The Orchid Marketplace is Live!

Posted September 14th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Buying Tips, Misc

The American Orchid Society (AOS) has launched the Orchid Marketplace. This new service connects everyone with the world’s top vendors for orchids, supplies, books, greenhouses, and even jewelry. It’s all in one place, with direct links to vendor sites. AOS members save a minimum of 5% on all purchases, and may save more with added discounts and coupons. The Orchid Marketplace is searchable by plant variety, location, product, or specialty. Scroll down the bottom of the page to subscribe to Orchid DealWire for weekly updates on sales, events, product announcements, and news. If you’re not already an AOS member, the discounts are another great reason to join.

True Blue Orchids

Posted September 7th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Mini Orchids, Misc, Photos

Vanda coerulea var compacta, orchid species flower, blue and white flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaVanda coerulea, orchid species flowers, blue and white flowers, Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaVanda coerulescens 'Smigden', orchid species flower, blue white and purple flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, San Francisco, California

Blue is a rare floral color, but the vast orchid family doesn’t disappoint, so it is possible to find true blue orchids. Some feature brilliant tones, while others have subtle hues. There are also imposters. Blue Moth Orchids in the supermarket are actually white blooms which are injected with dye. Many orchid varieties with “blue” in their names are purple instead (that’s also true for other cultivated plant families where blue flowers are uncommon.) Vandas definitely take the blue orchid crown. There are two blue species, Vanda coerulea and Vanda coerulescens, shown in the first row of photos above. A few of the numerous blue hybrids are shown in the next row below.

Vanda coerulea, orchid species flower, side view of blue and white flower, Orchids in the Park 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaVanda Princess Mikasa 'Blue', orchid hybrid flowers, blue flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaVanda Tokyo Blue 'Sapphire', orchid hybrid flowers, blue flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

Vanda Sansai Blue, orchid hybrid flower, blue and white flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCleisocentron merrillianum 'Best Blue', orchid species flowers, blue flowers, miniature orchid, cluster of small flowers, San Francisco Orchid Society monthly meeting, August 2013, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, CaliforniaCleisocentron gokusingii, orchid species flowers, light blue flowers, miniature orchid, cluster of small flowers, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

There are other true blue orchid varieties. Two pictures in the row above show small, light blue flowers in the Cleisocentron genus, which are miniatures from Southeast Asia. I’ve never had the privilege to see Australia’s dazzling Blue Sun Orchids or Blue Caladenias, or South Africa’s Blue Disas. Without my own photos, I can’t pay them proper tribute here, but they certainly boast stunning shades. They’re not often grown outside of their native countries, and best suited for expert growers.

The orchids shown below have “blue,” “sapphire,” or “coerulea” in their names, but except for the first photo in the next row, I think they’re more purple. That first photo is a Dendrobium hybrid which includes the bluish-purple Dendrobium victoriae-reginae in its parentage. It illustrates how breeders strive for that elusive color of sea and sky. Their efforts guarantee more true blue orchids.

Dendrobium Mingles Sapphire, orchid hybrid flowers, blue and white flowers, Orchids in the Park 2011, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium victoria-reginae 'Blues Brothers' HCC/AOS, orchid species flowers, bluish-purple and white flowers, Orchids in the Park 2011, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaNeostylis Lou Sneary 'Blue Bird', orchid hybrid flowers, bluish-purple and white flowers, Orchids in the Park 2013, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Rhynchostylis coelestis 'Blue Sparkle', orchid species flowers, bluish-purple and white flowers, Orchids in the Park 2019, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaLaeliocattleya Tahoe Rose var. coerulea, orchid hybrid flower, bluish-purple and white flower, Orchids in the Park 2010, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaZygonisia Cynosure 'Blue Birds', orchid hybrid flower, bluish-purple and white flower, Akatsuka Orchid Gardens, Volcano, Hawaii Island, Big Island, Hawaii

September Orchid Events

Posted September 1st, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events

Here are this month’s events with COVID19 precautions. It’s a good idea to double-check with the local orchid society before attending in case of last-minute cancellations.

September 1
Santa Clara Valley Orchid Society Live, In-Person Auction, American Legion Hall, 1504 Minnesota Ave., San Jose, California
September 4 – 5
Welsh Orchid Festival, Aberglasney Gardens, Llangathen, Carmarthenshire, South Wales, UK
September 18 – 19
Wisconsin Orchid Society Show, Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, 524 S. Layton Blvd., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Three New Orchid Species Discovered in Ecuador

Posted August 28th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News, Mini Orchids

Many orchid species are scientifically discovered each year. For example, botanists have recently named three new Lepanthes from the Ecuadorean Andes, one of the richest orchid habitats on the planet. Lepanthes is a genus of pleurothallids with over 1000 species. They’re miniatures with tiny but colorful flowers. The plants have been named Lepanthes oro-lojaensis, Lepanthes microprosartima, and Lepanthes caranqui. The scientists asserted that “They are proof that Ecuador — one of the world’s megadiverse countries — hides much more biodiversity waiting to be explored.”

Summer in Our Garden

Posted August 22nd, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Photos

Prosthechea vitellina, AKA Encyclia vitellina, Yolk-Yellow Orchid, orchid species flowers, bright orange and yellow flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium orchid hybrid flower, yellow and white flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaEpidendrum orchid flowers, red and yellow flowers, reed stem Epidendrum, possibly Epidendrum x obrienianum, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Masdevallia polysticta, orchid species flower, pleurothallid, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaFuchsia procumbens, fuchsia species flower, creeping fuchsia, climbing fuchsia, trailing fuchsia, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaFuchsia procumbens, fuchsia species flower and leaves, creeping fuchsia, climbing fuchsia, trailing fuchsia, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Summers on the Northern California coast are typically cool and foggy, and this year has been no exception. That allows us to revel in cool-growing Cymbidium, Epidendrum, and Masdevallia orchids, as well as other plants like fuchsias, poppies, and nasturtiums. Their bright colors stand out against the green background, enticing bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and humans.

Fuchsia hybrid flower, red and white flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaFuchsia hybrid flower and leaves, red and white flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaEschscholzia californica, California poppy, orange and yellow flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Nasturtium flower, red flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaNasturtium flower, yellow and orange flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaNasturtium flower, yellow and orange flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Tending to our own little patch of nature is a great panacea for life’s stresses. When I’m in the garden, my focus turns to these floral gems, and my mind automatically shifts from worrying to wonder. It doesn’t solve many problems, but it certainly offers a mental reset that restores me. It’s so easy to get lost in the pain and suffering of the world, and our garden helps me find my way again.

How Orchids Act as Climate Indicators

Posted August 15th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

Ecologist Jis Sebastian explains how orchids are useful tools to study climate change. Sebastian works in India’s Western Ghat Mountains. Many orchids live as air plants, or epiphytes, growing on tree trunks and branches. They thrive in mature, healthy forests. In the tree canopy, climate variations affect them quickly. The presence, or absence, of orchids can point to changes affecting the environment.

Orchids and similar epiphytic plants indicate a healthy ecosystem within each tree ecosystem. A great number of micro and macro-organisms work along with these plants within the canopy. A healthy canopy results in a healthy forest ecosystem.

Therefore, if orchids are protected, the mature trees that host orchids are also protected. As more mature trees are maintained in any ecosystem, it regulates the climate of the region, supports more biodiversity and ensures the ecosystem services are uninterrupted. Orchids may be used as flagship species like a tiger to protect the entire ecosystem.

Along with studying the Western Ghats’ orchids, Sebastian is encouraging scientific research and conservation in local communities. She’s also promoting farming practices which protect native ecosystems, and in turn help farmers increase their yields and survive extreme weather events.

Learn more about Sebastian’s conservation work in last year’s post, Fallen Flowers: Restoring Wild Orchids in India’s Western Ghats.

A Lady Slipper Standing Tall

Posted August 8th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Intermediate Growers, Photos

Paphiopedilum, orchid hybrid flower, Paph, Lady Slipper, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum, orchid hybrid flower, Paph, Lady Slipper, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum, orchid hybrid flower close up, Paph, Lady Slipper, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

Alien-looking Lady Slippers beg the question of how strange flowers from another planet might be. While this Paph comes from right here on Earth, it looks like something from a sci-fi movie. It’s an unidentified hybrid that I bought a few years ago in a grocery store. These photos show various angles of this wondrous flower.

Paphiopedilum, orchid hybrid flower bud, Paph, Lady Slipper, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum, orchid hybrid flower, close up of flower lip, Paph, Lady Slipper, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum, orchid hybrid flower, side view of flower lip, Paph, Lady Slipper, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

That amazing 6 inch (15 cm) wide bloom stands on a stem over 1 foot (30 cm) tall. So far, I’ve only coaxed a single flower out of the plant at one time, but it usually lasts more than two months in good condition. This Paph also has marvelous mottled leaves, visible in the third row of photos. Its light green and dark green variegation makes it a very attractive plant, even without its alien blossom. I can only guess what its ancestry could be, but I suspect that one parent is Paphiopedilum sukhakulii. And maybe the other parent is from a different galaxy.

Paphiopedilum, orchid hybrid flower and leaves, variegated leaves, Paph, Lady Slipper, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum, side view of orchid hybrid flower, Paph, Lady Slipper, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum, orchid hybrid leaves, variegated leaves, Paph, Lady Slipper, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

August Orchid Events

Posted August 1st, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events

Even as more people are vaccinated, we are still in a pandemic. If an indoor event doesn’t mention basic health precautions, I’m not going to list it here. That means I’ve left shows off this month’s list, as I have in past months. When safety measures are publicized, people will feel safer, and will return to shows, auctions, and conferences.

August 6
International Phalaenopsis Alliance Symposium, Highland Manor, 503 E Main St., Apopka, Florida
August 8
Peninsula Orchid Society Summer Show & Sale, San Mateo Garden Center, 605 Parkside Way, San Mateo, California
August 14
Diablo View Orchid Society Late Summer Auction, Contra Costa Water District Parking Lot, 1331 Concord Ave., Concord, California
August 21
PhalFanatics Phalaenopsis Symposium, online speakers, auction, and culture workshop; USD $45 registration fee for nonmembers, $35 for members
August 27 – 28
Waitakere Orchid Club Spring Show, Kelston Community Centre, Great North Rd. & Awaroa Rd., Glendene, Auckland, New Zealand
August 27 – 29
Melbourne Orchid Spectacular, Boxhall Pavilion, KCC Park, 655 Westernport Hwy., Skye, Victoria, Australia

Good Practices and Bad Habits of Nature Photography

Posted July 26th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Books, Conservation, In the News

There have always been irresponsible or criminal people who destroy the nature that they claim to love. Social media seems to have worsened that trend. Some are so focused on getting a popular photo that they trample over rare plants. Others rip out surrounding greenery to take a clearer shot. I’ve watched in horror as people ignored fences and warning signs, and then crushed endangered native species in pursuit of a selfie.

The Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland spoke with Jon Dunn, author of Orchid Summer, and ecologist Callum Macgregor about responsible photography practices. Their tips include:

  • Don’t harm nearby plants to improve your view. Consider different angles to get a clear shot, and incorporate plants as background. Gently push aside grasses, or temporarily weigh them down with light objects, like knitting needles.
  • Learn how to get the most from your camera. Practice with it. Change settings or use software filters to focus on your subject, and blur the background. Photo editing software can remove intrusive vegetation.
  • To prevent trampling, stay on paths whenever possible. Don’t lie down to take pictures, or you’ll flatten a large area. Never go over fences or barriers. Pay attention to signs and warnings. Set up a tripod and remote control, or a telephoto zoom, to take shots from a distance.
  • Remove GPS data before posting pictures. Sadly, ignorant and immoral people utilize posts to pinpoint rare plants and steal them. You can change settings on your camera or phone to prevent photos from showing this info. Some social media sites may automatically delete EXIF data, which contains locations. Check out these tips to learn more about removing metadata.
  • If you find something rare or protected, notify local conservation authorities. They may be able to provide extra protection for the plants.
  • Connect with other nature lovers, and spread these helpful tips.

My Little Red Sarcochilus

Posted July 20th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Mini Orchids, Photos

Sarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flower, red flower with red and white lip, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flowers buds and leaves, red flowers with red and white lip, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flowers and leaves with water drops, red flowers with red and white lip, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Sarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flower, flower close up, partially open flower, red flower with red and white lip, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flowers buds, red flowers with red and white lip, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flowers buds and leaves with water drops, red flowers with red and white lip, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

About five years ago, I bought this little Sarcochilus hybrid at an orchid show, and it’s been a reliable bloomer. It pumps out brilliant red flowers from a four inch (10 cm) pot for a month or two in late spring and early summer. They’re such a rich red that my cell phone camera can’t do them justice, but I think the color in the photos is impressive nonetheless.

Sarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flowers and leaves with water drops, red flowers with red and white lip, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flowers and leaves with water drops, red flowers with red and white lip, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flowers, flower close up, partially open flowers, red flowers with red and white lip, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

When I bought this hybrid, it didn’t have a registered name. Instead, the nametag listed two parents, Sarcochilus Kulnura Spice and Sarcochilus Fairy. Its flower buds and stems start growing with red spots on a white background, but as the buds mature, they turn redder until the white disappears. This plant lives outdoors all year. It’s near a close relative, Sarcochilus hartmanii, an Australian species which also thrives on the Northern California coast. That species blooms regularly with crystal white flowers (shown in the final photo below.) It’s a larger plant than the hybrid, and I believe it tolerates our chilly winds better. Still, the small hybrid grows little by little each year. With luck, these dazzling red blossoms will continue to grace our garden for a long time.

Sarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flowers and buds, red and white flowers, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flowers and buds with water drops, red and white flowers, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flower buds with water drops, red and white flower buds and stems, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Sarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flower, red flower with red and white lip, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Spice x Fairy, orchid hybrid flowers buds and leaves, red flowers with red and white lip, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in clay pot in Pacifica, CaliforniaSarcochilus hartmanii, orchid species flowers, white and red flowers, Australian native orchid, miniature orchid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California