An Orchid Phantasm in a Pennsylvania Forest

Posted January 16th, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, In the News

Why is a weird, parasitic orchid from Japan growing near Philadelphia? The Asian species, Cyrtosia septentrionalis, has popped up on the grounds of Longwood Gardens, and nobody really knows why. This strange orchid is a parasite on a soil fungus, and is considered impossible to cultivate. It could be that some seeds hitchhiked with other Japanese plants being grown in Longwood’s experimental greenhouses. Even so, it’s remarkable that the seeds encountered the right growing conditions, and the right fungus, in the nearby forest. It’s not likely to become an invasive species in the area, but for now, Longwood’s scientists will monitor this misplaced orchid.

Vertical Gardens in Buenos Aires

Posted January 11th, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: General Gardening, Misc, Photos

Vertical garden, plants growing on outdoor building walls above store, Recoleta neighborhood, Avenida Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaVertical garden, plants growing on outdoor building walls above store, Recoleta neighborhood, Avenida Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaVertical garden viewed from below, plants growing on outdoor building walls above store, Recoleta neighborhood, Avenida Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Split-leaf philodendron in a vertical garden viewed from below, plants growing on outdoor building walls above store, Recoleta neighborhood, Avenida Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaVertical garden, plants growing on outdoor building walls above stores, Recoleta neighborhood, Avenida Callao, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaVertical garden, plants growing on outdoor building walls above stores, Recoleta neighborhood, Avenida Callao, Buenos Aires, Argentina

During our recent visit to Buenos Aires, it was great to see lots of vertical gardens. We spotted green walls above stores, banks, and inside office buildings. With ongoing efforts to add green spaces to the city, it’s certainly an effective way to include more plant life in crowded neighborhoods. Ferns, vines, and even Split Leaf Philodendrons happily climb towards the sun in these photos.

Vertical garden, plants growing on outdoor building walls, Torre Banco Galicia Central, Avenida Pres. Tte. Gral. Juan Domingo Perón, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaVertical garden, plants growing on outdoor building walls, Torre Banco Galicia Central, Avenida Pres. Tte. Gral. Juan Domingo Perón, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaVertical garden, plants growing on outdoor building walls, Torre Banco Galicia Central, Avenida Pres. Tte. Gral. Juan Domingo Perón, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Vertical garden viewed from below, plants growing on outdoor building walls, Torre Banco Galicia Central, Avenida Pres. Tte. Gral. Juan Domingo Perón, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaVertical garden, plants growing in office building lobby, Puerto Madero neighborhood, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaVertical garden, plants growing in office building lobby, Puerto Madero neighborhood, Buenos Aires, Argentina

There are so many benefits to adding greenery to cities. Plants improve air quality, save energy, and ease stress for city residents. That’s why sights like these vertical gardens are increasingly common around the world. During this trip, we didn’t spot any orchids hanging from the walls, but I’ve blogged how they’re well suited for vertical gardens, too. They’re all great antidotes for an excess of concrete and steel. Check out more green spaces in Buenos Aires at the city’s Botanical Garden and Japanese Gardens.

Winter Orchid Exhibits

Posted January 5th, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco

Unlike the shows in this blog’s monthly listings, these events are long-term winter exhibits. Prominent botanical gardens show off their tropical collections, and visitors enjoy welcome respites from the cold weather.

January 6- February 24
In the San Francisco Bay Area, Filoli’s Orchid Show highlights floral beauty at the historic Filoli Estate & Gardens. Local orchid societies will augment the garden’s plant display. An accompanying photo exhibition will use large prints to magnify delicate flower details.

January 10 – February 17
Escape the winter cold at Denver Botanic Gardens’ annual Orchid Showcase. Among the hundreds of flowers will be some rare orchids from the garden’s collections.

January 12 – March 10
Marvel at the Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The floral eye candy will be complemented by many deliciously fragrant blooms.

January 19 – March 24
Connect with nature at Longwood Gardens’ Orchid Extravaganza near Philadelphia. Thousands of orchids, large and small, will fill lush, warm glasshouses.

January Orchid Shows

Posted January 1st, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events

Ring in the new year with orchids! This month, there are big events in Tokyo and Miami, but even the smallest show is full of fantastic flowers. They’re all great opportunities to take pictures, talk to experts, buy plants, and fall in love with orchids.

January 2
Hinckley & District Orchid Society Plant Sale & Auction, Barwell Constitutional Club, 20 Chapel St., Barwell, Leicestershire, UK
January 5
Orchid Society of Great Britain Auction, Napier Hall, Hide Place, Westminster, London, UK
January 5
Tischbewertung Hannover, Herrenhäuser Gärten, Herrenhäuser Str. 4, Hanover, Germany
January 5 – 6
Sarasota Orchid Society Show & Sale, Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, 801 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida
January 10 – 14
Sunshine City World Orchid Exhibition, Bunka Kaikan Culture Center, 2nd floor, Sunshine City, Higashi-Ikebukuro 3-1-4, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, Japan
January 11 – 13
Tamiami International Orchid Festival, Dade County Fairgrounds Expo Center, Fuchs Pavilion, 10901 Coral Way (SW 24 St.,) Miami, Florida
January 12
Gold Coast Cymbidium Growers Auction, San Mateo Garden Center, 605 Parkside Way, San Mateo, California
January 12
North of England Orchid Society Monthly Meeting & Show, Community Hall, Manchester Rd., Rixton with Glazebrook, Warrington, Cheshire, UK
January 12 – 13
Beetham Orchid Weekend, Beetham Nurseries, Pool Darkin Ln., Beetham, Cumbria, UK
January 12 – 13
Camden Haven Orchid Society Show, Laurieton United Services Club, Seymour St., Laurieton, NSW, Australia

Read the rest of this post »

Florida’s Million Orchid Project Shows How to Attach Them to Trees

Posted December 28th, 2018 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News, Videos

Check out the video below for expert tips on how to attach orchids to trees. As part of Florida’s Million Orchid Project, biologists are trying to teach the public how to mount orchids. Whether it’s a native species, or a favorite non-native variety, growers can mount them using the techniques explained in the video.

In addition to restoring native species, the Million Orchid Project has also strengthened science education in South Florida schools. Botany instruction has increased, and a mobile science lab in a school bus has generated interest with schoolchildren. As the public learns more about orchids, South Florida residents will be able to grow native species at home.

Winter Solstice Orchids

Posted December 21st, 2018 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos

Cymbidium goeringii 'Epigarden', orchid species flower, green flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaRestrepia orchid flower, pleurothallid, miniature orchid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaMaxillaria cacaoensis, orchid species flower, flower side view, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, California

Masdevallia elegans, orchid species flower, pleurothallid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaArundina caespitosa, Bamboo Orchid, orchid species flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium papilio, orchid species flower, white flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, California

Orchids can even make the shortest day of the year feel tropical. Enjoy these marvelous blooms in honor of today’s solstice. They are all a reminder that flowers will bud, open, and fade. Long nights will give way to long days. Light will return. The cycles of the earth spiral on.

Dendrobium pendulum, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaMasdevallia asterotricha, orchid species flower, pleurothallid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaLycaste lasioglossa, orchid species flower, close up of fuzzy flower lip, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, California

Chiloschista lunifera, orchid species flowers, leafless orchid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaPsychopsis Mariposa 'Mountain', orchid hybrid flower, Butterfly Orchid, Kawamoto Orchid Nursery, Honolulu, Oahu, HawaiiCattleya orchid flowers, Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Orchids by the Sea

Posted December 17th, 2018 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Photos

Laelia gouldiana, orchid species flower, purple and yellow flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia Swallow, orchid hybrid flower, red flower, pleurothallid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium hybrid flowers, flowers with water drops, partially open flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Laelia gouldiana, close-up of orchid species flower lip, purple and yellow flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaOdontoglossum bic-ross, Odont, AKA Rhynchostele, orchid hybrid flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia chaparensis, orchid species flower, purple and white flower, pleurothallid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Late autumn gives rise to a lot of outdoor orchid blooms at our home in Pacifica. Some of the flowers may be a little battered by the elements, but they can still survive for many weeks. In the past couple months, these plants have endured heavy rains, strong winds, and two weeks of bad, smoky air.

Cochlioda vulcanica, AKA Oncidium vulcanicum, orchid species flowers, pink flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaEpidendrum flowers and buds, red and yellow orchid flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia Charisma 'Pink Glow' AM/AOS x Masdevallia uniflora 'Cow Hollow' HCC/AOS, orchid hybrid flower, pink and yellow flower, pleurothallid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Cochlioda vulcanica, AKA Oncidium vulcanicum, orchid species flowers, pink flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaEpidendrum flowers, purple orchid flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCoelia bella, orchid species flower buds, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Regular readers may recognize some of my old orchids from past posts — an Odont, Masdevallias, Epidendrums, a Cymbidium, a Cochlioda, and a Coelia starting to bud. In addition, there’s a tough Mexican species, Laelia gouldiana, which I bought a couple years ago. It’s a close relative of Laelia anceps, which I’ve grown outdoors for a long time. I’m happy that these sturdy orchids are well suited for life by the sea.

Donate to Orchid Charities

Posted December 12th, 2018 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation

All of these organizations have been highlighted before on this blog as great conservation groups, doing the herculean work of saving plants on our increasingly imperiled planet. Please consider giving to them this holiday season. They are all non-profits, so donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.

Teeny-Tiny Orchid Seeds

Posted December 7th, 2018 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Growing, Misc, Photos

How small are orchid seeds? They’re the smallest seeds in the world, like specks of dust. In fact, those little black dots in vanilla ice cream are seeds, and they’re considered large for the orchid family. The photos below show greatly enlarged images of Epidendrum seeds. Each tiny white thread is actually an individual seed.

Epidendrum orchid seeds greatly magnified, orchid seeds in dried seedpod, San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum orchid seeds greatly magnified, orchid seeds in dried seedpod, San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum orchid seeds greatly magnified, orchid seeds in dried seedpod, San Francisco, California

When an orchid flower is pollinated, it starts to curl up and fade, and an area below the flower starts to swell. That pod may take months to mature. Depending on the variety, it may contain tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of minuscule seeds. Eventually, the pod splits, and the seeds disperse in the wind. Vanilla beans are the best known examples of orchid pods which have been dried and cured.

Scaphosepalum verrucosum orchid seedpod and seeds greatly magnified, San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum orchid seeds greatly magnified in dried split seedpod, orchid seeds in dried seedpod, San Francisco, CaliforniaDried vanilla beans, orchid seedpods

In the wild, seeds must land in a spot that’s just right. Not only do they need a location with sufficient light, temperature, humidity, and water, but they need to land on the right fungus. With almost no nutrient reserves, these microscopic seeds rely on mycorrhizal fungi to supply their food. Orchids needs this fungal help for germination.

Why do orchids make so many seeds with minimal chances of surviving? It’s a numbers game — most will not live, but a few will germinate, grow, and flower to repeat the process.

Spathoglottis plicata orchid flowers and seedpods, Philippine Ground Orchid, growing wild near Hilo, HawaiiGrammatophyllum scriptum ‘Hihimanu’ orchid flowers and seedpods, Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiEpidendrum orchid flowers and seedpods, Santa Barbara Orchid Estate, California

Epipactis gigantea orchid seedpod with split on side of seedpod, Stream Orchid, San Francisco, CaliforniaVanda orchid seedpod in front of vanda leaves, Hilo, HawaiiArundina graminifolia orchid seedpod, Bamboo Orchid, growing wild near the Pahoa Farmers Market near Hilo, Hawaii

In 1922, Cornell University botanist Lewis Knudson figured out how to germinate orchid seeds using a special nutrient solution instead of fungi. That revolutionized the orchid industry, and allowed mass production of some varieties. Since this method involves sterile conditions, lab equipment, and years of work, it’s not an option for most amateur growers. For those brave enough to try, check out this link with a home method. Most advanced growers pay labs to do the work for them.

For home growers, it’s important to consider that a seedpod is a drain on the orchid’s energy. If your goal is flowers, remove any seedpods to encourage more blooms. If you’d like to try your luck, let the pod stay on the plant and mature. Wait for it to split up the side. Scatter the seed in pots with the right growing conditions. Be sure to include the pot with the orchid mother plant, on the assumption that the necessary fungi are there. Only a very few may germinate. And be patient. It may take many months before you can spot any seedlings, and many more years before they reach blooming size. And marvel how these amazing flowers come from the smallest seeds.

December Orchid Events

Posted November 30th, 2018 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events

Since this is the slowest month of the year for orchid shows, I’ve added a few conference and sale listings. Many orchid societies have holiday parties this month as well, so check with your local group for more.

December 1
Orchidées du Costa Rica Conférence, Société Française d’Orchidophilie, 19ième arrondissement, 17 Quai de la Seine, Paris, France
December 1 – 2
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas de São Bernardo do Campo, DAJUV, Av. Redenção, 271, Centro, São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, Brazil
December 1 – 2 & 8 – 9
Festival de Orquídeas, Orquidário Oriental, Estr. São Bento do Lambari, Km 27, Mogi das Cruzes, São Paulo, Brazil
December 5
Royal Horticultural Society Orchid Committee Show, RHS Halls, Vincent Square, London, UK
December 6
CCSF Horticulture Center Holiday Plant Sale, Ocean Campus Horticulture Center, 371-375 Judson Ave., San Francisco, California
December 7 – 9
Exposition d’Orchidées, Les Antilles de Jonzac, ZAC du Val de Seugne, Jonzac, France
December 7 – 9
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas de Londrina, Salão da Sociedade São Vicente de Paulo, Av. Madre Leonia Milito, 499, Centro, Londrina, Paraná, Brazil
December 8 – 9
Feria de Orquídeas, Centro Carballiño, Juan Carlos Cruz 1361, Vicente López, Buenos Aires, Argentina
December 15
Northeast Judging Center Orchid Auction, Frelinghuysen Arboretum, 353 East Hanover Ave., Morris Township, New Jersey
December 15
Curso de Biologia e Cultivo de Orquídeas, Centro Cultural Rosa Carolina de Araújo, Rua José Jacinto Brandão, 46, Perdigão, Minas Gerais, Brazil
December 19
Golden Gate Cymbidium Society Auction & Holiday Potluck Dinner, Lakeside Park Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland, California