Pests and Diseases

Pest & Diseases

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Even the best growers will have some insect problems from time to time on their orchids. Insect pests are controllable, just follow some simple rules and you will be in control rather than the pests being in control.


Some very general information that will help you take charge:

  • Be observant – Take time to look at your plants. The insects do not usually sit up on top of the leaves waiting to be found. They hide under the leaves, in the leaf axils, in the crown of the plant, on the flower sheath, etc. etc. Pick up your plants, look at them from all sides. The sooner you find the infestation the easier it is to control.
  • Identify insects correctly – This is absolutely critical, it does not do any good to spray aphids with a miticide. You must spray spider mites with a miticide, insects with an insecticide and fungus diseases with a fungicide. Actually makes sense doesn’t it.
  • Know the life cycle for each type of insect – The most important aspect of insect control is the stage of development they are in. Some stages of growth cannot be controlled by simply spraying with chemicals (or SOAP) as the stage is resistant in some way. For example, Mealy bugs are virtually impossible to control in the egg sack, adults cannot be controlled without very strong (and dangerous) chemicals. If you know when Mealy bugs are in the juvenile or crawling stage, then most SOAP or chemical sprays will kill them.
  • Cleanliness – Yes, just like the old days you have to keep the growing space clean. Insects hide and grow in old leaves and flowers that have fallen to the ground. Molds, fungus and fungus gnats love a moist decaying area below the pots. By keeping the area clean, the only place the insects can be are on your plants then you will find them and have control again.
  • Complete the control program – Along with using the correct pesticide for each pest problem, make sure that if the insect pest life cycle requires three applications, then you must do three applications to get close to 100% control. By reducing the applications you may leave one generation of pests to re-infest your orchids. Remember most pesticides will not kill every stage of an insects life cycle.
  • Isolate new plants to your collection – When you have an insect free collection it is important to try and keep it that way. If possible, any new plants should be grown in an isolated environment until you are sure that there are no new pests to infest your orchids. It is also important to screen windows and vents to prevent pests from entering your plant growing area. Remember also that yellow clothing attracts many types of insects, so going outside in yellow then coming into your growing area could in fact bring in aphids, thrips, and whitefly. (Royal Blue is very attractive to thrips.)


Types and Uses of Pesticides

ALL pesticides are dangerous but all can be used safely. Use common sense, follow directions, wear protective clothing and READ THE LABEL. There are five main types of chemicals or insect controls:

  1. Contact sprays are just what they say. If you don’t actually hit the pest, it will not die. These chemicals are a problem because most pest are hidden or in hard to reach areas. The contact sprays have no residual effect, a short time after spraying the chemical has broken down and will not kill anything.
  2. Systemic sprays absorb into the plant (and into you!) so there is some residual action. In other words, after the spray is applied the pest may absorb the poison by eating the leaf or leaf juices or by running across the residue on the leaf. The residue may last in the plant for up to 10 days. Systemic sprays are far more dangerous to the user. A child (or pet) eating a leaf several days after application can be poisoned. Most chemicals purchased in the garden stores have some residual (systemic) action.
  3. Soaps – so called safe chemicals, they are all in the contact type. Safers Soap (Trounce) is a product designed especially for the home owner to have an effective pesticide that is safe to use in the home.Because it is a contact type, more frequent applications are necessary or complete control is impossible. You have to hit every insect to kill them. Soaps actually work by dissolving the epidermal protection around the pest so they freeze to death. (You can hear them shivering and thus know it is effective.) Ivory liquid soap at the rate of 1 tablespoon per gallon is just as effective as Safers Soap. Some damage to flowers may occur from the use of soap sprays.
  4. Oil Sprays – a new generation (redeveloped) of safe pesticides. They are actually a finely refined vegetable oil and are generally non-toxic to plants.One of the current product names is Sunspray 2E which is simply a refinement of the old Dormant Oil. This product is also a contact spray that suffocates the insect by filming over breathing apparatus. The Oil sprays are very effective but, as with Soaps, more frequent spraying will be necessary as you have to hit every insect to kill them. Too heavy a concentration may also seal up the plant stomata thus causing some damage to the plant.
  5. Biological Controls – A word of warning, the introduction of Biological Controls will not be the end of your pest problems. For one thing, to most people ‘a bug is a bug’ and there is no such thing as a good one. Also to successfully use ‘Bio’ there has to be some pests present so the good bugs have something to eat.There is a biological control available for each insect pest but conditions have to be just right for them to be effective and Biologicals are generally quite expensive.

Insects To Be Concerned About

The list is extensive so don’t give up now. All of these insects will not be on your plants (may never be).

I will list the more common ones first. Remember correct identification is the key to control – Do you have a magnifying glass? Many are very small and hard to see.

I will identify a control chemical in each case but make sure the specific chemical is in fact licensed for use on orchids in your area. In the United States there are far more pesticides registered than in Canada.

Learn the life cycles for each pest. It is essential to recognize the life cycle for each pest involved in the program. The life cycle will determine the frequency of any spray program.


Longtail (Pseudococcus longispinus) and Solanum (Phenococcus solani)
Longtail (Pseudococcus longispinus) and Solanum (Phenococcus solani)
  • 300-600 eggs in loose cottony sacs. (eggs covered in waxy ovisac that acts as water repellant)
  • eggs hatch every 2 weeks.
  • crawler migrate actively.
  • 4 stages of growth in female.
  • 5 stages of growth in male (tiny fly-like insect).
  • total cycle lasts 30-70 days (depending on temperature).
  • located in out-of-sight places – roots (root mealybugs are different species) and leaf nodes
  • spray control programs 10-14 days apart.
    • applied to crawler stage.
    • Malathion, Orthene (wettable powder), SOAP, Sunspray Oil.



There are many varieties of scale, two main classes are listed below.
1) Soft Scale:

  • 2-6 millimetres long.
  • 1000-2000 eggs.
  • eggs hatch in 1-3 weeks.
  • crawlers migrate over the leaf and stem.
  • feeding begins after a few days.
  • two weeks later they molt to a second stage.
  • after second molt, the males become minute, two winged fly-like insects.
  • complete generation is from 40-80 days.
  • contact insecticides will not kill adults as they are protected by the scale’s hard surface.
  • spray at 7-10 day intervals at least 4 applications (2 with systemic 14-21 days apart).
  • same sprays as with mealybugs.


2) Armoured Scales: – Boisduval, Florida, Red, Greedy Scale

  • smaller than soft scales.
  • 1-3 millimetres in length.
  • some species produce live young.
  • 20-400 eggs.
  • each generation may take 60-120 days to complete.
  • eggs and adults are generally resistant to pesticides.
  • crawlers do not travel as far as soft scales.
  • spray at 10-14 day intervals (same sprays as Mealybugs).


Two-Spotted Spider Mites

(Note: This is different from the False Spider described later.)

Tetranychus urticae and European red mite
Tetranychus urticae and European red mite
  • life cycle – from egg to adult 7-10 days.
  • 0.5 millimetres in length (usually located on the underside of the leaf).
  • clear white spots represent the eggs.
  • 100 or more eggs produced by each female.
  • increased temperature speed maturity.
  • eggs and adults are difficult to control
  • larval and protonymph stage easiest to control.
  • mites produce extensive webbing.
  • spray with Kelthane, Pentac, SOAP, Sunspray 2E Oil.
  • increased humidity reduces population.


Western Flower Thrip

Frankliniella occidentalis
Frankliniella occidentalis
  • most serious threat to orchids as the Western Flower Thrip is the vector for Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus.
  • thrips can also seriously damage flowers and leaves.
  • tiny slender insects 1.5-3 millimetres in length.
  • usually dark brown as adults but yellow as young crawlers.
  • white streaked areas on the flowers the most observed symptom.
  • reversed foliage is a silver color after thrip infestation.
  • eggs hatch in 5-7 days.
  • several nymphal stages before adulthood.
  • new generations every 20-35 days.
  • spray every 5-7 days with Orthene, SOAP, Decis.
  • thoroughly spray all parts of the plant including leaves, stem, flowers, and buds.



Myzus persicae
Myzus persicae
  • lay live young.
  • generally green in color but may come in shades of black, brown or red.
  • usually found in colonies with all stages of growth,
  • they love the flowers and flower spikes or new growth on plants.
  • aphids secrete a honeydew that drips onto lower leaves.
  • flying stage common in spring and late fall looking for new plants to infest.
  • spray every 7 days with any insecticide. SOAP is very effective.


False Spider Mite

Teruipalpus pacificus
Teruipalpus pacificus
  • should be called Phalaenopsis Mite.
  • 0.3 millimetres in length (not visible to eye).
  • red in color.
  • usual sign is yellowing of lower leaves.
  • green leaves will have darkened sunken area usually on bottom of leaves.
  • slow reproducing pest but extremely difficult to see, therefore infestation can be extensive.
  • eggs hatch in 30 days.
  • adult female only lays 25 or so eggs at one per day.
  • every leaf must be thoroughly sprayed top and bottom.
  • spray twice at 10 days apart.
  • spray with Kelthane, SOAP, or Sunspray Oil.


White Fly

Sweet Potato Whitefly Trialeurodes vaporariorum Bemisia tabaci
Sweet Potato Whitefly Trialeurodes vaporariorum Bemisia tabaci
  • both species will be treated the same in the description although they are separate species.
  • Whiteflies generally only are attracted to the soft or fine leafed orchid varieties.
  • pure white in color, adults are approximately 1.5 millimetres long.
  • nymphs (4 stages) are small, white, oval shaped generally found on lower leaves.
  • Pupa stage can be seen on the undersurface of the leaf as “white flat rings”.
  • adults lay 200-400 eggs in a 20-50 day life cycle.
  • sanitation (removal of weeds) is essential in controlling whitefly.
  • spray every 4-7 days for at least 3 applications.
  • Orthene (wettable powder), Ambush, Enstar, SOAP, or Sunspray Oil are effective controls.
  • underside of leaf is critical spot to ensure control.


Soil Gnats

Bradysia corporophila
Bradysia corporophila
  • generally a sign that plants are being kept too wet. They breed and grow in moist wet decaying situations.
  • little or no damage to roots or orchids (unless severe infestation).
  • noticed as small black flies around your face.
  • larvae is a very small white worm on the media surface after watering.
  • life cycle is 12-30 days.
  • adults may carry plant fungus diseases.
  • two applications of a drench through the medium with SOAP (1 tbsp/gal water).
  • keep plants dryer.
  • remove any wet mossy areas under growing bench.

Slugs and Snails

  • have soft unsegmented bodies.
  • secrete a slimy substance.
  • can elongate and contract their bodies thus fitting into very small spots.
  • feed at night on flowers and leaves.
  • love moist dark areas (under flats, pots, etc.).
  • best control is good sanitation
  • baits are very effective
  • beer in shallow saucers will attract the slugs at night.
  • they can be destroyed the next morning.
  • slug baits on the market are very good but dangerous to pets.
  • Fossil Flower (Diatomacious earth).

Gordon Heaps, Orchid Society of Alberta

Gordon Heaps is Supervisor of operations at Muttard Conservatory in Edmonton with extensive experience in the interior landscaping industry. He served as President of the Orchid Society of Alberta for two years, 1991 to 1993.

What’s in a Name?

Orchid Name Tag

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]You just bought an orchid? Dont lose the name tag!-

  • It identifies the kind of orchid it is in case you want to ask for help or just brag.
  • It can tell you a lot about what culture is required.
  • If someone saw your nice flower, they would like to know what it is called.
  • Serious orchid growers/collectors need to know the pedigree to know how it relates to other breeding
  • The name is needed for display/judging purposes.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2268″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]Years ago plants and animals were classified and organized into a structure that showed the relationships of one organism to another. A set of rules defines how everything is to be named. Latin was the universal language of science at the time and is still used today in the naming conventions.

As a simple example, we have:

Cattleya schilleriana

The first part of the name tells us that we have a member of the cattleya genus. The second part tells us that it is the species schilleriana. There are many other species of cattleya but this is a specific one. Also note that the word “cattleya” is capitalized – the genus is always capitalized. The species schilleriana is in lower case – a species name is always in lower case. And another point – we have a species – the singular form is “species” not “specie”. A little looking would tell us that the genus was named after a William Cattley in 1842 and this species was named after a Mr Schiller. Because it is a species, the names have been Latinized.

Now for another example:

Slc Jewel Box ‘Scheherazade’

The “Slc” stands for “Sophrolaeliocattleya”. Well it seems that some orchids of one genus will actually cross with orchids of a different genus. The result is an intergeneric hybrid. In this case we have a Sophronitis species crossed with a Laelia crossed with a Cattleya. No, not all at the same time! Anyway, we now have a hybrid that was called “Jewel Box”. Notice the capital letters – it is not a species. The word in quotes, “Scheherazade”, is the name given to one special plant of this cross, a specific clone. There were many babies from this cross but one really stood out and it had to have a name of its own. If your plants dont already have a clonal name, you can give them one of your own.

A more complicated one:

Paphiopedilum Armeni White (armeniacum ‘Spectacular II’ FCC/AOS x delanatii ‘Pink Mist’)

The capitals on “Armeni White” tell us that this is a hybrid within the genus Paphiopedilum. The brackets signal that what follow tells us about the parents. “Armeni White” is a cross between Paphiopedilum armeniacum and Paphiopedilum delanatii. The clonal names tell us which specific parents were used in the cross. By convention, the seed-producing (female) parent is listed first, followed by the “x”, followed by the pollen (male) parent. It is sometimes very important to know which was which. The group of plants resulting from the cross is called a grex.

The other thing present, the “FCC/AOS” is an award designation. The American Orchid Society (AOS) has many types of awards, this one being a First Class Certificate. The common awards are HCC, AM, and FCC, the FCC being the highest.

Let us say that my plant of this cross just won an AM/AOS and I called the plant “Snow Queen”, what would my label look like?

Paphiopedilum Armeni White ‘Snow Queen’ AM/AOS (armeniacum ‘Spectacular II’ FCC/AOS x delanatii ‘Pink Mist’)

What if I divide the plant to sell a piece – what goes on the tag? ANS: Just what is on it now. They are both the same clone. What if I divide the plant, sell the piece and that piece wins an award? ANS: The clonal name and award can now be put on my plant’s name tag. It is the same actual plant or clone. A different plant of the same cross doesnt count.

And finally:

Potinara Little Toshie ‘Golden Fantasy’ (Blc Toshie Aoki x Sc Beaufort)

The thing to note here is that one parent is a “Blc” which stands for “Brassolaeliocattleya” and “Sc” which is “Sophrocattleya“. The genera combined in this cross are Brassavola, Laelia, Cattleya with Sophronitis and Cattleya. This combination of four genera is called a Potinara. The link below gives a table of all the intergeneric genus names with their abbreviation.

You might also find a couple other terms on a plant label from time to time. One is self, which indicates that the parent was self-pollinated. The label usually shows xself. The other possibility is sib or sib-cross, usually abbreviated xsib or xsibling. Technically this refers to a brother-sister cross, but it is generally used to refer to two different clones being crossed.

Orchid hybrid names are registered by the Royal Horticultural Society. They have a web site (listed below) that provides access to the name registry. It is always a good idea to look up your hybrid name to see if the name has actually been registered, if it is spelled correctly, and to determine the parents. If you have the parents only, check to see if the cross has been named.

For more information here are a few links:


An individual plant raised from a single seed, with all its subsequent vegetative propagations.
A subdivision of a family, consisting of one or more species which show similar characteristics and appear to have a common ancestry.
plural of genus.
A flock or group, applied collectively to the offspring of a given cross.
The offspring resulting from the union of a species or hybrid with another species or hybrid.
Between or among two or more genera.
selfing or self-pollination
The pollination of a flower with pollen from the same plant.
a kind of plant distinct from other kinds.


What’s an Orchid?

Orchid Flower

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1461033705982{margin-bottom: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Orchids form one of the largest and most diversified families of plants. The flowers are highly adapted for attracting, deceiving, and manipulating insects to achieve pollination. They seem to also be very successful in attracting humans to assist in their propagation.

Years ago plants and animals were classified and organized into a structure that showed the relationships of one organism to another. A set of rules defines how everything is to be named. Latin was the universal language of science at the time and is still used today in the naming conventions. The class of flowering plants or Angiospermae are divided into two subclasses, the Monocotyledonae (monocots) and the Dicotyledonae (dicots). Within the monocots is the super order Liliiflorae, which in turn contains the family of orchids, Orchidaceae.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1461033713230{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Orchids are distinct from other flowering plants because:

  • the stamens and style (male and female parts) are fused together in one structure known as a column
  • there are three petals and three petal-like sepals
  • usually has one different petal that forms a lip or labellum
    making the flower bilaterally symmetrical
  • the pollen is usually bound together in a few large masses
    known as pollinia
  • the flower stem twists around during development so that the lip is down (resupination).
  • the seeds are tiny and numerous
  • upon germination the embryo forms a tubercle (protocorm)
  • under natural conditions most orchids will germinate only when a symbiosis
    with a fungus has been established.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”276″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Orchids grow from the Arctic to the Equator and south in all the continents except Antarctica. The family of Orchids contains more species than any other family of plants. Botanists believe the family to contain some 20,000 to 25,000 species. With the destruction of the rainforests we are losing undiscovered species and may never
know the exact number.

The orchids that orchid growers are mostly interested in are the tropical epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that grow upon other plants, usually in forests. By doing this they gain a better position to obtain more light. Their roots cling to branches of trees and obtain water only in rain or fog. Many orchids, bromeliads, ferns, mosses and lichens are epiphytes.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

The Phalaenopsis Orchid

Orchid Flower

Key to the drawing:

1 – dorsal sepal
2 – petal
3 – lip
4 – lateral sepals
5 – column



Monocots, the Monocotyledonae include palms, duckweed, bamboo, grass, onions, bananas and the members of Liliiflorae. Some of their characteristics are:

  • one cotyledon (embryonic seed leaf)
  • the leaves are mostly parallel-veined.
  • usually lacks cambium in the stem
  • vascular bundles are usually scattered in the stem – no rings as in a tree
  • flower parts usually in multiples of three


Dicots, the Dicotyledonae include peas, trees, roses, asters, mints and many other familiar flowering plants. Some of their characteristics are:

  • two cotyledons (embryonic seed leaf)
  • the leaves are mostly net-veined.
  • cambium usually present in the stem
  • vascular bundles are in rings as in a tree
  • flower parts usually in multiples of five, seldom threes


Liliiflorae contains not only orchids but lilies, amaryllises and irises. All these plants develop their seeds in ovaries below the flower.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Getting to Know Orchids

PNWJC at OSA Show 17April2015

Guidelines for the beginner orchid hobbyist

Most cultivated orchids are perennial tropical plants. They require light, water, fertilizer and a humid atmosphere to grow well. Orchids with thick, fleshy roots can be potted in coarse bark chips, grown mounted on a piece of cork bark or on a branch. Orchids with fine roots are grown in a blend of small bark chips, sometimes with sphagnum moss, perlite or charcoal added to the mix. When buying an orchid, always ask what kind of potting mix is recommended for it.

At the Root of the Matter

Orchid roots need both moisture and air: roots need to breathe between waterings or risk decay. Dead orchid roots cannot absorb water or nutrients! Examine the potting medium and the roots of any orchid that fails to thrive – the plant may need repotting.

Orchids should be repotted:

  • Every one to two years
  • When the plant outgrows the container
  • When the potting mix decays, becomes compacted or water-logged.

Light, Watering and Cooling

Many orchids have succulent or leathery leaves and swollen stems used to conserve water. Orchids with water storage capabilities generally require less frequent watering than those with thin leaves and no swollen stems. Orchids grow well in filtered sunlight or in artificial light. While most seedling orchids do well in moderate light, adult plants vary considerably in their light requirements and tolerance. Too much sunlight can burn leaves especially if the plants are not accustomed to it. Especially harmful is the heat produced by direct sunlight or by a plant touching a light bulb. Placing a sheer or lace curtain between the orchids and the sun is sometimes sufficient protection, especially for sun-tolerant plants but all orchids will benefit from air movement generated by a nearby fan. Fans can help cool plants especially if the leaves are first misted with water. As the water evaporates into the air stream, the leaf surface cools. Evaporative cooling can produce a 5°C drop in leaf temperature. Orchids grow best when the temperature varies at least by 5°C from the daytime high to the nighttime low.

Orchids have set points at which they grow best. It is up to the grower to discover the best temperature for each plant in their collection. For example, Cool-growing orchids such as Masdevallia
and Odontoglossum will have a set point around 10-15°C (50-59°F), while orchids termed Intermediate e.g. Cattleya and certain Oncidiums will have a set point around 15-20°C (59-68°F) and those referred to as Warm growers e.g. Phalaenopsis and Vanda will have a set point from 18-25°C (65-77°F). To make the road to discovery an easy one, the beginner is advised to start with orchids preferring one temperature range.


Most mature orchids bloom once a year but their flowers frequently last a month or longer. Species orchid flowers are predictable as to size, colour, fragrance and blooming season. Hybrids are not as predictable but once a hybrid orchid has flowered, you can predict when it is likely to bloom again. If you have a particular preference for blooming season, ask a society member or vendor for recommendations.

Flowering pot-plants require sufficient light, regular fertilizer applications and watering to bloom well. Orchids are no exception. The challenge of growing orchids well and having magnificent blooms lies in finding the balance of light, temperature, water and plant food that is best for a particular plant.

Fertilizing Orchids

Although jungle orchids seem to survive, even prosper, clinging to the bark of a tree, they do benefit from a sprawling root system, employing it to harvest mineral nutrients derived from animal and plant debris in the forest canopy. Additionally, wild orchid roots frequently harbor mycorrhizal fungi that spread out through the tree bark, thus vastly increasing the harvesting area of the roots to absorb scarce minerals such as phosphorus.

Regular applications of dilute commercial fertilizer such as 7-7-7 can do wonders for a potted orchid plant. Always prepare solutions according to manufacturer’s instructions. There are products recommended both for growth and for flower production. Apply liquid fertilizer weekly after thoroughly watering a plant. Do not fertilize dormant plants, those with dead roots, or those not in active growth. Production of new leaves and roots is a sign of active growth. If new shoots become soft and floppy, fertilizer application may be too strong, too frequent or light may be inadequate to support growth.

Copyright © Canadian Orchid Congress 1993 This publication may be copied for free distribution only

Orchid Conservation


The Many Definitions of Orchid Conservation

As with many terms, the words “orchid conservation” can be variously interpreted. To some, orchid conservation means saving the rainforest, donating funds to support habitat purchase in a distant land, rescuing plants from fallen trees, or performing volunteer service in a park or conservation area. To others, conservation equates with propagation of species to relieve collection pressure on vulnerable orchid populations. To still others, conservation encompasses the trade in orchids and the various documents needed to facilitate that trade. Orchid conservation can also begin at home in our collections, in learning how to take care of orchids. Conservation means caring about orchids in cultivation and in the wild, however and whenever the opportunity arises.

Our Native Orchids and their Legal Protection

We sometimes witness people picking wild orchids or even digging them for garden purposes. We may see native orchids offered for sale and wonder if this is allowed. Sometimes native orchids are at risk locally because land is being cleared for roads, trails or development and we may wonder just what protection do our native orchids have? What if any measures can be taken to ensure their conservation?
Where we stand: (Download Pdf)

Watch Your Step

What are the consequences when you step off a trail to look at a flower or take its picture? This article by Marilyn Light and Michael MacConaill is a study that measured the effect of human disturbance on a forest habitat during the flowering period of May-blooming large yellow lady’s-slippers (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens).

Conserving Our Collections: Planning for a Future

If a crisis occurs, who will take care of your orchids? Have an action plan (Download Pdf).

ONLY ONE – A Tragedy in Three Acts

What are the consequences of collecting one orchid plant? (Download Pdf)

Pollinator Conservation

The pollinator conservation resource center of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is a good place to access information. Simply peruse the map and click on your region to learn more about local initiatives and resources. Those of us involved in natural area projects might consider some of these approaches where orchid habitat management is concerned.

There are many useful publications at this site such as one suggesting food plants (including garden plants) for foraging pollinators such as: “Pollinators in natural _areas – A Primer on Habitat Management”.

Most adult insect pollinators of our native orchids (including lady’s slippers) need flowers other than orchids as nectar/pollen food sources. Larval food plants are also needed in some cases. In the spirit of an integrated approach to orchid conservation, please consider pollinator conservation.

On Growing Orchids

White Phalaenopsis

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]At one time growing orchids was a hobby for the wealthy, requiring a greenhouse and attentive care. Today you can buy some orchids very inexpensively in your local stores. They are often sold with the other blooming plants you can enjoy and discard. But orchids are more than that – there are many, many kinds that can appeal to a wide variety of tastes. Some can be very easy to grow, almost weeds, and some will challenge the expert.

Phalaenopsis (fal-en-OP-siss) or Moth orchids come in white, pink, red, yellow, plain or with spots or stripes. The plants can be large or small, with a single stem or branching.


You can start by learning to grow the Phalaenopsis orchid then move on to include other varieties. You will find many other varieties will grow in your home environment. If you join a local orchid society, you will find a lot of like minded people who will be happy to share their experience and their plants. Attending an orchid show will astonish you with the variety of sizes, forms and colors of orchids. And you will find the many vendors of orchids you do not find in the local store.

There are some general rules about the culture of orchids. Most orchids in cultivation originated in the tropical areas of the world and generally grow on the branches or trunks of trees. The roots run along the bark in the moss that is also growing there and may hang down in the air. The roots are adapted to sponge up any rain or mist and can go for long periods of dryness. They collect any nutrients that happen by, maybe a gift from a bird. So this tells us that orchids need a lot of air around the roots – they will not grow in soil or mud, they dont like to be super wet, and they dont need much fertilizer.

Orchids generally need a potting mix that is open and airy. A variety of mixes are available or can be made up, usually based on chunks of bark or coconut husk. Orchids that are imported in pots are usually in sphagnum moss to ensure no pests are hitching a ride but sphagnum can be overwatered too easily. Because potting mixes slowly breakdown and turn to mush, an orchid should be repotted every two years in new mix.

At this point it is a good idea to learn the names of the kinds of orchids that are commonly available. If you wish to know about the culture requirements of a plant, it really helps to know what specific kind it is. Many times we are asked to give help with an orchid problem and when asked what kind of orchid it is, the answer is “I dont know”. That is like being asked to help with a pet problem when the owner doesnt know what kind of pet it is. Orchids usually have a “common name”, sometimes several. It is better to learn the scientific names, which are unique.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Related Topics” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][recent_blog_sc posts_per_page=”3″ type=”type11″ category=”basics” blog_heading_color=”#000000″ blog_text_color=”#383838″ blog_hl_color=”rgba(92,76,98,0.4)” blog_hover_color=”#5c7200″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1465585523555{border-top-width: 1px !important;border-right-width: 1px !important;border-bottom-width: 1px !important;border-left-width: 1px !important;padding-top: 10% !important;padding-right: 10% !important;padding-bottom: 10% !important;padding-left: 10% !important;background-image: url( !important;background-position: center !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;border-radius: 1px !important;}” font_color=”#ffffff”][vc_column_text]

Orchid culture notes for beginners

A set of notes prepared for the Southern Ontario Orchid Society by Wayne Hingston[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Canadian Native Orchids


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Many orchids are to be found across Canada. They are all terrestrial.
Some are showy and photogenic such as the well-known lady’s-slippers. Many others are inconspicuous and easily overlooked by the casual observer. Some are found only in the deep seclusion of almost impenetrable fens and quaking bogs with lots of mosquitoes for company. Others inhabit mysterious tranquil places waiting to thrill the visitor.

Our native orchids live in habitats that are very special to their needs. They do not survive moving to other locations, especially our gardens and flower beds. Please do not dig them up or pick the flowers. Leave them in “the wild” for others to enjoy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]