June on George

Up to now, I just knew George as the man who took pride in his orchids. Every month it was a joy to see him introduce his beautiful orchids that one could see he had a passion for growing. It was a total pleasure to get to know George Ikeda . . . Hope the KDOC Members will enjoy learning more about him, too.

kdoc-georgeGeorge is a local boy from Pahoa, Hawaii. He majored in chemistry and after completing graduate school, worked in a pharmaceutical company for 8 years. He then moved to Maryland and had a 31-year career with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)! Prior to leaving the D.C. area, he would tease friends especially in the winter while shoveling snow that “one day I’m going to retire and grow orchids in Hawaii.” Six years into his retirement, George definitely kept his word as he is currently on his second greenhouse!

What is your schedule for caring for your orchids?
Due to my chemist training, I am not averse to the use of chemicals to keep my plants healthy. I alternate the following sprays once a week:

Week 1 – Orthene or Acephate (systemic)
Week 2 – Physan 20 (this spray can scar flowers)
Week 3 – Dimethoate (systemic)
Week 4 – Horticultural oil (light water soluble oil)

For fertilizer, I use extended release Nutricote 13-13-13 every four months. Periodically I use water soluble Peter’s 20-20-20. My watering schedule is to irrigate every other day and if it rains, I always have the option to turn off the sprinkler system.

What benefits have you found in growing orchids?
There is a certain reward in watching something grow from something small. Also, belonging to the KDOC club is nice to be able to share ideas and experiences as I get to learn. People are very generous, especially people in Group 3, as they gave me things I would have never gotten.

What is your favorite orchid and why?
As for the species, my favorite orchid to grow is the cattleya because it blooms often and is rewarding to care for. I also like the vanda orchid as there are many varieties. I am fascinated by breeders, especially when they get beautiful results. Vanda SanderianaOne particular vanda I would like to fiddle with is the Vanda Sanderiana. This is an old species from the Philippines. It has nice, round, white petals with a green and brown center. I consider this to be the “Mother Orchid of Hybrids” and am rather baffled as to why more people don’t have this species. I just found a hybrid of this species in Waimanalo, so it’ll be interesting to see what it looks like.

What can we expect from George in the future as he continues to pursue his orchid hobby? My guess is the following possibilities: 1) Greenhouse #3 for his growing collection and/ or 2) Orchid breeder (who names several species after his wife, Paulina). But the question remains: Will George find his Vanda Sanderiana? So . . . if you happen to have any in your backyard, please let George know.

Mahalo to June Kaichi for providing this interview with George Ikeda.

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