Orchid Societies

Are there any orchid clubs in the area and where do they meet? Rebecca A.
Richmond has such a large interest in these exotic plants that it proudly supports two organizations that are devoted entirely to orchids.
The Virginia Orchid Society (VOS), which has been in existence for over 50 years, meets at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden on the third Sunday of each month. The Richmond Orchid Alliance (ROA) is an enthusiastic upstart group that meets at the Science Museum of Virginia on the second Sunday of each month. Both clubs have about 75 members and offer expert speakers, competitive  show tables, and field trips to local nurseries. 
In a few weeks, the ROA will host an orchid show at the Science Museum that is expected to be very well attended. There will be hundreds, if not  thousands, of orchids on display of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Specimens, miniatures, fragrant plants, as well as some of the most unusual types in existence. Flowers that don’t even look like flowers (or real for that matter).
The public is invited to see these amazing sights and to take pictures if so inclined. There are many vendors selling orchids and my father will be there signing copies of his new orchid book. In June, the VOS will be hosting a similar event. More on that later. There is certainly no shortage of orchid interest here in Richmond.

I just purchased several Phalaenopsis and was told to use 3 ice cubes in each plant twice a week. Your website says no. Who is correct? Kae E.
I can’t tell you how many dead or dying plants have been brought in for us to diagnose - looking extremely dehydrated, only to find out that the watering method used was ice cubes.
Sure, the process of watering orchids can get laborious - physically carrying each plant to the sink, running water through it, waiting for it to drain, then carrying it back - A process taking 2 - 3 minutes per pot. What if the collection comprised 10, 100, or 1,000 plants?
Still, shortcuts don’t always work and, though well intended, the ice cube method is fraught with problems. Orchids need a thorough drenching, not a trickle, and all their roots must get wet, not just a few. Also, the last thing that ‘tropical’ plants want is ice water dripping on their roots. It only makes sense.

The roots of my Vanda are so long that they are touching the ground but I was told that they shouldn’t be cut. What to do? Pauline C.
One of the alluring traits of the Vanda orchid family is their propensity to grow roots so long that they literally touch the ground. In the jungle treetops, this distance could reach a hundred feet or more.
A quaint living room setting, however, might not be as accommodating for such a display. The watering regime alone would be daunting in that this type of orchid likes the roots sprayed once or twice…….DAILY. It is, therefore, not surprising that this high maintenance orchid is not a popular choice in cooler parts of the country where it has to live inside a house for part of the year. South Florida, no problem.
As tempting as it is to cut off the roots, this action will not be well received and the orchid may refuse to ever bloom again out of sheer protest. Or it may just die.
A better solution would be to thoroughly wet the roots for a few minutes until they are malleable then curl them around and around the container. If nothing else, it will make for a conversation piece.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006 - 18:15