Orchid exhibition springs into bloom this month in Pittsburgh

| Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

A weekend of discovery and floral adoration will be happening at “An Orchid Obsession,” the annual Orchid Society of Western Pennsylvania spring show this weekend.

The free show will feature several orchid exhibits, as well as plant raffles, flower vendors and seminars, according to Arlene Ricker, co-chairwoman of the event and second vice president of the organization, known as the OSWP. Results from the previous day's judging by American Orchid Society judges of individual and group exhibits also will be on display.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Phipps Garden Center, 1059 Shady Ave., Pittsburgh.

Ricker, of North Strabane Township, explained that the show's title relates to how quickly someone can get enamoured with the flower.

“It's easy to get addicted to orchids. If you have one, it's better to have two,” said Ricker, who has close to 50 orchids growing at her home.

The show will include displays of individual orchids, as well as those of varying sizes, including one 10-foot-by-15-foot island exhibit with a 6-foot waterfall, Ricker said. Another exhibit prepared by the OSWP as a whole will be the width of Phipps Garden Center. It will feature a variety of the flowers and be “very beautiful,” Ricker said.

Overall, the show will include various types of orchids, including the phalaenopsis, various slipper orchids, Miltonias, odontoglossums, intergenerics and lycastes, along with many other orchid genera, including mounted and miniature orchids.

Among those who quickly became drawn to the flower are Daniel Schenck and Natalia Morone-Schenck of McCandless, who became members of the local society after attending last year's show.

“When (we) went last year, something clicked, and I was totally fascinated with orchids,” Schenck said.

He said his wife had been growing a common kind of orchid for a few years, but once they went to the show, they found they wanted to learn about and grow more types.

“Once you get bit by the orchid bug, it's an obsession,” said Schenck, who will be at the OSWP's welcoming table for the event.

He said the show offers a great chance to see a large variety of orchids and learn more about them.

Free lectures and seminars will be held each day and include time for questions, Ricker said.

On Saturday, the programs and times are as follows: “Growing Orchids in the House and Under Lights: Tips and Suggestions from an Experienced Home Grower,” 11 to 11:45 a.m.; “Tips for Selecting and Growing Orchids in the Pittsburgh Area,” 12:15 to 1 p.m.; “Fundamentals of Orchid Care,” 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.; and “History of Orchids,” 2:45 to 3:30 p.m.

Sundays programs and times are: “Tips for Selecting and Growing ‘Slipper Orchids' and Other Orchids,” 11 to 11:45 a.m.; “Cattleya Orchids: Their Culture and Care,” 12:15 to 1 p.m.; “Orchid Photography: Get Pointers for Taking Stunning Pictures of Orchids and Other Flowers, Including the Use of Smartphones,” 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.; and “Growing Orchids at Home on Windowsills and Under Lights,” 2:45 to 3:30 p.m.

For the first time this year, the show will have a vendor from Ecuador. He, along with nine other vendors, will be selling flowers.

While many big-box stores sell orchids, Ricker said, those tend to be more common varieties, unlike those sold at the show, where buyers will have a large selection from which to choose and will be able to obtain the history of and advice on the type of orchid they purchase.

“It's a great chance to get high-quality orchids at great prices,” she said.

The show will also have other types of hard-to-find growing necessities for sale.

Exhibits that won in various categories from the previous day's judging will be noted with ribbons, Ricker said. And plant-raffle tickets can be obtained at the show for $1. Ricker said winners don't have to be present to win.

While they are proud of the approximately 15 orchids successfully growing at their house, Schenck said, he and his wife don't have many compared to other members, who might have hundreds. But it's a start.

“We are junior league here,” said Schenck, 52.

He said he and his wife are looking forward to seeing the selection at the show and learning more about orchids.

“It is like the highlight of the year. Everyone looks forward to it so much,” Schenck said.

Natalie Beneviat is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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