Affiliated with the American Orchid Society
53 Years & Growing
Date: Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2012
Time: 6:30 P.M. “Orchid Health Department” help session starts.
7:00 P.M. Socializing begins. Show & Sale Tables open.
7:30 P.M. Business meeting begins followed by the featured event.
Place: Cheshire Senior Center
240 Maple Ave.
(See pg. 29 for map & directions.)
Program: Orchid Repotting Workshop
Meeting Status: For notice of last-minute or inclement weather
cancellation, visit our website www.ctorchids.org or call Judy
Becker at (860) 435-2263.
Write Connecticut Orchid Society, Inc.
P.O. Box 198, Farmington, CT 06034-0198
E-mail President Cheryl Mizak firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Master Deidra Crewe email@example.com
Editor Sharon SmithDelisle firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax (203) 775-4572
Connecticut Orchid Society (COS) is an incorporated non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization
founded in 1959. Please consider making a charitable contribution to COS. Most donations
made to COS are tax deductible.
COS Membership Information : $20/yr. Individual $25/yr. Family
New category: $200 Individual or $250 Family Lifetime Membership (never pay dues
Contact Membership Chairperson Mary Rampone at (860) 649-7952 for more details.
A membership application is located on pg. 30 for your convenience.
www.ctorchids.org 1 Mar. 2012
Connecticut Orchid Society Mission Statement
The Connecticut Orchid Society is an incorporated, non-profit
association for the preservation and extension of knowledge concerning
the conservation, ecology, science, cultivation, hybridization, apprecia-
tion and uses of orchids; and to carry on such activities as may be neces-
sary or desirable to effectuate such purposes.
Inside this Issue --- Mar. 2012 Volume LIII Issue III
Next Meeting/Contact Us…….…………………..…..…………………..………………...1
COS Membership Information …...…….……….………….……………..….……….…..1
COS Mission Statement…………………………………………………………………….2
Newsletter Table of Contents……………………………………………………………...2
COS Officers and Posts — 2012….…….....…….……………….…………...…………….3
Mentor List, Membership Policy, Content Acknowledgement..….……………...…….3
Calendar of Coming Events ...….…..…….…….………....…..…………...………………4
Around the Greenhouse—Editor’s Keikis………………………………………………..6
This Month’s Featured Event .…………………...………..….….………..……………….7
Monthly Meeting Minutes & Meeting Photos ………….....................…..................9—10
Show Table & Photographs…………………….………………….…..………….………10
News, Notes & Happenings……………………..….......……………….……...…11 — 12
Out Reach Programs…………………………..……………………...………….…13 — 15
Map and/or Directions ….….……. …………..…...………….………..……..……...…...29
Letters from Hilo, by Larry Kuekes…………...…………………………….……...16—17
Library News: Vanilla Orchids by Ken Cameron…………………….………………….18
Quote of the Month: Charles Darwin to Sir Joseph Hooker…………………………...18
Monthly Culture: March—The Month of Awakening by Thomas Mirenda……..19 — 20
Conservation & Appreciation: Hawaii’s Rarest Native Orchid by L.W. Zettler & S.
A Touch of Class—Beautiful Art from the Past: Lycaste macrophylla..…....……...……….22
Orchid Speak 101: Beginners Start Here, by Ken Slump………………………….23 — 25
Tips & Tricks: ………...…………...………………………………………………….…….26
From the Archives …………………………………………………………………………26
Trivia Fun: Nickname Nonsense, continued…….…………………………..…………..….27
www.ctorchids.org 2 Mar. 2012
Connecticut Orchid Society Officers and Posts -- 2012
PRESIDENT Cheryl Mizak
TREASURER Judy Arth
DIRECTOR -AT- LARGE Dottie Kern
DIRECTOR -AT- LARGE Roger Heigel
RECORDING SECRETARY Carla Koch
MEMBERSHIP CHAIRPERSON Mary Rampone
CORRESPONDING SECRETARY Sharon SmithDelisle
EDITOR, LIBRARIAN/HISTORIAN Sharon SmithDelisle
AOS REPRESENTATIVE Sam Hinckley
CONSERVATION CHAIRPERSON Vacant
SPECIAL EVENTS COORDINATOR Cheryl Mizak
REFRESHMENT CHAIRPERSON Judy Becker
WEB MASTER Deidra Crewe
The following COS members are available to answer your culture questions and
help you with any orchid growing problems you may have:
Judy Becker email@example.com
Greenhouse growing methods: Wide variety of spe-
cies & hybrids
Sam Hinckley firstname.lastname@example.org
Windowsill growing methods: Species &
Jeffrey Richards Jeffrey.email@example.com
Greenhouse growing methods: Specializing in Paphiopedilums.
Sharon SmithDelisle firstname.lastname@example.org
Under lights & windowsill growing methods: Bulbophylums, Cymbidiums,
Dendrobiums, Paphiopedilums, Miltoniopsis & mixed genera.
David Tognalli email@example.com
Windowsill & outdoor growing methods: Warm growers,
Cattleyas, Dendrobiums & mixed genera.
Membership is open to anyone interested in orchids. Members join the Society by
payment of annual dues. Memberships may be individual, student, family, life or
honorary. Honorary membership is for life and is made by nomination of the Board of
Directors and majority vote of the membership present at a regular meeting.
All information, opinions, reporting and recommendations that appear in this news-
letter are those of the editor, unless otherwise noted.
www.ctorchids.org 3 Mar. 2012
Mar. 14 Connecticut Orchid Society Monthly Meeting: Pot-
ting Workshop— Bring your orchids and clean pots—there
will be a $5.00 materials and supplies fee per pot (6” in. maxi
mum) , 7:30 pm, Cheshire Senior Center, 240 Maple Ave.,
Apr. 11 Connecticut Orchid Society Monthly Meeting: Presenting Andy’s Or-
chids, San Diego, CA. Topic to be announced. 7:30 pm, Farmington
Senior Center, 321 New Britain Ave., Unionville, CT.
May 9 Connecticut Orchid Society Monthly Meeting: TBA, 7:30 pm, Chesh-
ire Senior Center, 240 Maple Ave., Cheshire, CT.
June 13 Connecticut Orchid Society Monthly Meeting: TBA, 7:30 pm, Farm-
ington Senior Center, 321 New Britain Ave., Unionville, CT
Sept. 12 Connecticut Orchid Society Monthly Meeting: TBA, 7:30 pm, Chesh-
ire Senior Center, 240 maple Ave., Cheshire , CT
Oct. 10 Connecticut Orchid Society Monthly Meeting: Hadley Cash of Mar-
riott Orchids, NC will give a presentation. He will bring plants for
sale. Topic will be announced. 7:30 pm, Farmington Senior Center,
321 New Britain Ave., Unionville, CT.
Oct. 19 ~ 21 Connecticut Orchid Society Show & Sale: Orchid Harvest 2012, Van
Wilgen’s Garden Center, 51 Valley Rd., North Branford, CT
Nov. 14 Connecticut Orchid Society Monthly Meeting: Bill Thoms of Central
Florida will give a presentation about growing outstanding bulbo-
phyllums. 7:30 pm, Cheshire Senior Center, 240 Maple Ave., Cheshire,
Dec. 12 Connecticut Orchid Society Holiday Party & Mini-Auction: 7:00 pm,
Farmington Senior Center, 321 New Britain Ave., Unionville, CT
www.ctorchids.org 4 Mar. 2012
Are you in need of a gift for your favorite orchid hobbyist? As a member of the
American Orchid Society, you may get a 5% discount on all purchases from the
following vendors as an added benefit of membership: Exotic Orchids of Maui,
June's Orchid Estate, Krull-Smith, Orchid Doctor, Orchid Inn, Ltd., Seagrove Or-
chids, Sunset Valley Orchids, and Woodstream Orchids. Another gift option
could be to purchase an AOS gift membership or renewal -- for a 2 year re-
newal they will receive directly from AOS headquarters a certificate worth $30
off of an order of $100 or more from your choice of one of the following ven-
dors: Carmela Orchids, Carter & Holmes, Dan & Margie Orchids, Exotic Orchids
of Maui, Gold Country Orchids, Hillsview Gardens, Indoor Gardening Supplies
(IGS), June's Orchid Estate, Kelley's Korner Orchid Supplies, Krull-Smith, Little
Brook Orchids, Marsh Hollow Orchids, Mountain View Orchids, New Earth Or-
chids, Norman's Orchids, OFE International, Orchid Doctor, Orchid Inn Ltd., Pip-
ing Rock Orchids, Quest Orchids, RF Orchids, Ravenvision, Roberts Flower Sup-
ply, Soroa Orchids, Inc., Sunset Valley Orchids, Tropical Gardens Orchids. Some
of these vendors allow these certificates to be used at the shows if they are
vending (be sure to have the certificates in hand however in order to take ad-
vantage of this benefit). Information on how to contact these vendors, as well
as many others, may be found in the 2012 Orchid Source Directory (OSD) which
was mailed to all AOS members last fall. This directory also has a listing of the
then-current Affiliated Societies of AOS (a more current updated list is on the
AOS website). I have been told by some that they never leave home without
their OSD and that it is a great tool for discovering local orchid ‘spots’ while on
a road trip.
An orchid event not to miss coming up (April 25 – 29, 2012) is the AOS Trustees
and Members meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Wichita, Kansas, sponsored by
the Kansas Orchid Society – besides a show and all the AOS Committee meet-
ings, the annual election of officers and trustees will take place. More detailed
information and registration forms may be found on their website at
www.kansasorchidsociety.com or on the AOS website under Events/Orchid
Event Calendars/Members Meeting Datebook. There are also many regional
local shows coming up in the near future. They are all listed in the new calen-
dar format on the AOS website under Events/ Event Calendar/Show Sched-
ule. Be sure to check out all the possibilities in your region. Orchidists, through
their affiliated societies work very hard to put these shows together and we
should all support their efforts by attending or participating in the staging of
Lynn Fuller, Chair Affiliated Societies Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org
www.ctorchids.org 5 Mar. 2012
Around the Greenhouse -- Editor’s keikis
Letters to the editor are always welcome. Your feedback about any issue that is on
your mind will help us improve our Society, as well as the newsletter. Please write
to me at email@example.com or 38 Robinhood Rd., Danbury, CT 06811.
The deadline for submissions to the Apr. issue of the newsletter is Mar. 23rd
By coincidence, this month we have focused on Darwin’s famous orchid,
Angraecum sesquipedale. On page 9, Recording Secretary Carla Koch reports that at
our February meeting, speaker Thomas Mirenda talked about the unusual ways
some orchids are pollinated. One of the orchids he talked about was Angraecom
sesquipedale, which has a very long nectar spur that requires a specialized moth
with an equally long proboscus for pollination. On page 9, Larry Kuekes in his
monthly Letters from Hilo column also wrote about a recent book purchase he
made, which coincidentally happened to be Darwin’s The Various Contrivances By
Which Orchids Are Fertilized By Insects . In his book, Darwin famously theorizes that
Angraecum sesquipedale must have been pollinated by a special moth.
One of the hardest aspects of my job as editor is to report the loss of COS mem-
bers. A few weeks ago, we lost an old friend in Roger Vars. I got to know Roger just
a little at meetings o f the now defunct Fairfield County Orchid Association. He and
his wife Rosalie were quite active in that club and I always looked forward to Roger’s
stories, and the plants he would bring to the Show Table. Roger was also a long-time
member of COS but didn’t attend as many meetings in recent years due to the long
drive up from Easton, CT. We will miss Roger’s warm smile and orchid growing ex-
Don’t forget that your dues are due for 2012. Support
your society— your dues will keep these newsletters
coming. Your dues will keep the great speaker pro-
grams on track. Your dues will support our annual
show & sale. Your dues will keep a venerable, old or-
ganization running into the next century. We count on
you... don’t disappoint us. Please send in your dues,
www.ctorchids.org 6 Mar. 2012
March’s Featured Event
Bring your orchids for repotting.
Let the COS “Orchid Doctors” help you
with your repotting chores. This will be a
hands-on workshop where you will have the
opportunity to watch how repotting is done on
your own plants and ask questions each step
of the way.
There is a $5.00/plant supplies fee, which
covers the potting medium.
Please bring your own clean pots.
Other supplies such as potting medium, fertil-
izer, plant labels, sphagnum moss, etc. will be
available on the COS Sale Table. (No taxes
and no shipping & handling fees.)
Join us for an evening of camaraderie
www.ctorchids.org 7 Mar. 2012
When you receive this news letter another successful
winter show season will be over. To all members
who lent their blooming plants to help make our displays
beautiful and award winning, a hardy thank you. To all
members that helped with the various display activities
and to all of the ribbon and rosette winners,
Congratulations & well done!
We are now heading into the busy time of year participating in the different events
that COS has been invited to. The first being Escape to Spring at Van Wilgens Garden
Center, which is also our show location. We could use a little help on Friday, March 9
and Sunday, March 11 for the morning shift, 8 -11am. Please email Sam Hinckley at
firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com. Of course, we
would be happy to have you pitch in any time through out the weekend.
Saturday, March 24 is the Master Gardeners Symposium (check time) at the Man-
chester Community College. Judy Becker will be manning the COS information booth
and she would appreciate some help. If you have a few hours to give Judy a hand,
please send her an email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Our repotting workshop this month is just in time for potting season. If you have
plants that need attention, you’re not sure if they need potting or not sure what me-
dia to pot them in, we will have some plant Doctors to help you with advice. Bring
your clean pots and for $5 we will provide the correct potting material. The club ta-
ble will also be fully stocked with potting supplies. Bring your supply list or email me
email@example.com to make sure we have what you need.
Since we will not have a speaker selling plants, this is a great month to bring those
extra divisions you have been hanging on to and sell them to club members. We will
be doing the 80/20 split (80% for the owner 20% for the club) — everybody wins. And
you get more bench space!
Don’t forget that next month Harry from Andy’s Orchids will be our guest speaker for
www.ctorchids.org 8 Mar. 2012
February’s Meeting Minutes
COS MEETING 2/8/12
Our speaker was Thomas Mirenda, of AOS bulletin fame, who oversees the 8,000
orchid collection at the Smithsonian. His topic was “Mysteries of Orchid Pollina-
tion.” The word Orchid comes from the Greek orchis, or “testicle,” because of the
round twin roots of European orchid species. The medieval doctrine of similars thus
concluded that orchids were the equivalent of Viagra. Greek, Chinese, and Euro-
pean myths concur in this assessment!
At any rate, orchids make up 10 percent of all angiosperms, and new species are
discovered weekly! Their pollinators are generally
quite specific to each orchid, and
orchids evolved new and bizarre
ways of ensuring pollination. One
of the most famous examples of
specificity is Angraecum sesquiped-
ale, which has a very long nectar
spur. Darwin predicted, correctly,
that a moth would be found whose
tongue could reach all the way to
the nectar in the spur. Al-
Xanthopan morgani praedicta
though orchids do not have
The moth that pollinates An-
pollen, but the encapsulated graecum sesquipedale. Note
pollinia, they do supply in- that the moth’s name includes
sects with nectar, resins, the Latin word praedicta — “as
oils, and even fragrances, (Photo from Wikipedia: The
Photo: Angraecum.org which euglossine bees use to Free Encyclopedia)
attract mates. The bucket or-
chid, or Gongora, dumps bees into a pouch of floral liquid, before they crawl to
freedom, carrying the pollinia to the next flower. These odd orchids help to attract
pollinators to Brazil nut trees.
Other examples of unusual pollination abound. Weedy Epidendrums mimic the
desirable milkweeds, thus attracting butterflies. Some high-altitude orchids are
bird-pollinated, since insects are scarce there; they often are tubular, red, and nec-
tarless. Hummingbirds in the New World and Honey-creepers in the Old World are
attracted to these. The small Porroglossums and our native Calopogon have
www.ctorchids.org 9 Mar. 2012
hinged lips which snap shut and trap pollinators. Draculas have a yeasty scent like
a mushroom, and Paphs mimic overripe fruit, attracting pollinators.
One of the most odd and impressive methods of
pollination is delicately referred to as pseudocopu-
lation. The floral fragrance, inner structures and
appearance of species such as Ophrys and the tiny
Lepanthes mimic female insects, attracting males
with predictable results. Abundant flowers of yellow
Oncidiums are attacked by swarms of bees (pseudo-
antagonism.) Strangest of all is the underground
Rhizanthella gardneri of Australia, which may be
pollinated by fungus
gnats or termites. It
uniquely produces ber-
ries, consumed by ban-
dicoots. Meanwhile, the pollinator of the familiar
Psychopsis, or butterfly orchid, has never been dis-
~ Carla Koch
February Show Table
Due to the late hour last month, the Show Table was not reviewed. A big thank
you to everyone who brought their beautiful ,blooming beauties to the table, any-
way. We hope to be able to schedule our evening a little better next month so
that there will be plenty of time to review and appreciate each, and every, orchid
that is presented on the table.
www.ctorchids.org 10 Mar. 2012
News, Notes & Happenings
Roger Vars In Memoriam
It was with deep sadness that we recently learned
that our long-time member Roger Vars has passed.
Roger was an avid orchid grower, a member of COS for decades and also a found-
ing member of the now defunct Fairfield County Orchid Association.
In recent months we didn’t often see Roger and his lovely wife Rosalie at many
meetings but when he did attend he always lit up the room with his huge smile
and wonderful jokes. Roger was an excellent, experienced orchid grower and usu-
ally brought an outstanding orchid or two to the Show Table just to show the rest
of us how it should be done.
Roger will be sorely missed and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife
Rosalie and his family. Please contact your editor at firstname.lastname@example.org if
you would like the address to send a card or note of condolence to Roger’s family.
Last chance to renew your dues If you
haven’t sent in your dues, please take a moment to do it now.
April 1st is the cut-off date. You don’t want to miss out on any
newletters and meeting announcements. There is a tear-off
membership form at the back of the newsletter for your con-
Andy’s Orchids will be here in April—pre-order your
plants now Harry Phillips of Andy’s Orchids, Encinitas, CA will be
returning to speak at COS at our April, 11, 2012 monthly meeting at the
Farmington Senior Center. Please visit Andy’s website at www.andysorchids.com
to preorder any of their outstanding orchids for delivery to the meeting. If you’ve
never visited Andy’s website, you’re in for a treat. One of the special features of
this orchid supplier is their famous “Orchids on a Stick”. Andy believes you can
grow almost any orchid mounted! Of course, they have plenty of potted orchids
to choose from as well.
www.ctorchids.org 11 Mar. 2012
The International Shore Orchid Festival
June 8, 9&10, 2012
Silva Orchids, Neptune, NJ
We have received the following letter and invitation from Joe Silva of Silva Or-
Dear Society Members:
We are pleased to announce the International Shore Orchid Festival to
be held June 8, 9 & 10, 2012. The event will be hosted by Silva Orchids in Nep-
tune, New Jersey. We have added some great new vendors, and these include
Seed Engel from Japan, Ten Shin Orchids from Taiwan, Black Jungle Terrarium
Supply from Massachusetts and new vendors may still be added to the event.
We are also pleased to welcome back our friend Munekazu Ejiri of Suwada Or-
chids, Japan. We are very excited by the new roster of vendors and are looking
forward to this year’s event. With this in mind, we would like to entice many
societies to join us, and fuel prices being what they are we would like to suggest
bus or van groups as a great way to travel. We are offering a $5.00 coupon to
anyone who travels by bus or van (groups of 10 or more people). Also, we will
provide each bus with a package of seedling orchids (2” or 3” pots of nice plants)
to be raffled off on your ride home. We would like to hear from your group or
society in order to tailor a lecture series to your interests on your particular day
at the “Shore Fest”. If you don’t think your society would attract enough mem-
bers to sign up, let us know and we may be able to have the bus make additional
stops, if convenient enough, to add members from other societies. Vendors love
bus groups as it boosts excitement and makes the event more fun. Please bring
this up at your next meeting, as we want to have plenty of time to figure out the
logistics of this idea. For example, at some point if your society is interested in a
bus group, we would need to know the number of people on your bus so we
would have the right amount of coupons available.
Lc. Drumbeat ‘Heritage’ HCC/AOS
(Bonanza x C. Horace)
Grower: Sharon SmithDelisle
Photo: Sharon SmithDelisle
www.ctorchids.org 12 Mar. 2012
Out Reach Programs
New Hampshire Orchid Show, February 11 - 12, 2012
Many thanks to Dave Tognalli for these photos of the COS display at the
New Hampshire Orchid Show. We garnered several ribbons at the show:
Dave Tognalli was awarded a rosette for his Dendrobium sanderae and
Sandy Myhalik also was awarded a rosette for one of her Phalaenopsis.
COS received a Third Place ribbon for overall display and a Second Place
ribbon for a display that most closely related to the show’s theme. Many
thanks to Ginna Plude, Sandy Myhalik and Dave Tognalli for loaning their
beautiful plants; and a special thanks to Dave for setting up and taking
down the display.
www.ctorchids.org 13 Mar. 2012
The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc. “The Fabu-
lous Fifties” Flower Show, Feb. 23-26,2012
We are pleased to report that the COS display at The Federated Garden Clubs of
Connecticut flower show won a Third Place Ribbon. Thank you to all the members
who loaned plants for the display.
Amherst Orchid Society Show & Sale, Feb. 25 & 26, 2012
Due to a scheduling conflict with the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show in
Hartford that same weekend, COS almost didn’t participate in the Amherst event.
However, Sandy Myhalik stepped to the plate and notified President Cheryl Mizak
that she was willing to spearhead a team so that COS would be represented at the
show — and wow, did we ever make a showing! Unfortunately, there are no
photos of our display, but Sandy reported the following awards:
Rosette for Best Large Specimen: A Dendrobium loaned by Belle Ribbicoff.
Rosette for Best Dendrobium: Belle’s Dendrobium also won this award.
Third Place Ribbon: For the overall COS display
13 Blue Ribbons, 7 Red Ribbons and 6 Yellow Ribbons were awarded for other
plants in our display.
Many thanks to Sandy and her husband Steve for their hard work making such a
successful showing at what was really the eleventh hour. Their generous and
enthusastic donation of their time and talent is greatly appreciated.
Other Area Events COS also participated in two other shows in February:
The Deep Cut Orchid Society Show & Sale, Feb. 10, 11 & 12, 2012. Cheryl Mizak
drove down to NJ to set up and take down our display for this event. The
Connecticut Flower & Garden Show, Hartford, CT, Feb. 23—26, 2012. The COS Epi
Tree was used in our display at this event. Cheryl Mizak did the set-up and take
down for this event. Jenny Lane, Carla Koch, Christine Wall, Dottie Kern, and Sam
Hinckley manned our booth and helped spread the good word about membership in
COS. XXXX was the winner of the raffle orchid.
Van Wilgen’s Garden Center– Escape to Spring, March 9—11,
2012 The COS Epi Tree also particpated in this event. Sharon SmithDelisle,
her husband Richard, and Cheryl Mizak set
up our display. There were plants for sale
and a raffle drawing at this event. Judy
Becker, Ben Esselink, Debbie Landry, Sam
Hinckley, Ginna Plude, Martha Shea, Dottie
Kern, Hedy Korst, Joyce & Morgan Daniels,
and Rosemary Call all helped man the booth
over the long weekend. In the photo
on the left, Judy Becker (left) and
Sharon SmithDelisle pose in front of the COS Epi Tree.
www.ctorchids.org 14 Mar. 2012
Hollandia Garden Center Spring Event, March 24 & 25 and
March 31 & April 1, 2012 Sharon SmithDelisle and Cheryl Mizak will
particpate in Hollandia Garden Center’s annual spring event in Bethel. Sharon will
conduct a general, question & answer type forum Saturday, March 24th and Cheryl
will conduct a repotting demonstartion on Saturday, March 31st.
take a moment,
oh, let’s converse;
stop and enjoy
some orchid verse.
(Poetry by Eileen M. Hector. Photo by Julio Hector.
Reprinted from the AOS magazine Orchids, Dec. 2011, pg. 768 ~ Parting Shot)
www.ctorchids.org 15 Mar. 2012
Letters from Hilo
Editor’s Note: After dedicating many decades of his life volunteering for COS, honorary life member
Larry Kuekes finally realized one of his dreams when he retired and moved to Hilo, Hawaii. Larry is the
author of the Beginner’s Column which you may have seen in this newsletter in the past. Larry was also
the previous newsletter editor for many years. With more time on his hands these days, Larry writes
about his adventures with warm weather orchid growing in Hawaii.
Dear COS Friends,
One of the drawbacks of living on an island is that there are some things you just
can't get locally. Mostly, I can't complain. Hilo has a mall with a Sears and a
Macy's, and there are plenty of other stores. But I was disappointed when the
local Borders went out of business. It was the only bookstore in town (there are a
couple of used bookstores, but they're not the same).
That's where the Internet comes in handy. Amazon is a lifesaver for me. My most
recent purchase from Amazon was The Various Contrivances By Which Orchids
Are Fertilized By Insects, by Charles Darwin. It's pretty technical and not exactly
light reading. But it's a classic of orchid literature, and for years it's been on my
list to acquire.
Many of you have heard how Darwin predicted the existence of a moth that could
pollinate Angraecum sesquipedale. Here are Darwin's own words:
The Angraecum sesquipedale, of which the large six-rayed flowers, like
stars formed out of snow-white wax, have excited the admiration of trav-
elers in Madagascar, must not be passed over. A green, whip-like nectary
of astonishing length hangs down beneath the labellum. In several flow-
ers sent me by Mr. Bateman I found the nectaries eleven and a half
inches long, with only the lower inch and a half filled with nectar. What
can be the use, it may be asked, of a nectary of such disproportionate
length? . . . In Madagascar there must be moths with proboscides capable
of extension to a length of between ten and eleven inches! This belief of
mine has been ridiculed by some entomologists . . .
He goes on to explain how the moth and the orchid must have co-evolved. The
pollinia and stigma in this species are positioned so that the orchid will only be
pollinated if the moth pushes its head into the flower. If the spurs (nectaries) of
some plants of the species are shorter and some are longer, a long-tongued
www.ctorchids.org 16 ` Mar. 2012
moth can drink the nectar from the short spurs without its head touching the flower,
so those plants will not be pollinated. Only the ones with longer spurs will be
pollinated and set seed. Likewise, if some moths have shorter tongues (proboscides)
and some longer, the ones with shorter tongues won't be able to reach the nectar,
so the longer-tongued moths will more successfully survive and reproduce. As Dar-
Thus it would appear that there has been a race in gaining length between
the nectary of the Angraecum and the proboscis of certain moths . . .
Darwin didn't just write the book because he was interested in orchids. Orchid polli-
nation provided a huge set of examples of flower structure which only made sense in
the light of the theory of evolution. By the way, the pollinating moth with a ten-inch
tongue was found in 1903, though Darwin didn't live to see it.
After moving to Hilo I bought an Angraecum sesquipedale to add to my warm-
growing collection. (You can grow it in Connecticut, too. I saw one in bloom in the
late Dr. Ben Berliner's intermediate greenhouse.) Just a few days ago I noticed what
looks like the beginning of a flower spike on mine. I can't wait to see the flowers
(and measure them). Sesquipedale is Latin for one-and-a-half feet, because the
flower is supposed to be a foot and a half long from the top petal to the bottom of
the nectar spur!
Just as Darwin predicted, here is a photo of the moth Xanthopan
morgani praedicta pollinating the long, long spur of A. sesquiped-
ale. What a shot! If only Darwin had lived to see that his prediction
www.ctorchids.org 17 Mar. 2012
News from the Catts hiding in the stacks
The library has just received a complimentary copy of Ken Cam-
eron’s new book Vanilla Orchids: Natural History and
Cultivation from the Timber Press, Inc. This book provides an
excellent, in-depth look at the only orchid of agricultural value.
Vanilla is a very popular natural product which is used not only
for baking but also found in ice cream, many baked
goods; anything that has chocolate in it , but also in
other such diverse items as scented candles, house-
hold cleaners, fabric softners, lotions, soaps and
perfumes. The production of vanilla beans is
of huge economic importance.
The book has several detailed chapters about the
vanilla plant structure, species and hybrids. There
are chapters on vanilla cultivation, pollination, har-
vesting and processing. In addition, there are 63
pages of glossy, full-color photographs showing various
flowering vanilla species, vanilla production and sam-
ples of vanilla products. I especially enjoyed an old historical photo of laborers
harvesting and curing the vanilla beans — a very labor intensive production.
Flowering the vanilla orchid is very challenging even to the most experienced
grower. But the plant is an interesting climber that many orchid growers enjoy just
for its unusual character. However, focused as we are on growing it makes it easy
for us to overlook the other important aspects of this curious orchid. Cameron’s
book is an easy read and offers the opportunity to really get to know all about the
vanilla plant. If you would like to borrow this book from the COS library, please
contact librarian Sharon SmithDelisle at email@example.com.
“ What frightful trouble you have taken about Vanilla:
you really must not take an atom more; for the orchids
are more play than real work.”
to Sir Joseph Hooker
August 30, 1861
Quote of the Month
(quote taken from Vanilla Orchids: Natural History and Cultivation)
www.ctorchids.org 18 Mar. 2012
March: The Month of Awakening
By Thomas Mirenda
Encouraging New Growth with a Change in Watering Habits
It’s been an anomalous winter: deep freezes on the west coast and barely a
flurry in the mid Atlantic . A perennial topic for polite conversation, everyone has
opinions regarding the weather, especially when it misbehaves. El Niño, La Niña,
global warming, scalar electromagnetic manipulations by nefarious underworld
figures, etc., yet none of these can adequately explain the intricacies and vagaries
of our weather, certainly not why it sometimes rains fishes (lluvia de pesce) in
Honduras a couple times each year. No matter how unusual our weather has
been this year, you’ve got to continually marvel at the earth’s ability to renew
itself. Despite the vicissitudes of climate, snowdrops and crocuses still manage to
emerage as expected.
This month the landscape reawakens. However delicately, it’s unmistakable.
And as the days lengthen and brighten, subtle evidence of that awakening will
soon appear in your orchid collection. Now is the time to keep a close watch on
your dormant plants for renewed growth, and to take appropriate action. Just be
sure you don’t jump the gun. It is still possible to kill or damage plants by working
with or overwatering those that are still sleeping.
Grooming With so many orchids in full bloom, your’re going to want
to show them off. Happily, there are many orchid shows and society meetings this
month for you to proudly display your progeny. But like any children, you
wouldn’t let them leave the house unless they were clean. To have your orchids
make the best possible impression, take some time to remove water spots or
residue from the leaves. This can be difficult. There are many leaf-shine products
available but most orchid plants look too glossy (I once was almost given, jestingly
I’m sure, a JC award for exceptionally shiny leaves when I used such a product).
Swabbing leaves with solutions of whole milk gives orchid plants a natural shine.
Others have found success using small amounts of olive oil and dish soap mixed in
water. For really tough stains, a 1:10 vinegar to water solution will often dissolve
residues from fertilizer or hard water.
Water and fertilizer This must be administered with
the utmost care in March. Phalaenopsis and cymbidiums are mostly still blooming
but plants that have been utilized for shows or brought into the house to enjoy
may be looking ragged. If they’ve been in less-than-ideal conditions, their
metabolism may be somewhat compromised. When this is the case, try to
www.ctorchids.org 19 Mar. 2012
gradually wean and acc limate plants back to the more robust watering and light con-
ditions of your greenhouse or growing area. Beware of resuming watering plants that
are still dormant. Look for new growths and roots on cattleyas, oncidiums and den-
drobiums but don’t go crazy with watering yet. Roots elongate into the mix by
searching for water; if it’s too plentiful it can actually inhibit root growth. Heavy wa-
tering becomes more important once the roots are more developed and filling the
pot. Catasetums, cycnoches and other deciduous orchids may be starting new
growths too but it is too early to start watering them. For best results, hold off until
next month, if you can. Personally, I find leaving such plants dry in March quite diffi-
cult, but it is better for them.
Light and air movement Sure, it’s quite bleak out to-
day, but March is a moody month, and it could be blazingly sunny tomorrow. It’s
time to think about shade again, as snow or intense weather have likely removed
whatever cover was there from last year. Apply greenhouse shading compound to
areas where lower-light plants are growing and put shade cloth directly overhead of
phalaenopsis and other orchids requiring shade, particularly if they have been dis-
played in dark rooms and are acclimated to low light conditions. After being dis-
played, it is important to slowly acclimate plants back to their peak environmental
Repotting Be alert for orchids that are developing new green-tipped
roots. You don’t want them to grow to more than 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) in length
before repotting, especially rambling plants that have growths that extend beyond
the pot’s rim, as is so common with cattleys and laelias. Catching these plants at just
the right time when they’re prime for repotting is dependent on your observational
(Thomas Mirenda is the orchid collection specialist at the Smithsonian Institution.
Tom invites you to contact him via his e-mail: MirendaT@si.edu. This article was
reprinted form The American Orchid Society’s March 2007 edition of Orchids,
pg. 176, Orchid Checklist. Photo taken from Feb. 2008 edition of Orchids, pho-
Lc. Gold Digger ‘Fuchs Mandarin’
(Lc. Red Gold x C. Warpaint)
Grower: Sharon SmithDelisle
Photo: Sharon SmithDelisle
www.ctorchids.org 20 Mar. 2012
Hawaii’s Rarest Native Orchid
and the Battle to Save it from Extinction
“Hawaii has the dubious distinction of
being the Endangered Species Capital of
the World” (Nellie Sugii, 2011). There
are only three orchid species endemic
to the Hawaiian archipelago. Peristylus
holochila is the most endangered. Until
just recently, only 33 individuals of this
terrestrial orchid were known to still
exist in the wild. In the photo on the
left, you might think this team of folks are getting ready to release reha-
bilitated birds or small mammals back into the wild — oh, no. They are
getting ready to reintroduce seedlings of the extremely endangered
Peristylus holochila into the Alakai Swamp on Kauai, Hawaii. It has taken
more than 30 years to find a way to grow those precious seedlings. There
were plenty of seeds in stor- age as researchers had
begun collecting the seed as soon as it was real-
ized that the orchid was becoming endan-
gered. The problem lay in finding the correct
fungus to help initiate ger- mination. Terrestrial
orchids have a unique rela- tionship with my-
corrhizal fungi, which are required in order for
the seed to germinate. It took 30 years of re-
search and trail & error to find the right asymbi-
otic technique. Most of the hard work was done at
Illinois College and took eight years to grow
the seedlings invitro with- out fungus to the leaf-
bearing stage. Under the US Endangered Spe-
cies Act, 85 laboratory- Peristylus holochila grown orchid seedlings
had special permission to be brought into Hawaii,
which has rules prohibiting bringing live plants and soil from the mainland
into Hawaii. How ironic that an orchid endemic to Hawaii needed special
permission to come back home to Hawaii.
The wire cages seen in the photo were necessary to keep deer from eat-
ing the little plants. Eight of the 85 seedling orchids were planted in
March, 2011 at the swamp. As of Feb. 2012, six of the eight plants have
survived and are growing. While the odds are slim, there are high hopes
for their continued success. (Information obtained from the AOS magazine Orchids,
Feb. 2012, pg.s. 94-99)
www.ctorchids.org 21 Mar. 2012
A Touch of Class ~ Beautiful Art from the Past
(Reprinted from the American Orchid Society magazine Orchids, 2-2008)
www.ctorchids.org 22 Mar. 2012
Happiness is puttering around with our “little pretties’ (as Steve Frowine likes to call
them) and anticipating the arrival of those beautiful flowers. As our orchids grow
and thrive so should our experience and knowledge about them. There is a tremen-
dous amount of information that is important for understanding orchid culture and
for growing better orchids. The goal of this column is to expand your general knowl-
edge about the world of orchids and help you sound like a pro when you are talking
to your fellow COS orchid growers. — Editor Sharon SmithDelisle
Beginners Start Here By Ken Slump
Orchid Speak 101
A 12-Step Plan for Becoming a Successful Orchid Grower
(Presented here as a two-part series)
If your are new to the orchid and perhaps feel you are not enjoying the
success with your plants that you had hoped for, read through theses sug-
gestions and see if you can find an idea or two that will help you turn your
hobby in the right direction.
1. Start accumulating an orchid library. If you do not already own
some, find books on growing orchids. Purchase them and read them. You
can shop for new titles at a local bookstore or on line at www.aos.org, the
American orchid Society’s site that offers links to Amazon.com and Orchids
The best book choices for beginners are often the comparatively inexpensive
paperback volumes that are frequently part of a series produced by garden
supply manufacturers. You are looking for books that will introduce you to
the major groups of orchids, and briefly explain the general growing condi-
tions that they need to be successfully cultivated in a home environment or
hobby greenhouse. Such books usually include chapters explaining how dif-
ferent types of orchid plants grow, how and when to repot them, and some
basic information about watering, fertilization and pest control.
Do not overlook a visit to your nearest local used book store as well. Or visit
used-book shops on line and travel afar from the comfort of your own home.
(Don’t forget the COS library, which also holds many books useful to the be-
ginner grower. Contact librarian Sharon SmithDelisle
(firstname.lastname@example.org) to inquire about books suitable for your interests—
editor) Many useful books written on orchid growing in recent decades are
now out of print. The techniques for growing orchids have not changed
much of late. Nomenclature, however, has changed. There may be some
unfamiliar and outdated plant names encountered in some of the older ti-
tles, particularly if you are enough of an orchid newcomer to be familiar only
with the orchid nomenclature of the last couple of years. Still, many of these
books contain much valuable information, and some of them are, to me,
www.ctorchids.org 23 Mar. 2012
It is possible that books have become obsolete for some who may prefer to
gather their information via the information super highway known as the Inter-
net. I am sure that can work just as well, but I wonder if hopping between Web
sites and jumping in and out of various chat rooms and forums provides the
clarity and focuses point of view that a good author or editor can lend to a well-
written book, especially if you are a beginner.
2. Establish a good and sensible basic cultural regime for your or-
chids. By reading and gathering information, you should gain an appreciation
for the environment necessary to grow orchids and should determine how you
will supply those conditions for your plants.
I would recommend that you make a decision about the growing medium you
intend to use for your plants. Most growers favor some type of mix. The best
growing medium for you will depend to a large extent on your environment for
growing orchids. The type of pot you use, how you care for your plants, and
even the area of the country in which you live also affect which type of growing
mix, and what ratio of ingredients is best for you.
Start with a basic or standard medium that can often be purchased premixed.
( You can purchase basic, premixed medium from the supply table at the COS
monthly meeting—no sales tax and no shipping costs.—editor) Vary it only as
you add orchids with special growing requirements or determine a problem
with your plants that you feel certain is related to the conditions in the root
When getting started, it is a good idea to make a schedule for routine tasks such
as watering and fertilizing. Good growers eventually come to appreciate when
it is time to give their plants an extra watering or skip a day or two, but in the
early stages, you will probably avoid disasters associated with over-watering if
you stick to the calendar. At the risk of overgeneralization , I would suggest that
watering twice a week is sufficient.
3. Check your plants frequently. If you are like most who are bitten by
the orchid bug, you will find yourself spending time with your plants daily. This
is a good habit to develop. Resist the temptation to water your plants on your
daily inspections or you will soon be looking forward to buying new plants. In-
stead, take time to carefully look over the plants and you will learn much from
them. You will begin to appreciate when the plants are in active growth and
when they are resting. You will learn to marvel at the development of orchid
roots and the formation of new leads, leaves and flowers.
Keep a vigilant eye out for signs of pests and disease. Be sure to periodically
examine the underside of foliage and turn plants to examine the parts that are
turned form your view — that is where the pests always seem to hide. Learn to
www.ctorchids.org 24 Mar. 2012
recognize the signs of a plant under stress and try to determine how to modify the
environment to a alleviate that stress. At the same time, appreciate which of your
plants are thriving, and consider why they are doing well.
4. Do not overcrowd your collection of orchid plants. Crowded plants
suffer for sufficient light and the good air movement that produces healthy orchid
plants. They are more prone to diseases and pest problems spread more
quickly among them. I am not saying that your plants should never touch, but you
should be able to recognize each of your orchid plants as an individual when you
look upon them. Plants with sufficient space around them are not only healthier,
but are also easier to examine and maintain.
5. Avoid acquiring too many different types of orchids too quickly. The
orchid family is a huge one, unquestionably with something for everyone. When
starting out , stick with some of the more popular and basic types. These are the
ones you will find discussed in your beginner orchid books. After you gain success
with those you can branch out into some of the more unusual and esoteric types.
For the first year or two, it is a good idea to learn to grow the popular sorts and
thus gain an appreciation for what might be called “basic orchid culture”.
6. Let your orchid success lead you to new orchid acquisitions. As your
experience with orchids accumulates, you will likely observe that some plants in
your collection are out-performing others. Each grower seems to have a knack for
cultivating certain kinds of orchids. When you discover yours, go with it. Seek addi-
tional orchid species or hybrids of the same or similar type. You may want to re-
search a hybrid orchid’s lineage and look to its parents or descendents for compati-
ble plants. Although this approach to building a successful collection may seem
simple and obvious, far too many doggedly insist on attempting to grow orchids
that do not succeed for them and eventually reach the point of being sufficiently
discouraged to give up the hobby entirely. (To be continued next month)
This article reprinted from the American Orchid Society magazine Orchids, March 2007, pg. 178-180
Minnesotan's are so
proud of their national
state flower, the Cypri-
pedium reginae that
not only was it put on a
postage stamp but it
also even appears on
manhole covers in Min-
neapolis! (As reported in Photo of Minnesota postage
Orchid Digest, Jan/Feb/Mar stamp:
Cypripedium reginae www.plantstamps.com
2012, vol. 76-1)
www.ctorchids.org 25 Mar. 2012
Water Use the best possible water you can on your orchids. There are
many additives in city water such as fluoride and chlorine. These are phytotoxic
(meaning poisonous to plants) and will lead to poor growth and leaf spotting on
young shoots. Many growers collect rain water for use on their orchids. Your
editor keeps 650+ gallons of rain water on-hand. Well water should be tested for
the presence of toxins.
Flowers Wondering when your Phalaenopsis should bloom again?
Check where the last flower spike emerged. There have to be at least two or
three more leaves matured above the leaf where the last node came out of.
Then, if you can lower the plant’s temperature below 77 degrees for several
weeks , you may be able to force it into spike.
From the Archives
the way we were….
Once every decade or so, a speaker comes around the circuit from overseas. For
the February meeting in 1985, Brain Rittenhausen of Burnham Nursery of Devon,
England gave a presentation about raising and hybridizing Odontoglossums in
England. Brian and his wife Wilma are co-authors of numerous books about
In February, 2003, Heinrich Bayrle of Bavaria, Germany was our guest speaker.
He talked about growing Mediterranean and tropical terrestrial orchids and gave
a stunning slide show presentation of unusual terrestrial orchids.
Well, next year (2013) will be another decade since we’ve had an overseas
speaker, so maybe it’s time to see if we can invite an authority for the February,
2013 meeting. We’ve heard speakers from England and Germany, so perhaps we
should try for an Asian speaker this time. Taiwan is famous for its Phalaenopsis
growers so maybe a speaker from the Republic of China could be invited to visit
www.ctorchids.org 26 Mar. 2012
Trivia Fun Nickname nonsense, continued
Last May in the Trivia Fun Column readers were challenged
to match an orchid’s nickname with its botanical name. Well, we’ve found a few
more nicknames we thought you’d enjoy this month:
White Nun Orchid Wild Banana Orchid Wedding Orchid
Lycaste virginalis Myrmecophila thomsoniana Cattleya Canhamiana
National flower of Guatemala National flower of Cayman Islands (C. mossiae X Lc. Purpurata)
(Photo: flickr.com) (Photo: Orchid Digest 1st qtr. 2012) (Photo: flickr.com)
Solution to the
February Crossword Puzzle Challenge
www.ctorchids.org 27 Mar. 2012
Need some supplies for repotting? As a service to our members, COS now
offers a wide range of supplies at the Sale Table. Supplies may be ordered in
advance, but must be picked up at a monthly meeting. Prices are only slightly
above wholesale, no taxes and no shipping fees—what a deal!
COS Potting Supplies Price List
Basket –4” square slat w/hanger $3.00/ea.
Charcoal chips (4 scoops/bag) $2.00/bag
Coconut Husk (medium size chips) ½ cu. Ft. $10.00/bag
Coco Tek Coir 150 g. bag $5.00/bag
Dyna-grow fertilizer Grow 8 oz. $7.00/ea
Dyna-grow fertilizer Bloom 8 oz. $7.00/ea.
Grow More Orchids Food 1.25 lb. $6.00/ea.
Hydro rocks (one gallon bag) $3.00/bag
Mesquite slabs for mounting orchids $1.00 /ea.
Orange Guard Insect Spray 32 fl. oz. $9.00/bottle
Orchid Bark mix (Cattleya/Dendrobium/Oncidium) 2 gal. $5.00/bag
Orchid Bark mix(Cymbidium/Phalaenopsis) 2 gal. $6.00/bag
Orchid Bark—small 2 cu. ft. $25.00/bag
Orchid Bark – medium 2 cu. ft. $25.00/bag
Orchid Bark mix (cattleya/Dendrobium/ Oncidium) 1 cu.ft. $20.00/bag
Orchid Bark mix (Cymbidium/Phalaenopsis) 1 cu. ft. $22.00/bag
Physan 20 plant insecticide 8 fl.oz. $10.00/ea.
Plant labels (set of 25 yellow or white) $ 3.00/set
Pots – round, green, plastic 4 ½ “ (set of 10) $ 4.00/ set
Pro-Teckt plant fertilizer 8 oz. $ 7.00/ea.
Rhizome clips—large $ 0.50/ea.
Rhizome clips – small $ 0. 25/ea
Shagnum moss – ¼ lb. block $ 8.00/ea.
Superthrive Vitamins-hormones ½ fl. oz.bottle $ 3.00/ea.
Thermometer – digital min/max. $22.00/ea.
Tree Fern (medium) ½ cu. ft. $ 3.00/bag
Water breakers $ 5.00/ ea.
How we measured quantities:
¼ cubic foot mix or bark will fill approximately: (15) 4” pots
(8) 5” pots
(5) 6” pots
Contact Cheryl Mizak at (203) 264-6096 to preorder. (3) 7” pots
(2) 8” pots
www.ctorchids.org 28 Mar. 2012
Directions to Cheshire Senior Center
240 Maple Ave., Cheshire, CT
From New Haven:
Take I-91 North to Exit 10/Route 40
Follow Route 40 to the last exit for Mount Carmel/Cheshire.
Turn right onto Route 10 North, which is Whitney Ave.
Continue to the traffic light at intersection of Route 10 and Routes 68/70
Turn left onto Main St., which runs into Maple Ave. at the first traffic light.
Proceed straight ahead. On the right is # 240, the Cheshire Senior Center,
which is just after The Victorian House Restaurant.
Take I-84 East to Exit 26 (Cheshire/ Route 70)
The exit ramp automatically forces you to go right and follow Route 70.
At the end of Route 70, you will be facing the Cheshire Post Office.
At the traffic light turn left onto Maple Avenue.
The Cheshire Senior Center is # 240 on the right just after The Victorian
From Hartford via I-91:
Take I-91 South to Exit 18 (Route 691 for Meriden/Waterbury).
From Route 691 take Exit 3.
Turn left at the traffic light onto Route 10 South.
Proceed through 7 traffic lights.
At the 8th traffic light bear right onto Maple Avenue.
The Cheshire Senior Center is #240 on the left after the Cheshire Fire De-
From Hartford via I-84:
Take I-84 West to exit 27 and onto Route 691 (Meriden).
From Route 691 take exit 3.
Turn right at the traffic light onto Route 10 South.
Proceed through six traffic lights.
At the 7th traffic light bear right onto Maple Ave.
The Cheshire Senior Center, #240 is on the left after the Cheshire Fire De-
www.ctorchids.org 29 Mar. 2012
Connecticut Orchid Society Membership Application
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Complete the information required above.
Tear this form out of the newsletter.
Fold in half.
Insert your check payable to : “Connecticut Orchid Society”, for
Tape on three sides.
Mail to COS (Address is printed on the back of this form) .
Membership includes the monthly COS newsletter, monthly meetings
Sept. through June with a featured speaker or educational activity, a vote
at the annual election of the Board of Directors, opportunities to volun-
teer for many exciting orchid related activities, and COS sponsored field
trips, clinics & shows. Join us!! You’ll be glad you did.
www.ctorchids.org 30 Mar. 2012
Connecticut Orchid Society, Inc.
c/o Mary Rampone, Membership Chair
53 Barbara Lane
Woodbury, CT 06798