The Arizona Orchidist Newsletter 

published by

The Orchid Society Of Arizona, Inc.

Founding Editor Clarence S. Lindsten, 1966 



The Arizona Orchidist Newsletter July 1999

The next Board will be held on June 27 at 1:00 p.m. at Lou Ann Remeikis' house.  The address is 237 N. Corinne Circle, Gilbert.  Directions to her house are:  From the intersection of Guadalupe and Gilbert Roads go East on Guadalupe to Burk St., South on Burk to Hearne Way, East on Hearne to La Arboleta Drive, South on La Arboleta to Vaughn Avenue, East on Vaughn to Corrine Circle.  I suggest you use a map along with these directions.  As  always, the meeting is open to all members.

The next regular society monthly meeting will be Thursday, July 1, 1999, at the Valley Garden Center, 1809 N. 15th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona, (phone 252-2120).  The meeting, open to all plant enthusiasts, will start at 7:00 p.m.

Refreshments will be provided by:  Joe Freasier and Wayne Baker (beverage) and Shirley Norman and Shirley Engberg (edible items).  Thank you

Refreshment Committee.

Grower on Call for July is  Joe Freasier, 602-840-4046

OSA Web Site is  http://welcome.to/orchidsocietyaz

Everything you wanted to know about SEX but were afraid to ask!

I hope to see a great turn-out to the July meeting. Everyone should enjoy the topic of SEX (relating to orchids, of course). 
We will be entertained, I mean educated, with a video on the subject.  We will have a state-of-the-art big screen television with VCR for our viewing pleasure! Maybe we should provide popcorn as our snack!

Lou Ann Remeikis

Am I the only one having a difficult time believing it is JULY?  Time is flying so quickly - summer will be over before we know it.  September will be here in the blink of an eye, so don't delay in reserving your seat to attend the San Diego Orchid Fair.  Deadline is July 24th! I do not want to omit thanking the donors to the raffle table for June.  We received raffle items from Wilella Stimmell, Suz Cramer, Peggy Stejskal, Joe Freaser, Bernice Ehrlich's estate, OSA and myself.  At this time I want to thank those who contributed to the raffle table during our May meeting:
Phillip Liu, Pam Albright, Natalie Warford, Kathleen Luther, August Lorenzini, Wilella Stimmell, Bernice Ehrlich's estate, and OSA.  The raffle would not exist without the contributions of our generous members, and the eagerness of the membership to purchase raffle tickets.

Please welcome John and Ramona Sramek as new members to our family.  We saw John and Ramona as guests in May, and they officially joined our group at the June meeting.  Annette Hurst has rejoined OSA.  Annette just finished law school and we were happy to see her back. 

The following is a continuation of items needed by the residents of the VA Medical Center in Prescott.  As you know, the August OSA Board of Directors meeting is being hosted in Prescott (Saturday, August 7th) at the VAMC.  The "wish list" provided to us by the VAMC was so lengthy I have decided to place additional items from this list in this month's and in August's newsletters.  If you want to donate any of these items to the VAMC, and do not plan on attending the Board meeting in Prescott, please bring your donations to the July or August meeting and the Board of Directors will deliver the items.  If you forget to bring items to the monthly general meeting, and have items you wish to donate, please contact one of the Board members and we can try to make arrangements to get them.  I wish to thank one of our guests from June's meeting, Robert Baran, who is donating a copy of his book, Designing Dwarfs in the Desert, to be taken to the VAMC.  There is a saying - charity begins at home; however, it is nice to know that people still believe in assisting others - after all the world is our home!

Additional items needed by VAMC:  needle and thread repair kits, shaving cream, hand/body lotion, body powder, bar soap, laundry soap, fabric softener, toothpaste, denture cleaning items, coffee makers, ironing boards, steam irons, hairdryers, pencils, pens, paper (stationery), videos, books, magazines, crossword puzzles, talking books (audio tapes), blankets, pillows, wind chimes, bird feeders, birdseed, suncatchers, or anything else you feel the residents could benefit from.  If possible, the personal items
should be in small sizes, but they will accept the large sizes too.

Dr.  John Atwood of the Orchid Identification Center has offered to assist any of our members with identification of unknown orchids by using his computer funded by OSA.  Dr.  Atwood advised that if a scanned photo of the orchid (in bloom) is sent to him he would attempt to identify the orchid by use of that photograph. 

Don't forget to get your order in for the Desert Gardening for Beginners: How to Grow Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs in an Arid Climate.  This new book is available at local bookstores or can be purchased at the Maricopa County Extension Office or one of their three satellite offices.  Should you wish to order the book for delivery, make checks payable to U of A in the amount of $9.95 ($7.95 plus $2.00 for S&H) and send to Arizona Master Gardener
Press, 4341 ED.  Broadway Road, Box 103, Phoenix, AZ 85040.

All my best from my "greenhouse" to yours -


For when a man falls in love with orchids, he'll do anything to possess the one he wants. It's like chasing a green-eyed woman or
taking cocaine. . . .It's a sort of madness. . . .
-Norman MacDonald, The Orchid Hunters, 1939

by Wilella Stimmell, CSP Coordinator

n May 18th, at 12:30 p.m., OSA presented a hands-on program for 28 1st and 2nd grade students at Squaw Peak School, 4601 N. 34th St., Phoenix. OSA members who provided display plants and assistance during the program were Shirley Engberg, Norma Kafer, Keith Mead, and myself.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that Janet Chapin, teacher of the class, had a blooming phalaenopsis plant on display in the classroom when we arrived.

After the children admired our blooming display plants and asked a number of questions about orchid culture, they eagerly set to work repotting their seedlings.  Although we were working in close quarters (28 students each requiring work space in a room more designed for a maximum of half as many children), the students were well behaved. 

Each program we present is slightly different because the mix of children is always different. This was the first program, however, where losing a tooth was part of the activity! One young lady lost a tooth, and for a brief time, we feared the tooth might have become lost in the bark mix. (It would be easy to mistake a tooth for a piece of perlite!) However, one of her classmates found the
tooth, placed it in a plastic bag, and the repotting action resumed.

The date of the program at Squaw Peak coincided with a news item about a new discovery of a molecule that was extracted from fungus found on a plant collected in the rain forest of the Republic of the Congo. Scientists have found that this molecule, when introduced to rats who are insulin dependent, makes it possible to discontinue insulin shots. It's a long way from rats to humans, but there is hope that one day insulin-dependent diabetics might not have to take insulin injections. After we mentioned this discovery, one young man raised his hand and said that he was an insulin-dependent diabetic. We were both glad we had mentioned the discovery (it gave the young boy hope) and sad (that one so young had such a problem). We draw the conclusion for the students: without rain forests, there are no plants and no fungi from which new drugs and new cures can be discovered.

The children would not let us depart from their classroom without taking each one of us by the hand and leading us outside to their butterfly garden. They obviously take great pride in caring for their plants.

Space is still available for the September 25th San Diego field trip. Cost to members is $100 of which $50 will be refunded in cash at the fair. Contact Keith Mead by July 24 at 480-496-5762 for reservations.

FROM THE ARCHIVES OF THE ARIZONA ORCHIDIST,  September, 1992, pages 6 & 7. 

In an attempt to present the most current information on the subject of sulfur, we contacted the "author" of the article, Harry Tolen. We asked him for his permission to reprint "his" article and whether there were any changes he would like to make to the original manuscript. To our great surprise, Harry replied that he was NOT the author of the article but that he thought it was an excellent article. The passage of time plays nasty tricks on our memories, and so we asked Harry if he might simply have forgotten that he wrote the article seven years ago. To that suggestion he
replied that he couldn't have forgotten that which he never knew! Therefore, we are listing the author of this in-depth article as unknown.

"What do you know about sulfur?  Is it good or bad for your plants? Sulfur is actually the fourth major nutrient that your plants require.  Over the years, sulfur has been ignored (or overlooked) as an important plant nutrient by many orchid growers.

Now Sulfur is back in the news. Plant nutritionists have long known the benefits of sulfur in plant growth and development. Here is an outline of the nutritional importance of sulfur, and it will shed light on some questions that growers typically ask about this nutrient.

Sulfur's role in plant nutrition:
Sulfur is an essential plant nutrient. It is utilized by plants in only one chemical form, the sulfate ion (SO4). While sulfur can be supplied in many forms, as free elemental sulfur (S), sulfide sulfur (S-), and organic sulfur both natural and synthetic, all these forms must be in the oxidized state before root utilization can occur.

Sulfur is often listed as a "secondary" plant nutrient because, though used in moderate amounts, it is normally not as deficient for crop production as are nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K). The most common form of sulfur in natural and artificial soils is the inorganic oxidized form, sulfate. The sulfate ion is very soluble in soils and does not accumulate. Being soluble, it is easily leached and must be replenished to maintain proper soil fertility.

Organic sulfur and sulfide sulfur must be mineralized (changed to sulfate) through chemical and microbial decomposition and oxidation to become available.

Mineral soils low in organic matter like sandy or loamy soils are prone to sulfur deficiency and must be supplemented periodically. Peat and bark artificial soil mixes are also typically low in sulfur, and must be supplemented both as pre-plant mixes and after planting.

What does sulfur do in plants?
Although absorbed in the form of sulfate, S is reduced in plant cells and incorporated into various organic compounds. It is a constituent of the amino acids cystine, cysteine, and methionine. Thus, proteins containing these amino acids also contain sulfur.

Thiamine, biotin and coenzyme, an essential in normal plant metabolism, also contain sulfur. The nonheme iron proteins of photosynthesis contain sulfur at levels roughly equal to the amount of iron present.

The characteristic odor of certain plants including onions, garlic, leeks, mustard, cress and cabbage, contain large amounts of volatile, oily organic sulfur compounds.  The role of these compounds is poorly understood, but may be involved in plant defensive mechanisms against insects. Deficiencies of sulfur, like those of nitrogen and potash, restrict synthesis of certain proteins. Low sulfur is associated with low levels of carbohydrates and accumulations of soluble nitrogen compounds, mainly nitrate nitrogen.  Nitrate accumulates in plants growing in low sulfur soils because it can't be readily converted to protein.  If nitrate accumulates, it may reach toxic levels in plant cells, leading ultimately to foliage burn.

Essentially, what happens is you see foliar burn due to high nitrate salts even where your feeding program is NOT excessive.

Sulfur is critically important in ornamental plant nutrition.

What are the symptoms of sulfur deficiency?
Sulfur deficiencies are similar to nitrogen deficiencies. This may confuse even the most expert plant nutritionist.  Whereas nitrogen deficiency typically causes initial yellowing in the oldest leaves, and ultimately causes yellowing of the entire plant, sulfur deficiency causes an overall yellowing.  Nutritionists often refer to this appearance as an 'overall yellowish cast'. 
Because protein synthesis is retarded, stunting or very slow growth is common.

As mentioned previously, nitrate salts can accumulate in leaf blades of susceptible plants, leading to leaf tip burn, burn on leaf margins due to guttation salts, and interveinal neurosis.

How much sulfur is enough for my plants? How much is too much?
A large body of hydroponic research over the past 5 decades suggests a constant feed level of about 25 to 50 ppm SO4 as S being adequate for most crops. Can you feed too much sulfur? At some point osmotic (salt) effects will limit the amount of SO4 you can regularly feed. Some reports suggest as much as 150 to 180 ppm SO4 as S can be fed with no harm, so long as no other salts are in harmful levels. This is not always achievable. Test your water if you don't know what your S level is. The water test report usually gives S as SO4. Multiply by 0.333 to get the SO4 as S value in parts per million. Fertilizer Sulfur Sources Undoubtedly the best S source is Epsom Salt constantly fed at 25 to 55 ppm Magnesium. At this magnesium rate, you will also be feeding 33 to 65 ppm
SO4S. When Epsom Salt is used as a regular part of your feeding program, you will never need supplemental S. Use Epsom Salt for magnesium and you'll never have a sulfur deficiency!

Another excellent S source is agricultural gypsum. Applied preplanting at a rate of 1 to 5 pounds per cubic yard, you will provide a slow release source of both calcium and sulfur. The finer the grind of gypsum, the more rapidly it will dissolve and leach with regular watering.

Another good water soluble sulfate source, besides Epsom Salt, is ammonium sulfur which contains 21% nitrogen (N) and 24% sulfate sulfur.

You might experiment some if your plants are slightly yellow, fertilized regularly and not getting too much light.  It could be a problem with the sulfur in your present fertilizer, or the lack of same. Some commercial fertilizers contain sulfur in the mix. If you can't find one perhaps you could try the Epsom Salt method. Epsom Salt is used by many commercial growers at about one tablespoon a gallon of water to enhance root growth. They swear by it."

An internet search for information on sulfur revealed a document on the University of Florida Extension Service web site titled Soils and Plant Nutrition by Jimmy Street and Gerald Kidder. There seems to be at least one paragraph from the archival article on sulfur that is very similar to a paragraph contained within the UF document, but the archival article is more sulfur-specific than the document on the web site. Perhaps one or both of the authors of the web site document were responsible for the original article that appeared in our newsletter?

Also found on the internet was an outstanding plant nutrition "manual" on the Texas A & M Plant Physiology and Plant Biotechnology Dept. web site. Color pictures of mineral deficiencies in plants are included. A complete print out, including pictures, from this web site will be available for viewing at our July meeting.

Gerda and Emiko speaking!

After the article appeared in the Red Rock News about us, we are now 26 members strong.  We meet irregularly on Sundays at 2 PM in my house. We started the club in January of this year.  Since almost all grocery stores in our area now carry Phalaenopsis' and Cymbidiums, there are lots of people having the need to learn more  about the plants, how to care for them -- and a year later -- how to get them to bloom again.  Here WE come in! At our first meeting we talked about the different genera of orchids and which orchids to avoid for growing in the house and our area in general.  We
talked about different growing media and I demonstrated how to pot an orchid in the middle of my living room!  (On a plastic throw sheet!) In February we had, besides some theory, a raffle table and everybody marched home with one of my many LC Chit Chat "Tangerines."  In March I had my Vanilla plant blooming and we tumbled from a bloody beginning in orchid growing to a sophisticated hand pollination, standing on a ladder in the greenhouse.  This was my first time of hand pollinating too and I learned a lot from this.

Next we progressed to the secret of the magic 3 numbers on fertilizers and the culture of those orchids that the club members have.  Some people have enlarged their windowsill culture from 1 plant to 8-10 plants!  They really got bitten by the "orchid bug"  -- and there is no cure for it, as you know for yourself! This time, in June, we discussed pests (with a live show and a magnification glass) and diseases and how to detect them from their symptoms; also, how to eradicate them with chemicals, or better, with household sprays.  We also had a door prize -- a really cuuuute miniature -- a HOWEARA, which Willella (bugged by me on Sunday) identified as a hybrid between a Leocallis, Oncidium and a Rhodriguezia.  It has 5 brownish red flowers on a 3-inch stem!

In the fall, in October, we resume the meetings of the Sedona Club -- your Keiki Club -- when I have returned from my European trip, visiting all my different nieces and nephews who are spread between Denmark and Greece.  At that time a few of our members will be ready to visit you at your meeting in Phoenix and -- maybe -- come by car to the San Diego show!

Excerpt from an interview with Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief,  in the May 3, 1999 issue of Forbes magazine. 
Forbes:  Why do orchids inspire obsession? It's their complexity.  I don't think you could look at a daisy over and over and think about different ways of reconfiguring it.  When orchids are in bloom, it's like the world stops around them.  They stay in bloom for two months sometimes and are like an animal.  They seem to have some sort of intelligence.  They're also the largest flowering plant family found on the planet.  That allows for endless combinations of hybridizing, endless opportunities to think about classification and crossing them and heritage and pedigrees.  Even if you don't like orchids, you can't deny that they are astonishing.

Why is orchid collecting dominated by men?
Originally, because they were expensive.  And there was also this notion in Victorian England that orchids were simply too sexual looking.

-submitted by Peggy Stejskal

Attention Orchid Growers!

You say your orchid hobby has drained your bank account but never filled it? Here's a chance to possibly refill your bank account (or at least provide more money with which to buy...more orchids!) The winner of the 1999 Gordon Dillon/Richard Peterson Memorial Essay Competition will receive a CASH award (not to exceed $1000.00).

The theme for the 1999 essay competition is How I Grow Orchids.  Writers are encouraged to share, in no more than 6,750 words, how they grow orchids, both the growing environment and the cultural techniques they use.  Color slides or black/white prints, line drawings, or tables are welcome but not a requirement for prize consideration.

The essay must be an original, unpublished article.  The contest is open to ALL persons except employees of  the AOS and their immediate families. Manuscripts must be submitted in English and preferably typewritten and double-spaced.

The winning entry (if any) will be published in the May 2000 issue of ORCHIDS.

Deadline for receipt of all entries at AOS Headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida, is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 1999. 
Submit entries to:

Dillon/Peterson Memorial Essay Contest, AOS, 6000 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, FL 33405

For further information online, go to:


Norma Kafer has a second Email address: nfk@taosnet.com

Keith Mead has a new Email address:  kmead@home.com


4th -   USA
8th -   Debbie Hamilton
9th -   Deacon Bell
14th -  Carole Weinschenk
19th -  Mary Alice Baumberger and Mary Ann Hom
22nd -  Tom Robinson
24th -  Elsye Gettys
29th -  Gerda Gallob
31st -  Ramona Sramek and Amy Stejskal

Happy Birthday Everyone!

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