Annino & Giuseppina Baldassini
& Janice Rogers
AOS Judging Results
Toronto Centre, January 4
'Cloud's Lemon Fritz' CHM/AOS 82 points, Claudio Rossi, Toronto.
'Trembling Tails' CHM/AOS 82 points, Terry and Doug Kennedy, Vandorf.
Toronto Centre, The Toronto Judging Centre monthly judgings
are open to all orchid growers. You need not be a member of AOS or SOOS.
You can bring your plants to the Civic Garden Centre before one o'clock
on the designated Saturday of each month. Plants are judged for AOS
awards in accordance with the Handbook on Judging and Exhibition. If
your plant is awarded there is a US $35 charge for AOS members, US $55
for non AOS members. Non payment forfeits the right to future
judging.The Centre welcomes interested persons to come and
observe the judging. There are opportunities to assist in plant research
and administrative chores, such as registering plants, sorting and
filing slides. Sitting in on the judgings is a great way to learn more
about your favourite plants. There is no obligation to join.
Inge's January 2003 programme notes. Dr Don Garling of Michigan, USA
gave us a very interesting talk on "Pest and Disease Control with Home
Remedies and Magic Potions". I could not write fast enough to get
everything down, but I hope these notes refresh your memory on a few
Orchid diseases can have physiological, nutritional,
cultural, viral, bacterial/fungal or parasitic pest infestations as
An example of a physiological cause could be a genetic
defect that prevents a plant from blooming. An example of a
nutritionally caused problem could be the same lack of flowering caused
by a fertilizer that is not right for the medium the plant is grown in.
For instance a high nitrogen fertilizer is fine for a bark based medium,
because decaying bark uses a lot of nitrogen, but the same high nitrogen
fertilizer used on a plant in an inert medium such as expanded clay
pellets may result in a lot of green growth but no flowers.
Correct culture is of paramount importance, because
with incorrect culture the plant is stressed and will fall prey to
pests, diseases or mimic physiological defects or show nutritional
deficiencies. Don recommends the fertilizer put together by John
Beerbaum for the Michigan State University. It comes in two
formulations, one for deionized water and one for the well water in use
at MSU. He has had fantastic results with it and has seen equally
impressive growth spurts in other peoples' greenhouses as a result of
switching to this formulation. ( Previous speakers Dick wells and Lynn
O’Shaunessy confirmed this opinion )( I cannot say that I have noticed
any difference between it and the Plant Product fertilizers I have been
using Ed. )
For a plant to become diseased you must have a
susceptible host plant, have a pest or pathogen present and stress the
plant in some way.
Stress can be defined
as any condition that predisposes a plant to disease. Such conditions
could be keeping that plant colder than optimal, warmer than optimal,
too bright, too dark, too wet(causes roots to die), watering with poor
quality water or injuring the plant. Also remember that what is optimal
for one plant is deadly for another. Grow what fits the conditions you
To deal with
disease: The best strategy is prevention!
Quarantine newly acquired plants for 3 to 4 weeks to prevent spread of
anything they may harbor. Try to pick out healthy plants! And only buy
plants that grow well under YOUR growing conditions (easier said than
done!!). For instance if your growing conditions provide wet winters
then don't get Chinese paphs. or brachypetalum paphs. because they will
rot on you in the winter.
Have a plant police who inspect all plants given for
auctions, raffles, plants contributed to an exhibit in our annual show
or a SOOS display in another show and sales plants. If a problem is
spotted the owner should be tactfully asked to remove the plant.
Study the correct culture of your plants. For instance
cattleyas need good drainage and drying between watering to not rot,
while masdevallias never want to dry out. Knowledge is power! Purchase
the newest AOS Handbook on Orchid Pests and Diseases. The
recommendations change as the available treatments change. There is a
good book on Orchid Viruses and one on Natural Insect Control available
that are essential reading. Try the AOS mail order bookshop, as their
selection is extensive.
Never dunk two or more plants into the same container
of water . It is a great way to spread diseases from one plant to all
the plants that are dunked into the water the diseased plant had been
To treat a disease, you have to know your orchid. What
cultural conditions it needs, what it is susceptible to and how the
disease shows up in the particular orchid. The same cause shows
different symptoms in different genera.
For example, Cattleyas are susceptible to viruses and
you must find out what the symptoms are. They are also susceptible to
boisduval scale. Phalaenopsis on the other hand are susceptible to
virus, to mealybugs, especially nasty are root mealybugs, as well as
brown scale, botrytis of the flowers in cool weather and false spider
mite in dry environments.
Always be on the look-out for signs of disease so that
you can catch it early. If yellow spots appear on leaves check on the
reverse and identify the causal agent. Know the life cycle of pests and
diseases so that you can look at the right time and place for the
particular agent of disease. For instance, scales have a crawler stage
and an adult stage where the latter protects the eggs under its body
shell. Now (January) is the time to look for boisduval scale, because
the crawlers are hatching fast and furious and must be controlled
quickly to save cattleyas and other genera such as cymbidiums.
You have to know how a pest or disease agent is
transmitted so that you can take precautions. You must also know how to
control the disease agent. For instance, control aphids because they not
only damage soft plant parts, but transmit viruses between plants.
There is no cure for it, therefore burn infected
plants. However, there are virus look-alikes and you must make sure you
do have a virus by having it tested. Virus look-alikes can be genetic
abnormalities, some fungal and bacterial infections, mesophyll
collapse(may be caused by cold water shock- to prevent it use a faucet
attachment that contains a thermometer, as is used in bathroom shower
heads and get continuous adjustment to a pre-set temperature), botrytis
petal blight, sepal wilt (caused by such things as alcohol in the air),
sunburn, tip burn (can be caused by over-fertilization or fungus
infection) and insect damage such as false spider mite damage.
Virus Detection: Can use indicator plants, but it is not easy to do it
correctly ( the juice of the tested plant must be rubbed onto the leaf
of the indicator plant with Carborundum powder using just the right
pressure so that the epidermis is ruptured but not so hard that the
mesophyll collapses and the injury can't be told apart from the collapse
caused by the reaction of the indicator plant to virus infection. Also
the indicator plants are not always easy to get or grow.)
A better method is any one of several biochemical
assays done by various labs. The most frequent test is the ELISA test
(Enzyme Linked ImmunoabSorbent Assay?). Don also mentioned a SIN(?) and
an ENTA(?) test.
The best method is
examining a sample of the plant in question with an electron microscope.
Bean mosaic virus for example is easy to see with this microscope. You
may make a deal with a lab or a university to get it done, because you
have to be trained to use such a microscope.
Many plants are symptom free but carry a virus anyway.
It has been estimated that 30% of any collection is virused! It used to
be said that paphiopedilums do not get viruses, but a recent test of a
paph collection came up with a 4% infection rate. Plants long in
cultivation and used for the cut flower trade are most likely to be
infected. For instance Paph. King Arthur from the tested collection was
Manual transmission by the use of unsterilized
tools, pots, table tops, benches, hands, reused water for watering
several plants, is the most frequent cause.
Insect transmission as mentioned before for aphids, is
Propagules are also found on seeds harvested by green
pod culture, in divisions of virused plants and in mericlones obtained
from virused plants.The latter source is responsible for the huge
increase of virused plants in collections, since mericlones were first
produced in an attempt to rid a plant of a virus. It does not work for
most genera. If carefully done it sometimes works for cymbidiums.
Purchase only plants from vendors that
guarantee their plants to be virus free. Check periodically, since the
status of these guarantees can change.
Test all suspect plants. Suspect plants that show
symptoms, large showy plants,( because they get into contact with more
plants and can become infected more frequently), older hybrids and older
Prevent transmission by sanitation, insect control and
by avoiding overcrowding.
Bacterial and Fungal Rots
There are more than a hundred species of bacteria and
fungi that are a problem with orchids. Most bacterial rots are wet and
mushy such as crown rot in phalaenopsis, but the dry rusty leaf rot of
paphiopedilums is also bacterial. Most fungal infections are dry, not
mushy such as the shot hole fungus found on some soft leaved orchids.
Remedies, see later.
Mealy bugs are scale insects that have mobile adults.
The root mealy bugs are very hard to control without systemic
insecticides. Cinnamite works better than most chemicals, probably
because the alcohol it contains gets through their waxy covering.
Brown scale has mobile crawlers or immature stages.
The crawler stage is the only stage that can be attacked with the
methods available to the ordinary householder. It has to be sprayed once
a week, repeat to a total of at least three times. You can use the light
oils (not dormant oils!), neem oil with dishwash detergent -more on this
later) or cinnamite (Home preparation, later).
Nymphs and adults cause damage. See streaks or a
picotee on pink or lavender flowers. (An ignorant vendor liked the
picotee and sold such infested plants for a higher price at a show until
alerted by someone that the picotee was not genetic!!)
Thrips are attracted to blue. To know if you have them
get blue sticky strips or paint some blue cards with tanglefoot and hang
amongst suspect plants. Little black specks on the card after a day or
so indicates the presence of this pest.
Are very tiny and most species cannot be seen with the
unaided eye. The two-spotted mite can be seen and it also leaves webs
that are easily spotted.
They cause silvering of leaves by sucking out the cell
content from the skin of the plant.
Cinnamite works well with this pest.
Spay 3 times two days apart, since this pest has a
fast life cycle. Switch amongst 2 or 3 chemicals for further treatments
to prevent the development of resistance.
Slugs and Snails
Signs of their presence are holes in plant parts,
flowers especially, thin glistening slime trails and pieces missing of
Copper wire wound around areas to stop them at, work
soso. 10 centimeter high copper sheets get expensive when used as
barriers. Metaldehyde sprays work well, but are quite toxic to other
animals and children.
The best is Iron phosphate for snails and slugs from
Safers. Non-toxic to other animals and plants and very effective.
Know the water you use on your orchids, since it has a
large impact on your culture.
If it has a high pH the chemicals of your fertilizer
will precipitate out resulting in deficiencies whose symptoms might be
mistaken for virus.
Also if your water contains a lot of carbonate ,
copper fungicides do not work because the copper combines with the
carbonate and precipitates out.
If you use rain water or Reverse Osmosis (R-O) water,
you should use continuous low rate fertilisation otherwise the pure
water will leach all the nutrients out of your pots and the plants
Removal of pest or diseased portion works well in many
instances. Aphids can be sprayed off with a strong spray of water.
To prevent fungus spores from settling on your plants,
increase air movement. Don't water when it is cold and wet , because
fungi and molds sporulate at that time. Water early in the day and
provide lots of fans so that surfaces dry off quickly.
Smothering agents work well, but must be used with
caution because they can kill plant parts if sun shines on the treated
part too soon. To prevent this phototoxicity of parafinic oils such as "Ultrafine"
use on overcast or rainy days only.
Pepper is an insectal antifeedant.
Neem oil contains an antifeedant and an agent that
prevents metamorphosis and on top of that it smothers the insects. (
More later )
Home remedy for mites and
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of light oil such as
canola oil or light mineral oil
1 teaspoon rubbing alcohol
1 teaspoon Ivory soap (from Health Food store,
because the newest version in the grocery stores contains all sorts of
in one quart of water.
Spray every day for two weeks for mites
and every day for 3 weeks for scale insects
Chemical Treatment Evaluation
We have to determine how effective it is in
controlling the pest or disease and weigh that against the toxicity.
There is also the problem of its legal use . The only legal use is that
stated on the container.
Enstar (very effective agaist the insect order that
contains aphids, scale insects, mealy bugs and white flies) may be used
one time according to the container, but one person on the internet
recommends using it once a week!!
Also orchids are not often mentioned on containers,
because until recently they were not commercially important enough.
However, whenever pot plants, house plants, ornamentals are mentioned,
we can legally consider the use on orchids to be legal too, because
orchids belong into all of those categories. But be sure to try the
chemical on a few plants you can afford to lose first, before spraying
the whole collection.
Also remember not to overtreat. The chemical is a
poison and the higher the rate used, the higher level the organism that
gets killed or harmed by it.
Some chemicals mimic the action of a hormone (eg.,
Enstar) and in hormones dose is crucial. So use at exactly the rate
recommended and don't use old outdated chemicals. Do dispose of them
safely, they could do enormous harm, because hormones work at minute
concentrations. Find out where the local hazardous waste pick-up site is
and take all discarded pesticides there.
Always LABEL the containers that you store your
chemicals in. It is amazing how quickly we can forget the content of a
container that we were sure would forever remain in our memory. NEVER
store pesticides in cold drink bottles. It could cause the death of a
Evaluation of Home Remedies:
Snail and Slug Control:
Beer is not useful, since they crawl out again by
Potato-cut and place cut side down on top of bark.
Pick off catch in morning and drop into alcohol or saturated salt
Yoghourt- put on platter and fish out catch in
Salt - forget it, it harms plants.
Copper wire- won't crawl over it most of the time, but
when mating the slime gets thicker and they ignore the wire.
(10 centimeter wide thin copper strips were not
mentioned by Don.)
Diatomaceous earth- gets watered away with every
Flash light and chop sticks- hunt at night and pick up
with chop sticks and drop into alcohol. Reduces number only.
(Metaldehyde works but is dangerous, Safers Iron
phosphate is the best bet)
They spread aphids and scale insects around, since
they farm them for the fluids they "milk" out of them. Spread boric acid
powder ( Borax ) for control. They will ingest it when they clean
themselves and dehydrate to death.
Remedies to fight
both Insects and Diseases
70 to 90% isopropyl alcohol- spray every 3 days for
two weeks or dab onto pest with cotton wool swab.
If you must use something new, try it on a few plants
of every genus first and only use it on the rest of the genus if the
test plants survive.
3 to 5% hydrogen
peroxide is a great fungicide and bactericide. Buy only small quantities
at a time, because once the bottle is opened it very quickly denatures
into plain water!
Cinnamon and cloves are great bactericides and
fungicides. You can apply the powders directly to the affected area or
make a poultice with flour or with Elmer's glue and apply or you can
make an extract using two tablespoons of cinnamon in a pint of isopropyl
alcohol, let it sit two days in a fairly warm spot, then decant off the
liquid and spray with it on a dull day. This liquid works well
for mites and mealybugs as well.
Fill a bucket with good sphagnum moss, and then fill
it with warm water. Let it sit for a few days and then use the decanted
water as a fungicide and bactericide. This recipe came to Don from Dick
Wells and Dick uses a cup of the decanted water per repotted plant to
water it in and reduce infections through the wounds made by the
( Not for Plants )
Bleach - a 24 hour soak of utensils in a 10% solution,
rinsed two times with plain water before use works well.
Saturated solution of Trisodium Phosphate - use 1 to 4
tablespoons per US gallon. Spray monthly to keep down spores, but don't
use with a metal greenhouse, because the solution corrodes it.
Heat inactivation - heat utensil to 300 degrees
Fahrenheit for one hour, or hold into flame of a propane torch until
red-hot. But buy one of the short squat cylinders, because the tall
cylinders are too tippy and you could burn yourself, your clothing or
Use disposable razor blades for cutting.
To sterilize scissors hold each side of each blade
into the flame for 3 to 5 seconds. Use the thicker bladed scissors to
make them last longer. Don himself has 25 pairs of scissors that he uses
one after the other and then sterilizes when he has some time.
Work on sheets of old newspaper and throw each sheet
out after being used to work on one plant.
Use rubber gloves which can then be washed with
physidex(?) which is a fungicide, bactericide and viricide after
handling each plant.
Many botanicals are just as toxic as man-made
chemicals and must be used with extreme care.
Pyrethrum is safe for mammals but is very toxic to
frogs and fish. So don't kill your resident frogs and toads or the
goldfish you are overwintering in the plant room.
Rotenone and nicotine are toxic for us to.
Neem oil - not all formulations are equally effective.
Safer's Bio-Neem seems to contain only the azadirachtin component of the
oil and Don has not found it to work. He suggests we get it from sources
that have the thick, brown oil and use it at the rate of 1 to 3
tablespoons per American gallon of warm water. Use the higher rate for
thick leaved plants. As mentioned earlier it contains an anti-feeding
and an anti-molting agent. Use one tsp. alcohol and one tsp. liquid
detergent as an emulsifying agent with it.
Cygon -2E will be withdrawn shortly because it is too
dangerous. It also caused genetic defects. It was the best killer for
mealybugs, because you really need a systemic to eradicate them.
There is a new systemic available in the USA which can
be used if you are desperate! It has the trade name Marathon, but costs
US$ 300 for quite a small amount It is used as a drench at the rate of 1
to 3 tablespoons per gallon.
You should note that the front panel of a pesticide
container contains the cautions for its use.
If it says "Caution" it means it is slightly toxic to
If it says "Warning" it means it is moderately toxic
and may be restricted to licenced operators for its
If it says "Danger/Poison" it is very toxic and the
user must follow all precautions and may only be used by certified
The back panel gives detailed use information, such as
the plants it may be used on, the dose for various species and storage
information such how to store it and for how long and how to dispose of
container and/or unused outdated portions.
Comparing a contact insecticide to a systemic one: the
contact one is easier on new growth of the plants, but the systemic will
get the hidden pests too and usually stay active longer.
Comparing a wettable powder and an emulsifiable
liquid: the wettable powder is safer to use, but less convenient because
they may clog up sprayers. The emulsifiable liquids contain a solvent
which makes them easier to take up- by both plants and operator!
You should have separate sprayers for horticultural
oils, home remedies and synthetic pesticides because remnants left from
one spray can interact with the next type.. For instance, alcohol can
increase toxicity of pesticides and so can horticultural oil.
These in general are not an eradication but a control
of numbers. Predatory mites are the exception in that if they are
introduced in sufficient numbers and while the temperature is
sufficiently high, they will eradicate their prey mite.
These controls work best in enclosed spaces and the
control and pest have to be matched.
Note that the brown ladybug bites and therefore is not
a good predator for your living room plants!
Wayne Eyles again gave us a
few cultural tips to help members have beautiful plants for the show. I
also spoke with him afterward and got a few more hints: Use warm water
to water your plants. They will take the water up more quickly and will
not get a shock. Some phalaenopsis will even get collapsed spots on
their leaves if they are watered with water that is too cold.
If a plant has had too dry an environment give it a
boost and rewet the medium throughly at the same time by soaking the pot
for two hours in a solution of water and weak fertilizer.
To increase local humidity around an orchid in a dry
house, set it on a pebble tray filled almost to the top of the pebbles
with water, so that your plants sit over water but not in it.
Water spots are very hard to get off once they have
dried, but are very easy to wick up while they are still wet. If you
have neglected that part of your plants' appearance, rub spots gently
with slightly acidulated water or water with a bit of milk in it. Rinse
after with clear water and wick dry. Do this well before the show,
before flowers are in the way! Inge Poot
Question: I bought a
phalaenopsis orchid a week ago. When I purchased it, the lady told me I
don't need to fertilize it when it is flowering, however, my friend told
me I need to fertilize it every 2nd week while it is flowering. Would
you please tell me when should I fertilize the orchid?
Answer: It would be better
if you did feed your plant on a regular basis at 1/4 the strength
given on the fertilizer directions.
Question: Can I use ice
cubes on orchids to cool them enough to set flowers?
Answer: Don’t try it on warm
growers such as phalaenopsis, because you might kill them, but it can
and has been done with cymbidiums. Put a few ice cubes on the medium
every evening for one month in the fall. It is not necessary to do it,
if you can drop the night temperature 20 Fahrenheit degrees (about 10
Celsius degrees) below the day temperature.
Question: Does smoking with
orchids harm the orchids?
Answer: Not nearly as much
as it harms the smoker and anyone near him or her! The orchids don’t
mind the smoke, but the smoker might get some tobacco mosaic virus(TMV)
on his hands while smoking and if he then touches an orchid -fairly hard
- it could cause an infection, in isolated cases. Viruses are very host
specific and the normal TMV does not infect orchids, just tobacco. But
viruses mutate a lot and fairly rapidly. So chances are not all that
small that one of the viruses transferred to the orchid has mutated so
that it can infect the orchid. Each tiny bit of infected tobacco
contains unbelievably many virus particles so even a small rate of
mutation translates into a very small chance of infection.
next Committee Meeting is scheduled for February 4, 7 pm, at the
home of Inger Brania
show will be April 4-6 this year instead of the regular February date.
This is because SOOS will be hosting the Canadian Orchid Congress and
the Mid America Orchid Congress. To accommodate holding the show and the
congress meetings and lectures in one place, we have reserved the Inn on
the Park at Leslie Street and Eglinton Avenue East. The show and sales
area will be in the Centennial Ball Room. We are expecting participants
from the USA and Canada as well as Ecuador and possibly Taiwan.
It is time to
talk to show committee members about where you might volunteer come
April. Volunteer sheets will be out at the February meeting.
Volunteering will give you free show admission and a great time with
your orchid friends.Here are their names and functions:
Peter Poot; Chair person and registration of
delegates, exhibitors and vendors,
Robin McLaughllin, and Max Wilson; congress program book, and
registrants goody bags,
Judy Floyd; publicity,
Joe O’Regan; treasurer
Diane Ryley; show design and setup,
and Margaret Baird;
chairman of judges;
David Bryan; clerks;
Kennedy; trophies and
Wayne Eyles; SOOS exhibit,
Bob Floyd; SOOS sales table
Inger Brania; security and entry desk;
Pommells; SOOS and
AOS membership and coat and plant check,
Doug Kennedy; hotel meal arrangements and speakers
Michael Jabir; hospitality room;
and customs clearance,
Individual plants can be placed in the SOOS exhibit. To enter your
own exhibit or to attend the congress lectures you need to register for
the congress. Registration and Display Space application forms are
available from Peter Poot, phone 905-640-5643 or at the meeting. Or you
can download the forms at www.soos.ca
Your Membership in SOOS Now