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In the Garden: Celebrate the beauty of orchids with show and sale at SCC

Orchids are incredibly beautiful and diverse plants. They will take center stage at next weekend’s Orchid Show & Sale hosted by the Spokane Orchid Society.  (Susan Mulvihill/For The Spokesman-Review)
Orchids are incredibly beautiful and diverse plants. They will take center stage at next weekend’s Orchid Show & Sale hosted by the Spokane Orchid Society. (Susan Mulvihill/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Susan Mulvihill For The Spokesman-Review

In February, I attended the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival in Seattle for the first time in two years. All of the show gardens, displays and exhibitors were a sight for this gardener’s sore eyes, but it was the Northwest Orchid Society’s exhibit that I was particularly drawn to there.

It didn’t hurt that the orchids were planted in and around a gorgeous Hartley Botanic greenhouse, but it was the beauty of the flowers that called out to me. Let’s face it, orchids are amazing, exotic and so varied. They exist all over our planet – except in Antarctica and arid deserts – in a wide range of sizes, colors and forms.

Orchids will be celebrated locally at next weekend’s Orchid Show and Sale sponsored by the Spokane Orchid Society. The event, returning after a two-year absence, will provide the perfect opportunity for attendees to admire orchids up close and learn about their care. The modest admission fee of $3 is easy on the budget, as well.

The show vendors are Botanica, Jolah Orchids, Emerald City Orchids, Ken’s Pottery and Courting Frogs Nursery. There will also be talks and demonstrations on orchid culture and repotting. The schedule will be posted on spokaneorchids.org. Attendees are welcome to bring in any of their plants that need to be repotted.

“The orchids entered into the show will be judged by American Orchid Society judges who have undergone in-depth training,” Spokane Orchid Society president Jim Pearce said. “It’s really fun because members will tag along with the judges to see what they’re looking at and why one plant is better than another. I tell members that it’s the best training they’ll ever get.”

The orchid displays will be organized by their genera and grouped by similar plants. This allows the judges to compare the plants. It also helps show attendees look at several species within a single genus and see the differences between them.

With more than 25,000 species of orchids, it can be challenging to choose one – or two or three – to bring home. Pearce offers sage advice so attendees make the right choice and are successful at growing them.

“First ask yourself what cultural conditions you have at home, then buy an orchid that meets those conditions,” he said. “We all have that tendency to buy the pretty one, but it might only last a couple of months, then either die or not bloom again.

“Each orchid has certain cultural needs: They might require high or low light, warmer temperatures, higher humidity, or combinations of these conditions. If a person cannot meet the cultural needs of that orchid, it is doomed to fail. Members of the society and the vendors can match you with the appropriate orchid. All you have to do is ask.”

The Spokane Orchid Society meets in the Manito Park meeting room on the second Wednesday of each month, except in August and December, at 6 p.m. You can also ask questions on their website or on Facebook group page listed under “Spokane Orchid Society Community.”

Susan Mulvihill is author of “The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook.” She can be reached at susan@susansinthegarden.com. Watch this week’s video at youtube.com/susansinthegarden.

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