How Orchids Became Britain’s Favorite Flower

Posted July 29th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News

London’s Daily Telegraph recounts how Moth Orchids become Britain’s favorite flowers. There’s no doubt that the British love orchids. Over 200 years ago, tropical orchids began arriving among the spoils of empire. Britain sent out explorers and collectors to bring back more. Soon rainforests were being stripped of these and other botanical treasures, which filled ships back to Europe.

Initially, growers were unsure how to provide conditions for these “air plants” in their hothouses. Eventually, in 1787, Kew botanists coaxed the tropical Prosthechea cochleata, or cockleshell orchid, to bloom in Britain for the first time. When news spread, every botanical enthusiast was desperate to cultivate the mysterious plants, which thrived high up in the forest canopy, without visible nourishment in some of the most remote and beautiful regions on earth.

From Darwin’s orchid fascination to the founding of the first orchid society in 1897, the British love for orchids has only grown over time. Fortunately, most all of today’s orchid market involves mass production greenhouses and scientific efficiency, not jungle expeditions. “We are now able to pop into our local garden centre or supermarket and pick up a piece of tropical paradise whenever we want.”

“Orchids in the Park” Arrives Early

Posted July 24th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

Orchid hybrid, Epicattleya Fascination, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San FranciscoDendrobium kingianum 'Beni Otome', orchid species with variegated leaves, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San FranciscoMasdevallia, orchid flower, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San Francisco

Phragmipedium besseae, Lady Slipper, orchid species flower, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San FranciscoVanda coerulescens, orchid species flowers, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San FranciscoPotinara Red Crab 'Kuau Miau' AM/AOS, orchid with flower lip unfolding, Cattleya hybrid, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San Francisco

Attention orchid lovers! Orchids in the Park 2014 arrives a month early this year, coming up on the weekend of August 2nd & 3rd.  This event is smaller and less crowded than the SF Orchid Society’s huge winter show, but even this scaled-down exhibit has plenty of fascinating orchids. These dozen pictures are just a small sample from last year’s show and sale.

Trichoglottis philippinensis, orchid species flower, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San FranciscoHolcoglossum wangii, orchid species flower, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San FranciscoMasdevallia discoidea, orchid species, side view of flower, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San Francisco

Laelia fournieri, miniature orchid species flower, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San FranciscoWilsonara, orchid hybrid, flower close up, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San FranciscoDracula, orchid flower, at Orchids in the Park 2013, San Francisco

Orchids in the Park will again be held at the San Francisco County Fair Building, just inside Golden Gate Park at 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way. The event runs from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Don’t miss it!

Join Your Local Orchid Society

Posted July 17th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, Misc, Photos

Joining your local orchid society is one of the best ways to learn about orchids. Let’s say you’re a novice, and you’ve already discovered the treasure trove of basic orchid info here at AboutOrchids. Your local orchid society can help you build on that knowledge. The people you meet will share your love of orchids, and will be great resources to advance your orchid education. They’ll be especially helpful for local expertise that’s tough to find, such as which orchid varieties do best in your specific climate.

Besides hosting annual shows, many orchid societies have monthly meetings. These may have orchid displays, awards, vendors, raffles, auctions, and expert speakers. Even if you can’t attend meetings often, their newsletters can help keep you updated. Most societies support local, national, and international conservation efforts.

Here are a few links to help locate an orchid society near you:

Still not convinced to check out a local meeting? Here are more convincing reasons from a recent San Francisco Orchid Society gathering –
Paphiopedilum, Lady Slipper flower, displayed at San Francisco Orchid Society meeting, Aug. 2013Sobralia xantholeuca 'Terrys Favorite' x Sobralia leuceola, orchid hybrid, displayed at San Francisco Orchid Society meeting, Aug. 2013 Disa uniflora, orchid species flowers, displayed at San Francisco Orchid Society meeting, Aug. 2013

The Million Orchid Project

Posted July 10th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Conservation, In the News, Videos

The Million Orchid Project aims to restore Florida’s endangered native orchids. Check out the video below to learn how scientists and volunteers at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden are tackling this ambitious plan. The famous Ghost Orchid is just one of Florida’s threatened species. Like other native orchids, it has become rare due to habitat destruction and illegal poaching. The Million Orchid Project wants to change that, even hoping to establish plants in urban areas like Miami. So how do scientists grow a million orchids? Fortunately, healthy orchids make lots of minuscule seeds. In the wild, most don’t survive, but in the right lab conditions, they can be grown en masse. After they’re big enough, they are attached to trees to mature naturally. Several hundred young orchids have already been transplanted in the wild. It will take a few years to see if they can reproduce on their own. Fairchild is modeling this ambitious project on the tiny tropical nation of Singapore, which has had great success reintroducing its own native orchids over the past 30 years. Will magical Ghost Orchids someday bloom in downtown Miami? Lots of orchid lovers sure hope so. In the meantime, seeing Ghost Orchids in the wild still requires a trek through a swamp.

Eurychone – A Tropical African Orchid

Posted July 5th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Fragrant Orchids, Growing, Mini Orchids, Photos, Warm Growers, Watering

These unusual flowers belong to a fascinating orchid. This species has beautiful blooms, a pleasant scent, and a hard-to-pronounce name. Eurychone is Greek for “broad funnel,” which describes the wide, round flower lip. To pronounce Eurychone, say “you-rye-CONE-ee.”

Eurychone rothschildiana flowers, orchid species native to Africa, grown in San Francisco and Pacifica, CaliforniaEurychone rothschildiana flower, orchid species native to Africa, grown in San Francisco and Pacifica, CaliforniaEurychone rothschildiana flower, orchid species native to Africa, grown in San Francisco and Pacifica, California

Eurychones are native to equatorial rainforests in West and Central Africa. They are related to the Angraecum family. These white, green, and brown flowers have a light cinnamon scent. Blooms hang down below the leaves, so the plants should be mounted, or grown in pots with room for flowers to emerge underneath.

Eurychone rothschildiana flower, orchid species native to Africa, grown in San Francisco and Pacifica, CaliforniaEurychone rothschildiana flower, orchid species native to Africa, grown in San Francisco and Pacifica, CaliforniaEurychone rothschildiana flower, orchid species native to Africa, grown in San Francisco and Pacifica, California

Eurychone rothschildiana flowers under leaf, orchid species native to Africa, grown in San Francisco and Pacifica, CaliforniaEurychone rothschildiana flower, orchid species native to Africa, grown in San Francisco and Pacifica, CaliforniaEurychone rothschildiana flowers side and back views, orchid species native to Africa, grown in San Francisco and Pacifica, California

This species doesn’t need much light, and will be happy alongside Moth Orchids. Keep them out of direct sun, or their broad, leathery leaves may burn. Provide warm temps, high humidity, and regular water. In winter, give them slightly cooler temps and a little less water, but keep humidity high.

Orchid growers have created hybrids with Angraecum and Aerangis. These crosses appear under the names Euryangis and Eurygraecum. And I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to pronounce those.

July Orchid Shows

Posted June 30th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco

North of the equator, July’s schedule slows down, but it picks up in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and South Africa. Here in the SF Bay Area, don’t miss the Golden Gate Cymbidium Society Auction & Potluck Dinner at Lake Merritt on July 23rd.

July 3 – 5
Hawkesbury District Orchid Society Show, Windsor Riverview, 227 George St., Windsor, NSW, Australia
July 4 – 6
Exposicao Nacional de Orquideas de Capivari, Salao de Festas da Paroquia de Sao Joao Batista, Travessa Martin Taques, nº5, Centro, Sao Paulo, Brazil
July 4 – 6
Exposicao Nacional de Orquideas de Assis, ACIA, Av. Antonio Zuardi no. 970, Vila Cambui, Assis, Sao Paulo, Brazil
July 4 – 6
Caboolture Orchid Society Show, Morayfield Community Complex, Morayfield Rd., Morayfield, Queensland, Australia
July 5
Southern Riviera Orchid Society Show, CWA Hall, Wason St., Milton, NSW, Australia
July 5 – 6
Shoalhaven Orchid Society Winter Show, Berry Showground Pavilion, Victoria St., Berry, NSW, Australia
July 5 – 6
Illawarra & District Orchid Society Show, Senior Citizens Hall, Benaud Crescent, Warilla, NSW, Australia
July 5 – 6
Country Clubs’ Challenge, MacIntosh Centre, Thompson St. & Midland Hwy., Shepparton, Victoria, Australia
July 8 – 13
RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, UK
July 9 – 11
Exposicao e Venda de Orquideas, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Seropedica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Read the rest of this post »

Wild Orchids in the UK

Posted June 25th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, In the News, Orchids in the Wild

The Brits love orchids, and, of course, that includes their native varieties. Over spring and summer, wild orchid blooms can make UK headlines. For example, the BBC reports on bee orchids in West Sussex which are not growing where they’re supposed to. A large number of the unusual orchids are thriving in “highly acidic clay soil at Wakehurst Place,” despite their preference for chalky soil.

There’s orchid news from Derbyshire. Many of the region’s 16 native orchid species can be seen in bloom in the wild. The bird’s-nest orchid, the pyramidal orchid, and the early purple orchid are just a few of the jewels to find.

Meanwhile, bee orchids are blooming early in Gloucestershire. By appearing several weeks early in Minchinhampton Common, they merit an article with photos. I wish more newspapers would follow native orchids so well.

Summer’s Rainbow

Posted June 21st, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos

Celebrate summer’s arrival with an orchid rainbow. Today’s solstice signals a change of seasons around the globe. The colorful blooms, courtesy of Dave’s camera, are all from last winter’s Pacific Orchid Expo.

Cymbidium Memoria Connie Jo Nine 'Little Devils', orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San FranciscoGuarisophleya Sierra Gem 'Old Gold', Cattleya orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San FranciscoCalanthe sieboldii, orchid species, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San Francisco

Lycaste ciliata, orchid species, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San FranciscoCleisocentron gokusingii, miniature orchid species with blue flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San FranciscoMasdevallia Fraseri, orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San Francisco

Of course, a true rainbow would include the color indigo, but naturally blue orchids are tough to come by, and deep blue is even rarer. The orchid family’s outrageous diversity includes a wide range of hues, but not many blues. Fortunately, the tiny Cleisocentron in the bottom row is a reliable, true-blue bloomer. Now go out and enjoy summer.

Orchids Love an Outdoor Vacation

Posted June 15th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Growing, Photos

Lady Slipper flower, Paphiopedilum, San Diego Zoo GreenhouseCymbidium Lucky Gloria 'Miss Kim', orchid hybrid, peloric form, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San FranciscoZygotonia Midnight Blue 'Cardinals Roost', orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San Francisco

Who doesn’t love a summer vacation? Orchids sure do. Many growers move their plants outdoors to take advantage of pleasant summer weather. Indoor orchids will thrive with fresh air and refreshing rain showers. Check out these tips to plan an outdoor orchid vacation:

  • When moving plants outside, keep them in a shady spot for two weeks. Their leaves need time to adapt to stronger light outdoors. Even sun lovers like Cattleyas, Cymbidiums, and Vandas can burn if they don’t have time to adjust.
  • Orchids may need more frequent waterings while living outdoors. Stronger light and air movement will dry them out faster.
  • Heavy winds or rains can damage plants. Trees and roof overhangs offer some protection. Bring plants back inside if forecasts predict severe weather.
  • Orchid growers in dry climates face the challenge of finding a humid outdoor area for their plants. Take advantage of any rainy days for quick trips outside.
  • Warm growers like Phals and Vandas need to stay above 65°F (18°C,) and should be brought back indoors if weather forecasts call for any drop below that.
  • Bugs are inevitable outside, but don’t reflexively reach for a toxic insecticide. Consider letting beneficial insects do the job. Ladybugs, dragonflies, and spiders work for free, but can’t survive deadly chemicals. Carnivorous plants can help control pests, too.
  • Many growers bring blooming plants indoors to protect flowers from pests and weather damage. Check for insects before plants come back inside.

Orchids That Look Like Something Else

Posted June 6th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News, Misc

A Dracula orchid that resembles a monkey face? An Anguloa orchid which looks like a baby in a blanket? Art and design magazine BoredPanda features great photos of orchids and other flowers which look like something else. From the everyday Moth Orchid to the bizarre Flying Duck Orchid, it’s obvious that Mother Nature sometimes recycles ideas. Although plants like the Bumble Bee Orchid and the Dove Orchid seem to be talented mimics, they are only trying to draw in pollinators. These spectacular designs are thanks to evolution and the diversity of the orchid family.