February 2016

Did anyone make the resolution to try to become a better orchid grower? Hopefully at least some of the members have and are holding to their resolution. Remember that attending meetings, asking questions of experienced growers, and reading article in the AOS and Orchid Digest magazines will give you new insight on how to grow your orchids better and hopefully that will lead to you having more and larger orchids with more blooms. It is also a good idea to attend orchid shows to see a wide variety of orchids that you might be able to grow. Upcoming large orchid shows include San Francisco Pacific Orchid Exposition (Feb 26-29) and the Santa Barbara International Orchid Exposition (March 4-6). FCOS will have a display at Santa Barbara so please get your orchids ready to that display. Also, our show will be April 1-3 so we will need both your orchids for the display and your help to make the event move along smoothly. 

The FCOS Board of Directors recently met and the following are some of the topics discussed at the meeting: 

  • Starting with our April, 2016 meeting, prior to the beginning of each meeting, we will have an Orchids 101 class that will begin 7 pm and last about 15-20 minutes. A different topic will be discussed during each class. Speakers and topics will be coordinated by Bob Asbell. 
  • A member survey will be conducted sometime early this year.
  • Upcoming speakers were discussed
  • Attempting to connect to the FFA advisors at AG and Nipomo High Schools to see if there are any students interested in orchids. 
  • Ways to keep new members interested in staying as a members.
  • Ideas on how to keep an orchid society healthy and growing.

I would like to begin something new at FCOS based on an idea shared by Anne Bachmann about a program at the San Francisco Orchid Society (SFOS). The following is my proposal based on their program. 

New members or guests might feel lost, lonely, or bewildered at our meetings and not be sure who to talk to or might be intimidated to ask questions of other folks at the meetings. So the SFOS has set up experienced growers to be a personal Coach for newer members or those that just have need of answers to their orchid questions. The idea is that the newer grower will feel more comfortable to interact with an individual, experienced, personal Coach. So I am currently looking for someone to volunteer to lead the Coach Program. As I envision it, their responsibility would be to have a list of Coaches from which 'new members' could contact either at or outside of the meetings to get their questions hopefully answered. If you are interested in being one of the personal Coaches you will need to provide the following information: name, email, telephone and/or cell phone number, orchid specialty, and the most convenient time for receiving an initial contact call. Once the Coach list is developed we will let everyone know of the availability of coaches. I would like to have this system at least initially started by the April meeting so hopefully someone will step up to be the Coach Program Coordinator. 

FCOS had Dan Asbell of Asbell Orchids speak to us about growing Cymbidiums and also prepping and staking plants for displaying at shows. Asbell Orchids specializes in outdoor growing orchids and have been hybridizing Cymbidiums for many years. Cymbidiums grow natively in the Himalayan Mountains and in most instances the 8-10 larger blooming species are cooler growers with some of them being able to survive in areas where snow can be on the ground during the winter. Cymbidium species can be found blooming from December to May in the wild. They require less water in the winter as the Himalayas have dry cool weather during the winter. But the roots always need to have at least some moisture throughout the year. Blooms on Cymbidium that are in spike can survive to at least about  29°F but if it gets colder than that you need to protect them from the cold. It is best to transplant cymbidiums from May to June. Once the media breaks down oxygen cannot get to the roots and they will suffocate as the bacteria in the media are using up the oxygen. Cymbidiums can use a lot of fertilizer during the growing period starting in May when the new roots begin to grow. If you begin to fertilize too early, growth will begin early and you might not get spike initiation. 

Spikes are not very flexible during the cooler periods of the day but they become more flexible as the day warms up. So Dan mentioned it is best to do staking after the day has warmed especially if you need to make a large bend in a spike.  If a large bend is needed in a spike, it is best to do the bending over a period of time and not all at the same time. Dan likes to twist the tie wire around the spike and then around the stake. Keep the tie loose on the stem so that it does not pinch it and cause trouble to the spike and flowers. He suggests pulling the brown sheaths off the flower spike and bulbs but you need to be careful as there might be new growths beginning at the base of the growths that you do not want to damage. Removal of the sheaths makes the plant look nicer.

Arthur Pinkers will be talking on Warm Growing Oncidium Intergenerics. He will be bringing the plant table and it may include some of his recent divisions.  We will be having dinner with him at the Quarter Deck in Arroyo Grande at 6 PM.  Call Chuck Scheithauer if you are planning to come so we can get a head count for table space.

Arthur Pinkers has been an orchid enthusiast since the age of sixteen, when he acquired a plant of Slc. Glittering Jewel (Sl. Gratixiae x Slc. Hermes), which infected him with the orchid bug.  His forty plus years of experience growing orchids started in the Pacific Northwest with a green house to fend off the cold, rainy days, but a decade ago a job change forced him to move to Santa Clarita, California, where the conditions are extreme for growing orchids. 

Growing up in the Seattle area, Arthur attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, graduating with a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology.  He worked for many years as a chemist, and had the fortune of having his dream job as the Lab Director for Beall Orchid Company until shortly before it closed in 1990.  Despite not having a current career working with orchids, Arthur has taken an active role in the orchid community.  He has been an Accredited Orchid Judge for over twenty years and has served in most executive positions on the Board of the Northwest Orchid Society, including serving as President from 1988 to1989, and as a center photographer for the Pacific Northwest Judging region.  Currently, Arthur serves as the Center Judging Chair at the Pacific South – San Marino Judging Center and one of the photographers for the Pacific South Judging Center.  Though he has an interest in a wide variety of orchids, botanicals are a special draw to him for their diversity and charm.

Arthur has been married to his wife, Margie, for over twenty-seven years, and has two adult children. While they have not inherited his knack for growing orchids, his family enjoys the beauty and wild aromas his backyard jungle brings to their home, a respite from the desert landscape around them.

 February 26 - 28, 9 AM – 6 PM 2016 SFOS Pacific Orchid Exposition.  “A Legacy of Orchids”.  Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason, San Francisco.  Fri/Sat; 10 AM - 5 PM. Sun. $14 advance, $15 at the Door; seniors - $11 in advance, $12 at the door.  3 Day Pass - $25; Children 16 and under - Free. Lectures, demonstrations, tours, orchid displays and sales. One of the Country's largest orchid expositions - don't miss it. www.orchidsanfrancisco.org 

 March 5 & 6, 2016 – 10 AM to 4 PM Annual Napa Valley Orchid Society Spring Show & Sale. “Out of This World Orchid” Free Admission Napa Senior Center - 1500 Jefferson St. Napa.

 March 4 - 6, 2016: 9 AM – 5 PM  71st Annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show. “Wild World of Orchids”.  Earl Warren Show Grounds, 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93105. www.sborchidshow.com

April  1-3, 2016 Central Coast Orchid Show and Sale  Saturday 9-5pm, Sunday 10-5pm 800 W. Branch Street, Arroyo Grande  see www.FCOS.org for details and flyer on page 12

April 13, 2016 The Cool Growing Orchid Society Annual Auction will be held April 13, 2016 at the Garden Grove Masonic Lodge, 11270 Acacia Pkwy, Garden Grove 92840.  Preview and registration starts at 6:30 PM, and the auction begins at 7 PM.

We've been getting a lot of questions lately about blue orchids. You've probably seen them in the stores too, and wondered what you were seeing. They are Phalaenopsis orchids and they do not grow that way in the wild. The color is injected into the bloom spike and it finds its way in to the flowers. They are certainly eye catching and the blue is often very pretty, yet not a natural color for a Phalaenopsis.

That pretty blue orchid today will most likely be a more common white one at the next bloom cycle. The blue orchid is not a new species of Phal, but rather a temporary engineering feat. Pretty but fleeting.