February Orchid Events

Posted February 1st, 2023 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events

Orchids offer a great escape from a chilly winter. There are lots of in-person, online, and hybrid events to get excited about this month, including the always-spectacular Pacific Orchid Expo in San Francisco. There are also extended exhibitions in New York, London, Paris, and Washington DC.

February 2 – 4
Gold Coast Cymbidium Society Online Auction, no shipping; must pick up your plants on Sunday, Feb. 5, 12:15 pm – 2:30 pm at the San Mateo Garden Center, 605 Parkside Way, San Mateo, California
February 3 – 5
Susquehanna Orchid Society Show & Sale, Milton and Catherine Hershey Conservatory, Hershey Gardens, 170 Hotel Rd., Hershey, Pennsylvania
February 3 – 5
Deep Cut Orchid Society Show & Sale, Dearborn Market, 2170 Route 35 S., Holmdel, New Jersey
February 3 – 5
Gulf Coast Orchid Society Show & Sale, Gautier Convention Center, 2012 Library Ln., Gautier, Mississippi
February 3 – 5
Expo Orquídea de San José de Gracia, Plaza de San José de Gracia, Marcos Castellanos, Michoacán, Mexico
February 3 – 5
Orquídeas Divinas, Club Árabe Salvadoreño, 11 Calle Poniente, Colonia Escalón, San Salvador, El Salvador
February 3 – 5
Salon International d’Orchidées, La Salle Vergèze, 169 Rue du Charron, Vergèze, France
February 4 – 5
Venice Area Orchid Society Show & Sale, Venice Community Center, 326 S. Nokomis Ave., Venice, Florida
February 4 – 5
Greater Cleveland Orchid Society Show & Sale, Cleveland Botanical Garden, 11030 East Blvd., Cleveland, Ohio
February 4 – 5
Orchid Growers Guild Show & Sale, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 3330 Atwood Ave., Madison, Wisconsin

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Our Rain-Soaked Winter Garden

Posted January 27th, 2023 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Photos, Problems

Arpophyllum giganteum, Giant Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species flowers and leaves, clusters of small purple flowers, long strap-like leaves, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaArpophyllum giganteum, Giant Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species flowers, cluster of small purple flowers, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaArpophyllum giganteum, Giant Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species flowers and leaves and buds, clusters of small purple flowers, long strap-like leaves, growing outdoors in Pacifica, California

After years of drought, we don’t typically complain about rainy days in California. More than three weeks of storms, however, led to lots of complaints. From December 26th to January 19th, we received approximately 20 inches (50.8 cm) of precipitation, including a single day when we had over 5 inches (12.7 cm.) We also had winds over 60 mph (97 kph) on several days, and occasional hail. It’s made a dent in our drought, but also did some damage. Fortunately, the worst Dave and I had to endure was a 20-hour power outage, and a broken gutter. As for the orchids living outside, they fared surprisingly well. My Giant Hyacinth Orchid, which sits in the walkway outside the front door, is the first example. It started flowering before the storms, and wasn’t fazed at all by the powerful rains, winds, and hail. This reliable bloomer is a large plant with clusters of small flowers. It’s long, graceful leaves are sturdy, unbothered by the hailstones which pocked or tore other plants. It currently boasts about two dozen spikes, each with dozens of charming purple blooms.

Arpophyllum giganteum, Giant Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species flowers, flowers close-up. clusters of small purple flowers, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaArpophyllum giganteum, Giant Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species flowers, flowers close-up. clusters of small purple flowers, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium orchid hybrid flowers, pink flowers, flowers with water drops, growing outdoors in Pacifica, California

Cymbidium orchid hybrid flowers, pink flower, flower with water drops, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium orchid hybrid flowers, pink flowers, flowers with water drops, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium orchid hybrid flowers, pink flowers, growing outdoors in Pacifica, California

Some of the Cymbidiums in the back garden did suffer damage, but are flowering anyway. A couple of them were already in bloom when the storms began. Those early blossoms are definitely beaten up, but still hanging on. Other plants were in spike, with fattening flower buds. Hail pitted their outer surfaces, so as they have opened, they’ve revealed their scars. Certainly my plants wouldn’t win any awards, but it’s impressive that they’ve survived at all. Their fortitude, in the face of Mother Nature’s extremes, clearly proves that these cool growers are not the fragile creations which many people imagine orchids to be.

Cymbidium orchid hybrid flowers, yellow flowers, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium orchid hybrid flowers, yellow flowers, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCochlioda vulcania, orchid species flowers, miniature orchid, pink flowers, growing outdoors in Pacifica, California

The final photo shows a few of the remaining flowers on my Cochlioda. This miniature has already been blooming for months. The last few flowers are scratched and dented, but full of color. Now that the rains have paused, and the garden is drying, they’ve been able to shine in the Northern California sun again.

Illegal Trade Threatens Nepal’s Orchids

Posted January 22nd, 2023 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

Nestled in the towering Himalayas between India and China, Nepal is an orchid hotspot. Sadly, its orchids are declining. Even though Nepal is only slightly bigger than Arkansas, it’s home to about 500 orchid species (for comparison, the USA and Canada combined have about 200 species.) People collect wild orchids to sell for use in traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Many are exported to nearby countries, and the harvest is depleting plant populations. Conservation laws are rarely enforced, and are easily evaded by illegal traders. Fortunately, the conservation group Greenhood Nepal is  pushing for improvements in protections. It’s outlined key steps for the government to curb the illegal orchid trade. Their hard work offers hope that Nepal’s orchids can be saved before it’s too late.

Have a Terrific Adventure with Orchids in the Wild Ecotours

Posted January 15th, 2023 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, Misc, Orchids in the Wild

Take a mind-blowing vacation and help endangered orchids at the same time! The Orchid Conservation Alliance (OCA) offers Orchids in the Wild Ecotours, expert-led trips to see orchids in their native homes. They range as far away as Madagascar, and as close as Ohio. This year’s itinerary also includes Italy, Brazil, and South Africa. The OCA is a great non-profit organization doing essential conservation work around the world. They’re very worthy of your support. Bon voyage!

April 10 – 17
Orchids of Sicily – Enjoy Sicily’s terrestrial orchids, archeology, and food.
May 8 – 17 & May 19 – 29
Orchids of the Rio Negro, Brazil – Cruise the Amazon on a comfortable boat, and discover the area’s flora and fauna.
May 14 – May 25
Native Orchids of Ohio – The Ohio Valley and surrounding areas feature amazing Lady Slippers and more. The tour dates are optimized to find them during prime blooming seasons.
September 21 – October 13
Orchids of Madagascar – Africa’s largest island is an orchid hotspot, with almost one thousand native varieties.
December 1 – 13
Orchids of the Cape Floral Kingdom, South Africa – Besides the spectacular orchids of the region, like Disas, this tour also includes a visit to an African Penguin colony.

Lots of Hard Work Goes into Orchid Awards

Posted January 8th, 2023 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Misc, Orchid Names, Photos

Ansellia africana AM/AOS, Leopard Orchid, orchid species flower, yellow and reddish-brown flower, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, CaliforniaAnsellia africana AM/AOS, Leopard Orchid, orchid species flowers leaves and plant, very large plant filling up a table, potted plant, yellow and reddish-brown flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, CaliforniaAward of Merit (AM) certificate for Ansellia africana AM/AOS, awarded 84 points, Leopard Orchid, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, California

Lots of hard work goes into winning orchid awards. Growers spend long hours mastering plant care in order to coax out exceptional blooms. Orchid judges spend years studying and training to find and evaluate those perfect flowers. It’s challenging work. These photos spotlight winners at recent shows. The first row of pictures above features an enormous Leopard Orchid, Ansellia africana, filling a whole table. It’s won an Award of Merit (AM) from the American Orchid Society (AOS.) This plant and its exact genetic copies will now include AM/AOS at the end of their name. Learn more about awards in this earlier post.

Cymbidium Ken Jacobsen 'Woodside' AM/AOS, orchid hybrid flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, CaliforniaAward of Merit (AM) certificate for Cymbidium Ken Jacobsen 'Woodside' AM/AOS, awarded 80 points, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, CaliforniaBulbophyllum grandiflorum 'Snake Charmer' HCC/AOS, orchid flower with Highly Commended Certificate award behind it, weird flower, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, California

The second row of photos above shows a Cymbidium hybrid with an AM, and a bizarre Bulbophyllum species with a Highly Commended Certificate (HCC.) The third row of photos below has a deep purple Lady Slipper hybrid with an HCC, and a Dendrobium hybrid with an AM. The Dendrobium had previously won another award, a First Class Certificate (FCC,) shown on its nametag. Since the previous FCC is higher than the AM, it keeps the FCC on its name. Learn more about AOS awards on their website.

Paphiopedilum Magically Fred 'Claire' HCC/AOS, Lady Slipper, Paph, orchid flower with Highly Commended Certificate award behind it, awarded 78 points, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, San FranciscoDendrobium Greta Snow 'Cheryl' FCC/AOS, orchid hybrid flowers, white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, San FranciscoAward of Merit (AM) certificate for Dendrobium Greta Snow 'Cheryl' FCC/AOS, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, San Francisco

The last two rows of pictures present plants which have received cultural and botanical honors. While flower quality awards are added to that cultivar’s name, cultural and botanical awards are not. The Certificate of Cultural Excellence (CCE) given to the grower of that enormous Mediocalcar, and the Certificate of Cultural Merit (CCM) granted to the grower of the purple Sarcochilus hybrid, are certainly well earned. The final two photos feature a Certificate of Botanical Recognition (CBR) for an Elleanthus with tiny purple blossoms. The CBR recognizes rare or unusual species which haven’t won any previous awards.

Mediocalcar decoratum with CCE/AOS award, orchid species flowers and leaves, very large specimen plant of a miniature orchid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2017, San FranciscoCertificate of Cultural Excellence (CCE) award for Mediocalcar decoratum plant, Pacific Orchid Expo 2017, San FranciscoSarcochilus (Kulnura Vibrance x Kulnura Dazzel) 'Woodside' with CCM/AOS award, orchd hybrid flowers and leaves, plant with dozens of purple and yellow flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, California

Certificate of Cultural Merit for Sarcochilus (Kulnura Vibrance x Kulnura Dazzel) 'Woodside', awarded 82 points, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, CaliforniaElleanthus amethystinus 'My Mistake' with a CBR/AOS, orchid species flowers and buds, purple flowers, small flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, CaliforniaCertificate of Botanical Recognition (CBR) for Elleanthus amethystinus 'My Mistake', Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, California

If you’re interested in exhibiting a plant, I recommend first attending local orchid society shows, meetings, or judging centers. Observe the awarded plants, talk to others about what makes a winner, and ask about common problems to avoid. Find more helpful info and the Judging Entry Form on the AOS site. Good luck!

AOS judges are orchid experts. They don’t just look at the flowers and hand over a prize. They research, take measurements, compare colors, study, discuss, and debate all the pros and cons of each contender. If you’re interested in becoming an AOS judge, check out their website.

Around the world, other organizations have their own award systems. The Royal Horticultural Society in the UK, the Australian Orchid Council, the Japan Orchid Growers Association, and the Coordenadoria das Associações Orquidófilas do Brasil are just a few of the groups with high standards, hard-working growers, and dedicated judges.

January Orchid Events

Posted December 31st, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events

Welcome 2023 with orchids. January brings a variety of shows, auctions, classes, webinars, and exhibitions. Happy new year!

January 5 – 9
All Japan Orchid Society Show, Bunka Kaikan Culture Center, 2nd floor, Sunshine City, Higashi-Ikebukuro 3-1-4, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, Japan
January 7
Orchid Society of Great Britain Auction, Cole Court, 150 London Rd., Twickenham, London, UK
January 7
North of England Orchid Society Monthly Meeting & Show, Plumley Village Hall, Plumley Moor Rd., Plumley, Knutsford, Cheshire, UK
January 7 – 8
Sarasota Orchid Society Show & Sale, Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, 801 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida
January 7 – 8
Orchid Weekend, Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, 4000 Morikami Park Rd., Delray Beach, Florida
January 11
Wild Orchids of Indiana webinar, ecologist Mike Homoya discusses Indiana’s native orchids; free online event
January 13 – 15
Tamiami International Orchid Festival, Miami Dade County Fair Expo Center, Fuchs Pavilion, 10901 SW 24th St., Miami, Florida
January 13 – 15
North Jersey Orchid Society Show & Sale, Douglass Cook Student Center, Rutgers Univ., 100 George St., New Brunswick, New Jersey
January 13 – 15
Taranaki Orchid Society Summer Show, 260A Coronation Ave,, Welbourn, New Plymouth, New Zealand
January 13 – February 13
Orchid Display, Filoli Historic Estate and Gardens, 86 Cañada Rd., Woodside, California

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New Zealanders Can Help Unravel a 250-Year-Old Orchid Mystery

Posted December 27th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, Cool Growers, In the News

Massey University student Hayden Jones and Botany Curator Carlos Lehnebach are launching a citizen-science project to solve an orchid mystery. Maikuku, also known as the White Sun Orchid or Thelymitra longifolia, is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most common orchids. Although it was scientifically discovered 250 years ago, botanists wonder if its beautiful white blooms represent multiple species. Locals can help to research the answer by measuring key parts of the orchids in the wild. Volunteers need to register, and have an iNaturalist account, which is free. Scientists will use the data to search for distinct species, and to better focus conservation efforts. Kiwis, and the rest of the world, are looking forward to learning the answers.

Orchids for the Winter Solstice

Posted December 21st, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos

Phragmipedium Twilight, orchid hybrid flower, Phrag, Lady Slipper, red and yellow flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium Golden Arch, orchid hybrid flowers, fragrant flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium Silver King 'Buster' AM/AOS, orchid hybrid flowers, purple and white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, San Francisco, California

Bonatea speciosa 'Green Egret' AM/AOS, orchid species flowers, green and white flowers, unsusual flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2022, San Francisco, CaliforniaCattleya orchid flowers, orange and yellow flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Harrow 'Purple Heart', orchid hybrid flowers and leaves, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, California

Orchids work wonders for brightening the shortest day and longest night of the year. Having attended three orchid shows in 2022, after a two-year pandemic break, it was easy for me to find a few brilliant photos. The first four pictures are from the Pacific Orchid Expo last winter, the next four are from the Peninsula Orchid Society Show in spring, and the last four are from Orchids in the Park in summer. It was great that these events returned safely, with mask requirements and improved indoor ventilation. Dave and I were glad to attend, and certainly look forward to more shows in 2023. Happy solstice.

Sophrolaeliocattleya Sierra Gem x Potinara Firehouse, Cattleya orchid hybrid, orange and red flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, CaliforniaMasdevallia Ziegler's Love 'Glowing Pink', orchid hybrid flowers, purple flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Show 2022, San Mateo, CaliforniaDendrobium victoriae-reginae, orchid species flowers, bluish purple flowers, Orchids in the Park 2022, San Francisco, California

Miltoniopsis flower, Pansy Orchid, orchid flower, Orchids in the Park 2022, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium laevifolium 'Vistamont' HCC/AOS, orchid species flowers, white and yellow flowers, miniature orchid, Orchids in the Park 2022, San Francisco, CaliforniaOncidium orchid flowers, Gomesa orchid hybrid, yellow and purplish brown flowers, Orchids in the Park 2022, San Francisco, California

Big, Bold Sobralia Blooms

Posted December 15th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Fragrant Orchids, Growing, Photos

Sobralia macrantha, orchid species flower, purple flower, big flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSobralia macrantha, orchid species flower, purple flower with water drops, big flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSobralia macrantha, orchid species flower and leaves, purple flower, big flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

This Sobralia orchid has been a reliable cool-grower in our garden for over a decade. Its scientific name, Sobralia macrantha, means “big-flowered Sobralia” and it’s no lie. These large, purple blooms with their frilly lips can span 10 inches (25 cm,) but mine are usually a little smaller. A few years ago, I moved this plant indoors for a while, thinking it might grow better with more warmth and less wind. Eventually, I moved it back outside, and it seems happier. Since then, the plant has given me great, extended blooms, with each blossom lasting as long as five days. It flowers repeatedly throughout the year, especially in autumn and winter, despite our challenging coastal climate. In the past couple weeks, we’ve had storms with winds over 55 mph (89 kph) and occasional hail, so the flowers may be battered, but fresh ones keep coming.

Sobralia macrantha, orchid species flower bud with water drops, purple flower bud, big flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSobralia macrantha, orchid species flower with lip still unfurling, purple flower, big flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSobralia macrantha, close-up of orchid species flower lip, purple flower lip with water drops, flower opening, big flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Sobralias are notorious for short-lived flowers, and my orchid friends are always surprised that these can last five days, instead of the typical one or two. I think cool temps here on the foggy Northern California coast may help them last longer. The species can grow up to 7 feet (2.1 m) tall, but my plant only reaches 1.5 feet (0.46 m,) probably because of our strong winds.

Sobralia macrantha, close-up of orchid species flower lip and column, purple flower lip with white and yellow in throat, big flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSobralia macrantha, close-up of orchid species flower lip and column, purple flower lip with white and yellow in throat, big flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California Sobralia macrantha, orchid species flower and leaves, purple flower, big flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Native to rainforests from Mexico to Costa Rica, Sobralia macrantha grows up to 11,000 feet (3353 m) elevation. Mine receives morning sun, regular water, fertilizer, and plenty of fresh air outdoors. I give it less water in cooler winter weather. This orchid proves that nobody needs warm, tropical conditions to enjoy big, bold blooms.

Great Orchid Gifts for Kids

Posted December 7th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Buying Tips, Misc

Kids will get stuck on orchids with the American Orchid Society’s (AOS) engaging gifts for children. The Stuck on Orchids sticker book includes stickers, basic info, and opportunities for coloring. It covers seven of the most common orchid varieties. The Orchid Nonsense Coloring Book features over 40 designs of orchids, animals, and characters, ready for crayons and imagination. AOS members receive discounts on these and more from the AOS Gift Shop. There are also discounts for bulk orders.

Stuck on Orchids Sticker Book from the American Orchid SocietyOrchid Nonsense Coloring Book from the American Orchid Society