Capitol Hill Garden Club In Washington, D.C., Since 1952

Meeting Topic: New Orchids

  • March 12, 2013
  • 7:30 PM
  • Church of the Brethren
Featuring Tom Mirenda

Growing and displaying orchids used to be a hobby of the rich. As Tom Mirenda explained at February’s meeting, now many of us can purchase and enjoy orchids. Phalaenopsis, commonly known as the moth orchid, in particular can be found in many grocery and big box stores and garden centers at a cost less than a date night at the movies. Tom Mirenda explained that the growing affordability is a development of the evolving orchid industry in Taiwan. Orchids are big business there. They are propagated and grown in large greenhouses and exported all over the world. With their emphasis on research, Taiwanese orchid growers are finding ever more efficient ways to reproduce orchids, prevent fungal infections, and develop new flower colors. For example, red and yellow flowered Phalaenopsis, once extraordinarily rare, are now common thanks to the popularity of those colors in Asia.

Tom’s first trip to Taiwan as a substitute reporter for a horticultural publication has become a regular occurrence. On his most recent trip, he was invited to judge a Taiwanese orchid exhibition as a member of the American Orchid Society.

The Taiwanese have developed unique way to display Phalaenopsis in which extremely long sprays of perfectly matched flowers are trained on wire to form a dramatic cascade. These expensive orchids, which are very time consuming to produce, are mostly sold to the Japanese market.

Although the Taiwanese industry has concentrated on the Phalaenopsis, other orchids are grown. Tom showed slides of breath-taking orchid displays that included cymbidium, Paphiopedilum (lady slipper), Cattlyea (corsage), Oncidium, and many other varieties.

Tom advises that the key to encouraging a Phalaenopsis to rebloom is to vary the day and night temperatures by about fifteen degrees. One way to accomplish this variation is to place the plant outdoors in the fall in light but not direct sun until the lowest temperature is about 55 degrees. Indoors, move the plant daily from a warm, light filled spot to a cool location overnight. Orchids like humidity so watch their placement during winter heating season. A window over a sink or in a bathroom may be ideal. Do not overwater your plant. Set is in a full sink to soak up water from the bottom, then do not water it again until it is almost but not completely dryundefinedabout a week. Invest in orchid fertilizer and use as directed. To make sure that the plant is repotted appropriately, visit an orchid repotting clinic at one of the area’s nurseries.

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