The Orchid: Root Tip to Leaf Tip and Blooms


In order to fully understand and appreciate the beauty of the orchid bloom, one must understand all the "zones" that make up the orchid plant as a whole.  Understanding each part and how they function and interact with each other can result in a thriving orchid that will meet expectations rewarding you with outstanding blooms.  In simple words, happy orchids are blooming orchids.  Should the orchid be unhappy, focussing attention on an area of the orchid plant, and addressing it's specific needs, will turn an unhappy orchid not meeting expectations, to a thriving happy orchid.

Orchids are not difficult.  Like any other plant, understanding the root zone, the body of the plant and the leaf zone - how they function and rely on each other to produce those desired blooms, what they require - will result in thriving orchids that can reward you with the bloom that attracted you in the first place.  Nobody buys orchids for it's leaves.

It is the goal and intent of this set of presentations to guide you to understand, practice, and be rewarded with an orchid's full potential.  This is a year-long project with each section being a focus of the Napa Valley Orchid Society's monthly newsletter.  By the end of 2017, we will have a completed project that can be referred to for help and guidance in producing happy thriving orchids.

As always, feel free to use the magic of this website and ask questions, or even add comments, good or bad regarding the information provided here.  You do not need to be a member of the NVOS.  At the bottom of each section you will find a place that will allow you to submit questions or comments.  These submissions will then be added into the main presentation.  If you do not ask, you will never know the answer.

Finally, I wish to thank all those whom I have consulted with regards to their input in areas, without you, this never be as complete as possible.



Everything has a beginning and the beggining of a healthy and happy orchid, is the root system.  Roots stablize the orchid in place.  The most important function of the root system is "taking in" of water and the nutrients that are dissolved in that water.  Healthy roots means a healthy plant.  Two conditions not included in this presentation is the potting medium and the type of pot.  However, each will be featured in a future discussion.


This topic will be the feature of the April 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.

Bulbs and psuedobulbs are storage areas for water developed by orchids to survive short term droughts.  They are essential to the orchid for the purpose of surviving.


Cymbidium bulbs and psuedobulbs from other types of orchids (Cattleyas) can be used to generate new orchids. 


This topic will be the feature of the March 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.

The leaf is where water, carbon dioxide and sunlight combine to create a glucose that is the orchid's food source.  Healthy leaves are desired for this process to function.  Unhealthy leaves can lead to problems and even the loss of the orchid.  This section will detail how the orchid leaf functions, and some common negative issues of unhealthy leaves and how to prevent these from occurring.  Sun burn is the biggest cause of leafs failing and the topic of how much light is too much light will be covered in it's own discussion area.


This topic will be the feature of the May 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants, some bacteria and some protistans use the energy from sunlight to produce glucose from carbon dioxide and water. This glucose can be converted into pyruvate which releases adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by cellular respiration. Oxygen is also formed.  Don't let this definition confuse you, the goal of this presentation is to explain the photosynthetic process in simple terms.  Once understood, you will appreciate how important light is to green-leafed plants, including the orchid.


This topic will be featured in the February 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.

Just as we can be sunburned from being exposed to too much sunlight, be it intensity or length of time exposed, so can the leaves of orchids.   Preventing "burn" is optimal, however there are a number of simple steps that can be enacted to prevent  this burn.  If your leaves do suffer burn, react accordingly, but there is no need to remove the burned leaf.  The orchid will do that eventually.  This section will detail levels of light optimum for a variety of orchids as well as a simple test to determine if your orchid is getting too much or too little light for optimum photosynthesis to take place.


This topic will be the feature of the August 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.

Individually and combined with each other, temperature and humidity (of the orchid's surroundings) can have a negative effect if extremes are exposed.  As mentioned in the section related to photosynthesis, both temperature and humidity can have an affect on the photosynthesis process, perhaps causing the orchid to be in a state of stress.  With regards to both temperature and humidity, steps can be taken to maintain an optimum level of both, making the orchid happy.


This topic will be the feature of the July 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.

Depending on the type of orchid, potting medium plays a big role in the root system thriving.  Small to large chunks of bark, gravel, cork, tree fern (shredded needles to chunks) and even old shoes can be used to hold an orchid in place.  This presentation will examine several common orchid root systems, and determine the preferred orchid potting medium to be used. This will also include bare-root mounting of orchids.


This topic will be the feature of the June 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.

One would never consider the actual "pot" as having any affect on an orchid's growth, but you could never be more wrong.  Clay versus plastic?  If plastic, black, green, or transparent?  Drainage holes on the bottom?  What about ventilation?  All of these factors, individually or combined have an affect on the orchid.  The right choice will result in a thriving orchid.  The wrong choice typically ends up in a slow death for an orchid.


Let's not forget, size means everything.  Too big, or too small?  If there is such a thing as "too small".  Orchids favor the goldie-locks zone - where it has to be just right.


Knowing your orchid will make all of these factors easy to master resulting in the best of blooms.


This topic will be the feature of the June 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.

True, there is a correct way, and an incorrect way to water your orchids.  However, if you have a greenhouse full of over 100 orchids, this is an impossible task at best. This is more geared to the orchid fan who has a small number of orchids in their collection and hand-watering each orchid is somewhat simple.


This discussion will focus on the rules and methods for watering.  Following these guidelines will help your orchid maintain a healthy condition all year long and most importantly during the bloom season. 


This topic will be featured in the September 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.

Thursday, 15 December 2016 19:24

Feeding your Orchid

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This topic will be the feature of the October 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.

Thursday, 15 December 2016 19:27

After the Bloom

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This topic will be the feature of the November 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.

Thursday, 15 December 2016 19:25


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This topic will be the feature of the December 2017 Napa Valley Orchid Society's Newsletter.


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When necessary, images and texts will be fully credited to the original.

Information here may be used by other orchid societies as long as they credit the original creator and at least mention the Napa Valley Orchid Website as a courtesy.