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 http://www.csnjc.org/.

–  Karen Wofford (AOS Rep)