November 2014

Orchids of Madagascar

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Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island, sitting east off the coast of Africa, has perhaps the planet's most unique natural ecosystem. It is best known for its two dozen or so species of lemurs (best described as looking like a cross between a monkey and a teddy bear) found nowhere else on earth, and also chameleons, the spiny forest, and the enigmatic baobab tree. Also present are about 1000 species of orchids, most notably the Angraecoids, with their ghostly white color and provocative nocturnal perfumes.

What kind of orchid pots should I use?

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Orchids do not grow in pots in the wild. We put them in pots for our convenience. As a result we must understand how strange this is for the plant, their roots like to breathe and be free. It is perfectly fine for orchid roots to grow outside of the pot. Unfortunately, our homes are not humid enough to support epiphytes well. So, a pot helps by holding some moisture around the roots. The secret to growing healthy orchids is to grow healthy roots. Ordinary potted plants are judged by their leaf growth. For orchids, the root growth is the best indicator of the health of the plant. For orchids grown in pots we must be extra careful not to rot or smother the roots.

October Speaker Notes

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Paul Gripp, the self proclaimed "first employee of Santa Barbara Orchid Estate", was the guest speaker at the October FCOS meeting. Paul's topic was Orchids That Will Grow Outside on the Central Coast. Paul stated that he is a student of orchids but does not have a very good green thumb. He to us "not count on anything I say." But I believe that based on his many years of experience of growing orchids that most folks would consider him an expert and would follow his suggestions related to orchid growing. Paul began by talking about an orchid collector named Skinner that had collected extensively in Mexico and Guatemala. Paul suggested that Laelia anceps and L. superbiens are very hardy growing and will do well outside in our area.Paul stated that Brassovola nodosa grows at low elevation in the wild and would not be a good outside grower for our area. Paul stated that there are a few species of Vanda that grow at high elevations and are being used in hybridization to allow the hybrids to be more cold tolerant. There is one species of Renanthera that grows high in the Himalayan Mountains which would grow on the Central Coast include Coelia, Stenoglottis, Encyclia, Cleisostoma, and Laelia.