orchids

Cattleya skinneri

Question

I am a native of Costa Rica and when I moved to the United States seven years ago, I brought a test tube baby of our National Flower, Cattleya skinneri. Since then, I have nursed the plant along and the pseudo-bulbs are now 3” tall. I have been fearful to put it outside where the deer might eat it so I keep it in my sunroom. Will this plant ever bloom? Denise R.

Answer:

Buying Tips

Consumers have many options when buying orchids. The flowers can be about to open, fully in bloom, or half and half. Oncidiums, with at least one bud remaining, such as this popular hybrid, Sweet Sugar, are considered fresh.

Dendrobiums

Q) I sometimes see Dendrobiums for sale and marvel at their beauty but wonder if I can grow
them in my house. So far, I’ve had good luck with Phalaenopsis. Ashby S.

Judging

Q) I have an orchid that was raised from seed and looks spectacular.

What is involved in getting American Orchid Society judges to evaluate it?

-Tom S.

Nero Wolfe

Q) I first learned about orchids from reading Nero Wolfe detective books. What can you tell me about his collection? Adam S

A) Many orchid enthusiasts cite the fictional Nero Wolfe as one of their earliest inspirations. There were 33 novels written between 1934 and 1975 by author Rex Stout and orchids were integral to many of the plots. The stories took place predominantly in New York City at Wolfe’s brownstone residence on West 35th Street in which the top floor was a large greenhouse with three temperature zones and 10,000 orchids!

Paphiopedilum delenatii

Q) I saw a pink lady slipper recently at an orchid nursery that was nothing like anything I’d ever seen before. The plant tag reads P delenatii. What is this? Cameron B.

A) True species, or naturally occurring orchids, are some of the most recognizable flowers in nature. The blossom and sometimes foliar traits are unlike any other plant. A plant tag is not necessarily required in order to identify such an orchid, although it may be helpful in ascertaining nuances in the breeding.

"Pouch" on a Lady Slipper?

Q) What is the purpose of the ‘pouch’ on a lady slipper? Allison R.

A) Botanists classify flowers as orchids by their structure. Typical blooms have 3 petals and 3 sepals that alternate around a central column. The lower petal is called the ‘lip’ or throat and is usually a different color. The purpose of the throat is to attract pollinators as both the male and female parts are found within. Additionally, the throat often emits a fragrance to lure potential suitors. Common flowers such as roses, daffodils, and petunias have entirely different configurations.

Merriweather Post's Orchid Collection

Q) What can you tell me about Merriweather Post’s orchid collection? Aaron T.

A) The name Merriweather Post is often mentioned in connection with the famed music pavilion near Washington D.C. or for the popular line of breakfast cereals that includes Grape Nuts Flakes. However not many people know that Marjorie Merriweather Post maintained extensive orchid greenhouses which held one of the largest private collections in the United States.

New Orleans Botanical Garden After Hurricane Katrina

On the eve of the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating blow to Southern Louisiana, the New Orleans Botanical Garden has never looked better. Mark Menier, staff horticulturalist at the garden describes the Aug 29, 2005 Category 3 storm as a “blessing in disguise” despite the fact that the vast majority of their plant collection was lost. “Everything in the greenhouses that were four feet high or

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