Diego County Orchid Society
Newsletter Distribution - 712
Surprise! Show up at 6:30 to find out. Youll have some fun!
THIS MONTHS GENERAL MEETING
Ned Nash is this months guest speaker. Yes, the Ned Nash who is Director of Education and Conservation for the American Orchid Society. He prepares the Question and Answer column for AOS Orchids magazine and usually contributes an article for each edition. Ned can speak on just about anything related to orchids. For our meeting he will provide a presentation titled "Unusual Orchids Visible with the Naked Eye". Exactly what that means is unknown, but Ned promises it will be interesting. Ned is a displaced Californian now living in Florida, so he should have plenty of ideas about orchids that will do well in our environment. Heres what Ned has to say about himself.
"After earning a BA in Botany from University of California at Santa Barbara in 1975, I began working in two small garden nurseries in the Santa Barbara area. From there I moved on Dos Pueblos Orchid Company, then Santa Barbara Orchid Estate as a grower/salesman, then Armacost & Royston. This enabled me to work closely with Leo Holguin and Ernest Hetherington, both with 50+ years experience. When Stewart Orchids was formed in 1985, I moved through the ranks to the position of President. With the firms acquisition by AgriStar in 1993, I became a Vice President of AgriStar and General Manager of Stewart Orchids. I have been an Accredited AOS Judge since 1987, an AOS Trustee twice (1984 - 87 and 1988 - 91, possibly the youngest ever), and have served on various committees as a member and as Chairman. This wide and varied experience, coupled with over 15 years of volunteer service to the AOS, led to my consideration for the post of Director of Education and Conservation, which I accepted in 1995. I now serve as Vice Chairman of IUCN / SSC / OSG (International Union for the Conservation of Nature / Species Survival Commission / Orchid Specialist Group) and the Executive Committee of the IOC (International Orchid Commission)."
Concepcion and Jerry Boyd of The Orchid Connection will provide the plants for our Plant Opportunity Table. They specialize in Mexican Species, most of which are raised and imported from their nursery in Mexico. Although only recently settled in the San Diego area, they are a long-time supplier for several other local orchid growers here. They have access to the rare and unusual, and know the plants that will do well in San Diego.
Dear Orchid Friends,
This months theme could well be "how do we stay cool along with our orchids during the hottest month of the year?" !! Maybe youll have some tips and suggestions at the general meeting.
Thank you all for participating in writing the newsletterits a thrill to open my mail (and e-mail) to find another great article. This month I received more than could fit in this months issue. Keep those contributions coming!
This month, our beloved Editor Emeritus, Supreme Commander Harry Tolen, tells us his secrets for growing reed stem Epidendrums like the fabulous one he brought to the last meeting. Esthers column, Orchid Talk, caught the attention of another Southern California orchid society who asked if they could reprint them in their newsletter. Way to go Esther! Bill Farone, too,is becoming a regular contributor of interesting articles. Hes been a member of SDCOS for a long time, but lives up in Irvine, which makes the commute to meetings a bit difficult. And we continue to have informative postings from our orchid correspondents, Tom Biggart and Ron Kaufmann.
We saw some beautiful orchid specimens at our Mini-Show, including some gorgeous Brassias, Dendrobiums, Epis, Cattleyas, and all kinds of species. Gary Pierwola took Best of Show with his amazing Laelia Purpurata which overflowed a 20 inch pot and had about 25 perfect blooms! Plant sales were brisk.
Due to competition the Santa Barbara Orchid Fair that weekend, we had a smaller number of entries than usual. So, next summer our Mini-Show will take place on weekend when more of our members can participate. The more plants, the merrier!
Hope youre all having a great summer. See you at the meeting Tuesday.
Sincerely, Rebecca Lawrence
Conservation efforts generally are one of two types. In situ conservation protects plants or animals "in place" where they live, in their own natural habitat. While this approach may be very desirable, it also is increasingly difficult. Destruction of habitats, more than any other cause, threatens the survival of countless plants and animals. Sadly, in situ efforts may soon be impossible because the habitats themselves no longer exist!
The second type is ex situ conservation, which means preserving diversity "off site", outside of the natural habitat. For orchids, propagation by seed is likely the most effective means of achieving ex situ conservation, for three reasons: 1)most orchids produce large quantities of seed; 2) techniques for germinating and raising orchids in the lab and greenhouse are well established for many species; and 3) orchid seeds store readily for extended periods of time and can be shipped easily, facilitating distribution of genetic material.
The Orchid Seedbank Project (OSP) plays an active role in ex situ conservation of orchids by acting as a clearinghouse for orchid seed from a wide variety of species, many endangered in the wild. The OSP is operated by Aaron Hicks, a 29-year-old analytical chemist and graduate student at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
Orchid growers from around the world can set a pod on their plant, then send the orchid seed to the OSP, where it is catalogued and stored. A portion of the seed is tested for viability and germination, to determine its quality and suitability for propagation. Donors receive credit for the seed they "deposit" in the bank. For every four units of seed deposited, donors may receive one unit of seed from the bank, free of charge. People without OSP deposit credit still may acquire seed for a nominal fee: $3-4 per packet in most cases. However, the OSP is not operated for financial gain. All funds generated through the sale of seeds and other plant material are used to defray OSP operating costs.
The seedbank project has two key benefits. First, an orchid species that is widely cultivated is less vulnerable to extinction by local events (power outages, high heat). Second, as it is much easier for growers to obtain desirable species when they are seed-propagated, this project could reduce pressure to collect those plants from the wild. Common species could benefit as well, since production of clean, healthy, identified plants from seeds distributed by the OSP would likely be preferable to wild-collected plants.
To learn more about the Orchid Seedbank Project, check out the article in the May 1999 issue of "Orchids" or visit the OSPs web site at http://www.botana.com/osp.html .
Recipe for the Well-Fed Orchid
Summer is prime growing season for orchids, as for all plants. With the combination of warm weather, sunshine, long days, and regular watering, new leads become strong, mature growths with robust roots, and the plant has plenty of energy ready for for next years bloom. Just like us, orchids need good and consistent nutrition to thrive. Many growers recommend the "weakly, weekly" approach, applying a dilute (1/4 strength) fertilizer each time they water, rather than applying a full dose once a month. (This would be like not feeding a child for 6 days, then giving it all 21 meals of the week on Sunday!) Growers also suggest using a "balanced 20-20-20" fertilizer that includes all "necessary trace elements".
What do those numbers mean? Fertilizer manufacturers list the proportions of 3 essential nutrients on the packaging, in this order: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K). A 20-20-20 fertilizer is made up of 20% Nitrogen, 20% Phosphorous, and 20% Potassium. Why are these elements so important, and what other nutrients are necessary to raise healthy, vigorous orchids with glorious blooms? This information, kindly provided by Charles Ledgerwood of Ledgerwood Seeds, Carlsbad, shows us why good nutrition is so important for our orchids, and perhaps gives us a greater appreciation for just how fascinating plants are. (Dont worry, you wont be tested on it!)
What the Elements Do
NITROGEN is essential for the formation of amino acids, which are complex organic compounds that form protein. Protein is the important constituent of protoplasm which is the nucleus of all living matter. Nitrogen is essential in the formation of chlorophyll, which makes the green color of leaves. It uses the energy from sunlight to combine water and carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates the process of photosynthesis. Nitrogen promotes leaf, stem, fruit, and seed growth. It also feeds soil micro-organisms during their decomposition of organic materials in the soil and compost. Since nitrogen is lost through leaching in water and in gases, it must be continually replaced to ensure continuous plant growth. Nitrogen is the most important of all the fertilizer elements.
PHOSPHOROUS works together with nitrogen to keep the plants life processes working properly. The plants sugar-making process of photosynthesis depends on phosphate ions, and the respiration or "burning" of sugar supplies the plants energy to grow. Phosphorous is also necessary for division and enlargement of plant cells, for root, bud, flower, fruit and seed development. Phosphorous controls the movement of fatty compounds in the structuring of plant cells and in the making of proteins vital to the hereditary characteristics of the plant. Because phosphorous reacts readily with many soil elements such as iron, aluminum, and calcium to form insoluble compounds, the best way to apply it to make it quickly available to the plant is to apply it in water-soluble fertilizer to the root zone.
POTASSIUM is involved in the photosynthesis process by supplying an adequate amount of carbon dioxide for the plant to make sugar for energy. It also is vital for the conversion of simple sugars and starches and the production of amino acids combined to form protein. Potassium imparts increased vigor and disease resistance to plants, and produces stronger stems and firmer grains and seeds. It also imparts winter hardiness to fall-sown plants.
CALCIUM promotes early root formation and growth and improves plant vigor and strength of stalk and stems. It aids the intake of other fertilizers and neutralizes poisons within the plant. It helps in grain and seed production. It increases the calcium content of all plant products and especially prevents "blossom end rot" of tomatoes. In Southern California DO NOT use lime as a source of calcium as it adds to the alkali problem. The best dry source is Gypsum and the best water-soluble source is Calcium Nitrate.
MOLYBDENUM activates enzyme (NR) to convert nitrate to ammonia nitrogen, which then combines with sugar to from amino acid and niacin to give muscle energy to the plant.
COPPER activates enzyme (GD) to link ammonia to organic acid to form glutamic acid. It also joins amino acids to form protein and aids in the formation of chlorophyll.
MANGANESE activates enzyme (PH) to synthesize fat molecules into phosphatidic acid which forms the membrane of the chloroplasts, the envelope that contains the chlorophyll. It also activates the enzyme (IAA) that controls the distribution of growth regulators.
IRON enables enzyme (CY) to carry electrons for the burning of sugar to give growth energy to the plant.
BORON activates enzyme (SP) that carries sugars and starches through the plant and maintains a balance between them. Starch is necessary for adequate root development and is critical at fruiting stage of plant growth.
ZINC makes possible the production of auxin, a plant growth regulator.
MAGNESIUM helps with dark green color of leaves. Also regulates uptake of other plant foods. It acts as a carrier of phosphoric acid in the plant, and promotes the formation of oils and fats. It plays a part in the translocation of starch.
SULPHUR gives increased root growth and helps maintain dark green leaf color. It promotes nodule formation in legumes and stimulates seed formation. It encourages vigorous plant growth and counteracts alkaline soils and water.
Do you wonder how orchid flowers are judged? At the big orchid show in March, I always go around and see which orchid plants were awarded. Sometimes, I scratch my head and say, "Hmmm how did that get the award?" I would have chosen another one, if I were to judge. My curiosity made me ask one of the judges what they are looking for when they judge. She said, "A perfect flower." I asked her, "What is a perfect flower?" She said they assess the flower for its shape, color, size and substance. The shape would be how round the flower is or how flat it is like in the Miltonias or the Vandas. The color must be clear. The size of the flower and its substance must be better than the two parents of the hybrid. They look at how thick and waxy are the petals.
These are the awards that the AOS gives:
FCC - First Class Certificate - (90 points or more). This is the highest award for bloom quality (flower appearance, count and presentation) given by the AOS. Flowers are judged according to current standards for a particular type of breeding and according to the breeding line from which it was developed. For example, mini Cattleyas arent judged on the same flower size and count criteria as standard Cattleyas.
AM - Award of Merit - (80 89.9 points) This is the second highest award for bloom quality given by the AOS.
HCC - Highly Commended Certificate - (75 79.9 points) This is the bloom quality award that is given most of the time.
JC - Judges Commendation - (no point score) Awarded to flowers or plants for distinctive characteristics that the judges feel are worthy of recognition.
AD - Award of Distinction - (no point score) Awarded no more than once to a cross that represents a worthy accomplishment in breeding.
AQ - Award of Quality - (no point score) Awarded to a cross, exhibited by an individual as a group of 12 or more plants or inflorescences and representing a significant improvement over the parents. At least one member of the group must have received a bloom quality award.
CCM - Certificate of Cultural Merit - (80 points or more) This is given to a well grown plant, healthy, with a lot of flowers. Criteria for points include size and condition of the plant, floriferousness and condition of flowers. To some growers, this represents the ultimate accomplishment, since it reflects the growers skill.
CHM - Certificate of Horticultural Merit (80 points or more) Awarded to a cultivar of a species or natural hybrid with outstanding horticultural characteristics, including both the flower and the plant. This award may not be given to a cut inflorescence, unlike the bloom quality awards.
CBR - Certificate of Botanical Recognition - (no point score) This is given to a cultivar of a species or natural hybrid that is considered worthy for its novelty, rarity or educational value. As for the CHM, this award is given only to entire plants.
What do judges look for when they give the blue, red, or white ribbons? The best way to learn is at the Mini Show. Enter a plant or two, then tag along with the judges as they evaluate the plants. Listen to what they have to say and find out what they are looking for. Compare your choice and see the difference. It takes preparation to win an award. When your orchid flower starts to come out, think about presentation. What is the best side of the plant to display its flowers? Stake them. Can you see the flowers well individually? Space them out. I use foam or an old plant label in between the flower stems to separate individual flowers. Check the leaves, remove old bracts and clean the whole plant. Use a basket to put the plant in, and Spanish moss is helpful to cover the top of the pot.
Are you struggling to pronounce the names of orchids? Would you like to learn how to pronounce them? Well talk about that in the next issue.
August 3, 7:30 pm
August 8, 9:00 am
August 10, 7:00 pm
August 14, 7:30 pm
Cymbidium Society Meeting
September 25 and 26
October 29, 30 and 31
Reed Stem Epidendrums
(Harry Tolens Method)
Many persons at the last meeting asked about the potting mix and culture I use for the Reed Stem Epidendrums like I had on display. So heres what I do.
My Epidendrum Potting Mix
4 parts fine fir bark (Pathway
or "walk on" is fine, not necessary to use
*Old mix can be sterilized by microwaving on High power for a few minutes.
For fertilizer I use 1/2 Mag Amp (7-40-6) and 1/2 Osmocote or Apex in the 18-6-12 range. Its a granule and is applied like four tablespoons around the top of the mix in a 17 inch pot. Then I use dilute, 1/4 strength liquid 20-20-20 with every watering just to make sure they get all the nutrients possible. I probably am putting too much and some goes down the drain,,, so what?
Flushing Away The Bad Guys
About every five weeks I flush every plant I have with either Magnesium Sulfate at one teaspoon per gallon of water, or sometimes I use Citric Acid at 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of water. My regular watering is done with fertilizer (1/2 strength remember) tap water. The flushing is done with regular tap water with either the Magnesium sulfate or Citric Acid added. This keeps the mineral buildup off the leaves and out of the pots. If you do this religiously you will keep the nasty buildup off of the pots around the drain holes, and, the leaves will look nicer too.
How About Bugs?
For bugs I use the simple granule Ortho Rose and Plant Food mix. Its also a weak fertilizer and it only lasts two or three months, but carries enough systemic poison to keep off caterpillars and aphids, etc. I have to use it maybe twice a year to keep the plants clean.
Will Anything Take Off the Ugly Black Spots?
The black spots that come on the underside of the leaves cannot be removed, they are there until the leaf falls off. But, when you first get a plant that has those spots, treat it by spraying with any good fungicide. RD20 is what I ask people to use before they send me the plants. That will usually keep any new spots off until a cold wet winter comes, then, get out the stuff and spray every three weeks or so to keep them down to a minimum.
How About The White Spots On Top Of The Leaves?
If your plants are covered with these tiny white spots its probably because they were outside in a hail storm! Again, the spots will not come off till the leaf falls off. The only way to prevent these is to keep the plants under protection when it hails. I grow 80% of my plants under 80% shade cloth, 10% are under 65% shade cloth and 10% are out in the full sun. What difference does the cloth make? Not much as far as I can see except no white spots and possible the flowers are a tiny bit larger under the cloths. They seem to still flower and grow great even under all my shade.
Not much else to tell about these plants. They are hardy and voracious growers if given the chance. Each year I find the best and healthiest growths, just a few per plant and save those by trimming off the dead spikes where the flowers were. Then, as I was taught by others, I cut off all the other growths that have already flowered. That seems to force more energy into the new growths coming from around the bottom. A healthy plant with five or six growths can produce up to 25 new growths the next year. The one at the meeting was a slacker with eight growths producing 21 new growths that were all in flower at the meeting.
Good Luck with your Epis, (Reed Stem Epidendrums) and if you have any questions, just call me at (619) 420-0746, Im in Chula Vista..
Check out our web site at
My Favorite Orchids
My topic for this month is Cattleya intermedia. Am I stuck with Brazilian plants? I think so. They are so easy to grow and they reward you with spectacular flowers. This plant roams Southern Brazil and ventures into Uruguay and Paraguay. It appears to be a low elevation plant found among the rocks along the coast into low swampy areas where it grows on low, stunted trees in full sun and wind.
There appear to be two basic types in terms of growth habit. One type grows to a height of 12 to 18 inches and the other stays around 8 inches in height. The spindly pseudobulbs are topped by two, flat, ovoid leaves with serrated edges. Two to five (or more) 4-inch flowers are carried on a terminal peduncle. The flowers are normally pink with a darker middle lobe to the lip. The side lobes generally cover the column. This is a Spring blooming Cattleya often seen in shows.
The plant usually requires a warm, humid culture. For some reason, they will tolerate low temperatures into the 40's! It usually wants a dry winter rest. Potted or mounted it thrives. Mine seem to grow better mounted.
One of the fun aspects of Cattleya intermedia is that there are over 100 color forms including: aquinii (splashed petals), alba (white), vinicolor (dark), punctissima (spotted), and a myriad of combinations of these characteristics. There are orchid societies in Brazil that only exhibit forms of Cattleya intermedia! Do you want to go to one of their shows?
The Laelia and Epidendrum genera are my favorites here in Southern California. When I use the term Epidendrum I use it in the horticultural sense to include Encyclia and other taxonomic relations. Frankly I would like to see all plants labeled with the horticultural names accepted for registration rather than the latest fad in taxonomy. The taxonomic fad could be a labeled synonym.
Most of the Laelia and Epidendrum plants adapt well to outdoor growing in various areas in my garden with different exposure to the sun. If you arrange the placement of the species correctly you can grow in almost full sun to full shade. Once you know the preferred environmental niche for the species, hybrids that are rich in these same species are candidates for growing in similar locations. Plants that are native to parts of Mexico with climates similar to ours are also prime contenders for outdoor culture.
Of my 550 different named orchids I tend to concentrate on the Laelia, Epidendrum and cool growing Cattleya because my greenhouse space is very limited and reserved for the warm growing kinds. Recently I wrote asking for members to share their growing conditions for Laelia species with the idea that it would help dispel a lot of the myths that we find in the orchid literature. Although there was no response to this request I suspect it is due to our busy lifestyle and not lack of interest.
Most advice on growing orchids goes back to the growing of these plants in the United Kingdom before World War II and back into the 19th century. Although the British essentially "invented" orchid horticulture they had tremendous difficulty in growing orchids. When they found a very narrow range of temperatures and conditions under which orchids would grow this advice was codified and then repeated endlessly in many books to follow. Even today with such resources as provided by the Bakers series on climate conditions where native orchids grow, the advice still leaves the impression that you need a very limited range of temperature, light, potting conditions and fertilizing conditions to make orchids grow.
The debate over the composition of the "best" fertilizers is also misleading. For example, there are many warnings about using tap water that has trace minerals in it (particularly calcium and magnesium) and people have invested heavily in water purification systems. Yet, the fertilizer manufacturers who put these extra minerals in as trace nutrients make a big splash about why their products are better than just plain nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous fertilizers. Calcium and magnesium are needed for plant growth and the levels in most tap waters are ideal for plants as long as excess is washed out periodically.
Various Laelia species grow in full sun, on rocks and survive long periods of drought. Mine see temperatures that range from 35F and wet in the winter to 95F and bone dry in the summer. I grow the following species: albida, anceps, autumnalis, canariensis, crispa, dayana, grandis, lundii, millerii, perrinii, praestans, purpurata, sincorana, splendens and tenebrosa. The only one I have had trouble with is L. sincorana that definitely prefers it a little dryer in the winter than the rain allows. I move it under the eaves during the winter. They are all grown in plastic pots without a lot of excess space in the pot. I use only the larger size pieces of medium bark. This provides a lot of air at the roots but moisture holds longer than mounted plants. I have had very poor results from mounted plants due to the inability to provide enough moisture in the summer.
I fertilize with 100 parts per million (or milligrams per liter) each time I water. This is approximately the amount that will fit on the tip of a plastic knife added for each gallon of water. I water three times per week in the summer and once or twice depending on the rain in the winter. I always water until the pots are flushed and once a month I use plain water to make sure there is no build up of salts. Although I could go longer I repot once a year keeping any bark that is firmly attached to healthy roots. The sun exposure is regulated by a overhead lathe system augmented by 70% shade cloth. The plants are placed in locations where the leaves stay light green with a definite tinge of yellow. Less light tends to retard flowering. This is definitely different than my Oncidium alliance plants that tend to like darker green leaves to flower well.
The Laelias are the most productive and easiest to grow of the species I have. I have begun a hybridizing program using some of the most prolific clones. Crosses with selected Epidendrum and Cattleya clones are being made based on the vigor and ease of flowering of the parents.
SDCOS Board of Directors Meeting
Present: Fred Weber, Edith Galvan, Ben Machado, Bud Close, Ann Tuskes, Alma Marosz, Duncan Werth and Siv Garrod.
Meeting called to order at 7:11 P.M.
1. Last meetings minutes were read and approved.
2. Treasurer - Edith Galvan - report for June was read, B. Close made a motion to accept the report, D. Werth seconded and the report will be filed for audit.
3. First vice president - Ben Machado - Next months speaker will be Ned Nash, the title of his talk is "Unusual orchids you can see with the naked eye ". The Orchid Connection will provide the plant table.
4. Show Chairman - Bud Close - Esther Sivilia and Nati Ritua have resigned from the sale of pre-show tickets. Barbie and Dave Mays have volunteered to do the pre-show ticket sales. The suggestions for next years show theme will be presented at the August general meeting. The top 3 voted themes will be presented at the September meeting for the final vote.
1. Ann Tuskes reported that the matching funds up to $1000 were requested the first 2 years for the Conservation fund. The current twice a year sale of donated orchids generate an adequate sum for the fund.
1. Ben Machado - The entertainment at our Christmas party will be provided by a Philippine dance group.
2. 26 members have signed up for the July 31 Zuma Canyon bus trip, 4 more are needed to meet the cost or the trip may be canceled.
The meeting was adjourned 7:40 P.M.
Submitted by Siv Garrod
"SERVICE TO OUR MEMBERS SECTION"
HELP HOTLINE: The SDCOS offers a service to members who seek cultural information about their orchids. Here are some friendly hobbyists who have a great deal of experience and knowledge about certain types of orchids, and who have kindly volunteered to answer your questions. There are no commercial growers on this list.
Oncidium/Odontoglossum, and Vandaceous, Greenhouse grown,
West SD county Forrest Robinson - (619) 270-6105
San Diego County
These are many of the
hard-working volunteers that keep our Society running.
There are many others with no titles that help these
folks make it happen. You are invited to help. Ask any of
these people how.