Tag Archives: Orchid Pest & Disease

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)

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?! http://www.aos.org/Default.aspx?id=117 (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 http://www.csnjc.org/.