Category Archives: AOS News

AOS News – February 2016

Volunteer Spot is Ready for Sign Ups!

Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:

1) Click this link to see our Spring Show Sign-up on VolunteerSpot:

2) Review the options listed and choose the spot(s) you like.

3) Sign up! It’s Easy – you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on VolunteerSpot.

This is such a simple way to sign up and see what jobs are available!

Details: When you type into your web browser, you will see a welcome page for the Sonoma County Orchid Society Show. You will be asked for your email address.

Once you put in your email address, click NEXT and you’ll be able to see all the great jobs available for sign up. Do yourself a favor though, and click the open square that says “Hide Full Spots”. Otherwise you will see EVERY job that is listed, even though they are already filled.

Have fun scrolling down the page to see what the jobs are and if one piques your interest, click the orange “Sign Up!” button. Once you click the button, you will be prompted to add your name and phone number. This information is only for me and the committee chair you are working for. That’s it. No one from VolunteerSpot will use this information in any way. That is their guarantee. If they do, I’ll personally represent you in the lawsuit.

That’s it! You’re finished! You can remove your name later if you need to and you can swap with other people. Within a few minutes, the program will send you an automated email welcoming you and listing any jobs you have signed up for. (Ed. Note: You can get to VolunteerSpot to access your signup or make changes at anytime by using this link )

Any changes that are made to your job between now and April will automatically be sent to you by email. A few days before the event, you will get another email reminder that confirms what job and hours you have signed up for.

Not all volunteer positions are listed yet. Bookmark the web address and check back if you don’t see the job you are looking for. An email blast will go out to everyone once all jobs are listed.

Looking forward to the Show and seeing you all there!

PS. Anyone not comfortable using their email address online, please call me, Karen Wofford, 707-975-4299 and I can sign you up manually.

DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THE NEWEST AOS AWARDS AT the California Sierra-Nevada Judging Center at and the Pacific Central Judging Center at

–  Karen Wofford (AOS Rep)

AOS News – January 2016

Volunteer Spot

Last month we talked about using the internet program, Volunteer Spot, to help organize our volunteers for the 2016 Spring Orchid Show and Sale. This technology is not meant to take the place of personal contact with each other. It is simply a tool for us to use for the benefit of our members. Creating a volunteer database for an event this large can be an enormous undertaking. This software is meant to simplify things for everyone, reduce mistakes and confusion and provide a clear understanding of what is needed. For the first time, each job will have a description attached to it and you will know exactly what you will be volunteering to do as well as who is volunteering around you and who you are working for. I have a secondary agenda of possibly bringing in non-members who would like to see the show but are uncomfortable paying the admission fee. Since volunteering allows them to see the show without admission, I’m sure that once they see how fun we are, they will want to join us!

How do I view what volunteer opportunities are available?

Once the volunteer coordinator (me) receives information from the various chair people regarding what they each need in the way of volunteers, I will begin to enter those needed volunteer positions and the times they are needed. Once I have initiated the event and populated it with volunteer positions, I will be sending an email link to all our members. You will be able to view the positions and times that need volunteers, with the associated duties for each position. At that time, you will be able to sign up for volunteer positions and even change your selection up until the day prior to the event.

The difficult part for some of you will be that you must register with your Name, Email Address, and Phone Number in order to view the volunteer positions. I want to assure you that in a thorough test several months ago, no one was contacted by Volunteer Spot for any reason. I have researched the organization and am satisfied that using this process will not, in any way, compromise anyone in our society as it relates to identity theft or spamming of your email. “Emails and phone numbers are not used for advertising, spamming, or anything unrelated to the current event. They are accessed only by the volunteer coordinator or chairperson for the purpose of this event alone.”

You will only receive a few emails generated by the program to remind you what you have signed up for as the show approaches. These emails will stop as soon as the event is over.

For those of you who don’t use a computer or are not comfortable with this system, be assured we will develop an alternate method so that you can still volunteer. It takes all of us together to make our show a success!

–  Karen Wofford (AOS Rep)

AOS News – December 2015

AOS Reno Show & Sale

November 11 -15 was a grand time in Reno for the four of us who represented the Sonoma County Orchid Society at the 2015 Fall American Orchid Society meeting and sale! Susan Anderson, Angelique Fry, Lynne Murrell and me (Karen Wofford) attended the entire event, then stayed an extra day because it SNOWED! It was blue skies all around for the event until the last day when the clouds came in, the sun got dark, and white whirly flakes buried us under their quiet blanket.

This is the second show this year that was essentially in our own backyard. The spring show was in Portland, OR. The Spring Meeting in 2016 will be held far to the east of us. Classes we attended were wonderful and included topics on ‘Paphiopedilums’ by Theresa Hill and Dave Sorokowsky, ‘conservation’ by Peter Tobias, ‘viruses’ by Janet Lamborn of Agdia, ‘growing orchids his own way’ by Dennis Olivas, Fukiran by Terry Kowalczuk, ‘pendulous cymbidiums’ by George Hatfield, ‘Phalaenopsis’ by Carlos Fighetti, ‘Laelia purpurata’ by Sergio Garcia, breeding trends by Dr. John Chant and orchids in Columbia by Gary Meyer.
Between classes we dodged cigarette smoke and slot machines and sampled the casino restaurants. Occasionally a glass of wine slipped in. Halfway through the show I decided to take the big jump and start my memoir. It will be titled, Confessions of an Orchid Addict.

Just checking to see if you are still reading.

Angelique and I took Amtrak from Martinez to Reno. I’ve never done this before. It was a supremely enjoyable experience. I arrived at my destination completely relaxed both directions. The only difficult part was smuggling our “agricultural items” aka orchids, on board and hiding them from the conductor who did not have a sense of humor about how many orchids we brought onto the train. Surprisingly, the orchids survived the trip home pretty well. All four boxes of them!

See you next month!

AOS News – October 2015


What to do when you have a few minutes of downtime while waiting in the dentist office for your cleaning? It’s a conundrum. Here’s an idea! The American Orchid Society has a video library. It contains many useful, how-to video clips on all aspects of orchids and orchid culture. These videos are self-contained and do not require any player or other software (Mac owners rejoice!).

Send suggestions for exciting new topics to You don’t have to login or be a member to see these videos either. Just go to or go to the AOS website at, and select “All About Orchids” from the menu, then “AOS Video Library” from the dropdown menu.

The videos are short, between 2 and 8 minutes. Titles include: Anthocyanin; Boisduval Scale; Divide or Repot?; Keikis & Air Root; Leaftip Dieback; Potting a Keiki; Recognizing Mite Damage; Recognizing Virus Symptoms, Part 1; Removing a Damaged Leaf; Removing a Keiki; Repotting a Cattleya; Repotting a Healthy Orchid; Repotting an Unhealthy Orchid; Root Loss; Selecting an Orchid; Watering Orchids; When to Repot?; and Where to Cut a Phalaenopsis Spike. Even if you can’t see the video, the audio is pretty helpful.

So, the next time you have a few minutes wait somewhere, throw up one of these videos on your cell phone and get educated! Just don’t do it at the next red light however, you’ll get so engrossed you’ll get honked at.
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 – 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)

AOS News – April 2015


You don’t know it yet, but this morning will be like no other morning. You stumble downstairs to your Keurig, as usual, to receive your straight shot of stimulation, raw energy in its purest form. This is the prelude to the best part of your day. You are not really a morning person, so coffee in hand, you pad out to the greenhouse in your jammies and slippers with your favorite brew to commune quietly with your orchids as you slowly wake up. You are relaxed and have a little skip in your step as you anticipate seeing your friends. You smile a little as you realize you are happier than you’ve been in a long time. You realize, finally, that you are an “Orchid Person”. The early days of lingering ‘failure to thrive’ and unknown reasons for untimely ‘ultimate death’ seem to be over. Your spouse hasn’t given you grief in a long time for money spent on plants that die the minute you touch them. You observe your lovelies and see a new spike here, a new flower there, some new growth on that one. You realize you might even be able to take a plant to share at the next meeting! You’ll get to talk about your orchid to the group and maybe win the “three month plant”! Everyone will be envious of your undefinable ability to commune with your orchids. Life is marvelous in your personal orchid heaven.

Then suddenly, you can’t breathe. You’ve seen….an unidentifiable BUG! You know all the good bugs. This is horrific! You look rapidly from plant to plant and discover to your dismay that not only is a bug chewing on one of your precious darlings, but you see something else on another plant that seems like, well, a possibly unexplained disease. Your expensive coffee sours in your mouth and you feel like, you’re going to fall down on the greenhouse floor and vomit your special caramel blend into one of the drains. You run to your greenhouse phone extension and call every orchid person you know, but their voicemail picks up as they are either night persons themselves, or as morning people, are out running or something similarly foolish. How messed up is this? You purposefully became a member of the Sonoma County Orchid Society just so you’d have instant access to people in the know when you need them. You are completely let down. What now?

In your misery, you realize the drain you’ve just thrown up in is pressing into your cheek. It is cold and hard and is no doubt leaving an unexplainable mark on your face that will cause you unending problems when you get to work later; if indeed you are able to drive to work today given this tragic turn of events. As you lie pathetically whimpering on the cold concrete, somewhere in the dark recesses of your mind, that place you go when everything is collapsing, you recognize a virtual spark of illumination. You remember something. What is it? Something about a website. Then you remember! You remember someone droning on at the last meeting about the American Orchid Society website having a section devoted to bugs and diseases. You know you’ve been meaning to join the AOS for-EVER. It figures now that you need information so desperately you’re still not a member. But wait, didn’t that speaker say something about this particular information being free? To everyone? Even non-members?! (Use the control key and click on the link).

You get up off the floor, make another cup of special coffee and realize as you research your problem, no one need know of your pathetic collapse in the safety and security of your greenhouse. The orchids won’t tell anyone, will they?

Finally, don’t forget to check out the AOS awards for March, by going to

AOS News – March 2015

Where is the American Orchid Society anyway? I mean, physically.

So I had a thought. If the American Orchid Society represents the entire U.S. and in addition, has members from other countries, where is it? Physically, I mean. Pretty much everywhere I send a credit card payment is to some nebulous nowhere in Oklahoma City or Peyton, VI. It wouldn’t surprise me to find a warehouse was rented somewhere where no one goes, and was proclaimed “The American Orchid Society.”

Well, you might have already surmised that, in researching this, I found out the location of ‘nebulous nowhere’ is the incorrect answer. In fact, I just returned from a wonderful week visiting the Florida Everglades, where I photographed some nice examples of orchids living in a tree (below). It turns out, I WAS RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the American Orchid Society headquarters for three days and didn’t know it. Rats!

The Society was ‘born’ in 1921, but in 2012 partnered with the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens. It moved its offices to the Fairchild Campus in Coral Gables, FL, in metropolitan Miami.

More than a century ago, South Florida was a natural orchid paradise. Masses of orchids blanketed every branch of every oak and mahogany tree. Settlers marveled at the intense beauty and fragrances during Miami’s springtime orchid flowering season.

In the late 1800s, as the Florida East Coast Railroad extended southward, orchids were among the first natural resources to be exploited. Millions of flowering orchids were ripped from the trees and packed into railroad cars, to be sold in northern flower shops. Orchid populations dwindled to catastrophically low levels and orchid habitat disappeared. Today, native Florida orchids exist in such small numbers that they have no hope of recovering on their own, despite the fact that oak and mahogany trees have been making a comeback throughout South Florida. Two orchid species still occur naturally at Fairchild Gardens. These are the Florida butterfly orchid (Encyclia tampensis), lower left, and the cowhorn orchid (Cyrtopodium punctatum) lower right. Both flower regularly in the garden, though have little chance of propagating on their own.

In a program called the Million Orchid Project, Fairchild is proposing to propagate millions of native orchids in test tubes for reintroduction into South Florida’s urban landscapes. The new Micropropagation Laboratory at Fairchild will generate a limitless supply of young native orchid plants. Local school landscapes and urban tree plantings will be the primary recipients of Fairchild’s reintroduction initiatives. Their goal is to have the first generation of reestablished orchids blooming throughout South Florida within five years. And this is all because the American Orchid Society decided to partner with Fairchild. Go visit!

Finally, don’t forget to check out the AOS awards for February, by going to There were 7 orchids awarded!