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Beginners Information

Beginners Meeting

Start with our monthly meetings.  In 2012 we formally launched our beginners program.  The meetings start promptly at 6:00 PM just before our organizations regular 7:00 PM meeting.  These 60 minutes are specifically for beginners to ask question and get instruction.  For those intested in participating please contact info@cincinnatiorchids.org to be put on the communications list.  There is much more to group than just the meetings as you can see in our program.  Communicaiton will be throughout the year via email about other events such as field trips, group purchases, and potting bees.  It is important that get you contact information on the list in order to be kept well informed.

Presentations from Beginners Meetings

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Minature Orchids for Light and Windowsill Growers (Rick Noel presented at Sept. 4 beginners meeting)

Introduction to Masdevallias (Rick Noel)

Orchids for beginners

The American Orchid Society (AOS) has execllent information on how to care for the most common types of orchids.  

Phalaenopsis is one of the best Genera to start with. You can read about growing them or download the culture sheet which can be printed.

Look up details on Phalaenopsis species.  Many of the Phals. you have are hybrids.  You can look up the parentage and sometimes trace it back to the species so that you can better understand the parents native habitat and growing conditions.  It is also interesting to try and identify what characteristics of the parent have come through in your hybrid.  Additionally you can look here at another good site.

A nice article with pictures from Ron Miller on growing Brassavola nodosa hybrids. (Word format)

Clown Alley's list of Orchids good for the windowsill grower.

Reading for Beginners

Orchids Simplified
An indoor gardening guide by Henry Jawaorski - This book provides an good overview that goes into just enough detail to get started.
Suggested by two of our orchid mentors Dana & Eddie Thanks Dana & Eddie!
Encyclopedia of Cultivated Orchids by Alex Hawkes. - Old, out-of-print book on just species. Gives good info on culture, good descriptions.
Miniature Orchids by Rebecca Nothen (not NortheRn). Really good growing advice & descriptions of mostly tiny plants.
Growing Orchids by Brian & Wilma Ritterhausen. Good beginners' book. Lots of info & pictures on lots of different genera, species & hybrids alike.
Botanica's Orchids Over 1200 species illustrated & cultural hints.
www.orchidspecies.com - species pictures, descriptions, culture info & synomyms (VERY important these days!). If you go to many of the species pages you can find either a name or a link to a website of the person or company that owns the rights to the pictures.
www.orchidmall.com - you have to visit it to appreciate it. Plant sources, societies, classified ads, etc.
apps.rhs.org.uk/horticulturaldatabase/orchidregister - this is THE place to go if you don't have Orchid Wiz which most newbies won't. If you are looking for the parents of a hybrid or you know the parents & are wondering if that particular hybrid has been named it is the Royal Horticultural Society that registers ALL hybrids of orchids. This is free to look up any plants.
Orchid Resources
Orchid Pictures

Orchid Facts (work in progress, not meant to be all inclusive)

Did you know?

  • Orchids existed during the time of dinosaurs.  Thanks to Bob, our new board member, you can read about it at the Live Science website.
What is in a name?
There can be two, three, or even more components (separate words) to the name of an Orchid.  When looking at the name label please use the following:

The first component should always be the Genus.  The Genus component is capitalized.  It can be abreviated and this can be confusing (more on this later).  Some of the most widely seen Genera (plural for Genus) names include Cattleya, Phalenopsis, Cymbidium, Laelia, Miltonia, Oncidium, Paphiopedilum, Pragripedum, Odontoglossum.  Looking at the Genus gives a basic idea of the growing conditions the plant may like.  Just like humans, there are exceptions though (more on this later).

The second component is either the species name or the hybrid name (sometimes refered to as "the cross"). A hybrid is the result of cross breeding two plants of different naturally occuring species or between plants that have already been crossed.  There is more to this but I hope you get the idea.  If the orchid is a species (naturally occouring in nature) this component should be not capitalized.  If the orchid is a hybrid this component should be capitalized.  The hybrid name is created by the person who first registered the cross with and organization such as the American Orchid Society.  An example of a species name is "purpurta" in the complete orchid name Laelia purpurata.  An example of a hybrid name is Laelia Golden Star.  In this case the second and third component are capitalized since the hybrid maker used two words to name the cross.

The third component indicates the 'cultivar name'.  As you can see it is surrounded by apostrophies.  An example of this would be Laelia Golden Star 'SVO'.  This indicates that the plant has probably one an award from the American Orchid Society.  This could be for a variety of reasons such as, flower size being unique, color variations in the cross, etc. The plant would have the same genetic parentage of all other Laelia Golden Star's in the world, although not specifically the actual plants.  As such propagators would cloning of the plant to maintain it's genetic uniqueness.  You would be guaranteed that the plant designated as 'SVO' would have the exact characteristics of the original plant.  Other plants designated as Laelia Golden Star may not look the same.  An example of this is humans.  Two children of the same parents may have diffent hair color but  they are both scentifically named Homo (Genus) sapiens(species).  One could be called Homo sapien 'blonde' and the other Homo sapien 'dark'.

Complications in names.  

Genera names ending in "ara" will mean that the orchid is a cross of four or more genera.

Abreviated Genera names


What conditions do orchids like?