Madagascar’s Plants Are Running Out of Time

Posted May 18th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

Scientists at RBG Kew in London are warning that Madagascar’s native plants are in grave danger of extinction. The fourth largest island in the world is a biodiversity hot spot, home to over 11,000 plant species, most of which are found nowhere else. That includes almost 1000 orchid species like AngraecumsJumelleas, and Oeoniellas. Habitat destruction, climate change, and invasive plants have been taking their toll, and many varieties have already been lost. Stuart Cable, head of Kew’s Madagascar research, warned that “Dozens of species are known from old collections but have not been seen since. Extinction is happening all the time here. It is very scary.”

Fortunately, there are glimmers of good news. Madagascar’s government has increased protected areas. Seed banks are storing some seeds to stave off extinction of those plants. And a Kew project has local schoolchildren involved in raising seedlings and returning plants to the wild, such as the very endangered Angraecum longicalcar. That may save this orchid species from oblivion, but there are no easy solutions for Madagascar’s extinction crisis.

How to Care for Mother’s Day Orchids

Posted May 14th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Growing, Photos

Most orchids don’t deserve their fussy reputations, so don’t panic if you don’t know how to take care of your new Mother’s Day present. With a few basic care tips, orchids can keep their flowers for months, and then bloom again next year. Begin by placing your gift orchid in a shady place with good humidity where you can enjoy its remarkable flowers.

Phalaenopsis hybrid, Phal, Moth Orchid flowers, Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo 2017, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis hybrid, Harlequin Phal, Moth Orchid flowers, Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo 2017, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis hybrid, Phal, Moth Orchid flowers and bud, Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo 2017, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

It will help to identify your orchid so you can understand its care needs. Moth Orchids, like the three in the photos above, are the most popular. Cattleyas, Lady Slippers, Cymbidiums, Zygos, Dancing Lady Orchids, and Vandas are also favorites. Each variety comes in many colors, sizes, and patterns, so use pictures as general guidelines, not strict standards. Check these tips to help identify your plant.

Cattleya orchid hybrid flowers, Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo 2017, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum Norito Hasegawa, Lady Slipper hybrid flower, yellow flower, Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo 2017, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium orchid hybrid flower, Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo 2017, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Before watering, you should remove, at least temporarily, any wrapping paper or decorative containers if they block the flowerpot’s drainage holes.

When watering, pour in enough room temperature water so it runs out of the holes in the bottom of the pot. Let all excess drain out. Don’t allow the pot to sit in water for too long, or the plant may rot.

Orchids need high humidity and good air movement. Dry or stagnant air may damage flowers and attract pests.

Check out AboutOrchids for growing tips, FAQ, and great photos. And Happy Mother’s Day!

Zygopetalum Advance Australia 'HOF' AM/AOS, Zygo hybrid orchid flower, Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo 2017, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaOncidium flower, Dancing Lady orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo 2017, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaVanda Pachara Delight, orchid hybrid flower, Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo 2017, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Orchids Through the Artists’ Eyes

Posted May 12th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the American Orchid Society present “Orchids Through the Artists’ Eyes” from May 13th – June 25th in Coral Gables, Florida. The exhibit features orchid paintings, photographs, porcelain, jewelry, and more. After enjoying the art, visitors can continue with the living orchids in Simons Rainforest and many other wonderful gardens at Fairchild.

More Mother’s Day Orchids

Posted May 8th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos

Moth Orchids, or Phals, have been popular Mother’s Day gifts for years, but sometimes it’s time for something different. The orchid world has endless variety to choose from; these photos show just a tiny sample of what’s available besides Phals.

Dendrobium orchid flowers, leaves, and stem, Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo 2017, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium Jesmond Glitter 'Ramona', orchid hybrid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium Tri-Lip 'Flamingo', orchid hybrid flower, peloric flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, California

Cymbidium Pia Borg 'Flash', orchid hybrid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaOncidium flowers, Dancing Lady Orchids, Pacific Orchid Expo 2011, San Francisco, CaliforniaOncidium hybrid flowers, Dancing Lady Orchids, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

Other popular varieties include DendrobiumsCymbidiums, Dancing Lady Orchids, Lady Slippers, Pansy Orchids, and Epidendrums. Each type, in turn, has its own options for flower colors, sizes, and patterns. On top of that, new hybrids arrive on the market regularly. The choices never run out.

Paphiopedilum flower, Paph, Lady Slipper orchid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum Avignon, Lady Slipper orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaMiltoniopsis flowers, Pansy Orchids, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, California

Miltoniopsis flower, Pansy Orchid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum Yoko 'Yokohama', orchid hybrid flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum Fantasy Valley, orchid hybrid flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, California

You may need to search a little harder for these other gift options, since Phals really dominate the market, but it’s worth the effort to find that truly special present. These alternative orchids guarantee countless beautiful choices for Mother’s Day.

Researchers Identify Oldest Orchid Fossil

Posted May 4th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News, Misc

Scientists have identified evidence of the oldest orchid fossil on record. Preserved in amber between 45 and 55 million years ago, a tiny gnat is carrying a tinier bundle of orchid pollen. “We probably shouldn’t say this about a plant, but orchids are very smart” laughed George Poinar, Jr., entomologist at Oregon State University, and lead author on the newly published discovery. It’s likely that orchids first evolved in the Cretaceous Period, blooming alongside the dinosaurs, and they’ve been enticing pollinators for tens of millions of years.

May Orchid Shows

Posted April 30th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

Glasgow to Honolulu, Rio to Oakland, Auckland to Memphis, orchids are celebrated internationally. These events often feature exhibits and plant sales, and also include talks and tours by experts.

May 4 – 7
Festival de Orquídeas, Gimnasio Fito Ramos, carr. #976, Bo. Florencio, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
May 5 – 7
Memphis Orchid Society Show & Sale, Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry Rd., Memphis, Tennessee
May 5 – 7
Platinum Coast Orchid Society Show, Kiwanis Island Park Gymnasium, 951 Kiwanis Island Park Rd., Merritt Island, Florida
May 5 – 7
Santa Clara Valley Orchid Society Show & Sale, Westgate Mall, 1600 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, California
May 5 – 7
Exposição Orquídeas no Jardim, Orquidário, Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, R. Jardim Botânico, 1008, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
May 5 – 7
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas, Centro de Convivência da Melhor Idade, Turcão 1, Monte Alto, São Paulo, Brazil
May 5 – 7
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas, Pavilhão Sagrada Família, Rua Cap. Geraldo 26, Itumirim, Minas Gerais, Brazil
May 5 – 7
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas do Noreste do Paraná, Centro de Eventos de Paranavaí, Jardim Novo Horizonte, Paranavaí, Paraná, Brazil
May 6
Fort Worth Orchid Society Show & Sale, Ft. Worth Botanic Garden Conservatory, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Ft. Worth, Texas
May 6 – 7
Manoa Orchid Society Show, Noelani Elementary School, 2655 Woodlawn Dr., Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Read the rest of this post »

Spring at the SF Botanical Garden

Posted April 26th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, General Gardening, Photos

Abutilon, Flowering Maple, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkPurple flowers, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkLeucospermum Scarlet Ribbon, Pincushion flower, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park

Pond and trees, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkLayia platyglossa, yellow and white Coastal Tidytips flowers, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkTree Fern with new growth at top, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park

The San Francisco Botanical Garden is bursting with new growth after a rainy winter. Covering about 55 acres (22 hectares) of Golden Gate Park, the garden is always full of life. During a recent visit, there were lots of spring blooms, and everything from tree ferns to giant redwoods were sporting new greenery.

Sequoia sempervirens, Coastal Redwood Tree with double trunk, Redwood Grove in San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkLeucospermum tottum hybrid, Pincushion flower bud ready to open, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkClematis flower, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park

Large Gunnera leaves and trees, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkWisteria vines and flowers, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkRhododendron occidentale, Western Azalea flowers, California Azalea, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park

Also known as Strybing Arboretum, the garden has separate climate zones for native Californian plants, Mediterranean climate plants, succulents, cloud forest plants, and other subtropicals. For local gardeners, the entire area is a perfect showroom for the vast range of choices in our mild climate. Near the main entrance at 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way, there’s a gift shop which sells some of these plants. The SF Botanical Garden is a great place to visit any time of year. Explore more online at the SF Botanical Garden website.

Stinky Orchid Shuts Down Smithsonian Greenhouse

Posted April 21st, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Fragrant Orchids, In the News, QuickPost, Warm Growers

Its flowers resemble maggot-infested meat, and its scent has been compared to “a thousand dead elephants rotting in the sun.” Meet the orchid species Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis, which attracts carrion flies as pollinators.

When You’ve Killed Your Weight in Orchids

Posted April 18th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Growing, Photos, Problems

There’s a saying that you become an orchid expert when you’ve killed your weight in orchids. Some people wince in horror when I repeat that, but orchid lovers usually just laugh and nod. Growing orchids means sometimes making mistakes and killing plants. I’ve grown them for over 25 years, and earned my expert status a very long time ago. Fortunately, my mortality rate is far lower than it once was.

Cattleya cernua, aka Sophronitis cernua, miniature orchid species, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaOncidium strictum, aka Symphyglossum sanguineum, orchid species, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaComparettia macroplectron, orchid species flowers with water drops, grown indoors in San Francisco, California

Red Cymbidium, orchid hybrid flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaOberonia toppingii, miniature orchid species with tiny flowers, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaCyrtochilum macranthum, aka Oncidium macranthum, orchid species flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

These photos are all orchids I’ve killed. Many are older plants which are long gone. In fact, a few of these photos are a dozen years old. Some died because I watered too much or not enough, forgot to repot, or let pests get out of control. Others died for reasons beyond my control, like raccoon damage, or having a short lifespan. Most importantly, I’ve tried to learn from each of them, even if it was only about the limits of the growing conditions I could provide.

Ponerorchis graminifolia, Grass Leaf Orchid, aka Orchis graminifolia, miniature orchid species flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaCycnoches barthiorum, orchid species flower, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaSedirea japonica, orchid species flowers, Japanese name: Nago-ran, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

Bulbophyllum pardalotum, miniature orchid species flower, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaPolystachya zambesiaca, orchid species flower, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum orchid hybrid, orange and yellow flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

Now, don’t get the idea that I used to run some type of orchid slaughterhouse. I have orchids which have thrived for decades, despite this visual record to the contrary. Whether beginner or expert, all growers need to continue learning. With tens of thousands of species and countless hybrids, orchids are an endless field of knowledge. There are always more mistakes to make, and more orchids to kill.

Rare Orchid Discovery Halts Aussie Racers

Posted April 13th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

Rare orchid populations have stopped plans for an Australian race park. Orchid lovers found Leafless Tongue Orchids near the planned track. That’s pitted nature lovers against racing fans, but local officials have stated that the building plans had many flaws, including the fact that the area is home to lots of endangered species. The Leafless Tongue Orchid, Cryptostylis hunteriana, is one of many strange Australian plants. It’s a terrestrial found only near the country’s southeastern coast. With no leaves to photosynthesize, it’s believed to draw nutrients from fungi and decaying leaves. The orchid has been classified as vulnerable and is protected by Australian law.