Canadian Orchid Congress

September 1990
Volume 2 - - Number 4

Editor: Annette Bagby

Message of the President

Hope you all had as good a summer as we did. The plants have grown well in spite of the usual neglect due to other gardening priorities, and it is now time to look to readying the growing areas for the winter season. Check the furnaces, check the alarm system and be sure you have back up heaters ready for emergencies. Make sure your growing area continues to get an optimum amount of light for the type of plants you grow and adjust your watering and fertilizing schedules to your winter temperature and light conditions. If you had plants outside be sure they are free of pests and diseases before things have a chance to spread and multiply in indoor conditions. With the fall and spring show seasons coming up you will want to start grooming your favourites to show off to your friends.

On another subject, the Ottawa Society arranged for us to meet with the Federal Government CITES people in June. The meeting was very friendly and informative for both us and the federal officials, but produced nothing new or tangible. It is clear that we are going to have to live with CITIES and continue to press for sanity in its application. Joyce Stewart is bringing forward a proposal to exempt all laboratory raised orchids from CITIES. We have supported this in letters to Mrs. Stewart and our own CITIES administrators. If any of you have experiences with CITIES, please share them with all of us by sending them to me or the editor. I want to thank all who sent in entries to our logo etc. contest. The executive has not yet had a chance to select the winners, but will do so as soon as possible. Good growing!

Peter Poot


Perhaps I should have warned you that I'm a Scot and likely to quote Burns at the drop of a hat so here goes "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley," The list of smaller growers willing to do mail orders is not complete due mainly to summer laziness on my part. I'll work harder to have it available in November.

I'd like to thank Mary Helleiner from Nova Scotia for her article and Marjorie Disher for her request for information on Peristeria elata.


Three years ago, when the Orchid Society of Nova Scotia was seven years old, we decided to keep a record of the plants in the displays at our monthly meetings on computer. This was done over a three year period from September 1987 to June 1990 (our Society year). I should say immediately that this survey is not a scientific one and that, although the results are useful to our Society, they should be seen as descriptive only.

The Society averages about 55 members each year, but has a considerable turnover. This can be seen in the fact that although 45 different members brought in blooming plants over the three year period, only 20 were members all through the period. Some members did not bring in any blooming plants during this time; whether this showed lack of success can only be guessed at. Almost all who joined or left the Society during the period were windowsill growers. When we started to keep records of the blooming plants brought in we were concerned, as we still are, about the number of new members who joined for a year or two and then dropped out; we suspected that if we could give them better recommendations and advice about what orchids bloomed well for other members with similar conditions that they would not get discouraged and leave the Society. This was the main reason for deciding to keep these records.

Our records also provided a way to publish a list of plants displayed in each month's newsletter. Of course the data was only as accurate as the information the members gave us on the blue cards we provided at each meeting to be filled out for each blooming plant.

In order to make the system as simple as possible for both the owners of the plants and for the person who did the computer input, a very simple form (blue card) was designed, with spaces for the following information: Name of plant, Name of owner, choice of Windowsill, fluorescent light, or greenhouse as growing area. The date was added when the information was put into the data base.

After a few months a fourth category of growing area had to be added, which for want of a better name we called glass structure. This came about because we realized that several of our best and most productive growers produced their blooms in sunrooms, enclosed porches, solariums, window greenhouses and similar structures. These "glass structures" were defined as growing areas with considerably more light and space than an ordinary window (all but one had overhead glass), but without full greenhouse characteristics. Actual "greenhouses" were those which, in addition to overhead glass, had the ability to withstand greenhouse levels of humidity on the walls and floors which would take hose watering. Many of the members who grew orchids in one or another category of natural light also had fluorescent light setups, which explains why although the total number of members bringing plants at any time in the three year period was 45, the total in our table is 62.

In the following discussion, the criterion of a successful grower was which plants he or she brought back in bloom a second year, or better, a second and then a third year. Of course we don't know what happened to plants grown by our members but not displayed; some of these may have been very successful. And also it goes without saying that there were undoubtedly many reasons for not bringing in blooming plants; obviously, we are forced to consider only those that were displayed.

Survey of Orchid Plants in Monthly Displays

Growing areaMembers who displayedNumber plants displayedDisplayed two or three times
Windowsill 31 347 26 (6 growers)
Fluorescent lights 15 270 33 (8 growers)
Glass structure 7 424 55 (4 growers)
Greenhouse 9 330 37 (4 growers)
Totals 62* 1371** 151
*Only 45 members actually displayed plants; because many had two different types of growing area, the total is 62.
**Each appearance is counted once.

Windowsill Growers

Windowsill growers were our main concern in carrying out this survey; we felt that they were the members most in need of good information if we could provide it, since most new members and most "drop-outs" were in this group. As our graph shows, half the members bringing in plants were windowsill growers, though because of space limitations they could not grow as many as those in the other categories.

The results in this category were surprising. We expected to be able to provide a list of orchids that were successfully grown on Nova Scotia windowsills but this is not what we came up with. Instead we found that of our 31 windowsill growers, only six managed to bring in the same plant in bloom a second time, and of these six only three succeeded with more than one plant. We looked closely at the growing conditions of these three, and found that all three used fans at certain times of the year, and that two used humidifiers (one ultrasonic, one standard room humidifier, both directed at the plants), while the third, who grew only Phalaenopsis used a south facing windowsill above the sink in a warm kitchen. One grower also used supplementary fluorescent light.

All this suggests that we should not be telling potential new members that orchids are easy to grow on a windowsill, but merely that they can be successfully bloomed on a windowsill if the grower is willing to take a fair amount of trouble. Incidentally, several of our members have taken some humidity readings over pans of water or wet gravel, sometimes suggested as a way of supplying moisture, and have found that the humidity level over these pans is not significantly different from that in the rest of the room. Because of this we don't advise new members to provide humidity for their orchids in this way.

The successful windowsill plants consisted of 6 phalaenopsis, 6 paphlopedilums, 6 cattleyas or relatives and 8 others. The big successes (brought in bloom three years running) were Blc. Magic Lantern 'Bright Lights', Howeara Mini-Primi, Paph. callosum, Paph. ciliolare, Paph. urbanianum, two phalaenopsis hybrids and Restrepia guttulata.

Fluorescent Lights

As might be expected, the plants grown under fluorescent lights were dominated by paphiopedilums and phalaenopsis, and this shows up in the 33 blooming plants brought in a second or third year. The surprise here perhaps is that four of them were dendrobiums. The most successful plants (three appearances each) were Dendrobium biggibum, Den. Huang Thai, Den. cuthbertsonii, Dialaelia Snowflake 'Northland', Dtps. Tatiana Bido and Phal. Universal Magic 'Burnt Bridge'.

Many of the growers who used fluorescent lights also grew orchids on windowsills or in glass structures, making the total growers in the accompanying table greater than the actual number of 45 who brought in plants for display.

We have little actual information on our members' methods of growing under lights. This is something we might explore in the future.

Glass Structures

Although this was the smallest group of growers (7 members), these people brought in the largest number of blooming plants for display (424 plants). Perhaps because orchid growing is new in Nova Scotia with few role models, and also perhaps because this is a "have not" province, orchid growers who might if they lived elsewhere build greenhouses tend to improve their existing space to make it more suitable for orchids. The most successful facilities in this group include a two story sunroom and a window greenhouse, both providing considerably more light than a windowsill. Once again, the most successful growers proved to be those who were willing to expend considerable time and effort, not only on growing their orchids, but on observing their needs and modifying their growing conditions accordingly.

Of the 424 plants displayed, 45 returned a second time and 10 a third time. Almost half of these were cattleyas hybrids or their relatives; the remainder included 9 phals, 8 dendrobiums, pleurothalids, paphs, various odontoglossum hybrids, one phrag, one promenea, one cymbidium and one habenaria; in other words a varied group. In this the group differs from the two described above, particularly in its emphasis on cattleyas. The three time bloomers were Barkeria skinneri, Brassavola nodosa, Cymbidium Showgirl 'Shaffers', Den. Pataya Beauty, Den. primulinum, Laelia lundii, Odm. Burkhard Holm, Oncidium macropetalum, a phalaenopsis hybrid and Vuylstekara Cambria 'Plush'.


The information on greenhouse growers in our survey was disappointing. Although we have 9 members with greenhouses, many of them live some distance from Halifax and for that reason perhaps have difficulty in bringing plants for display. In addition to this, the one greenhouse grower who brought plants in quantity specialized in paphs and phrags, thus to some extent distorting the results. As a result we can really draw no conclusions from our information on greenhouse growers.

Just in conclusion, it may be of some interest to note that the plants displayed most often by the most people and rebloomed most, were, for whatever reason, Howeara Mini-Primi and Paph. urbanianum. However the most popular and successful plants overall, as a group, were phalaenopsis hybrids.

Mary Helleiner


Peristeria elata, commonly called the "Dove Orchid", is the national flower of the Republic of Panama and the only member of the genus known to grow there. This stately orchid, first described by Hooker in the Botanical Magazine in 1831, had been imported from Panama by Mr. Barnard, a Peruvian merchant and grown and flowered by Mr Harrison of Liverpool. Besides being called the "Dove Orchid", the Spanish Settlers named it El Espiritu Santo or Holy Ghost plant. The "dove" in the white flowers consists of the column and beaked anther resembling the body of the bird and the side lobes of the lip giving the effect of wings. The light green pseudobulbs are rather egg shaped and on a well grown older plant may be about the size of a softball. The lycaste-type leaves can grow to three feet and the flower scape to four feet or more with ten to fifteen fleshy white two and a half inch flowers. They have a sweet Stanhopea-like perfume.

The following scientific description is taken from the Missouri Botanical Garden's "Flora of Panama":

ELATA Hook, in /bot. Mag. t. 3116. 1831.

Erect, stately, terrestrial herbs, pseudobulbs stout, flashy, broadly ovoid, subconic or subcylindric, 4-12 cm, long and 4-8 cm. wide, the bases enveloped in several closely imbricating papery bracts, the upper 1-2 of which are foliaceous, the apex of the pseudobulb with 3-5 broadly lanceolate, plicate, acuminate, deciduous leaves 3-10cm. long and 6-12cm. wide; the old pseudobulbs often wrinkled, the brown, papery, imbricating, unarmed bases of the fallen leaves persistent and enveloping the apex. Inflorescences tall, solitary, erect, unbranched racemes 8-13 cm long, produced simultaneously beside the new growth at the base of the psedobulbs and developing concurrently with it, actual flowering being delayed until the pseudobulb has matured but before the leaves have fallen. Flowers 10-15 or more, relatively large and conspicuous, fleshy, subglobose, waxy white, strongly fragrant, opening in succession from the lowest upward, 2-4 on the raceme open at one time, relatively widely spaced, with long (about 4 cm.} pedicels usually subtended on the scape by several to many of the developing seed capsules; the unopened buds above the flowers progressively more crowded toward the apex of the scape. Sepals subequal, fleshy, waxy white, broadly concave, the dorsal sepal free ovate, obtuse, 2.5-3 cm. long and 2-2.5 cm. broad, laterals somewhat connate at the base, ovate or suborbicular, shortly acute, 2.5-3 cm. long and 2.5-3 cm. wide. Petals elliptic-obovate, obtuse, 20-25 mm. long and 15-18 mm. wide. Lip very fleshy, the claw or hypochile broad, continuous with the base of the column, the lateral margins with ascending wings which are white, heavily spotted rose-red, the inner basal surface thickened into a fleshy lobule; apical lobe of the lip, or epichile, white, articulated with the frontal margin of the hypochile, entire, subquadrate, retuse, nearly truncate, with a central glabrous, fleshy, pure white, ventricose or suborbicular crest. Column short, pure white, subconic, semiterete, 9-11 mm., long. Anther pure white, beaked, superficially resembling the head of a bird.

Although Peristeria elata is on CITIES appendix 1, it has been in cultivation in this country for many years and being of easy culture there are several pools of stock plants. Those plants in cultivation at Clargreen Gardens are grown with the large Phalaenopsis in a warm/intermediate area with good light. They grow in a Paph. mix with the pseudobulbs sitting on top of the media. During their growing season they are never allowed to dry out and are fed on a regular basis. When growth is complete they are rested - only enough moisture to prevent the pseudobulbs from shrivelling. They are rested in the same light as they are grown.

Good luck Marjorie!


November 3-4 Niagara Region Orchid Society Annual Show, Queen Elizabeth Community Centre, 2 Facer Street at Q.E.W., St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada. Contact: Hario Ferrusi, 1129 Cream Street, RR5 , Fenwick, Ontario, LOS ICO; {416} 892-4187.

November 9-11 Fraser Valley Orchid Society Show, White Rock Town Centre Hall, 15150 Russell Ave. , White Rock, B.C. , Canada. Contact:Lynne Cassidy, Fraser Valley Orchid Society, P.O. Box 3476, Langley, B.C.


Please update your Canadian Orchid Societies list with this information:
Orchid Society of Alberta
President: Merv Lutes, 10640 - Rowland Rd., Edmonton, Alberta, T6A 3V8. Phone: 403-469-7721 (r) C.O.C. representative: Ian Johnston, 8903 - 146 St., Edmonton, Alberta, T5R OV7 Phone: 403-484-6302 (r)
Meeting Time: Third Sunday of month except July, Aug.,Dec.
Meeting Place: Lions Senior Citizens Recreation Centre, 11113 -113 St,, Edmonton, Alberta.
Manitoba Orchid Society
President: Gerry Lenover, 147,Twain Dr., Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3K 0R2
NEW ADDRESS! Victoria Orchid Society
P.O. box 6538 Depot #1, Victoria, B.C. V8P 5M4

Please add the following grower to the Commercial Orchid Growers List:

Name: Orchids by Travis
Prop: Chuck Travis
Address: 403 Sandmere Place, Oakville, Ontario. L6L 4G5
Phone: 416-827-3555
Mainly Masdevalias, Catalogue available, phone for appointment.

To all societies

Please send me information regarding your show dates, new executive,new addresses, or new meeting times as far in advance of the next newsletter as possible - it really helps. Thanks, Annette.

Next C.O.C. newsletter - mid November.


PRESIDENT: Peter Poot General Delivery Goodwood, Ont., LOC 1AO (416)640-5643
SECRETARY: Mary Helleiner 834 Marlborough Ave., Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 3G6
PAST-PRESIDENT: Wally Thomas 7250 Arbutus PI., West Vancouver, B.C. V7W 2L6
VICE-PRESIDENT: Ken Girard P.O. Box 3063 St. B, Calgary, Alberta, T2M 4L6
TREASURER: Nancy Tozer 159 Stillview Pointe Claire, P.Q. H9R 2H1
EDITOR: Annette Bagby, 172 Donnelly Dr., Mississauga, Ont. L5G 2M4 (416)274-6989 phone & fax

Canadian Orchid Congress Fees

Society Membership $1.00 per society member
Individual Membership $15.00

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