Vanilla: From Concern to Crisis

Posted June 25th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News, Warm Growers

Vanilla, the world’s most delicious orchid, has been going up in price. The beans are more expensive due to several factors, including a poor crop in Madagascar, the world’s biggest producer. Other problems include speculators who hoard the beans, previous years of low prices when farmers switched to other crops, and criminals who use the beans to launder dirty money from the illegal rosewood trade.

Vanilla farmers around the world are facing other problems, also. Since most farmers use genetic clones, the vines may be vulnerable to disease. Wild Vanilla planifolia is increasingly rare in its native Latin American range, and this reduces essential genetic diversity. Habitat destruction threatens remaining wild populations, and also threatens pollinators. Despite these worries, as the second most expensive spice after saffron, vanilla farmers will find a way to keep growing those delicious beans.

The Longest Days

Posted June 20th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, General Gardening, Photos

The summer solstice brings the longest days and shortest nights of the year. Humans, like plants, love that extra sunshine. To help celebrate today’s solstice, here are more photos from Dave’s recent visit to the Montreal Botanical Garden. I’ve already devoted two posts to the garden, and there’s still more to see. No orchids in this post, but there’s lots of botanical beauty.

Dichorisandra thyrsiflora, Blue Ginger flowers, in bloom at the Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaReception Centre Garden with tropical flowers and plants at the Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaBegonia with white-spotted leaves at the Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

Chinese Garden gate at the Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaLilac in bloom at the Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaGinkgo biloba bonsai, Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

Whether it’s a fragrant lilac, a field of tulips, or a 275-year-old bonsai, plants grow with extra vigor in the extra hours of sunshine. More light means more photosynthesis, which means more energy for growth and blooms. Of course, it doesn’t work the same way for humans, but I certainly thrive with the long days. Maybe it’s just because there’s extra time to work in our garden and enjoy the orchids. I hope your solstice gives you time to enjoy some natural beauty, too.

Ferns Greenhouse with waterfall, Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaJuniperus chinensis var. sargentii, Sargent Juniper bonsai, 275 year old bonsai at the Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaJapanese Garden at the Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

Field of tulips at the Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaTulips, fountain, and administration building at the Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaFlower with bees at the Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

Orchids Love Fog

Posted June 17th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Fertilizing, Growing, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

Orchids love fog. That’s one reason why the Northern California coast is a great place to grow orchids outdoors. Frequent fog, especially in areas closest to the ocean, creates a perfect humid climate for cool growers.

Fog in Pacifica California, fog moving in from ocean, Highway 1 at bottom right of photo, part of Montara Mountain in the distanceFog coming in above the Transamerica Pyramid, looking up to the top of the pyramid from ground level with trees in foreground, San Francisco, CaliforniaFog and trees in Tilden Park, Oakland, California

Orchids want at least 50% humidity. Fog occurs when levels reach 100%, and the air is saturated with enough water to see visible drops. Here on the coast, cool ocean water evaporates, and winds carry the moisture inland. The gentle breezes and strong winds which blow the fog onshore minimize fungal and bacterial problems with the plants. In fact, the fog perfectly mimics the cool, breezy, cloud forest homes of many orchids native to high elevations in the Andes and the Himalayas.

The next two rows of photos show orchids I have grown outdoors for years in our Pacifica garden, and previously, in our San Francisco garden. These cool growing Cymbidiums, Epidendrums, Odonts, Coelogynes, and Pleurothallids are all very happy when the fog creeps in.

Cyrtochilum macranthum, aka Oncidium macranthum, orchid species flower, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum x obrienianum, orchid hybrid flowers with water drops, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium hybrid flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Odontoglossum Bic-ross, orchid hybrid flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaCoelogyne mooreana, orchid species flower, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaBrassia aurantiaca, aka Ada aurantiaca, orchid species with orange flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

It’s not just water vapor in that fog, either. Fog is actually a good source of fertilizer, since it can carry essential plant nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and sulfur. It’s just another great reason why orchids are a perfect match for gardeners who live in foggy areas.

The final row of photos show a few more of the huge number of cool growing fog lovers. These three shots come from 2015’s Pacific Orchid Expo.

Masdevallia Zieglers Love, orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaRestrepia antennifera 'Cow Hollow', orchid species, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium kingianum, orchid species, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

More from the Montreal Botanical Garden

Posted June 9th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Photos

It was easy to find more great photos from Dave’s trip to the Montreal Botanical Garden. These pictures come from the Orchids and Aroids Greenhouse and the Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse. They include more orchids and lots of bromeliads.

Spathoglottis plicata 'Jardin botanique de Montréal', orchid species flower, Philippine Ground Orchid, Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaTank bromeliad from above, Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaCymbidium orchid flowers, Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

Brassavola acaulis, orchid species flowers and leaves, Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaLockhartia amoena, Braided Orchid, orchid species leaves and flowers, Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaInside the Orchids and Aroids Greenhouse, Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

The Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse features realistic depictions of how air plants, like orchids, grow attached to trees in the wild. Several artificial logs span the glasshouse, hosting orchids, ferns, and bromeliads like real rainforest trees.

Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaInside the Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse, Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaPolystachya galeata 'Jardin botanique de Montréal', orchid species flowers, Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

Unidentified vandaceous orchid, vanda flowers, Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaLycaste leucantha x dowiana, orchid hybrid flower and leaves, Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaInside the Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse, Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

I realize I’ve done two posts about Montreal, but still only shown two greenhouses out of the 185 acre (75 hectare) garden. There’s certainly more to come. Check back soon for more impressive botany from Canada.

Florida’s Wild Orchids

Posted June 4th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Orchids in the Wild, QuickPost

Thanks to Leighton Photography & Imaging for these gorgeous photos of Florida’s wild orchids. Check out great shots of rare natives like the Cigar Orchid and the Yellow Cowhorn Orchid. There are also beautiful photos of non-natives like the African Spotted Orchid, which have naturalized in Florida’s subtropical climate. You can find more native orchid photos in their online gallery, too.

June Orchid Shows

Posted June 1st, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

The show schedule slows down in the Northern Hemisphere this month, but there are still plenty of events to be found. They are all great opportunities to see amazing flowers, talk to experts, take photos, and find new orchids for your own collection.

June 3 – 4
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas de Porto Feliz, Shopping Porto Miller Boulevard, Rua Adhemar de Barros, 345, Porto Feliz, São Paulo, Brazil
June 3 – 5
Hilo Orchid Society Show & Sale, Edith Kanaka’ole Stadium, 350 Kalanikoa St., Hilo, Hawaii
June 3 – 5
San Jose Orchid Exposition, Winchester Mystery House, 525 S. Winchester Blvd., San Jose, California
June 3 – 5
New Orleans Orchid Society Show & Sale, Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, Louisiana
June 3 – 5
Exposition Internationale Orchidées, Abbaye Royale du Moncel, Pontpoint, France
June 3 – 5
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas de Catalão, Salão do Crac, Catalão, Goiás, Brazil
June 3 – 5
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas de Vespasiano, Praça de Esportes, Vespasiano, Minas Gerais, Brazil
June 3 – 5
Expoisção Nacional de Orquídeas de São Joaquim da Barra, Salão de Festas da Lapa, Rua Sergipe 2540, Bairro da Lapa, São Paulo, Brazil
June 4
Orchid Digest Speakers Day, Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California
June 4
Deutsche Orchideengesellschaft e.V., Tischbewertung, Gut Aufeld, BGS Lebenshilfe Ingolstadt, Aufeldstr. 26, Ingolstadt, Germany

Read the rest of this post »

Orchids at the Montreal Botanical Garden

Posted May 30th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Photos, Warm Growers

Even if it seems that Dave is on a whirlwind tour of the planet’s botanical gardens, that’s not really the case. He’s just traveling a lot for work, and he’s taking advantage of chances to sightsee. Last week, after a conference in Canada, he was able to enjoy one of the most impressive gardens in the world, the Montreal Botanical Garden. Spread out over 185 acres (75 hectares,) it boasts 22,000 plant varieties, over 20 thematic gardens, and 10 connected greenhouses. The Orchids and Aroids Greenhouse holds most of the orchids.

Chysis laevis, orchid species, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaEpicyclia Mabel Kanda, orchid hybrid, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaCattleya trianae, orchid species, Flor de Mayo or Christmas Orchid, national flower of Colombia, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

Bulbophyllum annamense 'Crownpoint', orchid species, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaDendrobium Sunan Blue, orchid hybrid, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaScuticaria steelei, orchid species, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

I’m really amazed with the garden’s remarkable range of unusual orchid species and hybrids. Many rare varieties were on display, providing a great demonstration of the orchid family’s diversity. It’s not everyday you see Gongora, Scuticaria, and Grammangis species in bloom.

Brassavola David Sander, orchid hybrid, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaGongora portentosa, orchid species, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaBulbophyllum Jersey, orchid hybrid, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

Grammangis ellisii, orchid species, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaAnguloa orchid flowers and leaves, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaPhragmipedium exstaminodium 'Extraordinary' x self, Lady Slipper flower close up, in flower at Montreal Botanical Garden, Canada

Besides the Orchids and Aroids Greenhouse, Dave also found orchids in the Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse, and vanilla vines in the Tropical Food Plants Greenhouse.

The Montreal Botanical Garden grows a lot more than orchids. There’s an alpine garden, shade garden, Chinese garden, Japanese garden, First Nations garden, lilac garden, and so much more. Check back soon for additional photos from Montreal.

Gold Medal Orchids at the Chelsea Flower Show

Posted May 25th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News, QuickPost

McBean’s Orchids has won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show once again. It’s a welcome victory, especially since the venerable, 137-year-old British nursery almost went out of business recently. The Chelsea Flower Show runs through May 28th.

Purple Zygo Orchids

Posted May 23rd, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Dormancy, Fragrant Orchids, Growing, Photos

Zygopetalum Artur Elle x Imagination, orchid hybrid, purple green white and maroon flower, Orchids in the Park 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaZygopetalum Adelaide Meadows, orchid hybrid, purple green white and maroon flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaZygopetalum Harry, orchid hybrid, purple green white and maroon flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, California

When you think of Zygo orchids, think purple. Zygos are known for brilliant purple hues, rich scents, and long-lasting flowers. Alongside all that purple, their showy blooms include green, white, and maroon. These photos show just of few of the growing number of Zygo varieties, with many new hybrids on the market. The species are native to South American rainforests in Brazil, Argentina, and Peru.

Zygoneria, orchid hybrid, purple green white and maroon flower, Kawamoto Orchid Nursery, Honolulu, HawaiiZygopetalum maxillare, orchid species, purple green white and maroon flower, Orchids in the Park 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaZygopetalum BG White 'Stonehurst', orchid hybrid, purple green white and maroon flower, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

Zygo is short for Zygopetalum. To pronounce it, say “zai go” to rhyme with “I go.” Some varieties are warm growers, but there are also cool growers which are perfectly suited for the Northern California coast. They grow in conditions similar to Cymbidiums, but don’t need as much sun. These cool growers enjoy morning sun, regular water, and regular fertilizer, and then a drier winter dormancy. They prefer deep pots where their large root systems can expand. The third photo in the row above shows the plant I’ve grown successfully outdoors for years, Zygopetalum BG White ‘Stonehurst’. Its powerfully fragrant flowers last for months, and it reliably blooms twice a year. (The other Zygo photos are from orchid shows and greenhouse visits.)

Zygopetalum flowers, orchid hybrid, purple green white and maroon flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaZygocaste Rhine Wine, orchid hybrid, purple green white and maroon flower, Orchids in the Park 2010, San Francisco, CaliforniaZygotonia Midnight Blue 'Cardinals Roost', orchid hybrid, purple and white flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San Francisco, California

Zygonisia, orchid hybrid, purple and white flower, Orchids in the Park 2012, San Francisco, CaliforniaZygopetalum Artur Elle 'Tombstone', purple green white and maroon flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2010, San Francisco, CaliforniaZygonisia Rogue Brune x Acacallis cyanea, orchid hybrid, purple and white flower, Orchids in the Park 2014, San Francisco, California

Zygos can be susceptible to botrytis, a type of fungal infection which leads to black leaf spots. The Zygos can thrive and bloom anyway. High humidity and good air flow will minimize the effects.

If you love purple, you’ll love Zygos. They’ll fill your garden with color and fragrance.

International Phalaenopsis Alliance

Posted May 18th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, Warm Growers

The International Phalaenopsis Alliance (IPA) is all about the appreciation, cultivation, and conservation of Moth Orchids. IPA members receive the beautiful Phalaenopsis quarterly journal, full of Moth Orchid news and photos. Members also enjoy informative newsletters, national and regional meetings, and lots of opportunities to learn from experts. As part of its conservation efforts, the IPA supports the Phal species collection at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. To support the IPA, you can join for as little as US$5 yearly.