AOS Beginner's Newsletters
General Orchid Information
It's Lovely and Exotic Sitting on the Book Case
Flowering orchids are best kept in a bright, airy place in the home away from direct sunlight and overly warm temperatures. For maximum flower life, maintain an even moisture level. (Jan 10)
The First Step - Identify Your Orchid
The first step in caring for your orchid is knowing whether it is a phalaenopsis, dendrobium, vanda, cattleya, oncidium, paphiopedilum or cymbidium. Most people who have just a few orchids will have a Phalaenopsis. (Jun 09)
Types of Orchid Growth
Most cultivated orchids are epiphytes (growing in trees or on rocks rather than in the ground) and sympodial (growing sideways while monopodial orchid plants grow upwards).
Have More Fun with Orchids Knowing Basic Names
The reason is practical: your success as a grower will be helped a lot by knowing some basic names. Locating information on your plants can depend on correctly recognizing its type.
Reading Your Plant Label: Key to an Orchid's Heritage
Pick up a plant label from one of your plants. Most likely, the name will consist of at least two words. The first word is the name of the genus (think of it as a person's last name e.g., Smith). (Sep 09)
Plants Names Distinguish Their Genus and Species
For scientific reasons, all plants have names which distinguish their genus and species. Frequently, individual plants are given a third name.
Three Resolutions for New Orchid Growers
1. Don't Overwater - put your finger in the mix, if it feels wet, it is, let the mix dry.
2. Buy Mature Plants - choose a the plant in bloom, seedlings are harder to grow.
3. Visit Your Local Orchid Society
Stake for the Best Flower Display
Orchids growing in the wild don't have the benefit of a caretaker to primp and preen them. But their only purpose is to attract a pollinator, not please us humans.
Have Flowers in Every Month of the Year
There is no right or wrong way to collect orchids, but there are some things to consider that will give you the most bang for the buck. And some guidelines for selecting plants that may keep you from wasting your money.
Growing Your Orchids
Six Easy Tips to Keep Your Orchid Alive
The importance of water, light, temperature, fertilizer and potting for growing phalaenopsis, or Moth Orchids, the most popular orchid for the home. Click here if you are not sure of what kind of orchid you have. (Jul 09)
Time to Start Repotting
Today is the first day of spring and for orchid growers, that means our orchids will be commencing their annual growth cycle soon. The most important task we associate with spring is repotting our plants.(Mar 12)
Why Special Potting Mixes are Necessary
Orchid roots are different from the roots on common house plants, in part because of the spongy velamen layer, and require potting mixes that allow enough air around the roots. (Oct 09)
How to Tell if You're Getting Enough Light
The number one reason that orchids don't rebloom is that they're not getting enough light. Here are some quick ways to check your light levels, and the SAOS has a light meter for you to be sure! (Nov 09)
How and When to Water Your Orchid
Pseudobulbs on orchids like cattleyas store energy & water and prefer a wet dry cycle. Fleshy leaved orchids like phalaenopsis only have their fleshy leaves so they prefer to be more evenly moist. (Feb 10)
How and When to Fertilize Your Orchids
Everyone has a favorite fertilizer or supplement. How you fertilize depends on what kinds of orchids you grow and how and where you grow them.
The Importance of Humidity and Air Movement
Heating and air conditioning both dry the air significantly, try adding humidity trays or a humidifier. Orchids adore constantly moving fresh air, crack open a window and add fans to keep air moving. (May 10)
Growing Orchids Requires a Balance of Cultural Elements
You must balance light, water, nutrients and air. The best orchid growers know that if they increase or decrease one of these elements, they will have to adjust the others accordingly. (Jun 10)
Recognize Your Orchid's Symptoms
Our orchids talk to us, we just have to understand what they are saying. Learn to recognize orchid symptoms,
both benign and acute, what they mean and how to treat them when necessary. (Jul 10)
Growing Different Types of Orchids
A Springtime Favorite
If you are new to the orchid hobby, your first plants are likely Phalaenopsis. The moth orchid has become the darling of the commercial pot plant market for orchids. And for good reason. (May 11)
Queen of the Orchids
Although phalaenopsis may be responsible for the current popularity of orchids as house plants, for many people, the image of an orchid flower is a Cattleya, such as Cattleya schroderae pictured at left. (Jun 11)
D is for Diversity
Dendrobium is a vast and diverse genus of orchids found throughout Asia and the Pacific Islands. There is a species or hybrid for nearly every taste or growing condition (Jul 11)
Oncidiums and Its Hybrids
While phalaenopsis are elegant and cattleyas are flamboyant, oncidiums are fun. Oncidiums come in many forms and, as a result, go by various nicknames: Spider Orchids, Pansy Orchids, Dancing Ladies.
Basic Culture of Paphiopedilums
The lips of paphiopedilums are pouches which make them easy to recognize. Because the pouches in some paphiopedilums resemble footwear, they are informally called "lady slippers." (Sep 11)
Orchid Pests and Diseases
Black Rot During the Hot, Rainy Season
Based on past experience we have come to expect an outbreak of black rot under these type of wet, humid conditions. Pythium ultimum (and/or Phytophthora cactorum) is ruthless and can destroy a collection. (Jun 12)
Dealing with Aphids, Mealybugs and Thrips
The most commonly encountered insect pests...aphids cause damage to plants by sucking fluids from them... mealybugs are closely related to scale and feed on plant juices... thrips are the most insidious. (Aug 10)
Search and Destroy Mission
Colonies of scale can become entrenched at the base of a pseudobulb or under sheaths. You may not notice until the pests have done their damage. While scale can be found on flat surfaces of leaves, the worst damage is done at the base of pseudobulbs.
Mites Can Wreak Havoc
Unless you have really good eyesight and a strong magnifying lens, you may never even see a spider mite. The first thing that will alert is the silvery stippling on the underside of orchid leaves.
Dealing with Snails and Slugs
Slugs and snails feed mainly at night, or on dark days. Their damage is easy to spot. If you find irregular holes with smooth edges in leaves and flowers you should suspect slugs or snails as the culprit. (Dec 10)
Can Spread Through Your Orchid Collection
While weeds will grow quickly on their own, they can be even more vigorous if you fertilize your orchids regularly as you ought to. Eventually the weed roots can completely fill a pot and use up all of the water and nutrients intended for your orchid.
Seasonal Orchid Care
Winter Care Tips
Fluctuating temperatures and changing light levels are reducing the amount of water and fertilizer your plants require. Phalaenopsis are spiking so stake the spikes for best flower presentation. (Dec 09)
Most of the AOS Beginner Newsletters were written by Greg Allikas and Kathy Figiel, some by Ned Nash and Greg Truex, photos and newsletter links courtesy of the American Orchid Society. These beginner newsletters were designed to address the issues facing all new growers and address many aspects of orchid growing.
The opinions and recommendations published herein are those of the authors. The St. Augustine Orchid Society disclaims responsibility for any losses or damages that may be attributed to the use or misuse of any material or any opinion published in these articles and on the website. This website and the photographs, articles and content are protected by copyright and no part of them may be reproduced or re-used without the permission of the author.