News Blog

February Monthly Meeting

The next meeting of the Tucson Orchid Society will be Wednesday, February 17. The guest speaker will be Ron Parsons, a well-known orchid grower and world-class photographer. The subject of his talk will be his trip to southeastern Australia. Ron has been growing orchids for more than 40 years, and has a collection of nearly 60,000 digital photographs! Whether you are interested in orchid culture or orchid photography, you are sure to find something to make you say “WOW!!”

Please join us! Non-members are welcome to attend!

Outreach at Bear Canyon Market

On January 23, Tucson Orchid Society had a booth at the Bear Canyon Open Air Market. We were there to give growing tips to people who may have gotten orchids as holiday gifts, and had no idea what to do with them. Tips included how offer to water and feed orchids, how to repot them, and what kind of light they needed.

Repotting an orchid
Sid and Marie showed an interested orchid lover how to repot her Phalaenopsis

Our booth at the Open Air Market
Our booth at the Open Air Market

Orchid Questions, Orchid Answers

Bear Canyon Open air Market

The Tucson Orchid Society will have an outreach booth at the Bear Canyon Open Air Market on Saturday, January 23 from 9am to 2pm.

This is for all you lucky people who got orchids as holiday gifts and don’t know how to take care of them. Please bring any orchid you have questions about to our booth! We will answer your questions and give orchid advice … and maybe doing some repotting.

The event is in the Bear Canyon Shopping Center parking lot on the northwest corner of Tanque Verde and Catalina Highway.

Other “green minded” organizations that will join us at this event are Native Seed Search, Tucson Clean and Beautiful, Tucson Raised Beds, and Arizona Garden Kitchen. We hope to see you there!

Monthly Meeting – January 20, 2016

Vandaceous Intergeneric Hybrids

Speaker: Bob Fuchs

The January 2016 program for Tucson Orchid Society will feature Robert (Bob) Fuchs, owner of RF Orchids in Homestead, Florida. His talk will be on Vandaceous Intergeneric Hybrids from the hobbyist point of view. He will definitely address orchid culture issues. Bob has been working with crosses of Vandas, Cattleyas, and Ascocentrum for a long time.
Robert FuchsBob Fuchs is recognized as orchid royalty around the globe. He was only 10 years old when he began collecting orchids in the wild. He was 14 when he went on his first salvage collecting trip out of the country. By the time he graduated from high school, he had amassed quite a collection and began his involvement with orchid societies. In 1970, Bob graduated from Florida State University and opened R.F. Orchids in December of that year. At that time, Bob’s official profession was teaching at Homestead Junior High, and the nursery was open only on weekends and afternoons after school.

1984 brought orchid growers from around the world to Miami for the 11th World Orchid Conference and its prestigious orchid show. R.F. Orchids plant Vanda Deva “Robert” was honored as the Grand Champion of the World. This Grand Champion award catapulted Bob into international recognition and acceptance as one of the leading vandaceous orchid firms in the world.

Bob retired from teaching in 1985 and incorporated the nursery. R.F. Orchids has continued to grow ever since. Bob is a life member and former trustee of the American Orchid Society, life member of the Royal Horticultural Society of Thailand, member of the Royal Horticultural Society of England, past president and current board member of the South Florida Orchid Society; founding member and past president of the East Everglades Orchid Society. In 1994 the South Florida Orchid Society presented him with its Distinguished Service Award. He is a member of the Homestead-Florida City Chamber of Commerce and a generous supporter of the education and conservation programs at Miami Metro Zoo. In October 1999, the city of Homestead presented Bob with the key to the city and proclaimed Robert Fuchs Day in recognition of his dedication, hard work and contributions to the improvement of the horticulture industry in our

Education Corner July, 2015

by Marie Hirsch and Doug Forester

What Does That Orchid Word Mean?

  Reproductive Organs

Column (col-um) (A)
The orchid’s reproductive organs are combined onto a single column (a gynostemium) unlike the usually separate male stamen/anther and female pistil/stigma configurations of other flowers. This is the primary identification feature of an orchid.

Anther (AN-ther) (B)
At the top of the column is the male anther which contains packets of pollen called pollinia. The pollinia may be reached by removing the anther cap which protects it. The paph (photo left) has two fertile anthers, one on either side of the column.. It also has one infertile anther which has evolved into a staminode (see below).

Anther cap (AN-ther kap)
The covering of the pollinia or pollen-masses on the flower’s column. The (light brown) sticky, waxy cap is what gets stuck to the leg or body of an insect as it brushes against the structure. As the insect moves away, it carries the cap, and the attached pollen mass with it – perhaps to the stigma of this flower, or perhaps to the stigma of a nearby flower of the same species.

Stigma or Stigmatic surface (STIG-mu) (C)
The stigmatic surface lies below the anther. It’s a shallow, usually sticky, cavity in which the pollen is placed for fertilization. On some plants (but not paphs), there is a small growth called the rostellum which acts as a protective barrier to prevent self-pollination.

Staminode (STAM-i-node) (D)
The staminode is a third (and, perhaps, fourth?) anther that has evolved into a fleshy plate. It sits in front of the other two and assists in luring and guiding pollinators across the anthers and stigma.


Velamen (vel-LAY-min) The velamen of an orchid is the white or silvery cover on roots of epiphytic orchids. This is a multilayered structure (multiple epidermis) of dead cells with special thickenings in the cell walls. The special thickenings seem to prevent cellular collapse and provide the root with some protection from mechanical injury. When the root is wet, the velamen fills passively with water, aided by perforations or tears in the walls from when the roots went through a drying cycle. While dry, the velamen may provide a barrier to water loss via transpiration from the wet, internal cells of the root.


Velamentous (vel-LAY-men-tus)
A plant which has velamen covered its roots.

Monthly Meeting – July 15, 2015

Bugs, Culture, Potting, and Plant Clinic

Moderator: Wes Addison

Bring in some of those plants that need attention and lets talk about what might be done to help them. Come and share your experiences – successes and failures. This meeting requires lots of participation in order to work! Our discussion will be moderated by Wes Addison, a long time orchid society member.

How many times have you gone into your greenhouse or growing area and looked around and said to yourself – Wow everything is growing great! Then a couple of days later a friend comes by and says what are all those white things on your orchid. Of course you are shocked when you look and realize that what you thought was a wonderfully growing collection turns out to be infected with BUGS and lots of them.


How often have you re-potted your orchids checking them out often to see how they are growing and come to the conclusion that the re-potting went really well. Then six months later half of the orchids are dead. What happened? Why did they die? Why did they look better four months earlier?

How many times have you looked at your orchids one day and they look fine and the next day some of them are covered in black spots or leaves have fallen off? Why did this happen? Those are some of the questions we will discuss at our next meeting.

We as a group will discuss what happened to those plants we re-potted last summer. What went right. What went wrong. And what we might be able to do to correct for the problems that have arisen or to continue on with what have proven to be good re-potting techniques. For those of you who shared your repotting techniques last summer, bring some of those orchids back so we can see the results. For those of us who experienced less than acceptable results don’t bring in the dead orchids or the empty pots but be ready to talk about the failures.

Bugs, those nasty little critters, are always a good topic to discuss. I have lots of experience with bugs and in letting them go from the ”oh, there is one” stage to ”what the heck happened” stage. Every year more pesticides come onto the market and techniques for preventative treatment. We will discuss biological, chemical and bacterial treatments of pests. Everyone should have horror stories about bugs so help us out and bring your stories and suggestions.

Recently, with my newest fascination is with paphs. I have been discovering and dealing with the fungal and bacterial killers of that genera. I use the word dealing with in the loosest terms since I have harmed more paphs in trying to treat them than I have saved. We all have had those nasty black spots cover the leaves of our broad leaved orchids from time to time or suffered from flower spotting or crown rot along with numerous other forms of root rot.

Bring in some of those plants that need attention and lets talk about what might be done to help them. See you at the meeting!

Orchid of the Month July 2015

Judy Forester’s Encyclia radiata


Encyclia radiata is a South American species and a natural epiphyte. I have seen them growing on trees in Belize and Costa Rica but they are very happy growing in a pot, mounted, or on a window sill. I have been growing this plant since 1999, and it is an easy grower and very reliable bloomer. This year, mine has been in bloom since April and is showing no sign of stopping. These upside-down flowers smell like honey and will perfume the room or a greenhouse.

I grow mine on the northeast end of my greenhouse in a section that is without shade cloth. The tops of the plants are within 12″ of the roof and get very strong light. The greenhouse temperature ranges from 50° at night in the winter to a daytime high about 90° during summer. My radiata has survived much higher temperatures for limited amounts of time with some sunburn on leaves when “something breaks” in the greenhouse. The greenhouse waters all plants automatically every four days this time of year. The greenhouse humidity is higher than most others.

This lovely plant is suitable for all growers from beginner to expert and is, in my opinion, a must for any collection. It is very temperature tolerant, and can be grown in a house or a greenhouse. Producing several new growths per year, it can be easily grown to a specimen sized plant, or kept at a desired size by dividing. Your orchid growing friends will be delighted to receive divisions.

Synonyms for Encyclia radiata include Prosthechea radiata, Ancheilium radiatum, Epidendrum marginatum and Epidendrum radiata.

Plant characteristics:


Height: 10-12″
Growth type: Upright with spindle-shaped pseudo-bulbs and a 2-3 medium green narrow leaves on each bulb.
Spike: 4-6″ long carrying 6-12 flowers
Flower size: 1 1/2″
Flowers: white, creamy or greenish colored that present upside down with a cockleshell-shaped lip. They smell delicious!!
Bloom season: In Tucson, late spring into summer. Growers often list this plant as blooming from September to winter.
Temperature: Intermediate to Warm
Pot size: 6″
Potting medium: regular orchid mix containing bark
Re-pot: After blooming when new growths appear and new roots are about 1/2″ long or when plants are growing over the edge of the pot. I have found that plants are happier when re-potted yearly. Divisions containing about four pseudo-bulbs will produce a nice-sized plant.