The World’s Favorite Flavor at Risk

Posted February 18th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, Fragrant Orchids, In the News, QuickPost

Wild vanilla is disappearing. On top of that bad news, farmers in Madagascar have had poor harvests.

Caring for A Valentine Orchid

Posted February 14th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Growing, Photos

Paphiopedilum Fumis Delight, Lady Slipper orchid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis Taisuco Anna, Moth Orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium hybrid, orchid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2008, San Francisco, California

Valentine’s Day is often full of romantic surprises, including beautiful orchids. If you’ve received an orchid gift, check the basic care tips below to keep your flowers happy.

Oncidium hybrid flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis Orchid World 'Bonnie Vasquez' AM/AOS, Moth Orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaCattleya hybrid, orchid flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2006, San Francisco, California

Oncidium Moon Shadow 'Tiger Tail', Dancing Lady orchid hybrids, Orchids in the Park 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium hybrid, orchid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2008, San Francisco, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum, Lady Slipper orchid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2011, San Francisco, California

Identify your orchid – Different types of orchids have different care needs. You usually don’t need to figure out the exact name, only a general ID. Phals, or Moth Orchids, are the most popular types. Cattleyas, Cymbidiums, Dendrobiums, Lady Slippers, and Oncidiums are also favorites.

Humidity – Orchids need water vapor in the air. Dry air can wilt flowers, dry leaves, and attract pests. Tips for raising humidity include grouping plants together, placing plants in a humid area like a bathroom or kitchen, using a cool mist humidifier, or spraying with a mister. Many growers balance flowerpots on top of pebbles in trays of shallow water, keeping the pots above the water level.

Watering – Soak the plant with room-temperature water, and then let all excess drain out. Don’t let pots sit in water for too long, or roots may rot.

Light – Keep your orchid in bright light. Many varieties enjoy morning sun, especially in the shorter days of winter.

Cut flowers – Orchids need the same care as other cut flowers. Place in lukewarm water, and keep the vase out of direct sun. Change the water every couple days. High humidity will help the flowers last longer.

More Botanical Garden Orchid Exhibits

Posted February 11th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

Some of these winter orchid exhibits extend into spring. Check the previous listings of ongoing botanical garden events here and here.

February 12 – March 12
In the UK, explore Cambridge University Botanic Garden’s celebration of Indian orchids. Wednesday lunchtime guided tours and other special events enhance the displays.

February 18 – April 9
The New York Botanical Garden celebrates the orchids of Thailand. Enjoy film and dance activities as part of the show, and Orchid Evenings in the conservatory with cocktails and music.

March 10 – April 15
Oklahoma City’s Myriad Botanical Gardens presents a kaleidoscope of flowers. Orchids fill the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, while tulips and daffodils outside the glasshouse add to the springtime celebration.

Pacific Orchid and Garden Exposition

Posted February 6th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

The San Francisco Orchid Society’s big yearly show has a new name and a new location for 2017. The Pacific Orchid and Garden Exposition (formerly the Pacific Orchid Exposition) happens Friday, February 24th – Sunday, February 26th. This year’s event is moving from Fort Mason to the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, near Lincoln Way and 9th Avenue.

Cymbidium Wild Leopard 'Stirling', orchid hybrid flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhragmipedium Jason Fischer, close up of a Lady Slipper orchid hybrid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium tetragonum, orchid species flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, California

No matter the changes, the show will still feature tens of thousands of remarkable flowers, like these from the 2016 show. This year’s theme is “Big Ideas for Small Gardens,” focusing on orchids for windowsills and city apartments. Purchase advance tickets online to save on admission. Don’t miss it!

Laelia Gold Star, orchid hybrid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaMasdevallia flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaEria rhynchostyloides, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, California

Epidendrum flowers, orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaCaucaea olivacea, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaMormodes fractiflexa, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, San Francisco, California

Botanical Garden Orchid Exhibits

Posted February 3rd, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

Botanical Gardens are always worth a visit, especially as warm, tropical oases amid the winter cold. Check out these orchid exhibits and more in the previous listing.

February 3 – March 19
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden celebrates Victorian botanicals. Antique orchid illustrations accompany living orchid and tropical plant displays in Belmont, North Carolina.

February 4 – March 5
Kew Gardens in London features India’s vibrant orchids. The festival explores how orchids are used in Indian culture, medicine, and everyday life.

February 11 – March 26
The Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show offers a tropical escape from winter. This year’s orchid creations include a 15 foot (4.6 m) Vanda “wind chime.”

February 11 – April 9
Head to the Atlanta Botanical Garden for Orchid Daze. Enjoy thousands of tropical orchids in spectacular displays.

February Orchid Shows

Posted February 1st, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

From Verona, Italy to Venice, Florida, orchid shows abound. Two of the biggest yearly shows happen this month. In Tokyo, the Japan Grand Prix International Orchid Festival is the largest in the world. In San Francisco, the Pacific Orchid & Garden Exposition is the largest in the USA.

February 1 – 27
Exposition du Mille et Une Orchidées, Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 57 rue Cuvier, Paris, France
February 2 – 5
Asociación de Orquidistas del Sur Show, Plaza del Caribe, 2050 Ponce Bypass, Ponce, Puerto Rico
February 2 – 5
Exposición Nacional de Orquídeas, Cervecería Centro Americana, Salón José Arzú Castillo, 3a. Ave 7-16, Zona 2, Guatemala City, Guatemala
February 3 – 5
Susquehanna Orchid Society Show & Sale, Hershey Gardens Conservatory, 170 Hotel Rd., Hershey, Pennsylvania
February 3 – 5
Salon Internationale d’Orchidées, Vergèze-Espace, 30310 Vergèze, France
February 4 – 5
Madison Orchid Growers Guild Show, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 3330 Atwood Ave., Madison, Wisconsin
February 4 – 5
Venice Area Orchid Society Show & Sale, Venice Community Center, 326 S. Nokomis Ave., Venice, Florida
February 4 – 5
Orchid Society of Greater St. Louis Show & Sale, Missouri Botanical Garden, Beaumont Room, 4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri
February 5
Ocho Rios Orchid Society Show, Couples Sans Souci Hotel, White River, St. Mary, Jamaica
February 8 – 11
Orchideenschau, Shopping City Seiersberg 1-9, 8055 Seiersberg, Austria

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Moth Orchids Make Great Gifts

Posted January 29th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos, Warm Growers

Phalaenopsis orchid, Harlequin Phal hybrid, Moth Orchid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis orchid, Harlequin Phal hybrid, Moth Orchid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2011, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis orchid, Harlequin Phal hybrid, Moth Orchid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, California

Moth Orchids, or Phals, always put on an impressive show. They’ve become essential for Valentine’s Day and the Lunar New Year. A steady stream of new hybrid colors and patterns continually adds to the list of Phal choices. Best of all, modern hybrids are grown for both beauty and toughness. They are as easy to keep as other common houseplants with a few care tips.

Phalaenopsis Mini Mark 'Holm', Moth Orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis Kingcar Bonnie Girls 'DC6063', Moth Orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis Taida Lime, Moth Orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

Phalaenopsis hybrid, Moth Orchid, peloric flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis Little Pink Gem, Moth Orchid hybrid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis orchid, Harlequin Phal hybrid, Moth Orchid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2009, San Francisco, California

These tropical plants don’t like cold weather, so take basic precautions if you’re buying over winter. Don’t let them get too cold on the way home. Ideally, they should be kept above 65°F (18°C,) but a quick exposure to chilly air shouldn’t be a problem. If it’s near or below freezing, however, keep them completely out of the cold. Wrap the plant and flowers, or inflate a bag around them, to provide a cushion of warmer air. Quickly move them out of any cold temps. That way your gift will arrive at its destination with its flowers in great shape.

Poaching Orchids

Posted January 27th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

Orchid poaching is a global problem, as plants are torn from the wild for profit, or as a selfish person’s trophy. Around the Great Lakes, poaching is threatening many native plants, including orchids. True orchid lovers know that they need to keep locations secret when they find native species. If word gets out, the plants will, sadly, be poached, and likely be killed in the process. Scientists try to monitor populations, and orchid lovers, photographers, and park rangers try not to accidentally reveal precise locations. “When you post photographs on the internet, people can track the area you’re in by seeing the flora and plants in the habitat around the orchid — it’s like CSI orchid edition.” said Mark Carlson, a Michigan nature photographer. Citizen science projects around the region have yielded positive results, and allowed scientists to better protect rare species. Thanks to Becky Wildt, Megan McDonnell, and Great Lakes Echo for this story.

A Mystery of Hiding Orchids, Solved

Posted January 22nd, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Dormancy, In the News, QuickPost

Scientists have long wondered what awakens orchids, like the Small-Whirled Pogonia, after they’ve hidden underground for extended dormant periods. Smithsonian.com reports that a soil fungus holds the answer.

Hyacinth Orchids, Big and Small

Posted January 19th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Photos

For years, I’ve had great success growing a Giant Hyacinth Orchid outdoors. With long, graceful leaves, it’s an elegant plant even when not in flower. But certainly, it’s at its best when it bursts into bloom. Tall stalks emerge, each boasting dozens of small, purple flowers. Every winter, this orchid reliably puts on a great show, usually lasting for months. It’s currently outside our front door, where it started blooming a few weeks ago.

Arpophyllum giganteum, Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species with purple flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaArpophyllum giganteum, Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species with purple flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaArpophyllum giganteum, Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species with purple flowers, leaves and flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Arpophyllum giganteum, Hyacinth Orchid, close up of flowers, orchid species with purple flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaArpophyllum giganteum, Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species with purple flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaArpophyllum giganteum, Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species with purple flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

After a dozen years of spectacular blooms with this plant, I spotted a closely related subspecies for sale at last year’s Pacific Orchid Expo. Some friends successfully grow this smaller Hyacinth Orchid variety in their gardens, so I decided to try it, too. I’m happy to see that Arpophyllum giganteum subspecies alpinum is just as easy to bloom as Arpophyllum giganteum. Instead of purple, it has vivid crimson flowers.

Arpophyllum giganteum subspecies alpinum, Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species with crimson flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaArpophyllum giganteum subspecies alpinum, Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species with crimson flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaArpophyllum giganteum subspecies alpinum, Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species showing leaves and crimson flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Arpophyllum giganteum subspecies alpinum, Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species, close up of crimson flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaArpophyllum giganteum subspecies alpinum, Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species with crimson flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California Arpophyllum giganteum subspecies alpinum, Hyacinth Orchid, orchid species with crimson flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

My new plant is still small, but even at its largest, this subspecies has smaller leaves and shorter flower stalks than the purple variety. Despite these differences, these two plants are very closely related. They are considered the same, not separate, species. And I’m very happy to have them both in the garden.