant labels, you can know which plants should flourish at your home.

The newest version of the USDA zone map was released in 2012. Based on thirty years of weather data from 1976 through 2005, it’s the most accurate and detailed USDA plant hardiness map yet. The current map divides the country into zones labeled 1 through 13, each spanning 10-degree Fahrenheit increments. The lower the zone number, the colder the winter lows in that zone. Each zone gets refined even further into 5-degree increments labeled “a” or “b.” For example, lows in USDA zone 5a usually drop about 5 degrees colder than in zone 5b.


It’s important to know that USDA zone information is a guide, not a guarantee. Hardiness zones aren’t based on the lowest possible temperature for an area. Zone information doesn’t reflect the lowest historic minimums or possible future extremes. Instead, they average the annual extreme minimums over the 30-year time frame. Severe cold in any given winter – or unseasonably early or late freezes – can set plant hardiness zone ratings on their ears.

When plant growers determine cold hardiness zones for new introductions, rankings refer to the root hardiness of the plant, not necessarily plant parts above ground. A shrub rose, for example, might be rated cold hardy to USDA zone 3. A normal zone-3 winter could kill that plant back to the ground – or at least down to snow and mulch cover. A hardy rose grown on its roots, not grafted onto another, should survive below ground and spring back from its roots. Canes above ground may or may not survive any given year. Hardiness estimates also assume plants enter winter in excellent health.


Your garden’s annual extreme minimum temperature doesn’t limit you to plants rated for that zone. Gardeners tend to be an adventurous lot. We eventually try plants rated outside our growing zone. Nothing wrong with that, just don’t be upset if a plant doesn’t make it or doesn’t perform as you think it should. Extra mulch or burlap wrapping can do wonders. Remember, zones go both ways – cold and hot. Some plants need cold exposure to bloom or fruit well. They survive winter in warmer zones, but forget about blooms or berries!

When growing plants marginal in your hardiness zone, microclimates come into play. Concrete and asphalt in cities collect and hold heat, creating heat islands and mini zones. The same thing happens around your home. Planting sites against south-facing walls or with concrete-reflected heat stay warmer than exposed areas. Protected, sheltered corners do the same. Higher elevations are cooler, but low-lying areas produce frosty pockets much colder than high spots nearby. By using these individualized microclimates to your advantage, you can grow things your neighbors cannot grow. Use USDA plant hardiness zones as a helpful guide, then go ahead and push that envelope.

How to Make Origami Pots in Under 5 Minutes

My wife and I have some big plans this Spring for our vegetable gardening. We are purchasing a new home though so we can plant all vegetables we might have hoped to. Instead we are starting a bunch of seedlings in pots where we currently are and will plant when we move into the new home. This need brought on this latest article about how to make origami pots for seedlings.


I made a video showing you all the steps I took to make these pots which you can watch below. I also created a .pdf diagram that you can download and use as you please, and finally I took some progress pictures so you can follow along. Let me know if you try this in the comments below

How to Grow Sunflowers

The hardest thing about knowing how to grow sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) is deciding which ones to grow. Nearly fail-proof, they’re a great project for kids and new gardeners. Besides the classic golden yellow flowers, colors range from deep burgundy, russet and chocolate to lemony yellow, blazing bicolors and pale vanilla. There’s a sunflower for every garden, whether 15-foot giants or tiny dwarfs for balcony pots.


Sunflowers grow a long central taproot that doesn’t like to be disturbed. Rather than starting seeds indoors, sow directly to your garden. Sunflowers grow bigger and stronger in return. Any soil type is fine, as long as it has good drainage. Pick a site that gets at least six to eight hours of direct daily sun — the more, the better.

For best results, cover the area with 3 to 4 inches of compost, and work it into the soil to create a loose, fertile home for roots. For smaller varieties, no fertilizer is needed. Bigger varieties benefit from a boost. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer — one with all three numbers the same. Work it into the top few inches of your sunflower bed to provide season-long nutrition.


Sunflower seedlings resist some cold, but for most areas, wait until at least two weeks before your last expected spring frost before you sow. As you plan, think how tall your sunflowers may grow and where their shadows will fall. Plant the tallest varieties to the north side of shorter plants, so everyone ends up with sun.

For rows, make a shallow trench and plant seeds 1 to 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Cover the seeds with soil, and keep them well watered. You’ll see sprouts in seven to 10 days. For continuous blooms, sow a row every two to three weeks; you’ll have cheery blooms until frost. Most sunflowers mature in 80 to 120 days.


Sunflowers don’t like competition from weeds — or other sunflowers. Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch to keep weeds down. Once seedlings begin to grow, thin them to 2 feet apart for large varieties and 1 to 1 1/2 feet apart for dwarf and medium types. The more room they have, the larger and stronger they’ll grow. If growing smaller varieties for cutting or in pots, crowding is okay. Space seeds 2 to 6 inches apart for thinner stems and smaller, but beautiful, flowers.

Sunflowers tolerate drought once established, but moisture is critical between three weeks before and three weeks after flowering starts. Water plants deeply and thoroughly. Then let soil dry before watering again. This helps roots grow deep and strong. If growing multi-head types or giants, heads can get heavy. Stake large sunflowers, so heads don’t snap in winds or heavy rains.


If you want seeds, think ahead and protect seed heads from birds. Cover them with mesh bags or other protective netting. Seeds are ready once the back of the flower head turns from green to yellow and the tiny petals dry to expose brown seeds. Usually the head begins to droop, too. Cut the head off and hang it upside down in a cool spot with good air circulation, and let it dry fully. Then collect your seeds.

Sunflowers are packed with protein, iron, potassium and vitamins B and E. Toast the seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or oven toast them on a cookie sheet or shallow pan for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For rich, slow-roasted flavor, soak the seeds in strong salt water overnight and roast them at 200 degrees for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until crisp. Enjoy!



I know I’m not unique but I’m guessing I’m certainly not typical in my gardening passion. I started gardening as a freshman in high school, building gardens retaining walls, and eventually a waterfall and pond before graduating. One thing I haven’t done that really is a shame is incorporate garden art into my gardens. I’m missing a whole world of incorporating other artists creations into my garden. I always want to incorporate garden art with my landscape design clients, but for understandable reasons most people have trouble justifying spending even more money on garden art.

Plants and garden structures offer and endless opportunity to craft a landscape, but bringing some sort of garden art in to a garden increases the opportunities and tools you have to beautify your gardens. Depending on what art you bring into your garden you may have a great opportunity by sculpting light to enhance your garden. It’s sad but so many people miss the opportunity to enjoy their gardens at night. The night offers a calmer setting to sit and relax. The dilemma is that you must have a reason to come out and enjoy the gardens at night. Lighting up a piece of art is a great reason to come out of your home and take an evening stroll through your gardens. Lighting garden art at night is liking getting twice the art for the same price. While you have limited control over how the light during the day illuminates your art, you have complete control how it is shown at night. You could choose to back light the art or down light it the options are vast. You can even use the light from a fire to dance all over your light with its red glow.

During the day you can use tree branches and arbors to filter the light the hit a piece of art in your garden. Can you picture a stone garden path in front of you leading you into a shade garden and at the end of the path there is a beautiful piece of art with the bright light of the day shining on it. By cutting the right branches in the tree above you can create an appealing contrast of light and darkness.


Wood, Stone, and Metal. There are some great options for materials when you’re looking to incorporate art in the garden. The three I mentioned before are my favorite materials to use because they can age with your garden and find a maturity you just can’t buy.


When I think of wooden art used in the garden I think about the Adirondack chairs I picked out years ago and the drift wood I’ve collected over the years and placed in my garden. Watching wood age and color over the seasons really make it part of a garden. When I picked out my Adirondack chairs I spent months hunting down the exact style I wanted. I ended up ordering them from northern Canada and having them shipped to me in pieces. My father always mentions that they should be sealed and stained but I would have missed the beautiful gray color they became.

There are some amazing wooden arbors out there as well. I’ve always wanted to build one of these arbors built out of twigs and branches. Don’t get me wrong people create some amazing works with manufactured lumber but the imperfections of wood used in its natural state makes a garden seem more relaxing to me. The wood may rot and gray and some day you may need to replace it, but nothing in the garden is forever and most gardeners love a good project.

I think I may have to try my hand at building one of these this year. In fact maybe my fiancé and I can get married under it and then we can bring it back home for our garden. We’ll see if I can find the time, I’ll be sure to shoot some video if I do.


I love stone art, just like wooden art it will age in the garden. Gray stone or concrete pieces will gain black spots and even moss at times. Weathered stone can really make a garden seem established and aged. Stone is a really diverse material when you look at all the shapes that can be found or created with it. I’ve found hundreds of large rocks that look great just the way I found them and are ready to be placed in a garden, but there are also amazing stone carving out there that really creative.


Metal garden art may be the most diverse material found in the garden. I went to school in a small little town that house that was home to a world-famous artist who worked in wrought iron. Some of the fences and arbors he created where just stunning. Besides all the things you can make with metal you can also use found objects. I’m a garage sale and flea market junkie on the weekend when I’m not at the farm market or in my garden. When I’m at these sales I’m always looking for objects to incorporate in my yard. I’ve bought an old 5 gallon milk jug to build a water fountain, I’ve picked up an old kinked trumpet so I could set it in my garden and let metal patina over the years. I know this isn’t metal but I even picked up several sections of an old picket fence from the side of the road one time to used as a screen in my garden.

Garden art is such an underutilized feature in the gardeners tool bag of design. It’s also one the things that set an extraordinary garden apart from basic gardens. It’s design aspect that is so attainable by all gardeners too. You can spend a few thousand dollars on a piece of garden art or you can be like myself and spend a 20 spot on an old milk jug from a farm.

I would love to hear about how other gardeners use art  in their gardens!

Composting | A Gardener Without Compost Is No Gardener At All

In 340 B.C. the great Greek historian Herodotus noted that the soils of Egypt were the foundation on which Egyptian civilization was built. Just like ancient Egypt’s civilization relied on the soils so do every gardeners success. Some how people have been able to forget the importance of soil cultivation at times, does The Dust Bowl sound familiar? For gardeners composting is one of the greatest ways they can tend to the quality of their soil. Composting can be an intimidating thing to take on for the beginning gardener and through this article I’m going to try to demystify some of the keys to beginning a compost bin.


With a compost pile in your yard you will have a constant supply organic material ready to be added to your top soil. By mixing fresh compost into your soil you can amend the soil structure, bringing sandy and clay soils closer to the desired loam structure.

Adding compost to your soil has the ability to regenerate poor conditions. Micro-organisms like  bacteria and fungi help break down your compost into humus. Humus is a nutrient rich material that holds water well, both conditions important to gardens. Some studies have even show that compost can keep plant disease and pests at bay, this can cut your need for chemical fertilizers, and give gardeners bigger harvests.


A benefit of composting is the reduced need to send spent materials to landfills, reducing the production of methane and leachate. Storm-water runoff is a huge problem and keeping a compost bin reduces the amount of containment’s that will be included in the storm-water runoff. Adding compost to embankments and parallel to creeks, lakes, and rivers can cut erosion. By building your own compost bin you reduce the use of landfills which will help reduce the need to build more landfills.


Before anyone takes on starting a new compost pile they need to understand these 5 keys to composting. If you fail to understand these principles your compost can fail and I want every one to succeed. So before you get started lets cover the 5 principles:

  1. Nutrient balance and Feed stock. A good balance between green organic material (grass, food scraps, and manure) and brown organic material (dry leaves, wood chips, branches). Green organic materials contain high amounts of nitrogen while brown organic material has high amounts of carbon. Getting a good balance between these two types of materials may take some experimentation on your part, but soon enough you’ll develop a feel for this.
  2. Material size. If you take the time to tear up, break, or shred the materials you add to the compost pil you will increase the surface area which will allow the microorganisms to feed on the material at a greater speed. By decreasing the size of the materials inside of your pile you also improve the insulation of the pile, making it easier to reach the optimal temperature (see below) for your compost pile.
  3. Moisture levels. A good supply of moisture is needed to help the microorganisms inside your compost. If you choose to compost inside of a closed bin with a roof you may need to water your compost pile occasionally.
  4. Oxygen flow. This is the step you will really want to think about before starting your compost pile. Aerating the pile is important, it allows for decomposition to take place at an increased rate. Over aerating the pile is also a concern though as that could dry it out and stop the composting process. You can use a pitchfork to turn your pile over, you could place pipes underneath your pile, or create a base layer with larger pieces of organic material like wood chips or shredded newspapers.
  5. Temperature. Those microorganisms that are so key to the composting process are pretty picky about the temperature they will work in. Keeping your compost pile in the right temperature range will help speed up composting and crush pathogens and weed seeds. The temperature inside of your compost pile can actually get as high as 140° F. If you don’t keep your pile at a good temperature rather than experience the benefits of composting your experience the downside of rotting.

How to Recycle K Cups

I’m not a coffee snob, I’m  a coffee hog. I can go from the high end americano at the coffee shop to the black sludge at my favorite greasy spoon (local diner). Sense Cara and I moved in together I’ve been a k cup user and abuser, burning through at least three of them a morning. I leave a pretty heavy trail of plastic containers in the wake of my coffee condition and I don’t always feel so hot about throwing out all that plastic so I wanted to figure out how to recycle k cups.

If you’ve been under a rock for the last few years and don’t know what a k cup machine is then I’ll give you a quick break down and what machine I’m attached to. K cups are single servings of coffee used by a Keurig machine designed to handle these single serve shots of coffee. Rather than waking up and pouring a cup from a pot your spouse might have made an hour before you just throw in a k cup and you have an instant cup of coffee. You can see the machine we own to the right.

CNBC covered this awhile ago and I’ve attached the video for you to check out.


Sense the it doesn’t seem recycling center can handle this waste product I wanted to try to see if I could handle it within our home. So before I tried to figure out how to recycle a k cup I had to understand what was inside of it, so from top to bottom:

  • aluminum foil lid
  • coffee grounds
  • heat sealed paper filter – I believe the “heat seal” just refers to how it is attached.
  • plastic cup

From the CNBC story it sounds like the problem isn’t the components of the k cup can’t be recycled but that  they’re attached in such away that makes them to difficult and time-consuming to recycle. So I have a couple of ideas on how to do this, if you have anymore I would love to hear them!

  • The aluminum foil is simple enough, I just need to peel off as much as I can after I’ve used my k cup. After that I can store them in a container until I have a collection and press them together with my hands and toss it in with my normal recycling.
  • The coffee ground will go into my little crock I got on sale which I hold organic material in until I’m ready to take it out to my compost heap.
  • The filer is made of plastic so that should be fine in my heap as well. I just have to tear that away from the plastic part of the k cup.
  • Now the plastic k cup might be the hardest thing for me to handle. Assuming I managed to remove all the aluminum foil and paper I should be able to recycle that with the rest of my recyclable, but I’ve yet to get a system down to do that consistently. Sense the plastic k cups all ready have a hole in the bottom from the brewing process I may be able to fill them with potting soil and start seeds in them indoors. I need some more useful ideas for the cups though.
  • I know it’s not perfect but it may just relieve some of the guilt I’ve felt every time I toss one of the k cups into my garbage.

How to Make Concrete Planters

Like a lot of people I can get sucked in to Pinterest and end up killing an entire hour. I’ve gotten some good recipes on there and tried some of the crafty projects, some are great and some are complete failures. I’ve been on Pinterest for 2 or 3 years now and I’ve always seen the concrete planters floating around and I finally decided to tackle them. I’m happy to say this project came out just like I expected and was super easy.


  • 80 pound bag of Quickcrete Concrete Mix – $3.80
  • 1 Quart bucket (found in the paint isle at Home Depot) – $1.18
  • 2.5 Quart bucket (found in the paint isle at Home Depot) – $2.18
  • 6 Gallon bucket – not totally necessary but minimized the mess while making these inside – $0 I all ready had one but I think they go for a few dollars


Before I started I needed to do a little math to figure out how much concrete mix and water I would need. I found it easier to work in ounces so I converted all my measurements to them: 80 pound bag of concrete is 1280 ounces, 2.5 Quart container is 80 ounces, and my 1 quart container will be pushed down to the 26 ounce line. I subtracted my 26 ounces from the 80 ounces to figure out home much concrete I would need, 54 ounces of concrete.

To calculate how much water I would need to mix the concrete I looked at the directions on the bag which call for 3/4 Quart of water to an 80 pound bag of concrete. I did this a little backwards but I divided the 54 ounces that I needed to make my concrete planter by the 1280 ounces in the concrete bag to get the percentage of the concrete bag I would be using. The result was 4%, so I figured out the 4 percent of 3/4 Quarts of water which came to 3.84 ounces and I rounded up to 4 ounces.


  1. I started by filling my blue 80 ounce bucket with the concrete mix. I used my 1 Quart bucket to fill up the bucket. Loading it twice with 24 ounces of concrete and then a load of 6 ounces.
  2. With my bucket filled with concrete I created a little depression in the center and added my 4 ounces of water and began to mix the concrete with my hand. If you try this yourself remember to make sure and get all the concrete mix at the bottom turned up and wet down. I ended up adding another 6 ounces of water to create a more water downed slurry. The added water made it easier to mix the concrete. Be careful when adding water though, adding to much can keep your concrete from drying out (I ran in to this problem on the third one I tried).
  3. After the all the cement was mixed thoroughly I took my 1 Quart bucket and began twisting it into the concrete. I shimmied it down far enough that it aligned with the 26 ounce mark.
  4. To help my concrete container set up I turned my oven on its lowest setting, which was 170 degrees and set the concrete container inside the oven for 4-5 hours. When the concrete was dry enough it just has a little shine to the top lip.
  5. Once the concrete container was dried I pulled it from the oven and let the plastic cool down just enough so I could handle it easily. Working the container out of the buckets is easier to do with the plastic still fairly warm. I twisted the interior 1 Quart bucket out first and then flipped the concrete and 80 ounce bucket upside down. With a bathroom towel underneath it I began tapping on the bucket until the concrete container popped out.

That’s really all there is to create your own concrete containers. Now I only spent 7 dollars on this but if I were to use the entire concrete bag for planters I would get 23 concrete containers. That’s a total of 23 cents per concrete container, pretty cost-effective and way more fun then buying them from a garden store.

I’m going to be working on an article about all the possibilities to style and stain these concrete pots so check back later!

How to Care for Orchids

I’ve been so frustrated with orchids over the years I’ve stopped buying the as gifts it seems like the average person doesn’t know how to care for an orchid. I had decided to finally learn how to care for an orchid and I want to try to share some of that know ledge with you. I got this free eBook that helped me out and I’ll link to it later in the article. Sense there are in excess of 26,000 varieties of orchids I’m going to try to offer some basic help for people looking to care for an orchid indoors. Most people get orchids and from grocery stores or plant sales and generally the variety you see most often is phalaenopsis.


However you may have gotten your orchid there are some first steps you will want to follow when you first get it home.

  • Wait To Re-pot Your Orchid – If you re-pot an orchid to soon you may cause it to stop flowering prematurely. Wait until the flowers have reached their peak before you re-pot an orchid.
  • How To Water An Orchid – As long as your orchid is still bloom and potted in the sphagnum moss you should water only when the moss is firm and dry to the touch. Generally watering is required once a week. You water temperature should not differ from the ambient temperature in the room by more than 15 degrees. You want to make sure that there isn’t any standing water on your pot as this can create and environment that breeds deadly disease and bacteria for the orchids.
  • Care After Orchid Blooms Fade – Once the flowers of your orchid have run their course you can decide if you want to re-pot the orchid or cut the flower stem off above the first node (inflorescence). Cutting of the stem is not advised as it cause your orchid undue stress and may prevent a bloom in the following year.


If re-potting is the route you have chosen then you need to begin by building a potting mix of 1 part #3 charcoal, #3 perlite, and clay pellets or wood bark. This mix is easily found at garden stores but if you’re an online shopper or if the garden centers are closed for the winter you canpick some up from Amazon here. You will also want to upgrade to a larger pot, you can find some pretty ones on amazon.

  1. Once you have your plant container and your potting soil on hand remove the root ball or your orchid from the pot.
  2. Holding your orchid in one hand and being careful to hurt any of the petals you can remove the sphagnum moss from the roots and throw it away. Now is the time to take a look a the root system and spot any dead roots. If you can see and dried out or moldy roots pinch off the outer parts, there may still be a core attached.
  3. Before you begin to re-pot your orchid place a few rocks in the bottom of your pot. This added weight from the rocks will help anchor the roots and prevent the orchid from tipping over from the weight of the flowers in the following year.
  4. With one hand you want to hold the orchid in the pot and keep the base of the leafs around half an inch from the top of your new pot. With your free hand begin to trowel in your new potting mix, tapping the pot or work surface occasionally to help settle the potting soil and stabilize the orchid. Water the soil in to help it settle and fill with more soil if necessary.
  5. Now it’s time to get a watering schedule. If you’re keeping it indoors you want to pic a shady place and water once a week. If you’re going to place your orchid outdoors you may need to bump up the watering occurrence to twice weekly depending on the heat conditions.

You can also grow orchids in grow tents. Find how to purchase on here.


To make sure your orchid will bloom next year you need to make sure the plant experiences some cooler temperatures at night in the 50′s (fall time). Although this is easy enough to provide for the plant by simply putting it outside over night most people forget this step. While cool temperatures are needed for an orchids cycle if you expose the plant to frost, so bring it in before the first frost of the fall. Orchids need total of ten nights with cooler temperatures, once that’s been accomplished you can bring the plant back in. When February and March roll around once again you should begin to see new flower stems emerge near the base of a couple leafs. If you are lucky (and it’s rare) you will have new roots sprout out and up and those will bring flowers that spring.