Kitchen Ready Vanilla

No serious discussion of orchids would be complete without a recipe on how to make vanilla extract.

The popular flavoring comes from the dried seed pods (commonly called beans) of a rather unusual genus of orchid called vanilla, that grows like a vine and whose flowers are both infrequent and short-lived.

Winter Rules for Orchids

People aren’t the only ones who suffer during the winter. House plants do, too.

Tropical orchids are especially challenged when temperatures fall below freezing, heaters take all the moisture out of the air, and the sun barely clears the horizon. These conditions are never found in the rainforest.

How to Build an Orchid Lath House

One of the secrets to cultivating orchids successfully in this part of the country is to put the plants outside for the summer. Night temperatures usually don't fall below 60 degrees F during the months of June, July, and August and the humidity is high. Epiphytes thrive in these rainforest-like conditions. What confounds hobbyists, however, is how to provide proper light levels.

Remaking Old Hybrids

Hobbyists who are keen on orchid history find themselves yearning for the early hybrids which filled the pages of The American Orchid Society and The Royal Horticultural Society magazines long ago. The story lines are captivating: a plant explorer returning from the Amazon with a never been seen species, a breeder who has paid a month’s salary to obtain a prized stud plant, a grower who has developed a breakthrough technique that could revolutionize the industry.

Summer Spiders: Brassias Now in Bloom

Summertime welcomes one of the most unusual of all the epiphytic genera – Brassias - affectionately known as ‘spider orchids’. The arachnid nickname is well-suited because the blossoms look like they could start crawling at any moment. There are five very long spidery legs (three sepals and two petals) which can reach 6” or more on some varieties.


Slugs: Orchid Enemy #1

Slugs. We all have them. In the garden, on the steps, crawling up the glass. Big ones. Little ones. With and without spiral shells.

No orchid pests are more destructive. They are non-discriminating in their eating habits – devouring flowers, buds, leaves, and roots. Mature plants are set back by years and seedlings often succumb.

Spiking Phalaenopsis

Ask ten successful growers how they care for their orchids and you will get ten different answers. One technique that everyone can agree on, however, is how to bloom their phalaenopsis.

Surprisingly, the average consumer is not generally aware of this ‘secret.’ Plant care tags describe the culture necessary to keep the plant alive but often fail to mention what is required for re-blooming. Maybe that’s because marketers don’t want their clients to know this critical information – preferring, instead, to sell them more plants next year.


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