AOS Guide to Orchids and their Culture
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Old 05-03-2019, 05:22 PM
estación seca's Avatar
estación seca estación seca is offline
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AOS Guide to Orchids and their Culture

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Default AOS Guide to Orchids and their Culture

The American Orchid Society Guide to Orchids and their Culture

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I just received The American Orchid Society Guide to Orchids and their Culture, by Mary E. Gerritsen and Ron Parsons, ISBN 9787-1-908787-29-3. It is a really good orchid book, one I would recommend to any orchid grower.

I am a member of the AOS, but I am not otherwise involved with the production nor sale of this book. This book review is my opinion only. It has not been reviewed by anybody else before I published it. I am not being compensated for it in any way. I bought my book at the AOS member discounted price. After it arrived, several members of our orchid society were sufficiently impressed that we decided to buy more copies for our members, and to sell at next year's Show.

I would especially recommend this book to a beginning orchid grower. Those of you who have read my posts here on Orchid Board will remember I have not been impressed with any beginner, nor generalist orchid books. This one is different. It sets a new standard for presenting large amounts of useful information, combined with extensive beautiful photographs.

It is paperback, 6 1/8" x 8 5/8" / 156mm x 219mm. There are 8 introductory pages plus 246 main pages. The book is well-printed on heavy and glossy paper. The more than 450 photos are high-quality and stunning. There are a great many whole-page photos. Other pages feature grids of smaller photos illustrating different flowers. Less than about 10 double-page spreads are without photos, those mainly in the more technical growing section. The book will be enjoyed even by people with little interest in growing plants, due to the photos.

The text is extensive, succinct but more detailed than in other generalist orchid books. The growing information is very detailed, with tables explaining many aspects of growing.

There are excellent, extensive discussions of light and how to measure it, with and without equipment, as well as water quality and pH. The discussion of fertilizer is brief.

There is a large section on repotting, including a discussion of many different media, as well as mounting. There is careful discussion of numerous bug, fungal and bacterial pests, including Description, Life Cycle, Symptoms and Management.

A section describes several popular groups of orchids. Each group includes a list of genera; a general description of the group; and general culture for this group, including temperature, light, water, humidity, fertilizer and potting.

There is a large section describing what kinds of growing spaces people use, including indoors, outdoors and greenhouses. Descriptions of several indoor growing arrangements will let people realize a lot is possible in a home. Hardy orchid growing in cold-winter areas is described. Some of these growing spaces belong to Orchid Board contributors.

A section gives an extensive list of mostly uncommon, but very worthwhile orchids, with brief but detailed growing information, via a letter-symbol listing of cultivation information.

The book finishes with other information: the benefits of joining a local orchid society; where to see orchids in public collections in the USA and Canada; further reading on many topics; links to AOS Webinars; encyclopedic Web pages; a glossary; indices of photos and tables.

The book is available on the American Orchid Society Web site, in the Shop section. For a limited time, it is also available at a substantial discount, in full boxes of 24 books, to AOS members and AOS affiliated societies. AOS members have received an E-mail with details of bulk orders.

I have attached a photo of the book, showing its relative size, taken from the promotional E-mail the AOS sent to members. I could not find this photo on the AOS Web site or I would have directed people there.

The table of contents includes:


Introduction: What makes an orchid?

The orchid label

How to select the right orchid
Plants have basic needs - Where are you going to grow you orchid? - How to select your new orchid: Basic rules of thumb - Suggestions to follow when purchasing from an orchid vendor - When will my orchid bloom? For how long will it bloom?
Basics of orchid culture
Temperature - Temperature regulation - Light: Get it Right - Water - What is a dry winter rest, and why should I do this? - Humidity - Air movement - Fertilizer
Orchid repotting
When should I repot? - What's the right potting material? - What kind of pot should I use? - How to repot an orchid - Getting your orchid out of the old pot - Removing the old media - Put the orchid in the new pot and add media - Securing and staking your orchid - Make a new tag - Mounted orchids - Semi-Hydroponic Orchid Culture
Common insect, pest and disease problems
The importance of good hygiene - Aphids - Scale - Mealy bugs - Thrips - Spider mites - Snails and slugs - Black rot, bacterial brown rot, root rot and Erwinia - Viruses
The orchid doctor: answers to some frequently asked questions
Leaves - Flowers and flower spikes - Roots - General
Popular groups of orchids
Aeridinae - Angraecinae - Bulbophyllum - Catasetiinae - Laeliinae including Cattleya- Cymbidium - Dendrobium - Lycaste and relatives - Miltoniopsis - Oncidiinae - Paphiopedilum - Phalaenopsis - Pleurothallidinae - Stanhopeinae - Vanda
Obsession - a poem by Susan Fordyce

Growing orchids in the home, outdoors, or in a greenhouse
Growing orchids on a windowsill, in a lightbox or terrarium
What types of orchids will do well on a windowsill?
Growing orchids outdoors: Southern Florida - Hawaii - Northern and Southern California
So you want to get a greenhouse? The cool greenhouse - The intermediate to warm greenhouse
Hardy Orchids for the garden
Different examples of growing areas: Ron Parsons' Unheated Garage Light Garden - Mike Drilling's Basement Green Room - Steve Hochman's Kitchen Greenhouse - Alfonso Doucette's Wine Cooler Terrarium - Mary Nisbet's Orchid Logs - Roberta Fox's Patio Collection - Peter Tobias' Encinitas Rainforest - Rick Kelley's Hawaiian Paradise
Orchids well worth the space

Orchid societies can help you be a better grower

Orchid collections open to the public

Further reading
pH - Growing orchids indoors - Growing orchids outdoors - General orchid information, orchid encyclopedias - Webinars - Useful websites


Index of figures

Index of tables

The current price is $24.95. AOS members receive a discount on items purchased from the AOS.
May the bridges I've burned light my way.

Weather forecast for my neighborhood

Last edited by estación seca; 05-03-2019 at 09:52 PM.. Reason: Typo!
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Old 05-03-2019, 05:29 PM
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Dollythehun Dollythehun is offline
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Great review, thank you, ES!
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Old 05-03-2019, 09:46 PM
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fishmom fishmom is offline
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Yes, great information. Mary Gerritsen came to our Orchid Society last meeting, gave a talk on Mexican orchids, and also talked about the writing of this book. It follows her previous book, which focuses on the San Francisco Bay Area and orchids that can be grown outdoors here. Mary said she finally wanted a book that could answer all the questions! She is a great presenter.

Last edited by fishmom; 05-03-2019 at 09:49 PM..
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Old 05-04-2019, 05:57 AM
rbarata rbarata is offline
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Thank you, ES.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:16 PM
marygerritsen marygerritsen is offline
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Just to update everyone, the AOS guide had completely sold out and a reprint was done. The new books are now in stock and can be ordered through the American Orchid Society Website.
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