As we move past spring and into summer you should be seeing some new growths or roots on most all your orchids. Have you had a chance to transplant your orchids that are in need of new media or need a larger pot? I am still slowly working at this task and have noticed that some orchids grow better roots in different media. I have begun experimenting with growing some of my Masdevallias and Draculas in Kiwi Bark or Orchiata with each mixed with some lava rock in comparison with the sphagnum moss I have been using for a number of years. So far growth seems to be good in both media. Remember, that just because one orchid grower says their media is the best, it might not be the best for your orchids based on your growing environment. If you end up with divisions of your orchids that you do not know what to do with, consider donating them to the July FCOS Potluck and Silent Auction. The money raised at the auction goes into the general fund and helps us bring in great speakers from out of the area for our meeting.
If you are growing all your orchids inside your house, you might consider moving some outside as long as the cold nights do not return. If you move some outside, do not place them in direct sunlight as the leaves will probably soon have burn marks on them. Make sure you check them for the first few weeks of growing outside to make sure they appear happy. I like to grow on the north side of my house in an area that is shaded all day long. Make sure you are careful about the water needs of all your orchids as they will use more as the temperature rises through the summer. Remember to water early in the day so that any water on the leaves will dry by the end of the day so you will hopefully not get bacterial infections. If you have not yet begun to add fertilizer to your orchids begin soon. Remember to add low levels of fertilizer to you water. Some growers add fertilizer for every watering while others fertilize once a week up to once per month. I prefer to add fertilizer once per week because it works well for me. Make small changes to what you are currently doing to your orchids and see if you see any difference.
Bruce Norman, a charter member of FCOS, died a few months ago and his family is going to have a large garage sale which will include some orchid supplies including two greenhouses. The sale is tentatively set for June 9-10 and 17-18. We will be sending out a separate email which will have the address, time and a list of the orchid supplied that will be available. If someone is interested in a greenhouse please let me know. If you have questions (who does not) please ask them at Orchids 101 taught by Bob Asbell who has been growing orchids for a lot of years, or during our regular meeting. Hope to see you at the June meeting. Chris--president
Proper orchid watering is probably the single most difficult aspect of orchid care to get right. The appropriate amount of water for an orchid varies with the type of orchid, the type of mix it is in, and the environment in which the orchid is growing. This is as difficult for beginners as using a recipe that suggests that a dish be "baked until done", what does that mean? Orchids want the 'right' amount of water, not too much and not too little. The right amount also varies with the seasons, orchids dry out more quickly when it is hot than when it is cold. The key is to vary the frequency of orchid watering, the type of pot, the type of mix, how tightly the mix is packed and the amount of air circulation until the right balance is achieved for each orchid. This takes time and patience but pays off with increased health and vigor of the orchid which translates into increased blooms. The one thing to avoid is to limit the amount of water that an orchid is given during a watering. By & large one is met with the greatest success when an orchid is watered liberally, allowing the water to pour from the bottom of the pot, until the plant and media are completely saturated. From a practical standpoint this usually means bringing the orchid to the sink and running water liberally through the mix. In some cases one can water an orchid on its humidity tray. Once the orchid has been watered it should go back to its growing space until the next watering which may be anything from a few days to a week or more later. Establishing a routine can help, for example watering on the weekend and checking the plants midweek. When in doubt, wait, too little is better than too much.
Any orchid mix can be over watered and lead to the demise of the plant. Most orchids like to get almost dry and then be flooded with water and allowed to get almost dry again. With sphagnum it is easy to tell when they are dry, the moss feels crunchy when you touch it. That's why many growers will recommend it to folks just starting out with orchids, especially phalaenopsis. Fir/coconut mixes can be hard to tell when to water as they hold more water in the center than we often think they do. Sticking a pencil or chopstick down into the mix and leaving it there allows you to pull it out and see if the interior of the mix is wet.
This will be an outstanding presentation that you will not want to miss. Our speaker, Angelic Nguyen, had a booth and display at our FCOS show in April. Many of you spoke to her at that time. I am including her bio for you to read. She has lead a fascinating life (just like her orchids).
Angelic Nguyen has many years experience as a silk painting artist, floral designer, graphic and web designer. She grew up with orchids and tropical flowers around her hometown near Saigon, Vietnam; orchids, her passion, showed up in her paintings, dresses, pictures and designs. After she and her family escaped from the Communists and came to the U.S. in 1990, she started a new life as a graphic artist at the San Jose Mercury News.
She has been growing orchids for about 20 years, and started her company, Orchid Design, in 1999. Angelic works on orchid growing, orchid arrangement, graphic design, and web design. Recently she has also been concentrating on photography and has taken thousands of orchid pictures.
She grows many different kinds of orchids including Cattleyas, Phalanopsis, Laelias, Dendrobiums, Oncidiums, Paphs, Phrags, Lycastes, Bulbophylums, Vandas; hybrids and species. She also has several rare Cymbidiums — standard, pendulous and peloric. She has done some hybridizing of Cymbidiums, Laelias, and Cattleyas. In the meantime, she enjoys finding different orchids blooming in her garden every day.
Angelic was Art Director for the Cymbidium Society of America Journal in 2006. This magazine has world-wide distribution and is one of the best orchid magazines in the U.S.; her efforts not only helped maintain publication when there was no volunteer support, but also improved the quality of the magazine. For a number of years Angelic served as the newsletter editor for the San Francisco Orchid Society, which sponsored the Pacific Orchid Exposition at Fort Mason Feb. 2015.
Angelic at Orchid Design has been participating in the Pacific Orchid Exposition, the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, the San Diego International Orchid Show, the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, and many others.
She has also been giving orchid presentations and skill sessions for Orchid and Garden Societies, using her experience and large selection of her photographs. She has spoken on a variety of orchid topics, including the 19th World Orchid Conference, Fragrant Orchids, Unusual Cymbidiums, Pendulous Cymbidium, "Cattleya, the Queen of Flower", and Laelia Species. The latest presentation will be "The fascinating Orchids of Vietnam".
You can also find Angelic Nguyen and Orchid Design, and be her friend on Facebook!
Les and Roland Chan of AG Grand Fertilizer spoke to us at the May meeting. The company is owned by the Amsoil Corporation and is an organic fertilizer that began in production in the 1990's. The fertilizer is based on a combination of fish emulsion, a kelp extract, bone meal, wintergreen oil (to hide the fish smell), humic acid, and some other materials that the company has found to make a better fertilizer. He formula is based on work and experimenting by Dr. Jim Chan who has used it extensively on his orchid collection. He adds 1 ounce of the liquid to a gall on of water and then sprays it on both the orchid leaves and roots. The fertilizer has been used by a wide variety of commercial vegetable growers with great success. They stated that healthy plants have a smaller chance of diseases. AG Grand has a wide variety of different fertilizer mixes so if you want more info you can reach Les at lesliechan#sbcglobal.com. You can log onto their website (www.organic1st.com) and get more information. A lot of FCOS members bought containers of the 4-3-3 formula so hopefully people will let us know their results.