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)