July 2011 - Ben Machado

This month’s speaker is Ben Machado, who is well known to many POS members. Ben has been growing orchids for the last 19 years, after having been introduced to orchids by one of San Diego County’s leading growers, Harry Tolen. It started off as a concern for Ben finding something to do as his retirement was approaching. Now, after 10 years of retirement, Ben’s initial dabbling in the world of orchids has turned into a hobby gone wild. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Ben’s orchid obsession started with Cattleya hybrids, moving on to Dendrobiums, Oncidiums, Paphs, Bulbophyllums, etc., etc., before settling in with a special focus on species orchids. Along the way, Ben began to take particular interest in one class of orchids within the cattleya alliance called Schomburgkias, primarily because of their conduciveness to his growing conditions in the East County of San Diego, where temperatures are higher and light levels are more pronounced than those on the coast. As Ben delved deeper into this fascinating class, he found that the world of Schomburgkias is not well defined and that there are plenty of misidentifications with numerous classification changes taking place. As a result, he conducted his own study to help him with identification and classification of the species. Ben’s study has served as the basis of his presentation on Schomburgkias entitled “The Confused World of Schomburgkias”. Ben is proud to say that he is one of the few orchid enthusiasts in the country who has the complete collection of Schomburgkia species. Of course, if anyone is interested in a specific Schomburgka species, Ben will be willing to sell them, provided he has duplicate plants available.

As if orchid growing wasn’t enough for Ben, Harry Tolen also got him started in the orchid supplies business. He and his wife, Susie, own Calavo Gardens, an at-home business specializing in the needs of the orchid grower. Calavo Gardens offers a multitude of products at reasonable prices, including media (orchid bark, perlite, charcoal, sphagnum moss), fertilizers, a broad array of decorative and standard growing pots, hangers, baskets, etc. Since Harry Tolen moved his orchid supply business from Chula Vista to Oregon State several years ago, Ben is now the only local business that specializes in serving greater San Diego orchid hobbyists and growers (Calavo Gardens: Ph: (619) 948-5942; email: bmach16814@aol.com).

Ben is an active member of the San Diego orchid community, serving as a past Board Member of the San Diego County Orchid Society for over 7 years and past Show Director for the SDCOS Spring Show for 3 years. Ben is currently Show Director for the San Diego International Orchid Fair held at San Diego Botanic Garden, formerly Quail Gardens.

Ben’s presentation is surely one not to be missed, since Schombergkias and their hybrids are becoming increasingly popular to orchid hobbyists due to their interesting and unusual flower shapes and color combinations as well as their overall hardiness.

In addition to providing the plant table, Ben will conduct the culture class on “Schomburkia Growing Techniques” and have available for sale a few select plants and some orchid supplies during the meeting.

Wed, 07/06/2011 - 7:00pm