Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016

Podcast 9; Chinese Medicine Scholar Lorraine Wilcox - Dr. Lia Andrews

In this episode of The Lia Andrews Show I interview Chinese medicine scholar, professor, and translator Lorraine Wilcox. Listen as she discusses gender, translating, and the future of Chinese medicine. Lorraine Wilcox has authored several books on acupuncture and Chinese medicine including: Moxibustion:The Power of Mugwort Fire, a translation of Tan Yunxian‘s Miscellaneous Records of  a Female Doctor, and her upcoming translation of Xue Ji’s An Outline of Female Medicine.

You can contact Lorraine Wilcox via her Facebook Page.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Growing Bare Root Orchids: An Organic Experiment - Dr. Lia Andrews


Phalaenopsis hybrid

I admit I was a little sad to wake up this morning to one single (albeit beautiful) flowering orchid after we attended the Redlands Orchid Festival yesterday. She was a phalaenopsis hybrid that was too good a deal to pass up. After the Tamiami Orchid Show, Dr. Judith Andrews and I came home with a dozen flowering plants. This time we new the plants we wanted and that we could get a lot more of them if we purchased bare root plants.


Aerides odorata with new root growth and flower spike.

Bare root plants are usually found in bins at orchid shows for a steal compared to the price if they were potted. They look half dead and unappealing, but with a little TLC they spring back to life. The above Aerides was a bare root cutting I purchased 2 months ago from Robert Palmer Nursery. Even after being abused (I put her in high sun and burned her leaves) she has significant new root growth and a flower spike.

We went to the show with a plan: better plants, long term blooming, and more of them. The problem is, bare rooted plants don’t always thrive. I have already learned to repot every orchid I acquire. For phalaenopsis and paphiopediliums I use fine coconut fiber, fine orchid fir bark, stalite, and sponge rock. For cattleyas, oncidiums, and dendrobiums I use a mix of stalite, sponge rock, coconut chips & charcoal. I have nearly lost  several plants after believing vendors who say,”You don’t have to worry about repotting for 1-2 years.” That may be true in other climates, but in South Florida (or any wet climate) sphagnum moss or regular tree bark can turn orchid roots to mush in a matter of weeks. Orchid vendors pot their orchids to endure neglect and survive, not to thrive in home orchid collections.

Southwest Florida Orchid Society president Barb Murza advised us on how to treat bare root orchids. She explained that they have been through a lot of abuse. They have been shipped from other countries and jostled around. They endure cuts and broken roots leaving them wide open for fungal infections that can wipe them out. She recommends treatment with a systemic fungicide such as Aliete. Further, many successful growers soak any orchid they are repotting (bare root or established) and their growing media in a combination of fungicide, Super Thrive, and fertilizer.

We are growing many of our orchids as medicine so this is not an option. We substituted an organic neem oil-based 3-in-1 fungicide, miticide, and insecticide we use on our fruit trees. We added this to a gallon of water. We then added Super Thrive and the orchid food we are currently using. We soaked each orchid before we mounted or potted them, then we immersed the full pots in the solution after planting. Let’s see how it goes.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at these newly mounted/potted plants, but these are some of the showiest bloomers in the orchid world:


Dendrobium chrysanthum, Dendrobium officinale, and Rhynchorides bangkok sunset.


Dendrobium chrysotoxum


Large bloom cattleya hybrid.


D. chryseum, D. farmeri, D. hancockii, D. lawesii, D. hancockii, D. fimbriatum, D. thyrsiflorum.


Dendrobium aphyllum


Broughtonia negrilensis

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

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What Not to Do with Orchids; Dendrobium Anosmum & Dendrobium Phalaenopsis - Dr. Lia Andrews

Some of my favorite orchids are the cascading dendrobiums of the dendrobium, callista, and phalaenopsis sub groups. These display true Fire (startling and fun) and Water (drama and romance) qualities. I began growing orchids last October and I want to share my mistakes so others can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Dendrobium Phalaenopsis Doesn’t Like Cold!

I assumed all dendrobiums could handle the minor cold in southwest Florida. However, this is not true for D. phalaenopsis. These hybrids use plants growing in Australia and Papua New Guinea where temperatures do not get below 50-55° F. I am unclear whether or not I have a Dendrobium biggibum which is even less cold tolerant (min 60°) and looks almost identical.

I left my poor plant outside in the cold this winter (it dipped down to 40°). She lost all her leaves. This year she sent up 1 new shoot and a keiki (from the stress).

Dendrobium Phalaenopsis

I have 2 other D. phalaenopsis that wintered indoors because they were flowering. They have 2-3 new growths and no keikis. However, they have started to lose their leaves on the old stalks anyways. Apparently this is what happens. This plant does not grow into a specimen plant.

Dendrobium Phalaenopsis

Mistake #2: Do Not Allow the Stems of Dendrobium Anosmum to Sunburn or the Stems Will Die

I was very upset to see that one of my favorite plants, a D. anosmum with lovely lavender flowers looked near death. Experts at the Southwest Florida Orchid Society questioned watering, sun, and media, but I couldn’t figure it out. I observed them more intensively and it finally dawned on me what I had done. I mistakenly placed my Dendrobium anosmums in almost full sun this winter because that is what my Dendrobium nobile and lindleyi seemed to like. I then moved them to the area we grow our cattleyas in the spring.  The plants flowered but then showed signs of stress. The first picture shows a D. anosmum var. alba I purchased already flowering that I never put in full sun. It has both strong growth from the base and keikis. This is my healthy model.


The second picture shows a lavender variety D. anosmum. All her stems were sunburned. They yellowed, shriveled at the base, and stopped supporting growth at the ends. There is no new growth yet, but a desperate profusion of keikis.


The third picture shows another D. anosmum var. alba (I think they are more rigorous). The stem that was sunburnt dropped its buds and produced keikis. The stem that wasn’t flowered well and then sprouted new growth from the root close to that stem.


According to culture sheets these also do not like to get below 50°, although that did not affect flowering or health on unburnt stems. I am attempting to rehabilitate my beloved plant. Hopefully this saves other plants out there from the same fate.

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