Why won’t your orchid bloom?

proper light for orchids

Like all plants, orchids require sufficient light in order to produce flowers. 

Insufficient light is the most common cause of failure to re-bloom your orchid. Leaf color indicates if the amount of light is adequate. The lus, rich, dark green of most houseplants is not desirable in orchid leaves. A grassy green color (light or medium green with yellowish tones) means the plant is receiving sufficient light to bloom.

58th Annual Paphiopedilum Guild

Mark Your Calendars for this Special Event.

Expert Speaker Presentations

Slipper Orchid Displays • Orchid Sales
*New Location* Montecito Country Club *New Location*
902 Summit Road • Santa Barbara, CA

Saturday & Sunday, January 18-19, 2014

Featured Speakers:
Bill Goldner (Woodstream Orchids – Huntingtown, MD)
David Sorokowsky (Paph Paradise – Modesto, CA)
Dr. Harold Koopowitz (Editor Emeritus, Orchid Digest)
Chris Purver (Curator, Eric Young Orchid Foundation – Jersey, Channel Islands)
Plus a Presentation of the Latest
Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium Awards by the American Orchid Society

Continental Breakfasts • Lunch • Dinner • Auction
Show & Sales setup at 7:30am Saturday
Lectures starting at 9:00am

Gift Certificates for Best Species and Best Hybrid

Full Event Registration: $95
(Guests of full registrants may accompany registrants to the BBQ & Auction(only) for $35 each)
Registration Closes January 12, 2014

This event is sponsored by Orchid Digest

Vandas

Vandas are impressive orchids that are relatively easy to grow.Vanda.in.cage

Vandas are monopodial, which means that the new leaves grow from the crown of the plant. This means the vanda is continually getting taller. Vanda flowers come in beautiful and superbly vibrant colors, including purples, blues, reds, oranges and yellows.  The flower spikes are very long and they usually have  8 to 10 blooms, which are located in a cluster at the end of the stem. The flower stem grow from the base of the leaves and can last for several weeks.   The long, heavy, flower laden stems can sometimes make the plants difficult to hang up and display at Orchid Shows or in your home, and may require additional support during blooming.

LIGHTING
Vandas need an abundance of light. They like either bright  morning  sun and/or  late afternoon sun, providing the sun exposure occurs gradually.  The plants need to adapt slowly to the any increase in lighting.  A good tip is to provide full morning sun whenever possible.  You don’t need a greenhouse to grow Vandas.   Any outside location with bright morning light will do, but  be careful while making the change to brighter light.  Try not to expose it to direct sun on the leaves,  just bright light.  Move it gradually, over the course of several weeks,  into brighter and brighter light and be careful to do it a little at at time.

I had my first Vanda for five years and it never bloomed.  I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.  It seemed healthy but wasn’t flowering.   I was fortunate that at one of our SFVOS meetings,  there was an expect who shared his knowledge about Vandas and explained to me that Vandas are happiest when they get very bright light.  The very next day, I moved my Vanda from the east side of my greenhouse to brighter west side of the greenhouse and I hung it up from the rafters at the top.      I am happy to report that since moving my Vanda to  brighter light, it has bloomed three times in the last year, and each bloom is more beautiful than the last.

TEMPERATURE
Vandas prefer to be kept on the warm side.  Vandas do best when when the nighttime temp is between 55 to 70°F and when daytime temperatures range between 65 to 95°F.vanda.multi.colors.

WATERING
The general “Rule of Thumb” for watering Vanda should be:  Hot temps = more water, and cooler temps = less water.

My Vanda is growing in a wooden cage with the roots all flowing out.  Some of the roots are 24 inches long. I have very little potting media in the cage, and most of the roots are loose and free, but many of them have attached themselves to the wooden cage itself.   I generally water mine about once a week, but when the temperatures are over  95 degrees and the humidity is low,  I give it a daily shower.

Remember that Vandas grown in baskets, without potting media, require more frequent watering.  In baskets, they may need to be watered daily during the summer. Always allow your Vanda to dry out between waterings. Try to water the plant early in the day, so that the foliage will be dry by nightfall.   If you are growing your Vanda in a greenhouse, and the humidity is constantly high you can use Physan 20 once a month (add it to your water) to prevent bacterial and fungal disease.

HUMIDITY
Although Vandas generally prefer 60% to 80% humidity, I can report that my greenhouse almost never has humidity this high.  If you can increase the humidity during the growing season, from early spring through late fall, your Vanda will thank you for it.  During the summer, watering should be supplemented with daily misting of the leaves. Humidity trays may be needed if your Vandas are growing indoors.

FERTILIZER
Vandas are heavy feeders. They must be fertilized on a regular basis! For best results, use nutrients every week. The experts recommend that you water the plants first with plain water, and then water the plant with a 1/4 strength nutrient solution.  Once a month water only with plain water to flush out any excess fertilizer.vanda_orchid_plant.in.pot

POTTING
Vandas may be grown in a medium to large sized Orchid Bark Mixture or you can grow them in wire or wooden baskets, which can then be  suspended (hung up) by a wire hanger attached to the cage.  Plants grown in baskets do not need to be repotted often as those in pots. Vandas grown in regular potting mix in pots should be repotted once every two years.  Repotting should be done in the spring.

It is almost impossible to extract a vanda from a “basket” or  “cage” once it has become attached to it.  When my vandas outgrow their smaller “baskets” I generally leave them in that basket and just place the entire small basket inside a larger basket.  I carefully thread the roots through the holes of the new basket and try not to damage the roots as much as possible.  One of my Vandas which is currently in an 8″ square wooden (redwood) cage has three smaller “cages” inside the basket from prior stages of  its life.   It does no harm to leave the old basket(s) there if they are in good shape and not starting to rot.

If your Vanda’s home “Basket or cage” begins to rot (which may also mean that you are overwatering) then you must re-pot for the health of the plant.  You will need to extract the roots as carefully as possible before re-potting it in its new home.  Soaking the roots for a couple of hours before attempting this will soften the plants roots and make it easier for you to handle them and try to get it out of its old pot.  Take your time, and save as many roots as possible.    Even if you lose a few roots, the plant should rebound and adapt to it’s new home in no time.

SELECTING YOUR VANDA

Vandas are becoming more available to hobby growers and can usually be found for sale at Orchid Shows and they are also available for purchase from many Orchid Growers websites.    You will probably want to start with a smaller specimen, as they are much easier to transport and would be much less expensive.   Your Vanda may need to get a bit bigger before it will bloom.   Your patience will be rewarded with a spectacular show of flowers.

 

PESTS  Common pests associated with Vandas are scale and spider mites.  Check your plant often to make sure it is pest free. Check our section on pest control if you notice any “freeloaders” hanging around your plant.  Vandas hung up from the rafters and/or suspended  are much less likely to get pests.  Best of luck with your Vandas and enjoy the spectacular blooms.

Orchid Collection Donated to SFVOS by the Tom Family of Eagle Rock.

Jack tom.photo

The SFVOS wa
s the recipient of a very generous donation of over 100 Cymbidium Orchid Plants by the Estate of Mr. Yee Quon (“Jack”) Tom. Jack Tom passed away on May 23rd, 2013.   Jack loved his orchids, and at one point had over 300 Orchid plants in his collection.  He took meticulous care of his prized collection and there were always blooming orchids in their beautiful hillside home in Eagle Rock.

Jack Tom was born eldest of seven in Guangdong Province, China on August 24, 1925. At 19, during China’s conflict with Japan, he left home to pursue his goals and ambitions. He was employed with various government agencies including Yuebei Iron Factory Accounting Department, Quijiang Wushi Training Department, and the Yangjiang County Taxation Department among others. After WW II, he worked in the Cashier’s Division at Guangzhou’s Sun Yet-Sen University. Mr. Tom arrived in Los Angeles in 1951 to work at his father’s restaurant. In 1956, along with friends, he opened the Taoyaun Restaurant in Chinatown.

In 1958, he returned to Hong Kong to marry Dora Chan. The newlyweds returned to Los Angeles to start a family. After the closure of Taoyaun Restaurant, Jack was employed as the chief chef at the famous Kowloon and Wan-Q Restaurants on the Westside. After 40 years in the restaurant business, Jack retired to focus on fruit trees and cultivating orchids. He especially enjoyed reading, listening to classical music, watching NBA basketball, and recreational cooking. In life, he always treated others amicably, with friendship. He took care of his wife, sons, and siblings with love. Jack believed he lived a good life, with a virtuous wife, with filial children, and experienced happiness and longevity. He is survived by and missed by Dora, wife of 55 years, his sons Stanley and Homer, daughter in law Joni, grandson Nathan, and his remaining brother and sisters in the U.S. and China.

We would like to thank the Tom Family for their generous donation.  I am sure Jack would be pleased to know that his beloved Orchids will be adopted and cared for by the members of The SFVOS.   If you would like to see a slideshow of Mr. Tom’s beautiful orchids, please visit http://www.tributes.com/show/95870991# and click on the photo of Jack  then select “Jack’s Orchids” from the photo albums available under the main photo.

Psychopsis: The Butterfly Orchids

Psychopsis, abbreviated Psychp in horticultural trade, is a genus of only four species of orchids distributed from the West Indies and Costa Rica to Peru, where it grows on the trunks and branches of trees.

These orchids are particularly mysterious and are called butterfly orchidsThe flower moves in the wind, and mimics a female butterfly which attracts male butterflies to try and mate with it, thus pollinating the flower. It also might have a second trick.  The butterfly-like flower might attract a parasitic insect on the lookout for butterflies, or it fools a male butterfly into thinking it’s a female.

There’s even a fun word for it: pseudocopulation. Either way, the orchid succeeds in getting its seeds distributed to continue the life cycle. We got to see a hybrid butterfly orchid.

Psychopsis papilio (Lindley, 1825) H. G. Jones. 1975 Psychopsis mariposa, right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally described by John Lindley as Oncidium papilio, it was removed to the genus Psychopsis by H. G. Jones (1975) in the Journal of the Barbados Museum Historical Society (p. 32). Caution: it’s still marketed occasionally under the old name by some vendors, and under both names by less scrupulous ones!

Psychopsis papilio(Ldl..) Jones. Photo: DSC_7781 04 May, 2006.

This species is a native of low-mountain forests in Trinidad, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. It resembles certain species of South American butterflies so well that males attempt to mate with it, and in doing so, pollinate it. P. papilio (Fig. 11) puts out a long rachis. This particular plant’s flower was held on one about 7.5 decimeters (about 30 inches) long, putting it well above the plant’s leaves where it may flutter lightly in a breeze and aide its butterfly mimicry. Another aid to butterfly mimicry is that flowers bloom successively; not a few at the same time.

Psychopsis papilio is often confused with P. kramerianum (see below) which is from Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, and Peru, but P. papilio has a bilaterally compressed peduncle lacking swollen nodes (P. kramerianum: peduncle terete), and the wings on the columns of each species are shaped differently.

 

Kramer’s Psychopsis [German Orchid Gardner 1800’s]  (Image at top of article)psychkrameriana

Flower Size to 5″ [to 12.5 cm]

Found from Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in tropical lowland and lower montane rainforests on large branches at altitudes of 50 to 1300 meters as a medium sized, hot to warm growing epiphyte with small dollar shaped, laterally compressed psuedobulbs subtended by imbricate bracts with spotted undersides of the single, apical, rigid, leathery, persistent, elliptic-oblong, acute, contracted into a short, folded petiole leaf that blooms on a 3′ [90 cm] long, erect, 1 to 2 flowered at a time, successive opening inflorescence with ovate-triangular bracts and large showy flowers. These inflorescence, if left alone can bloom for years so do not cut them as they also can produce plantlets.

AOS Book Review: The Orchid Whisperer

Book Review:
The Orchid Whisperer

By Bruce Rogers. 2012. Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Softcover. 143 pages. 75 color photographs.

The Orchid Whisperer is an eminently intelligent and attractive book for beginning orchid growers. While not actually advocating muttering at plants (at least not as an active growing tool), it presents plenty of easy-to-understand advice to get novice growers on the road to success. At the same time, author Bruce Rogers, a longtime commercial orchid man, makes it all so readable. Unlike some other “beginner”advice books, Rogers’ language is engaging and humorous, and strikes the right balance between being easy to read and needing a science degree to understand.

Rogers departs from the frequent novice- formula of analyzing conditions and buying plants to match those conditions. Instead, he suggests new growers buy what they like and then look for places inside their homes hospitable to the plants. His topics include practical advice on buying and selecting plants, mixes and repotting, light and temperature, watering and pests. In addition to the usual recommendations about beginning with phalaenopsis and cattleyas, he provides details on other genera such as miltoniopsis and reed-stem epidendrums. Rogers is unabashedly organic, offering green solutions to common pests like mealybugs, aphids and spider mites. He is also unabashedly optimistic, assuring his readers that their orchids can be kept blooming “no matter your experience level, budget, or locations.”

Then there’s Rogers’ humor:
“My advice is to learn how to repot cymbidiums, then find a job that pays well enough that you can hire someone to repot your cymbidiums.”

Graphically, the color photographs by Greg Allikas are excellent and the occasional checklist of tips practical and well organized. Rogers even adds a chapter on decorating with orchids, which is interesting enough to challenge even experienced growers to new levels of creativity. One more chart summarizing the light, water and temperature requirements of the included species might have been beneficial, but that’s available from other sources. The Orchid Whisperer is one to put on the holiday list for novice orchidists, or for those who may cuss while repotting.

— Sue Volek has been growing orchids as a hobby for more than 15 years, in San Diego, Washington, DC, and now Portland. She is on the board of the Oregon Orchid Society, an AOS affiliate, and has been an AOS member for more than 15 years.

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Bryce Augustine on Orchid Propagation

Bryce Augustine will be our speaker for the San Fernando Valley Orchid Society meeting on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013.  Bryce is a long time member of the Santa Barbara Orchid society and an American Orchid Society judge.   He owns and operates Monsoon Flora Orchids (monsoonorchids.com), which he established in 1991 and where he produces Paphs and Phrags in flasks, compots and seedlings.

He is a 20-year veteran of the American Orchid Society judging system as an accredited AOS judge and brought AOS judging to the central coast in April 2008 by creating a new Judging site in Santa Barbara where he served as its chairman for two years. His presentations are always fun and informative and this coming meeting will be no exception.  He will cover many different aspects of Orchids, covering how propagation from seedpods, rainforests, and your own backyard jungle are interrelated. If you were unable to attend the July meeting at the Malibu Orchid Society, you missed a real treat.  I went to that meeting, and learned a great deal.  He had a great PowerPoint presentation and a live demonstration.  After the meeting, I asked Mr. Augustine if he would come and talk to our group, and he graciously agreed.  He also brought some great items for the POT.  Some were “compots” of many small plants in a single pot.   Mark your calendars so won’t miss this fabulous speaker!