Annual Tropical Plant Society Orchid show Saturday and Sunday

pclark@modbee.comApril 4, 2014 

  • Orchid show and sale

    WHEN: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday,

    10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

    WHERE: Stanislaus Union

    Elementary School

    multipurpose room,

    1931 Kiernan Ave., Modesto

    ADMISSION: Free

    CALL: (209) 545-4732

Talk about a greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse at Susan Wedegaertner’s Modesto home is filled with beauty, and the effect produces a dazzling view of orchids and other tropical plants.

Lovers of those plants – or folks who just want to enjoy some blooms – can get a look Saturday and Sunday at Wedegaertner’s handiwork and that of the other members of the Tropical Plant Society of Modesto at the club’s 34th annual Orchid Show and Sale.

People also can get tips on growing the delicate orchids and other tropical plants, and watch potting demonstrations.

Wedegaertner is president of the Tropical Plant Society and show chairwoman. She said the show draws orchid aficionados as well as neophytes to view and learn about the exotic plants.

“People who attend the show are people wanting to see different types of orchids,” she said in an email interview. “Some who visit the show are experienced, but most are novices who come to get advice on their orchids.”

About 25 types of orchids will be represented at the show, as well as other plants, such as bromeliads, African violets and carnivorous varieties.

The most common question people have about growing orchids, Wedegaertner said, has to do with repotting, which is different from most houseplants. “Orchids are not potted in potting soil,” she explained. “Their roots are ‘air roots,’ so they need to be potting in orchid bark, sphagnum moss, anything where air and water can get to the roots.”

While Wedegaertner has a greenhouse at her home, where she has about 30 types of orchids growing, that’s not the case for most people who want to keep their exotic plants healthy. She said the most important thing to ensure success in growing orchids begins with the very pot it which it’s placed.

“If the plant is in a decorative pot, please make sure the pot has a drain hole. People are very good about watering their orchid, but if the pot does not have a drain hole, the plant ends up drowning,” she said. “If the pot does not have a drain hole, then take the plant out of the decorative pot – the orchid is usually in another pot – take (it) to the sink and water well with semi-warm water. Let (it) drain in the sink. Then put the plant back into the decorative pot.”

She said orchids like early morning sun and should be kept away from hot afternoon sun that can burn the plant during the spring and summer months.

“Water in the morning and keep water off of the leaves,” she said. “If water gets on the leaf, just towel dry. If your kitchen gets early morning sun, that is a great place since you have natural humidity, because of cooking, and air movement – opening cabinets.”

Tips like those and more will be handed out this weekend by the 28 members of the Tropical Plant Society, a club that began in 1977. Most of those members were drawn to growing orchids because of the plant’s diversity, Wedegaertner said.

“Flowers on some plants – Phalaenopsis and Cattleyas – can last several months. Some orchid plants are small and some can grow to be very tall,” she said. “Flowers can come in very different colors, white, pink, green, yellow, lavender, with spots, with stripes and with spot and stripes.”

Wedegaertner herself was drawn to orchids after a tour of an orchid and rose garden in Watsonville many years ago.

“I liked the look of the orchids they had on display and bought my first orchid that day. It was something my father and I did together,” she said. Now, she’s been growing orchids and other tropical plants for more than 35 years and has been a judge for the American Orchid Society.

So what’s the biggest challenge when it comes to growing orchids?

“For most people, it is to purchase an orchid that is good for their growing conditions,” Wedegaertner said. “Some people will purchase an orchid because they like the flower, never understanding that the plant’s growing conditions may not fit into the environment a person has in their house.”

That’s good information for people planning on attending the show this weekend, where several plants will be available for purchase – and plenty of club members will be on hand to give them just such personalized advice.

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