Orchid Growers in Alaska?

kettish(8a)October 27, 2010

Hi! Just moved to Fairbanks and am experiencing orchid withdrawal as I'm unable to order orchids online until it gets warmer-sometime around next May. Anybody know a good orchid grower in Alaska that I may be able to order from? I'm especially in love with cattleyas (who isn't, right?) and any orchids that do well in cool climates (our cabin is consistently between 55 and 60 F).

Thanks so much! :) -kettish

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I think you'll need lights also. Did you look to see if there is an Orchid Society in your area? Might be the best way to go at this point.

Sorry, couldn't be more helpful,

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 10:35PM
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I have some grow lights, but I need to check if they're appropriate for what I have. And there is an orchid society, but it's in Anchorage, which is a good 6 hour drive from here. I emailed them asking if I could sign up for their newsletter this evening.

Hopefully they'll be helpful-I saw one orchid greenhouse in Anchorage, but unfortunately nothing here in Fairbanks!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 10:42PM
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Catts are typically high-light orchids. Unless you invest in some good lighting, you will probably be disappointed. How about starting a society in your area?

There are many orchids which don't require as much light as Cattleyas so don't dispair.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 7:44PM
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Let me go check what my grow lights are and get back to you. Any idea what kind of light they'd like, or where I should go to find out?

I'm afraid I don't know very much about orchids, except to not overwater them and that there are many different kinds. :P I'm vastly underqualified! Maybe I can find out if there are orchid lovers in Fairbanks who'd like to at least get together occasionally or do bulk orders together or something. What all do orchid societies do, anyway?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 11:06PM
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What we all really want to know is if you can see Russia from your greenhouse. If so, that qualifies you to become president of the AOS.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 12:59PM
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Unfortunately you've got several hurdles to contend with to grow Cattleyas in the home up there. The species tend to be pickier about specific conditions, some more than others, but even among the hybrids, you'll have to be pretty selective to find ones that will grow well without herculean efforts. Mini-catts, which are targeted in no small part to home/windowsill growers, are probably your safest bet in that family.

55-60F is OK-good for a night time minimum for many Cattleyas, but much too cool a daytime temperature. Orchids generally require a pretty big day/night differential to grow well and in some cases, flower at all. Cattleyas as an over-generalized group tend, unfortunately, to fall into this category.

I do think you'll need some kind of supplemental lighting, especially for the several months per year when you'll have barely any daylight at all, and what there is, will be weak. As for the kind of lighting you'd need, I tend to think you'd need an HID for full-sized plants, but you could grow compact/miniatures under fluorescents.

You'll probably also need to do something about raising the humidity around your plants - with cool indoor and frigid outdoor temps, I'm guessing it gets awfully dry indoors up there during the winter.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 2:15PM
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Nick, I can see the Alaska Range from here but not Russia. Would that count?

orchidnyc, thanks so much! I saw a cattleytonia, (it was Ctna. Why Not, which said it was a miniature), would that work? And would you happen to have a good source to get mini-Catts from?

What's a good daytime temperature? I was planning on finding an aquarium and outfitting it to be similar to those "orchidariums" I see on the web.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 2:03AM
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I still can't find the grow lights I had, so I bought a setup from the local nursery. The lightbulbs say they're T5s. Will those be sufficient for cattleyas, or are they not bright enough? I don't mind getting different bulbs if I need to, or returning the setup (I haven't set it up yet).

The box said "Good for Orchids" and showed catts and dendrobiums on the front, but I don't trust packaging very much.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 8:55PM
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westoh Z6

Catts, especially mini-catts, should do fine under the T5's as long as you keep them within inches (2"-6") of the bulbs. Your phals from the other post may enjoy these lights also, put them closer to the ends and the catts in the middle.

Is it a 2 or 4 bulb fixture (4+ is better IMO)


    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 7:06AM
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I found my old grow lights. The bulbs say:

Color Temperature 7800K
CRI = 11 8000hrs (239)

Are these the right bulbs?

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 2:09PM
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westoh Z6

The color on your existing bulbs are a little high, usually somewhere between 3000-6500K is recommended. Lower for flowers, higher for green growth.

The T5's will give more light as the T8's are probably 32Watts and the T5s are 54Watts or so. I use some T12's (40Watts) succesfully for phals and paphs, so the T8's can work but the T5's would perform much better especially for catts.

Just to throw more confusion at you, take a look at CFL setups also. Much more bang for your buck as far as energy consumption and the amount of light generated.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 4:37PM
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Oh, balls. I looked more closely at the stuff I bought recently and it's got 20-watt T12 bulbs. Dammit.

CFL setups, hm? I read a short blurb on them and it didn't tell me much. Aren't the high pressure sodium setups more efficient, energy-usage-wise?

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 6:39PM
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I haven't grown Ctna. Why Not, but I think it's a fairly high light, warmer growing plant, albeit a miniature. Probably not the best bet in your conditions, at least not as a first plant. I don't know how much of a difference it would make, but you might want to keep an eye out for hybrids with a lot of Sophronitis in their backgrounds, which are cooler growing species often used in mini-catt breeding since they're quite small. In an enclosed case with good humidity, your temps might be good for the species themselves which are usually hard to grow indoors.

As for sources, the first place I usually think of when I think of mini-catts is H&R, in Hawaii. Gold Counry Orchids, in California, too. I think Sunset Valley Orchids does some mini-catt breeding. Andy's Orchids primarily sells species, but their site lists preferred conditions for their plants. (You can find links to these places' websites at www.orchidmall.com under plant source. There are lots of others to pore over until you can have plants shipped again!)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:46AM
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