Tuesday, August 29, 2006

How to Tell if your Orchid is Worth Saving

Often it is hard to tell if an Orchid is worth bringing back to life, and believe me, it is possible to bring an Orchid back usually if there are any roots or leaves left, and the middle of the plant is not rotten. There are quite a lot of techniques and tricks to use to bring an Orchid back to health, all of which I've used many times.

The best techniques to bring back almost dead Orchids is to repot into a tight pot that constrains the roots well, use good humidity with a humidity tray, and be patient. Don't forget to water as you would regularly for your Orchid. If your Orchid has no roots, you can get long plastic twist ties or wires, twist them around the base of the plant, and bend them (3-6 of these) as if they were roots, and anchor the plant well in the pot. These false roots have helped me stabilize many Orchids and help them slowly get back their health.

The time to give up on your Orchid is when the core, the part that connects the roots to the leaves, is soft, mushy, or dead.

If you have a big Orchid, or an Orchid worth a good amount of money, that is usually the time to spend a lot of extra care on getting the plant back to health. A big Orchid can often have a lot of energy stored up in the pseudobulbs, canes, or leaves and therefore come back to good health sooner, and an expensive Orchid... well is expensive so may be worth the effort.

The Orchids I usually don't feel are worth spending a lot of time saving are those worth $10-$50 that will take more than 3 years to nurse back to blooming health.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Best 5 Orchids to Start with for a Beginner Orchid Grower

Best 5 Orchids to Start with for a Beginner Orchid Grower

  1. First choice, and easiest Orchid to grow is a Phalaenopsis Orchid.
  2. Second choice, and next easiest to grow is a Paphiopedilum Orchid.
  3. Third easiest Orchid to grow and care for is a Cymbidium Orchid.
  4. Fourth easiest Orchid to grow and care for are Dendrobiums.
  5. Fifth in this list of easiest Orchids to care for are Miltonia Orchids.

For more information on caring for these kinds of Orchids, click here.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Which Kind of Orchid Should You Buy?

Do you have a lot of light?
Then buy a Dendrobium, Cattleya, or Vanda Orchid.

Do you forget to water?
Then buy a Dendrobium Orchid.

Do you have high light and high humidity?
Buy a Vanda.

Do you have shade?
Buy a Phalaenopsis or Paphiopedilum.

Do you have medium light?
Buy a Miltonia Orchid.

Do you barely have any room?
Buy a Miltonia or Paphiopedilum Orchid.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

New Orchid Tips Website pages updated

We've got a lot of updates done today and continuing on the Orchid Care Tips Website and other blog, so please feel free to look at these new items. Very exciting!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Many New Updates made to Orchid Care Tips Website

Many new updates were made last night to Orchid Care Tips Website, including a new sister blog to this one!

Both blogs are open to comments and feedback after any post I make, and most importantly, please share these Websites with friends as Orchids are such wonderful plants and it would be nice to have everyone at ease with growing healthy Orchids at home.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Top 10 secrets that let you know it is time to repot your Orchid

Top 10 secrets that let you know it is time to repot your Orchid
  1. Orchid roots are growing over the edge of the table and the plant is pulling itself to slowly crawl back to the rainforest
  2. Roots are not only aiming straight up but you can't tell them from the leaves as there are so many roots
  3. Bark has broken down after a couple years into sludge
  4. You can't tell what the medium is or if it was even Orchid potting bark
  5. Your Orchid has fused itself to another plant and you can't separate them without getting a kitchen knife and performing surgery
  6. There are no roots on your Orchid and it doesn't remember what it it like to have roots in mix in a pot
  7. You can't see any mix in the pot as either the Orchid has eaten it or forced it out somehow over time
  8. You can't remember ever hearing the word repot don't know what it means
  9. The Orchid in this photo is yours
  10. The Orchid in this photograph is owned by a friend of yours
Any questions or suggestions - add comments!

If you'd like some more real honest Orchid root insight click here.
To figure out how to choose Orchids to buy and also look at their roots, click here.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Orchid bark sizes for potting

Orchid repotting is important to do every 1-4 years, depending on the Orchid and how much the bark has broken down. More information on Orchid repotting is here.

For Phalaenopsis type Dendrobiums (the majority of Debdrobiums sold are this type), Dendrobium kingianum, and Dendrobium Nobile, fine bark should be used. Also, for Oncidiums, Odontoglossums, and warm and cool Pahiopedilums, and Miltonias, fine bark should be used.

For Phalaenopsis Orchids, medium bark should be used.

For Vanda Orchids and Cattleya Orchids, medium to large bark should be used. The hotter the climate, the bigger the bark.

For Cymbidiums, fine bark should be used.

You can find Orchid bark often at Home Depot and many other garden centers. Make sure it is a kind that can be used with Orchids, and the person selling the bark to you can tell you this or the packaging can.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Orchid books I recommend highly

Orchid books I recommend highly:

For each item I've added an Amazon.com link for you to click on and buy at discount price:

Orchids : The Magazine Of The American Orchid Society [Magazine Subscription]
Great magazine, the main one for the American Orchid Society

Taylor's Guide to Orchids
Great Orchid guide.

The Orchid
The best all inclusive book about Orchids - full of info and photos!

Ortho's All About Orchids (Ortho's All About Gardening)
Best beginner book on Orchid care. Excellent.

Orchid Growing for Wimps
Good beginner book on Orchid care, almost as good as the Ortho book just above.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Orchid Care Can be Easy!! - just take the right steps, from an Orchid expert

A number of years ago, I worked for Rod Mclellan Company (they were bought just after I left and renamed McLellan Botanicals), the world's largest Orchid Company for around 3 years, and part of my job was:
  • R&D - went all over the place locating new varieties for hybridizing, mass producing, and more
  • Public speaker - gave well over 200 talks to the public in the SF Bay area - garden clubs, Orchid societies, big events
  • Manager - managed a team or Orchid experts
  • Company Orchid expert - did employee trainings in retail store, met with owners of other Orchid companies, was Orchid judge, hybridized new varieties
  • and much more. Was published in quite a lot of trade magazines, popular newspapers, in books, etc.
So, yes, Orchids can be easy to care for. It is all in the mindset you have and just getting a basic understanding or how Orchids work. Big stores want you to think Orchids are easy to care for so they price them lower and buy them in mass production. Expert growers want you to think they're easy to care for so you buy more plants. Why then, do we all think Orchids are so hard to care for?

Because no one spends the time telling us we need to choose the right Orchid for our home.

There are over 100,000 kinds of Orchids and they are amazing. But, they are all from different places and environments. What makes an Orchid what it is, is not that it is a tropical plant. What makes an Orchid what it is , is the structure of the flower. Therefore, there are Orchids that grow in dirt under trees in New Zealand in shade, and there are Orchids that grow in the tops of trees with no dirt in the Amazon rainforest, clinging to branches with their roots, in very bright light. Some Orchids have a flower the size of the head of a pin, some bloom underground, some can be over 20 feet in length (vanilla Orchid), some bloom for 1 day, some bloom for many months up to more than a year, some like bright light, and some like mostly shade.

Here's a quick guide to Orchids to get you a plant at home NOW based on what conditions you have at home:

  • If you have bright light between 50% to 90% of sun: choose a Vanda, Cattleya or Dendrobium
  • If you have high humidity or can get high humidity, and greenhouse: choose a Vanda or Cattleya
  • If you have 10-50% sunlight: choose a Miltonia, Phalaenopsis (most popular), or Oncidium.
  • For a plant at work, where you have fluorescent lighting, choose a Phalaenopsis
How to choose an Orchid at the store:
  1. Prefer a store that is climate controlled - many Orchids if they get too cold or hot will drop their buds a number of days later
  2. If you are shopping at a big department store or farmers market, where you think they may have had their trucks in the sun or stored the plants in cold, be very aware
  3. In being aware, make sure some plants here and there aren't starting to drop ANY buds by turning yellow. That may mean yours will soon too depending on how it was transported. The only way that is ok for flowers to end is by naturally thinning and eventually dropping off, not by browning or yellowing.
  4. Check the mix the plant is in. Look under the pot and see if you can see alive green, yellow or white roots through the holes. That is important.
  5. If roots are dead around the top of the pot, dried out and shriveled, or if the planting mix looks old, do not buy. It takes a long time to nurse a plant like this back to having strong roots and energy.
  6. Are any of the leave yellowing? If so, it is only ok if 1 leave is naturally yellowing and falling off - if you see a trend where one and then the next is yellowing, beware. You want all green, thick healthy leaves.
  7. You want to buy a plant where none, or 1-5 flowers are open. If all the flowers are open, your Orchid will be done blooming sooner.
  8. You want a care sheet when you buy the plant.
  9. You want to buy from a seller that seems to have cared for this plant. If it is a small nursery, you can tell by how they do things and the general atmosphere. If it is a department store or other big chain store, you can tell by how well the plants are taken care of overall, organized, etc. At a store there is someone designated to run a section, and just like in a supermarket you can tell when the produce section manager has done a great job because the produce is fresh, you can do the same with Orchids.
  10. Feel free to explore my Orchid Care site. This was created for one purpose: For you - I want to help you as I enjoy simplifying information for people
  11. Be careful when you buy plants online. Many growers will compete with prices, but that is not the only important thing. You want a plant that is ready to bloom, and very healthy. Orchids from meristem (cloned Orchids), seed, or root growth are the only three kinds of Orchids out there. The typical Orchid takes 5 years to get to blooming size. You don't want to get a plant that is in year four just prematurely blooming. You want a strong plant. Make sure when you buy, the description states the plant is healthy blooming size. For most of us it is no fun to have to grow a plant for years to try to get it to bloom. You want a plant already with the energy to bloom.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Best places to buy Orchids

Best places to buy Orchids are from sellers where you know what you're getting.

If you shop by price Online, you can get a HUGE variety or levels of quality. For example, an Orchid takes an average of 4-6 years to bloom from seed or meristem. Each Orchid grower gives a different amount of quality into how they care for their plants. So, if you were to buy a meristem Orchid, which is close to the same as another meristem Orchid from another grower, there can be a huge difference in quality. Possibly one plant will not bloom for 2 years after you receive it in the mail, and the same name plant may bloom immediately from another grower.

Orchids have verying strength stored up depending on where you buy from. You want to buy from a grower that sells plants that have good strength, so when they vloomj for you, they'll have the energy to bloom longer, reploom, have strong leaves, live well, and increase in size / quantity of blooms over the years.

When I worked for Rod McLellan Company, I had many roles. One was to be the company brand and travel to Orchid growers, especially around the US. I went to places such as CA, Chicago area, NY, Maine, CT, Hawaii and more on Orchid finding R&D trips.

It was AMAZING the difference of quality of plants I would see. I'll post more on some great places to buy Orchids in the future. But, I will tell you this now - of all the big growers I visited, and I did visit most of the big growers in the US, or ordered their plants at some point or heard experiences,
Carter and Holmes Orchids was one of my TOP favorites, as they were very nice people, grew great plants, took good care of their greenhouses, and ran a good business.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Some good Orchid photos

Good photo set on Flikr

Nice photo collection

Some upcoming National Orchid shows not to miss

Great Orchid Show Calendar on the American Orchid Society Website - Click Here

Since that link above has so many links, the ones below are some big ones I'd recommend for sure. Not all of the Website have shows for next year yet listed, so in those cases I linked below to shows from this year.

Pacific Orchid Exposition

Santa Barbara International Orchid Show

Orchids on Parade

The 26th New York International Orchid Show

Houston Flower and Plant Expo

Third Annual Orchid Show & Sale at Lincoln Park Conservatory

What to look for when choosing an Orchid

The number one way to choose the best Orchid, for the new Orchid grower, is to choose the right Orchid for your home. The way to fail with Orchids, is choose an Orchid that cannot grow in your environment, and then expect it to thrive. There are only a number of things we can do at home to make an Orchid get conditions it needs. These include:
  • putting the Orchid closer or further from the window
  • repotting the Orchid
  • watering differently
  • moving closer or further away from other plants
  • changing room temperature
Beyond these types of things, if you choose an Orchid that won't fit your conditions at home, you'll need to get a greenhouse or mini greenhouse in your home. Or, you may need to get lights, and create what looks like a mini lab at home.

That is certainly a great option for the Orchid grower who wants a challenge. But, for the Orchid grower who is wanting to grow plants with ease, here is how to do it:
  1. Survey the inside of your house. Do you have shade mostly? Do you have some direct sun coming through windows? Where will you put your Orchids, and more importantly, how flexible are you? Will you be willing to put Orchids in the bathroom? Near the living room window?
  2. Get a light meter (you can get one for $5-20 at any garden store) and measure how much light is in various areas of your house. Also measure how much light, in foot candles, is outside.
  3. Do you like to water plants often? Do you forget often? This will be important.
  4. Do you have pets? If so, you won't want them to eat your plants, so will need to take that into account for where you will put the orchids.
Next, you will need to choose an Orchid that will work well for you in your home.

Here is in brief, how to select an Orchid:

  • You have little light but like a lot of flowers, get a Phalaenopsis.
  • You have little light, but need a more compact plant, get a Paphiopedilum.
  • You have a good amount of light and want big flowers, get a Cattleya.
  • You have bright light and want pretty interesting flowers similar to a Pahlaenopsis, get a Dendroium.
  • You've got very bright light and a lot of humidity... meaning a greenhouse or you live in a tropical area, get a Vanda.
  • You've got medium light and want a compact plant, get a Miltonia.
  • You've got fairly bright light, get an Oncidium.
  • If you have fairly bright light but it does get a bit cold in your house, get an Odonoglossum.
Of these plants above, which are the primary types of Orchids, the easiest to care for, and longest blooming are Phalaenopsis and Dendrobiums.

Orchid Tips - new blog: Orchid Care Tips

This is the new Blog on the Orchid Tips Website, designed to bring you the newest information about:
  • Orchid Care Tips for growing Orchids, taking care of sick Orchids
  • Orchid Varieties that are favorites for various types of growers and conditions
  • Upcoming Orchid Shows
  • Interesting Orchid thoughts
Please note - what are called "trolls" are not welcomed on this site. Trolls interrupt useful, helpful conversations with irrelevant, negative information that is meant not to help, and instead hinder. Positive and negative posts are fine, but as long as it is in the Orchid related world. I will pull advertisements and posts I deem harmful from this Orchid Care Tips Blog.

Have a wonderful time reading this blog. I have created it to help you with Orchid Care as I worked for years for the #1 Orchid Company, Rod McLellan Company, wearing a huge number of hats as their Orchid expert, Orchid judge, hybridizer, public speaker, manager, etc.