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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 3, 2006

Internet is a hothouse of orchid information

By Scot Mitamura

No need to squeeze Grandpa for orchid tips anymore. Just go online.

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It wasn't too long ago that finding information on orchids was somewhat difficult. Many experts were reluctant to share knowledge. Today, with technology, the information has become available to everyone.

Online, a tremendous amount of orchid info is available at our fingertips. You could spend days on some of these Web sites.

A slew of Hawai'i orchid clubs have their own sites, so you can see what's going on locally. Some of them are out of date, but at least you can find the times of regularly scheduled meetings or who to contact for information. Online are the orchid societies of Honolulu (www.honoluluorchidsociety.org), Hilo (www.hiloorchidsociety.org), Kaimuki (www.bsteele.com/orchids), Kunia (http://kuniaorchidsociety.tripod.com) and Mililani (www.angelfire.com/hi5/mililaniorchidsoc).

For comprehensive orchid information, visit the American Orchid Society's Web site (www.theaos.org). You'll find everything from the very basics ("What is an orchid?") to more complex stuff such as propagation. You also can shop for orchid-related items, from bath products to linens. National orchid events, publications, conservation issues and lots of photos are also on the site.

If you're shopping for plants, try the Orchid Mall (www.orchidmall.com), which has an extensive listing of orchid sources around the world. Click on a country and you'll get an alphabetical listing of hundreds of orchid Web sites, chock full of photos and background information on just about every orchid known. You'll also find an orchid-show schedule, orchid societies, speakers, a reading room, service supplies and software. Be sure to check out Hawai'i-based Web businesses we have some good ones such as Exotic Orchids of Maui (www.mauiorchids.com), the Big Island's Carmela Orchids (www.carmelaorchids.com), Kaua'i's Mackie Orchids (www.mackieorchids.com), and Kawamoto Orchid Nursery (www.kawamotoorchids.com) and Mid-Pacific Orchids (www.midpacificorchids.com) on O'ahu.

Even eBay is a good orchid source. If you're looking for a specific orchid, type the name in "search." If not, then enter cattleya or dendrobium or any other genera, and all related orchids for sale will be displayed.

A computer program that I use daily is the Wildcatt Orchids Database. That's how I research the parentage of orchid hybrids, awards, breeders' information, the percentage of each species in a hybrid, and if a hybrid has been registered. With so many orchids being registered internationally, the program is updated twice a year.

In the old days, I did this research by going through volumes and volumes of the "Sander's List of Orchid Hybrids," just to study one orchid. Today I type in a name, and the information is a click away! More information on this program is available on their website (www.wildcattdata.com).

So what are we waiting for? Let's get started with the great, rewarding hobby of growing orchids.

Scot Mitamura is the orchid horticulturalist for the Honolulu botanical gardens. Reach him at hbg@honolulu.gov or 522-7060.