All posts by SonomaOrchids

AOS News – February 2017

ORCHID DIGEST Vol. 81-1 Jan, Feb, March 2017

The Role of Color in Orchids pg 30
by Carol Siegel, President of the Greater Las Vegas Orchid Society

An easy-to-read scientific article about color through the eye of the insects pollinating our favorite flower. It forces you to consider an orchid’s appeal through a different lens. Become one with a wasp, moth or fly and understand how color triggers them to eat, mate and lay eggs. Twilight Zone material!
Insects often see light spectrums that are invisible to the human eye, such as UV and Infrared light. Enhanced by their compound (faceted) eye structures, they interpret light differently from us, and it begs the question? how does orchid color make an insect tick?
This article abounds with examples of how color influences insect behaviors. Such as: white or cream colored orchids reflect light at dusk and in the evening thus attracting moths. It also discusses how the one third of nectar-lacking orchids deceive insects into the daily rituals that pollinize them. In brief, studies have found that orchids lacking nectar may be the keystone to “greater evolutionary fitness”. The insect is drawn in to eat; once realizing its follies and disappointed, it leaves immediately, flying further away. It is then attracted to other orchids, thereby increasing the natural genetic diversity of the area.
Read this article (order or check out the library copy) to better understand the electromagnetic spectrum, how insects interpret color and to learn what Batesian, generalized and guild mimicry means. Super fascinating and makes for great dinner conversation!

AOS WEBINAR #1 – The Dunes and t he Mist : Sanct uary and Ledges: Orchids of Sout hern Brazil
Thursday, February 9, 2017 @5:30 PM – 6:30 PM PST
Members Only – Webinar Details PageRegistration Page

Join Nile Dusdieker as he chronicles a tour through Southern Brazil
looking for orchids, with Francisco Miranda and 8 of his closest
orchid friends.

AOS WEBINAR #2 – Greenhouse Chat with Ron McHatton
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 @5:30 PM – 6:30 PM PST
Members & Non-Members Invited – Webinar Details PageRegistration Page

Please join Ron McHatton, American Orchid Society Director of Education, for a Q&A session on how to grow and care for your orchids. If you have a question, please submit your questions by Sunday, January 8th to

–  Krystal Goulart (VP & AOS Rep)

AOS News – September 2015

Are You A Mover & A Shaker?

If you love orchids you are. This fall you have an opportunity to “bring the party with you” when you attend the National semi-annual meeting of the American Orchid Society. It’s in Reno, NV this time, and we need to fire that place up. Remember, what happens in Reno stays in Reno….or was that Vegas? Oh well. The thing is, the next meeting will be in NORTH CAROLINA. How are you going to bring the party with you all the way across the country? All that party equipment will cost a fortune in extra luggage charges, not to mention how hard it will be to bring back all those orchids you buy at the meeting and show.

The Northern Nevada Orchid Society is going to host this fall’s meeting in Reno, November 11 – 15th. The way this works is, the AOS administration gets to attend (boring) policy meetings while the rest of us party animals gawk at orchids, covet them and sometimes bring them home! Also, there are speakers who know what they are talking about and will give lectures (9 currently scheduled) that you can attend for nearly FREE.* These classes, of course, make you aware of orchids you might have missed during your first ‘covet’ walk-through at the show and sale portion of the event so you can go back and buy more.

If you get to the point where you’ve had enough orchids in your life (::snort::) you can always leave the meeting area to see some of the boring local attractions, casinos, nurseries or botanical gardens etc…..yawn.

You have 3 options to choose from, regarding attendance. The first and best one is the full boat for a mere $95 ($100 after 10-10-2015). This includes all lectures, three days of show and sale, the Thursday night Preview Party (a $40 value which INCLUDES Hors D’oeuvres) and…….wait for it….. a welcome gift. That’s only $55 for the show and classes folks. $6 a lecture. No problem. You know you spent more than $6 on the last orchid you killed.

Less exciting options include the one day option for $35. You still get the show, sale and one day’s worth of lectures; but that would cost approximately $7.77 per lecture. You can also attend the show and sale only, for $5 a day.

To register or get more info about this event, go to and click on ‘fall members meeting’. There is a special hotel rate of $99 a night for Orchid Movers and Shakers (OMS) at the event location, the Atlantis Casino & Resort, 3800 S. Virginia Street, Reno, Nevada 89502. The resort fee has been waived for the OMS group (good until 10-10-2015.)

Now, for the special add-on part of our show. Some of us are taking the train, the lovely California Zephyr, from Martinez to Reno. How fun is that? If you’d like to join us, get your tickets for the train departing Martinez at 9:45 AM on Thursday, November 12, 2015. The trip will be 6 hours of lovely scenery and no driving stress. Our return is scheduled for Monday, November 16 at 8:36 AM.

See you there!

Don’t forget to check out the AOS awards on the Judging Center website, which have been updated with its region’s awards, as well as the San Joaquin, Modesto and Sacramento shows. Go to

Here are the latest 30 orchid awards including the exhibitor and photographer (where available). Free on the AOS website:

–  Karen Wofford (AOS Rep)

AOS News July 2015

Orchid Tips & Tricks

I’ll just bet most of you didn’t know about the tips page buried in the American Orchid Society magazine. I found this one recently and decided to give it a try.

You know those yucky hard water spots you get on your leaves? The last thing you want is your orchid friends to visit and see your shame. Well, you could use one of the many leaf shine products to get rid of these spots; you know, those products that contain waxes derived from petroleum in a hydrocarbon propellant? Forget that! How about a more natural leaf shine that won’t harm you, your plants, your dog or your environment?

Try this: A tablespoon of whole milk in a quart of water. Use a soft cloth dipped in this mixture to gently wipe the leaves of your plant. The fatty acids in the milk dissolve the calcium in hard water deposits leaving the leaves with a soft, natural sheen.

So I tried this, and guess what? It worked! Now I just have to wipe the other 954 leaves in my orchid collection and I’ll be ready for an open greenhouse. Remember, to avoid the spread of virus, use a separate cloth for each plant.

Here’s another cool idea (no pun intended). When temperatures rise above 80 F in the spring, teeny tiny red spider mites living unobtrusively in your orchids may decide to “get it on” more than usual. In addition, their babies grow really fast and then THEY begin to get it on. As they say, the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Anyway, when this happens, your orchid collection can become INFESTED in a few DAYS. Yuck. Leaves may show up pitted or drop early. You might even lose plants. Here’s an easy test to see if you have some of these buggers.

Wipe the underside of the leaves with a white tissue or paper towel. If it comes out red or rusty, you’ve got some mites. You can also tap a leaf over a white piece of paper to see if “any of the dislodged particles move”. I don’t know about you, but my scalp is crawling right about now.

So your paper towel shows up red. What to do. Mix 1 pint 409 cleaner with 1 pint rubbing alcohol (don’t use the good stuff, that’s for drinking after you realize you’ve got mites) and add enough water to make 1 gallon total. Put this in a spray bottle and hit those suckers with a heavy spray, especially under the leaves, every three or four days for a month.You can use this as a preventative also.

That’s enough ick factor for this month. See you in August!

Don’t forget to check out the AOS awards on the Judging Center website, which have been updated with its region’s awards, as well as the San Joaquin, Modesto and Sacramento shows. Go to

–  Karen Wofford (AOS Rep)

AOS News – June 2015

AOS Spring Convention 2015

I missed you in last month’s newsletter because VP Angelique Fry and I were attending the American Orchid Society (AOS) spring convention in Portland, OR. Angelique flew on a commercial flight from Santa Rosa and I flew myself in my little 4 seat airplane. We met up at the convention.

The convention was a combination membership meeting, show and sale. The show and sale was sponsored by the Portland Orchid Society and the Cherry City Orchid Society. To me it felt a lot like our spring show with a lot of added speakers. The speakers were amazing and came from as far away as Taiwan and vendors came from as far away as Brazil!

Members of the AOS attending the event held meetings during the weekend to discuss such riveting items as bylaws and treasury reports. They reviewed the current state of the Society and planned which direction it should go. I missed those meetings as I was overwhelmed with the speakers and the vendors (aka shopping).

Though similar to our show, the vendors at this show came from all over the world and had things to offer that I’d never heard of. An example of this was Dr. Kristen Uthus from New World Orchids in Manchester, Michigan. She had Neofinetia falcata (more on that later) ranging in price from $10 – $800 each. None of these was over 8 inches tall. The first time I passed her booth I didn’t even SEE her plants. Another vendor, Roosevelt Terrariums had everything related to terrariums; small enough for one special orchid or large enough to house a small collection. Their specialty is to design and build beautiful terrarium cases of fine hard woods, plate glass, air circulation and grow lights. Their cases keep orchids and mosses alive and healthy for years, and they customize any style of terrarium case. There were other vendors, but I really want to talk about the speakers.

The Speakers! Incredible. For me the speakers made the travel and expense of the event completely worth it.

Ron McHatton spoke on ‘Pest Management Done Properly.’ Ron has a PhD in Chemistry and is the AOS’s Chief Operating Officer as well as Director of Education. He’s an AOS judge and has been on the board of trustees more than once. He’s also been on the board of trustees for Orchid Digest and has been involved officially with orchids for over 25 years. Do you think this guy might know a couple of things about orchids?!?! I wish I could share his speech with all of you. If you are an AOS member you can listen to this recorded webinar at You’ll need a PC however, not a Mac.

George Hatfield talked about miniature cymbidiums and Wally Orchard talked about ‘Disas of the Western Cape in South Africa.’ I had no idea what a Disa was until I attended this interesting talk. There were other lectures too, but my favorite was Dr. Kristin Uthus from New World Orchids.

Kristin’s specialty is Japanese Orchids. She studied both plant and animal ecology and evolution at Virginia Commonwealth University and The Ohio State University where she received her PhD. She taught biology and ecology at several colleges, including the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, which made her a wonderfully polished speaker. New World Orchids specializes in Japanese species, including Neofinetia falcata, Dendrobium moniliforme, and Sederia japonica as well as Asian Cymbidium species. The Japanese keep Neofinetia falcata for their foliage as much as for their flowers.They are tiny, wonderful plants.

After her talk, I went back to her booth and bought a few of the less expensive ones (I still kill things occasionally so I have to watch my investing!) The booth I had all but ignored prior to her talk suddenly came to life and I knew exactly what was special and why something was more expensive than something else. This talk alone was worth the entire event cost of $97 for me.

As the conference wound down, Angelique wisely told me to save my money as some of the vendors might discount their prices on the last day. She wasn’t kidding. I went crazy! Half prices, woohoo! I generously offered to fly Angelique’s purchases, if any (::snort::), back to Santa Rosa in my plane so they wouldn’t get crunched on the commercial flight. The result was that my plane was so full of flowers and plants, I had to step over them to get into the pilot’s seat. The bicycle and the Voodoo box of donuts didn’t make it any easier.

If I’ve stimulated you enough with this missive to want to attend the next conference, you are in luck! It is being held this fall in early November, but not across the Country. No, it’s right here in our own backyard in Reno, NV. I’ll get you the dates soon. See you next month! Don’t forget to check out the AOS awards on the Judging Center website, which have been updated with its region’s awards, as well as the San Joaquin, Modesto and Sacramento shows. Go to

 – Karen Wofford (AOS Rep)

AOS News – May 2015

This missive will be a short one this month as I am attending the 2015 American Orchid Society Member Meeting, Show, and Sale in Portland Oregon. It’s very exciting to have this national and international show taking place so close to our home. I’m especially excited to see the internationally-known speakers talking on a huge variety of topics. The show lasts from April 29 – May 3, 2015 and is only a mere $95 for the full weekend!

Don’t forget to check out the AOS awards on the Judging Center website, which have been updated with its region’s awards, as well as the San Joaquin, Modesto and Sacramento shows. Go to

SPECIAL NOTE: Speakers’ Day is Saturday, August 1. Although admission fees and speaker & vendor line-up is still being arranged, there will be a conservation theme. This is a great experience. There are usually a few carpools of members attending. Plan to join-in on the fun. More information to follow as it is made available.

– Karen Wolford (AOS Rep)