Archive for the 'Problems' Category

Why ‘Plant Blindness’ Matters

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

“Plant blindness” is a tendency not to notice plants. People are generally much better at noticing animals. With increased urbanization, and more time spent looking at screens, the problem has worsened. Most don’t appreciate how important plants are, and that weakens support for plant conservation. As orchids and other plants face extinction, protecting them is […]

Smoky Orchids

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Bad wildfires have brought terribly smoky conditions to the San Francisco Bay Area for the past week. Of course, this is nothing compared to the suffering of those who have lost homes and loved ones in the fires, which are over 150 miles (241 km) away. However, it is causing bad air problems. Our daily […]

Diversity As Natural Pesticide

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Scientists have published a study in Nature that explains why plant diversity discourages insect pests. Damaging insects love monocultures, large areas planted with a single crop, because they conveniently concentrate nutrients in one place. Diverse plantings have less of what they like, so bugs need to work harder in search of food. As a result, […]

Water Orchids More During A Heatwave

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Some readers may wonder why I’m posting a reminder about heatwaves at the start of autumn, but SF Bay Area locals understand. For us, the warmest months of the year are September and October. True to form, our cool, foggy weather gave way to warmer temps on schedule this year, and we’ve had a few […]

When You’ve Killed Your Weight in Orchids

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

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 […]

Orchid Post Mortem: Oncidium

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Orchid casualties are inevitable in any collection, even for experienced growers. My latest loss was this adorable mini Oncidium species, a victim of some devilish raccoons. I bought this plant many years ago, and always grew it outdoors. It’s been a stubborn species, and only bloomed for me twice. A couple weeks ago, I found […]

Water Conservation

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

With California struggling through another drought, water conservation is essential. For orchid growers, droughts can be a problem. Orchids need moisture, both for watering and for humidity. Even growers who enjoy abundant water should treat it as a precious resource. Some orchids need a lot of water. Lady Slippers and Masdevallias have heavy demands. Cattleyas […]

Orchid Post Mortem: Myoxanthus

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Every now and then, I’m reminded of the adage that you’re not an orchid expert until you’ve killed your weight in orchids. I passed that milestone long ago, and while I kill fewer now, occasionally a weight is added to the scales. For example, I lost this Myoxanthus over the past winter. It died after […]

Ice Cubes and Orchids

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

The Oregon Orchid Society has a helpful webpage about the problems of watering orchids with ice cubes. They offer the same advice as me: don’t use ice with orchids! Their article debunks arguments made by the pro-ice set. Proper orchid culture doesn’t involve freezing. It includes thorough drenchings with room-temperature water and great drainage. Orchids […]

Cutting Off Orchid Roots

Monday, January 20th, 2014

As air plants, many orchids grow roots outside their pots. Popular varieties like Phals and Vandas prefer to grow this way. However, some people find exposed roots unattractive. “Can I cut off my orchid’s roots?” is a common question. Usually the query includes an explanation that the roots stick out of the pot, look ugly, […]