Credit: Maggie Yates

A gray and drizzly weekend did not hamper the enthusiasm at the 75th annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, where orchid lovers gathered to bask in the vibrancy of stunning blooms in fiery oranges, deep purples, and perfect pinks. From exquisite displays from commercial orchid growers to smaller, but no less stunning orchid arrangements and sculptures, the orchid show offered viewers a diverse array of one of nature’s most spectacular flowers.

For attendees, it’s not just the chance to see award-winning plants and shop for new additions to their gardens, but also to learn from the experts about orchid cultivation and troubleshooting. Bruce Kidd, the “Orchid Doctor,” was on call to answer questions about problematic plants: Why are my leaves turning yellow? Why isn’t my Phalaenopsis blooming? Why are my leaves rotting and dropping off? “Most of the time it’s bad watering,” says Kidd. “It’s usually because there is excessive moisture being retained around the crown of the plant, and that moisture is providing a suitable environment for pathogens that are then infecting the stem. The cure is simply to water correctly. Water them really good, but then dry them out between waterings.”

Kidd says to avoid watering your plants in small sips every day: “Do not put ice cubes on orchids, it’s a terrible way to irrigate.” It’s a question of too much water, not enough water, too much light, not enough light, and most of all, neglect. “That’s where you get an insect problem,” says Kidd, whose name tag reads “the bugs always win.” (For a quick fix to infestations, Kidd recommends leaf shining treatments, such as Chrysal.) For year-round orchid access, visit any of the commercial growers in the larger Santa Barbara and Carpinteria area, including Cal-Orchid, Inc., Santa Barbara Orchid Estate, Gallup & Stribling Orchids, Westerlay Orchids, Ambriz Kingdom of Plants, and Orchids Royale. For additional information, see


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