Due to a conflict on usage of the Women's Club, the FCOS December meeting potluck, election of officers, and silent auction was changed to the third Thursday, which is December 15. We plan to begin eating at 6:30 pm so please be there by 6:15 so that you have time to setup your potluck dish. Chuck (our Vice President) has volunteered to bring along ham for the main course, and everyone else should bring along your favorite potluck dish to share, plus your table setting, and something to drink.

As I mentioned last month, our elections for this year include treasurer, secretary, and one member of our Board of Directors. The elections are for a two (2) year term. So far, Alan Durham has volunteered to take over as treasurer from the retiring Christina Holenda and Judy Scheithauer has volunteered to continue on as our secretary. Ann Bachmann has volunteered to continue on in her role as one of the Board of Directors and Scott St. Clair said he would also be interested in that position, so you will actually get to vote at the meeting for at least one of the three positions. BUT, if you are interested in helping FCOS as one of these board positions, please let me know before December 10 so I can let Chuck know. Betsy and I will be in Guatemala from December 11 through 27, so we will miss the December meeting festivities.

As I mentioned above, we also will have a silent auction after dinner and the elections. The auction is one way that FCOS generates money that we can use to pay for speaker fees and for our monthly opportunity table plants. Generating money in this way helps us keep our annual dues low. So, if you have extra orchids or ones that are not growing well for you or other items that the members would be interesting in bidding on, please donate them to the silent auction.

I hope you all have a blessed Christmas and a great start to the New Year. I hope to see you all at the January 2017 meeting. Chris


Orchid Society of Santa Barbara

Fall, 2016 Orchid Show

FCOS had a lovely display set up for the SB show in Nov. The pictures above were taken by our own Larry Vierhelig for the American Orchid Society---- because -------these orchids exhibited by Chris and Eric---- were awarded special status by the AOS judges. At our potluck, we should ask them to say a few words about their honor.

Good going, guys !!!!!

Our December Pot Luck and Silent Auction will be held Thurs. Dec. 15. This is a change from the normal second Thurs. The main course will be baked ham. Members are asked to bring a side dish or dessert and your own place settings.

Hopefully you have all kept your orchids happy during the summer with the variety of temperature ranges we have seen. Most orchid growers are concerned about what is the best media, fertilizer, amount of light and humidity, and when and how much to water. The answer to these is it depends on your growing conditions. But one thing is certain; your orchids will grow better with high quality water (low mineral content). As you know our water is considered 'hard' which means it has lots of minerals in it that are not necessarily good for our orchids. Some orchid genera will die quickly if you water them with the water right out of your hose. But, higher quality water is FREE during the rainy season. Rain water is generally not 'hard' and I suggest you try to collect and store some in a container with a lid (you will be raising mosquitoes if the container is outside and does not have a tight lid). It is easy to collect a fair amount of water if you have gutters and downspouts on your house, but if you do not have gutters, just put a large container where the water runs off your house valleys and within a short amount of time you should be able to collect a bunch of water. Your orchids will enjoy this water. If you are gowning your orchids outdoors, make sure you place them where the rain can water them directly. But, remember that you can increase the risk of getting a bacterial infection on the blooms (shows as black spots) if they get wet and stay wet over night. So I find it is easier to keep them under cover and water them when needed with rain water that I have collected. If you want some suggestions on what containers to store the water in, let me know. There are lots of less expensive ways to store water then by purchasing rain barrels which I have found to be quite expensive.

I know everyone likes FREE stuff and besides rain water how about a FREE field guide to the Chilean Orchids. According to the October AOS Orchids magazine a group named CORMA and 25 other Chilean corporations have help fund this publication. You can download the entire 239 page document at The text of this publication is in Spanish but the photos are great. You can also order a hard copy of the guide from E.U. Coloma (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Hope to see you are the November meeting. Chris


Important Information Re: Meeting Dates

Our Nov meeting is the usual Nov. 10. There is, however, a change for DECEMBER.

It will be held Dec. 15. Starting time will be 6 PM. We will have our Xmas Potluck and Silent Auction. Mark your calendars. Start getting your donation plants ready for bidding.

Paul Gripp from Santa Barbara Orchid Estate will be presenting Keeping up with Orchids. He will also be supplying the plant table.

Located on five acres of beautiful coastal Santa Barbara, the Orchid Estate is just 500 feet from the Pacific Ocean. SBOE was founded by Robert J. Chrisman and managed by Paul Gripp in 1957. Paul purchased SBOE in 1967, retired in 1986, and currently, his two children, Parry and Alice are owners. They are one of the world's foremost collectors and propagators of orchid species and hybrids, specializing in outdoor temperature tolerant varieties. All around the globe they are known for their lovely grounds and friendly service.

FCOS enjoyed having Jim Kotsybar from Chaotic Exotics speak at the October meeting. He did a retro presentation using real slides instead of a PowerPoint presentation. Eric and Christina fortunately still had their Kodak projector. His slides were great and included a wide variety of different species. He began by talking about the epiphytic life of many orchids and their roots' ability to capture water by the velum (outer cells of the root). He also reminded folks about the difference between sepals and petals and how they look different in a wide variety of orchid genera. He also discussed the different statures of some orchid groups related to their pollinators. Orchids appear to use a wide variety of colors, shapes, and smell to attract pollinators that will pick up pollen at one flower and hopefully transfer it to another flower to complete the reproductive process. Jim showed almost two complete trays of slides so everyone in attendance got a see a wide variety of different species. 

As I am writing this we are in the middle of our normal fall heat wave. I heard it was 93 degrees in Shell Beach yesterday and it is supposed to be hotter today. Hopefully you kept your orchids happy during this hot period. Our speaker at last month's meeting Sandy Svoboda, the current Editor in Chief of Orchid Digest, stated that this year's last issue would be on the group of orchids in the sub-tribe Catasetinae. That issue will be out in October but if you sign up as a member of Orchid Digest by December 1 of this year your first issue will be that one. If you decide you want a copy of that issue after December 1, it will cost you $35. The main article will be by Fred Clarke and will be about breeding within this group and will contain over 150 pictures of species and hybrids. There will also be articles about culture, the catasetums growing in Brazil, and a chart showing were the Latin American catasetums are found in the wild. Sounds like a great issue so you might consider subscribing to Orchid Digest prior to December 1. Below center is the cover of that issue.

Also, you might be interested in the World Orchid Conference which will be held November 8-13, 2017 in Ecuador. Ecuador is relatively small in size but has over 4,000 different orchid species. Within the county there are habitats from the Amazon jungle to the high Andes Mountains. Because it is on the equator it has 13 hour of sunlight every day plus hundreds of different micro-climates that contribute to the orchid biodiversity. I am sure the orchid displays will be outstanding. The conference has also scheduled and pre- and post-conference trips through the country to see orchids in their native environment. There are a few FCOS members that have expressed an interest in possible attending the conference and tours so if you decide to go you will see some familiar faces. More information can be found at The Orchid Conservation Alliance also has a post-conference tour scheduled but it is limited to only 14 participants. If you want to go with this tour, you will need to sign up sooner than later. Once it is full you will not be able go with them.

Hope to see you are the October meeting. Chris

James Ph. Kotsybar is an orchid grower, hybridizer and fully accredited judge of the American Orchid Society. He co-owns Chaotic Exotics Nursery outside in the Santa Rita Hills ----Santa Barbara County’s wine region.

He and his partner specialize in a wide array of unusual orchids.   Their primary focus is on orchid species and hybrids especially Paphiopedilums. Their hybrid “slippers” have been awarded and are trophy winners. Their approach to business is a loving one.   They believe the beauty of the plants in which we deal demands this.  “ Our real motivation is a desire to share our true enthusiasm for these wonders of creation.”  Jim’s extensive knowledge of orchids and involvement in the orchid world has led him to be certified as an AOS judge.

His slide presentation will focus on Orchid IQ – General Orchid Trivia

According to the American Orchid Society one of the top signs of a healthy orchid society is having a show. Attendance has been on the decline the past several years at our show. The show committee is asking the FCOS membership for their suggestions on how to better promote the show as well as any thoughts they might have to freshen up our efforts to increase attendance. We really need help with social media. The committee works year round putting together the show. Now is the time for us to entertain your ideas and/or skills so we are able to implement them in a timely manner for the upcoming 22nd annual show this April. Let's keep our society healthy and our show alive. With your help we look forward to continuing to be "the best little show in California." Please let us hear from you at this meeting.

Barb Walsh

Sandy Svoboda was our guest speakers. Her topic was Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: Orchids of Bhutan. Sandy’s presentation left no doubt with her audience of her love for this Himalayan mountain kingdom. Just 18,146 sq. mi with a population of 700,000 it is a wealthy country thanks to plant and hydroelectricity sales. Since people all over Asia are eating a lot of orchids, the focus is on ecological happiness. When it became a constitutional monarchy in 2007, the people needed to learn how to vote. Its national sport is archery.

Sandy had spectacular slides to show us. She had the plants grouped by species which made it easy to follow her talk. Her favorite were Coelogyne but she also had an amazing variety of cymbidiums, dendrobiums, phaps, phals, etc. She noted 369 species in Bhutan with 14 species being endemic to that country. 

october 2016 nlIn this close up photo we can see how the orchid roots love to grow along and cling to the tree bark. Other than terrestrial orchids, this is how orchids grow. Growing in a pot must seem strange to the plant in comparison. This particular tree, with its craggy bark, is a classic spot for a happy orchid. We can see how the roots follow the uneven surface, finding support and water among the crevices. Orchid roots grown in a pot are round but mounted they flatten to grasp the mount.

The classic mount for orchids is cork which is available in plaques of varying sizes. Some orchids, particularly those with thin roots such as Oncidium are fond of tree fern mounts and we see their roots growing all the way through them. A branch from a tree that has been trimmed can make a good mount; we really like to set an orchid in the crook of a branch when possible. Wood slat plaques look something like the flat bottom of a vanda basket and can be used either as a vertical or horizontal mounts.

Hopefully your orchids are growing well and you have lots if new growths on each orchid. They will all grow better if you have them in a good media and keep up with regular watering and fertilizing. Continue to watching for bugs as they can multiple quickly during this time of the year.

The San Francisco Orchid Society is putting together a new orchid growers' handbook entitled "A San Francisco Bay Area Guide to Orchids and their Culture". But they need help to get some funds together to help defray some of the initial costs. So if you are interested please go to the crowd-funding sponsorship website They need to get pledges of $3,000 by September 14 so that they can print 1,000 copies. A few of the topics that will be covered in this new publication are:

  • Ever wonder what orchids you can grow on your windowsill?

  • Wish you knew what orchids you could grow outside in your area, and how to deal with cold snaps and heat waves?

  • Want to know some fantastic orchid selections for the cool, intermediate or warm greenhouse?

  • Knew where you could get orchid supplies from?

  • What are the secrets of the best orchid growers in the Bay area?

They state that this book will cover it all. Our culture and that in the Bay Area are not very different so the information in this book will be very useful under our growing conditions. This sounds like a very interesting book to me. So if you are interested in helping with the book please visit the website lists above and make a pledge.

The show committee decided that the theme for the 2017 show will be "Orchid Explorers" and will take place on the first weekend in April. Show setup will begin on Thursday (March 30) with AOS and ribbon judging on Friday afternoon (March 31). The Preview Party will take that evening, followed by the show on Saturday and Sunday (April 1-2). Hopefully you will all be available that weekend to be able to help with various simple tasks during the show. More information will follow as we get closer to the end of this year.

Hope to see you are the September 8 meeting. Chris


We have an outstanding speaker lined up for our Sept. meeting. Sandra Svoboda was fortunate to travel to the Kingdom of Bhutan. Her presentation will touch on the customs and culture of the magical kingdom and the many beautiful orchid species that are found there.

Sandra Tillisch Svoboda Bio

Growing up in Minnesota, Sandra's only exposure to orchids was that prom corsage. After graduating with a degree in nursing, she moved to California and ended up in Santa Barbara. She began her orchid life as a pot washer for her husband, Al and became fascinated with the history of her husband's complex paph collection which included many of the oldies like Paph. F.C. Puddle. Al's knowledge, love, and enthusiasm for orchids were contagious and when they built a second greenhouse, she decided it would be hers and that was the moment that orchids became an important part of her life. Sandra is the president of the World Orchid Conference Trust, the immediate Past President of the American Orchid Society and chair of the AOS Education Committee. She coordinates the Question and Answer column in ORCHIDS magazine. Sandra is an accredited judge in both the American Orchid Society and the Cymbidium Society of America judging systems and is treasurer of the AOS Pacific South Judging Center. She is the present Editor in Chief of the Orchid Digest. She was president of the Cymbidium Society of American and co-chair of the annual Cymbidium Society Congress. Locally, she has served on the boards and been president of the Orchid Society of Santa Barbara and the local branch of the Cymbidium Society. Sandra served on the board of the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show and, for several years, was the show manager of this prestigious show, one of the largest in the nation. Besides the plants themselves and the never-ending opportunity to learn about them, Sandra loves being involved in the orchid world because it offers an opportunity to travel, meet, and work with so many amazing and fascinating people.


As usual, the Show committee has begun preparations for next year's Orchid Show.


DATE:  March 31 - April 2, 2017

We have the Regional Center secured for these dates and were able to keep the rental fee the same as the last several years.  The trend for the last few years has been for attendance to be dwindling from our better years,  in spite of our efforts to advertise and promote the Show.  One problem is the proliferation of events on the Central Coast reduces our appeal.  Meanwhile, many of the costs of the Show have been going up.  The consensus of the committee is that we are able to absorb relatively small losses each year, due to the reserve we built up during the really good years.  We see the Show as a public service that much of the public looks forward to each year,  and in the spirit of service we'd like to continue if at all feasible.  

We are looking for ways to improve the Show or modify our promotion to increase attendance.  Please let us know if you have ideas that might help.

Thank You,
Eric Holenda
Show Chair

Looking Ahead:

  1. September is a time of changes. It marks the end of summer growth season and we begin to look forward to the fall blooms. For those orchids that are sensitive to day length, we want to make sure they can notice the shortening days of fall and not be tricked by indoor lighting. If orchids are under supplemental lighting, changing the timer frequently to match the shortening days allows orchids to experience the shortening days.

  2. Although we won't continue feeding orchids at elevated summer levels beyond September, we will be feeding "weakly weekly" going forward.

  3. In preparation for fall repotting, take a look at different mixes. You're sure to find just the right mix for your environment. If you'd like to make your own orchid mix, you can choose the media you want.

“Weekly, Weakly”

Orchids want to be fed "weekly weakly". Essentially, what this means, is that for your orchid to be at its best, it should be fed a small amount of fertilizer about once a week. 

The best practice for fertilizing an orchid is to water it first, letting the water run through the bottom of the pot, and then pour your fertilizer mixture over the top of the mix. We want to do this for 3 consecutive weeks, taking the 4th week off from fertilizing. Water your orchid normally on that 4th week to flush out any salts left behind by the fertilizer.

I would like to begin by thanking everyone who helped with our successful potluck and silent auction at the July meeting. Our star BBQ’er, Alan Durham, did another stellar job cooking the meat and the potluck dishes were very tasty. I would also like to thanks everyone that donated items to the silent auction and those that brought their check books along and purchased items. All of the items had multiple bids with some having so many bids that the bid sheet was almost filled. In past silent auction FCOS generally made about $500-600 but this time we made almost $1,000. Thanks again for all the donations. To the successful bidders, keep our new orchids happy so that they will bloom and you can share them during a future meeting‘s show and tell or at an upcoming show.

Thinking about shows, the show committee recently met and decided to have another show next year. You are probably interested in the show theme name and the dates so you can add it to your next year’s calendar. Well you will have to wait in expectation and attend the August 11 meeting because that is when the theme and dates will be announced. 

Hope to see you at the August 11 meeting.  Chris

Speaker for August 11 meeting will be Tanya Lam from San Jose. 

Many of you already know her.  You purchased orchids from her at our show in April .

About Tanya…

Tanya has been growing orchids since 1997; she continued to try different methods of growing conditions and growing medium.  She was creative in adjusting her growing methods to raise her orchids with their healthiest rooting systems, and in turn enjoy their best performances in flowering.  During the first few years of growing, her job required extensive travel, which required her to have good planning and orchid mixes that stay moist exactly 7 days.  Tanya created her own mixes to fit her weekly watering schedule and condition.  Tanya always looks for ways to improve her greenhouse operations and improve growing conditions.  Orchid has become Tanya’s obsession and second profession.  Tanya has seen orchids growing in Australia, Thailand, China, and Singapore.  She loves to travel and dreams to visit many more orchid habitats in the world.

Tanya grows many species and hybrids in San Jose, California.  Her special interests are both species and hybrids mostly of psychopsis, dendrobium, epidendrum, paphiopedilum, encyclia, cattleya, vandacous, and the challenging angraecoids.  She has recently explored many other orchid genera as well.  Tanya likes “showy” orchids and on the search for long and/or frequent blooming orchids. She also likes to grow plants into specimen size.  Her most favorite orchids are Psychopsis and Neofinetia hybrids, both are almost always in bloom.

Tanya gives many orchid talks to orchid societies locally in the Bay area and many cities where she conducts her Human Resources System consulting business. Tanya devoted each winter to work on orchid talk when the orchids need less attention besides collecting rain water.  She held many board positions and is past vice president and past president of Malihini Orchid Society. Tanya is an active member of many orchid societies in the SF Bay area.

Tanya has earned few AOS awards and mostly proud to have 2 orchids named after her – 

Paph Tanya Lam (P. Maudiae x P. tigrinum) 

Cattleya Tanya Lam 'Bud Segraves HCC/AOS (L. rupestris 'Eifel Tower' x C. coquina 'Amesthystina')

As most of you hopefully know, we will be having our mid-year BBQ and potluck on July 14. Allan Durham will again be our master chef for the evening. Dinner will begin at 6:30 (earlier than our normal meeting time) and you need to bring along you own place setting(s), beverage, and a dish to share. Try to be there well before 6:30. To make the evening successful, we also hope that each person will donate to the silent auction. If you have transplanted your orchids and now have more than one pot of a particular orchid, please consider donating one of the orchids. Or if you have too many orchids for your growing space or orchids that you cannot give the correct environmental conditions for it to grow well, please donate them to the auction. You will also want to bring along your checkbook so you can pay for the new treasures that you win at the auction. The money we generate from the silent auction helps to keep our annual dues low and allows us to continue to be able to afford quality speakers. If you are new to the society and have questions, please give me a call.

Remember that if your orchids are not growing well, especially at this time of the year when many are putting out new growths and roots, there might be a problem. You might not be giving your orchids the correct conditions and care. This can include over or under watering, not having the correct amount of light for you orchid, adding too much or too little fertilizer when you water them, and not giving them enough air movement to list a few of the possibilities. So do not be afraid to ask folks at the meeting how they grow their orchids, especially those that bring in their plants for show and tell. They probably have already experienced the same problems you are experiencing and they can help you become a better grower.

It's time for the annual Name That Show contest. Yes, the FCOS Show Committee is looking for suggestions for next year's show theme. The person who enters the winning name will get a surprise gift. I know at this point you already have suggestions for the name and want to know what you need to do to enter. It's easy. Send me an email with your suggestions (no limit on the number of names you can enter) at my home email address (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). I will be the only one who knows who entered which names and I will give the show committee only the suggested theme names. They will only find out who entered the winning name once they have made their final decision. All proposed theme names must be to me no later than FRIDAY, JULY 22, so start sending them soon.

Hope to see you are the July meeting/dinner/silent auction. Chris

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