May Orchid Shows

Posted April 30th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

Glasgow to Honolulu, Rio to Oakland, Auckland to Memphis, orchids are celebrated internationally. These events often feature exhibits and plant sales, and also include talks and tours by experts.

May 4 – 7
Festival de Orquídeas, Gimnasio Fito Ramos, carr. #976, Bo. Florencio, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
May 5 – 7
Memphis Orchid Society Show & Sale, Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry Rd., Memphis, Tennessee
May 5 – 7
Platinum Coast Orchid Society Show, Kiwanis Island Park Gymnasium, 951 Kiwanis Island Park Rd., Merritt Island, Florida
May 5 – 7
Santa Clara Valley Orchid Society Show & Sale, Westgate Mall, 1600 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, California
May 5 – 7
Exposição Orquídeas no Jardim, Orquidário, Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, R. Jardim Botânico, 1008, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
May 5 – 7
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas, Centro de Convivência da Melhor Idade, Turcão 1, Monte Alto, São Paulo, Brazil
May 5 – 7
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas, Pavilhão Sagrada Família, Rua Cap. Geraldo 26, Itumirim, Minas Gerais, Brazil
May 5 – 7
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas do Noreste do Paraná, Centro de Eventos de Paranavaí, Jardim Novo Horizonte, Paranavaí, Paraná, Brazil
May 6
Fort Worth Orchid Society Show & Sale, Ft. Worth Botanic Garden Conservatory, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Ft. Worth, Texas
May 6 – 7
Manoa Orchid Society Show, Noelani Elementary School, 2655 Woodlawn Dr., Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Read the rest of this post »

Spring at the SF Botanical Garden

Posted April 26th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, General Gardening, Photos

Abutilon, Flowering Maple, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkPurple flowers, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkLeucospermum Scarlet Ribbon, Pincushion flower, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park

Pond and trees, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkLayia platyglossa, yellow and white Coastal Tidytips flowers, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkTree Fern with new growth at top, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park

The San Francisco Botanical Garden is bursting with new growth after a rainy winter. Covering about 55 acres (22 hectares) of Golden Gate Park, the garden is always full of life. During a recent visit, there were lots of spring blooms, and everything from tree ferns to giant redwoods were sporting new greenery.

Sequoia sempervirens, Coastal Redwood Tree with double trunk, Redwood Grove in San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkLeucospermum tottum hybrid, Pincushion flower bud ready to open, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkClematis flower, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park

Large Gunnera leaves and trees, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkWisteria vines and flowers, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate ParkRhododendron occidentale, Western Azalea flowers, California Azalea, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park

Also known as Strybing Arboretum, the garden has separate climate zones for native Californian plants, Mediterranean climate plants, succulents, cloud forest plants, and other subtropicals. For local gardeners, the entire area is a perfect showroom for the vast range of choices in our mild climate. Near the main entrance at 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way, there’s a gift shop which sells some of these plants. The SF Botanical Garden is a great place to visit any time of year. Explore more online at the SF Botanical Garden website.

Stinky Orchid Shuts Down Smithsonian Greenhouse

Posted April 21st, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Fragrant Orchids, In the News, QuickPost, Warm Growers

Its flowers resemble maggot-infested meat, and its scent has been compared to “a thousand dead elephants rotting in the sun.” Meet the orchid species Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis, which attracts carrion flies as pollinators.

When You’ve Killed Your Weight in Orchids

Posted April 18th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Growing, Photos, Problems

There’s a saying that you become an orchid expert when you’ve killed your weight in orchids. Some people wince in horror when I repeat that, but orchid lovers usually just laugh and nod. Growing orchids means sometimes making mistakes and killing plants. I’ve grown them for over 25 years, and earned my expert status a very long time ago. Fortunately, my mortality rate is far lower than it once was.

Cattleya cernua, aka Sophronitis cernua, miniature orchid species, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaOncidium strictum, aka Symphyglossum sanguineum, orchid species, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaComparettia macroplectron, orchid species flowers with water drops, grown indoors in San Francisco, California

Red Cymbidium, orchid hybrid flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaOberonia toppingii, miniature orchid species with tiny flowers, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaCyrtochilum macranthum, aka Oncidium macranthum, orchid species flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

These photos are all orchids I’ve killed. Many are older plants which are long gone. In fact, a few of these photos are a dozen years old. Some died because I watered too much or not enough, forgot to repot, or let pests get out of control. Others died for reasons beyond my control, like raccoon damage, or having a short lifespan. Most importantly, I’ve tried to learn from each of them, even if it was only about the limits of the growing conditions I could provide.

Ponerorchis graminifolia, Grass Leaf Orchid, aka Orchis graminifolia, miniature orchid species flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaCycnoches barthiorum, orchid species flower, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaSedirea japonica, orchid species flowers, Japanese name: Nago-ran, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

Bulbophyllum pardalotum, miniature orchid species flower, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaPolystachya zambesiaca, orchid species flower, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum orchid hybrid, orange and yellow flowers, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

Now, don’t get the idea that I used to run some type of orchid slaughterhouse. I have orchids which have thrived for decades, despite this visual record to the contrary. Whether beginner or expert, all growers need to continue learning. With tens of thousands of species and countless hybrids, orchids are an endless field of knowledge. There are always more mistakes to make, and more orchids to kill.

Rare Orchid Discovery Halts Aussie Racers

Posted April 13th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

Rare orchid populations have stopped plans for an Australian race park. Orchid lovers found Leafless Tongue Orchids near the planned track. That’s pitted nature lovers against racing fans, but local officials have stated that the building plans had many flaws, including the fact that the area is home to lots of endangered species. The Leafless Tongue Orchid, Cryptostylis hunteriana, is one of many strange Australian plants. It’s a terrestrial found only near the country’s southeastern coast. With no leaves to photosynthesize, it’s believed to draw nutrients from fungi and decaying leaves. The orchid has been classified as vulnerable and is protected by Australian law.

Ground Orchids Bloom in Tough Spots

Posted April 7th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Growing, Photos, Warm Growers

Spathoglottis, or Ground Orchids, are staples of the tropics. They’re sturdy enough to serve as landscaping plants in shopping plazas, like these orchids on the island of Kauai.  Grown alone in pots, or in flowerbeds with other tropicals, they make gorgeous displays.

Yellow Spathoglottis, Ground Orchid flower, landscaping plant in shopping center in Kapa'a, Kauai, HawaiiPurple Spathoglottis, Ground Orchid flowers, landscaping plant in Poipu Shopping Village, Kauai, HawaiiYellow and pink Spathoglottis with raindrops, Ground Orchid flowers, landscaping plant in Coconut Marketplace in Kapa'a, Kauai, Hawaii

These terrestrials are easy to keep in the tropics, but hard to grow elsewhere. They need lots of direct sun, warmth, water, and fertilizer to bloom. For tropical gardeners, and others with warm greenhouses, there are several species and an ever-expanding number of hybrids to choose from. Many can become large plants, but there are smaller varieties available, too.

White Spathoglottis flower, McBryde Garden, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, National Tropical Botanical GardenClose up of yellow and pink Spathoglottis with raindrops, Ground Orchid flower, landscaping plant in Coconut Marketplace in Kapa'a, Kauai, HawaiiPurple Spathoglottis, Ground Orchid flowers, landscaping plant in Poipu Shopping Village, Kauai, Hawaii

The next photo below shows the only one in this post that’s not part of commercial landscaping. The bloom belongs to a wild plant next to a desert stream in Waimea Canyon. The Philippine Ground Orchid, Spathoglottis plicata, has naturalized in Hawaii. Surviving in a hot, dry environment, it’s demonstrating the same toughness that allows its relatives to thrive in a concrete planter near a parking lot. For gardeners in the tropics, Ground Orchids can provide great blooms for tough spots.

Philippine Ground Orchid, Spathoglottis plicata, flower bud and seedpod, orchid species naturalized in Hawaii, growing wild alongside a stream next to Waimea Canyon Drive, Kauai, HawaiiYellow Spathoglottis, Ground Orchid flowers, landscaping plant in Coconut Marketplace in Kapa'a, Kauai, HawaiiYellow and pink Spathoglottis, Ground Orchid flower, landscaping plant in Coconut Marketplace in Kapa'a, Kauai, Hawaii

The Orchid Mantis Is Not a Flower

Posted April 3rd, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Misc, Videos

Orchid mantises mimic flowers so well that their lunch flies right to them! Check out two great videos showing these stealthy little predators —

Learn more about orchid mantises in this earlier blog post.

April Orchid Shows

Posted March 31st, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

From Alberta to Maui, from Florida to Queensland, there’s a good chance that an orchid show is nearby this month. Don’t miss these amazing opportunities!

April 1 – 2
Sonoma County Orchid Society Spring Show, Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa, California
April 1 – 2
Central Coast Orchid Show & Sale, South County Regional Center, 800 W. Branch St., Arroyo Grande, California
April 1 – 2
Tropical Plant Society of Modesto Show & Sale, Stanislaus Union School, 1931 Kiernan Ave., Modesto, California
April 1 – 2
Orchid Society of Highlands County Show, Bert J. Harris Jr. Ag Center, 4509 George Blvd., Sebring, Florida
April 1 – 2
Genesee Region Orchid Society Spring Show & Sale, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Eisenhart Auditorium, 657 East Ave., Rochester, New York
April 1 – 2
Central Pennsylvania Orchid Society Show, Snider Ag Arena, Penn State Univ., Park Ave., University Park, Pennsylvania
April 1 – 2
Houston Orchid Society Show & Sale, Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Dr., Houston, Texas
April 1 – 2
Central East Texas Orchid Society Show & Sale, Tyler Rose Museum & Gift Shop, 420 Rose Park Dr., Tyler, Texas
April 1 – 2
Central Ohio Orchid Society Spring Show & Sale, Franklin Park Conservatory, 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, Ohio
April 1 – 2
Desert Valley Orchid Society Show & Sale, Berridge Nurseries, 4647 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, Arizona

Read the rest of this post »

Hawaii’s Native Species Face Uncertain Future

Posted March 28th, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, General Gardening, Photos

Among the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is the last refuge for many of the state’s endangered native flora and fauna. They face threats from invasive species, habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. With human help, however, some are recovering and rebounding. During our recent visit, it was a joy to see that many people on the island were working to protect and preserve these rare species. For example, the Hawaiian Monk Seal, dozing in the third photo below, was accompanied by nearby beach volunteers to prevent anyone from disturbing it.

Branta sandvicensis, Hawaiian goose, Nene, state bird of Hawaii, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, HawaiiHawaiian gallinule, Hawaiian moorhen, Gallinula galeata sandvicensis, rare Hawaiian native bird, 'alae 'ula, McBryde Garden, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, National Tropical Botanical GardenHawaiian monk seal, Neomonachus schauinslandi, 'Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua, endangered species, sleeping on Lawai Beach in Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii

For eons, Hawaiian animals and plants were isolated on the world’s most remote island chain. As the rest of the world has arrived over the past few centuries, native species have faced threats which they had never known. Since many are endemic (found only here,) if they disappear from Hawaii, they’re extinct forever. Sadly, some are already gone. Fortunately, lots of groups like National Tropical Botanical Garden are working to protect Hawaii’s remaining natural heritage.

Abutilon menziesii, Ko'oloa'ula, critically endangered species, traditional lei making flower, McBryde Garden, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, National Tropical Botanical GardenHibiscus waimeae subspecies waimeae, Koki'o ke'oke'o, endangered Hawaiian native plant species, McBryde Garden, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, National Tropical Botanical GardenSida fallax, 'ilima, yellow ilima, endangered Hawaiian native plant species, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii

These photos were taken at McBryde Garden and Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai, except for the Hawaiian Monk Seal photo, which was taken at Lawai Beach on the island’s south shore. All of the animals and most of the plants in these photos are threatened with extinction. We’ve never seen any of Hawaii’s three native orchid species, but we’ll keep trying. They’re all very rare and endangered, and conservation efforts for them are continuing. To learn more about Hawaii’s threatened species, explore facts sheets from the state’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Hibiscus brackenridgei, Ma'o hau hele, state flower of Hawaii, endangered Hawaiian native plant species, McBryde Garden, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, National Tropical Botanical GardenHibiscus clayi, koki'o 'ula, endangered Hawaiian native plant species, McBryde Garden, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, National Tropical Botanical GardenScaevola taccada, beach naupaka, naupaka kahakai, Hawaiian native plant species, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii

Lipochaeta connata subspecies acris, rare native Hawaiian species, Nehe, yellow flowers with bee, McBryde Garden, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, National Tropical Botanical GardenBrighamia insignis, 'Alula, critically endangered native Hawaiian plant species, McBryde Garden, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, National Tropical Botanical GardenCordia subcordata, kou, native Hawaiian plant species, McBryde Garden, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, National Tropical Botanical Garden

How to Photograph an Orchid

Posted March 23rd, 2017 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Books, In the News, Misc, QuickPost

Enjoy this beautiful National Geographic article with expert photography advice. Photojournalist Christian Ziegler, whose work includes Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids, shares tips for taking great pictures. Don’t miss the photo gallery with his stunning orchid shots.