Houzz Logo Print

Orchid records -- do you keep them on a computer?

16 years ago

This may have been answered a while ago, can't be sure.

I'm looking for hints about how to set up orchid records on a computer so they can be sorted and retrieved by things like color, bloom time, type, ancestry, etc.

Any tips you can give me about a book, software or other instruction source will be greatly appreciated, especially if it's under $30.

Also would like to just hear from anyone what you do/use to keep your records, whether computer or not.

I'm using a notebook right now, getting onerous. Since I'm computer challenged, do you think a rolodex file with different colored cards would work?

Need help and ideas, durn it!

Comments (54)

  • 16 years ago

    Hey, Stacy. That sounds like just what I need! Or a help, any way. Thanks so much. I'll e-mail you for the url.

    BTW, that orchid list on your page -- Wow!

  • 16 years ago

    If you have a need, go with a computer solution. If you just want a toy that will become WORK once your collection collection size gets to size X. Forget about it.

    One area where you need a computer solution is if you get into a serious breeding program where you would want to record the details of each cross and the results from that cross. There are some plastic tags hanging from my Tolumnia where the Plant Breeder (not me) has written the number of the crossing and the date.

    He keeps complete records of his Orchid breeding activities and so he should because i bet there are lots of clerical errors in the RHS Database.

    So, i hope my first reply didn't sound too negative. I keep all those orchid society records because there is a need, but the cost is an enormous amount of my time. The problem, and it always is, is the recording of the data.

    As far as finding out which orchids make good parents..... One source is the RHS database. Just go there and put your orchid name in as a parent to find out if it has been used much as either a pod or pollen parent.

  • Related Discussions

    How do you keep track of your Orchid data?


    Comments (16)
    Thank you Bryan(Jacamar) for the praise. As Bryan mentioned....Pictures are taken of the plants when they first arrive showing their roots. Another picture of the roots on each repotting, to check for root growth. I take yearly pictures of the plants to keep track of their growth, and to see which plants are doing welll and which plants are not. The ones that are not I try to figure out what I am doing wrong and try and change that. Pictures of each plant as they flower and on the last day of flowering to check the length of flowering. I have files for each orchid on my laptop. Data wise I keep track of price paid, seller and date acquired in one file. In Microsoft word name, seller, the picture off the tag, potting date(all of them), flowering start date, flowering end date, pot size, potting medium, deciduous/evergreen, minimum temperature for use in determining when I can put the plant outside, location of plant(hard to keep up as I keep moving the plants around). Currently I am making tags for each plant which have a picture of the plant(my own picture if the plant has flowered for me or one off the web if it has not) on the one side with the name on it and on the other side it has a picture of the plant as it looked when it was purchased with the first pot date and first flower date - the tag is laminated. I also research each plant in OrchidWhiz software, eAOS software, and on the web and keep various pieces of information like warm/hot/cool grower, time of flowering, length of flowering, size of plant, height and spread, flower size, fragrant and type e.g. vanilla, number blooms, awards, etc. I have tried many different things but never found one method that holds all of the information that I want to keep on my plants. As you can see I spend a lot of time on this....comes from being bedridden for many years.....hopefully my reply is not too confusing. Sorry for the lengthy reply.
    ...See More

    Do you keep records of what you've planted?


    Comments (16)
    I keep a photo-journal. I'm a Mac-addict so all the pics are in iPhoto along with brief descriptions. I like keeping things simple so with just a couple of clicks of the mouse I can find anything I need along with a visual. This is a great way to keep track of growth and seasonal changes in a plant. I have a web page too that I try to keep updated. I also have a small photo album with plastic photo sleeves in which I keep plant tags and seed packets until I take pics of the plants/seedlings and put them into iPhoto. I really lucked out with this album. I found it years ago at Michael's - it is about 8"x10" with two-sectioned plastic sleeves inside for the pics and the outside is covered in pretty flowers & butterflies with a small green check background - there's no mistaking it's for the garden. And the sectioned sleeves inside are the perfect size for tags and seed packets. As for plants I find interesting and may want to purchase at a later date, I usually find a website with info on it and bookmark it. These bookmarks are kept in a gardening "folder" so again just a click of the mouse to find it. I'm all about the KISS principle when it comes to gardening, which is one reason why I love cottage gardening. : )
    ...See More

    What I need to record albums to CD or computer. So confused.


    Comments (4)
    Hi, I downloaded this software from the website listed below to record my albums and tapes to CD, using the computer. It was very easy to use. The program comes with audible instructions and wizards to walk you through it (including which jacks to use on your computer). It will automatically set the record level or you can adjust it however you like. It did not require a pre-amp...just plug in the tape deck to your computer. The turntable may or may not need a pre-amp, but the program will detect it, to let you know.I got the wire to hook it up at Radio Shack for just a few dollars. One end will have the RCA ends for your stereo equipment, and the other end will have the miniature jack for your computer. There was no loss of quality, and I was able to actually get a better sound on some songs with the built in equalizer. Hook the stereo equipment to the computer, put a blank CD-R disc in the drive, and the program will do the rest. Hope this helps. Here is a link that might be useful: Record Albums to CD
    ...See More

    Music CD's, do you keep them in the cases?


    Comments (16)
    I do the same as Netla. All of our music is stored on the computer thanks to iTunes. We download it to our iPods. We also have an AirPort so we can play our music wirelessly to our home speakers. We have no need (thankfully) to keep our CD's nearby. They are in storage in their original cases. We have taken our DVD's out of their cases & put them into one of the binder type holders because of space issues. We also put those cases in storage. Julie, would an iPod work for you? A Shuffle is only about $100 & it holds about 16 hours of music. To me, that's much easier than carrying around CD's & switching them out. I like mine so much I even listen to it when I go to Wal-Mart.
    ...See More
  • 16 years ago

    Hey, Arthur, you weren't negative at all. Matter of fact, you are always helpful as you can be to everyone, I think. No way you could read my mind about what I'm trying to tease out of the records.

    Actually, I agree about simplicity. Things that aren't easy don't get done at my house. And entering a lot of data into a computer doesn't set my heart singing, more like sets my nerves screaming and my eyeballs streaming.

    I'm not going to breed anything, just want to be able to understand things like why spots appear and disappear, get bigger or smaller etc. My personal curiosity. I can get parentage and offspring off Orchidwiz, and that's probably what got these questions started.

    You wouldn't happen to know what happens when you cross a Harlequin phal with French Dots, would you? LOLOL. (I'm puzzled because it seems to make the splotches bigger rather than smaller, and can't find a source to tell me why). Similarly a cross of brassavola nodosa x Catt color often creates spots. But no one will tell me why.

    I'll try setting up some different data sheets, see if they yield anything, and wait for the book, I guess. :D

    Thanks. (And thanks for the caution about how boring entering computer data is--I believe you)

  • 16 years ago

    I've been thinking of creating a database for my own orchids so if you want to, you can think about what sort of fields you would like and I can out one together for you. Or maybe everyone can pitch in with ideas and I can put together one that anybody can use if they want to.


  • 16 years ago

    I keep just very basic records.
    I have four lists on my desktop.

    Orchid list-just the names

    Orchid price list-
    names, synonyms, price paid, vendor name, date,
    division history/bloodlines and whatever else I think is important at the time.

    Orchid want list-Drool!

    Dead list-needs updating, but not really that big!:~)
    Info is just moved from Price list.
    I don't share my failures.
    It just makes me look bad! :~)

    I've never had the time/inclination to worry about all the more advanced note taking, although I've heard of some great systems.
    I've never been very interested in hybrids, (I do have some) so a lot of the more detailed stuff hasn't really come up!
    I stopped keeping an on going list here and just keep the one at Flickr.
    Even then, I fall behind keeping it up to date! ;~)

    I have a hard enough time keeping my livestock bloodlines accurate, let alone...


  • 16 years ago

    While recordkeeping is something I am quite familar with the idea of keeping it on plants can be onerous and with time being as scarce as it is I can think of a dozen things I rather do than load more info into my machine than necessary. But I have a very simplified system that
    works for me.
    It consist of files built around NotePad.
    There is a folder with NotePad created files that lists the different genera of the plants I grow (except for the mosses, just Mosses) and there is a folder that has files based upon Chronology-that is a particular date. To make my entries easy I will try to post on the same day of activity onto a Chronology file that I save as the date of entry and list everything done on that date with separation per plant or species of plants worked on. Then in the Genera folders of those species worked on I will list the date of the Chronology file under the relevant species worked on in that genera. That way all I have to do is to check the Genera Folder to find the species I am checking out to find the date of the Chronology files to check out.

    All you need do is open NotePad and then create the folders and the files you need in your Documents-if you are illiterate with your machine definitely learn how to create and save files. For example under Documents have a folder for My Plants then in this folder have the sub-folders, such as Chronology Log and Genera Log and then into these sub-folders build files as illustratd above.
    Hope this helps.


    I forgot: to really go to a next level of enhancement you can use WordPerfect and create documents using both images of your plants and the info from the NotePad files. This takes more time and can be challenging in getting images to load the way you want but it is possible. (Done and doing it for my paphs.)

  • 16 years ago

    No computer records here - good old three ringbinder. I am of the age when I want to hold it in my hand, use a pencil, add a page for a new purchase and if needed, move a page to the RIP section.

    My wish list notebook is a seperate binder.


  • 16 years ago

    I have a species notebook and a hybrid notebook. My wish list anounts to scraps of paper tucked into the backs. I remember reading here or at another fourm about a storm blowing threw someones collection and depotting almost everything, blowing stuff all over the place. They were at a loss as to what was what. Someone suggested attaching labels *to* the orchids themselves. Living in hurricane land, it kinda got me motivated to get to work on maybe having a way to ID my stuff if/WHEN the likes of Francis comes thru here again. I know your collection is in no such danger mehitabel, but it might be something to consider for those that live in these areas.

  • 16 years ago

    I have kept a database for years. It's simple and a snap to enter info and to look up what I want. Tried the tags solution but they fade or break. Maybe I'm using the wrong kind. Also, I can't seem to write small enough to get what I want on a tag. Tried note cards and notebooks. Much prefer the computer solution. I created my database in Microsoft Works. Entry is a breeze and with a 'Find' search I can pull up any info I want. As for photos, I do those separately. Whatever works for ya.

  • 16 years ago

    Picotee: Is there any way you might be able to instruct me on how to set up such a Db?

    Considering that I do plan to start breeding and I will probably eventually want to insure the collection, a constantly current audit of the collection would be nice to have.


  • 16 years ago

    Back in the 1980's, I used index cards. In the 21st century, I use my pc.

    It doesn't matter what the method. The important thing is to KEEP RECORDS!

    Earlier this year, I came to an astounding discovery. My current Lycaste aromatica almost always begins new leads and flower buds on April 10.

    I went back to the 3X5 cards. A different Lycaste aromatica plant in the '80s & '90s always began new leads and flower buds on April 10!


  • 16 years ago

    Thanks for all the tips, everyone. I may still be too dumb to *do* it, but you've given me lots of good ideas to get me started with some trial and error.

    Salvia: Adam, that is extremely generous of you. When you get yours made, I would love to share it. It could probably just be tweaked a little and work for most of us. I will work out what data I want to keep on pieces of paper. :)

    Brooke: Notebooks are great, I love to just page thru them. But I can't get what I want out of it easily any more.

    Picotee: I will see what I can do with the Microsoft Works. Not too computer savvy, but a lot of trial and error usually gets me somewhere.

    Stits: you are so right, bloom time records are worth having, and some are like clocks.

    And everyone, thanks for the replies. You've given me a lot to think over and try out.

  • 16 years ago

    This is a great thread and I have had this in mind for a while. I recently threw together some excel spreadsheet just to keep track of what I have...and then I had the brilliant idea of putting one together to track what I *WANT*....hmm the want list has grown much longer than the have list unfortunately!

    Adam - that's great! I was thinking about some ideas on how to accommodate bloom times - maybe you could have a field for each year and then under the year you could record when things bloomed for that particular year? any other ideas?

  • 16 years ago

    My SO built an interactive customized program for me with all the bells and whistles I could ever want. Been using the program for years now (with his periodic upgrades) and would be absolutely lost without it.

  • 16 years ago

    Calvin, maybe you and Adam and some of the savvier people could work something out that we could all pirate? Please make it "user-friendly" :)

    Hey, CJ. Sounds like a great program and a great SO. My SO (DH)just kindly puts up with me, and I actually figure that's a lot in the cirumstances. LOL

  • 16 years ago

    Oh, he only made the program for me because he was too cheap to buy a REAL present for my birthday.

  • 16 years ago

    There is a lot of pie in the sky stuff here. How will a computer system tell you that stuff about Nodosa Hybrids? The only way to find out is to perhaps do a bit of research using your computer. Not all nodosa type hybrids are spotted, so the thing to do is is to trace the ancestry of the spotted and non spotted to see if you can find a pattern.

    I love this program stuff. I'm not using a program, i'm using a collection of files in Filepro in a very amateur way to collate my data.
    So i have tables containing member information, benching class information, benching results information and so on.

    I'm sure that you should be able to buy some software in the USA, but if you only a few orchids Excel or something similar that would maintain a list would be fine.

    You should ask yourself, why do i need to do this and what will i get out of it?

    i have over a thousand orchids there is no way i'm going to tabulate every one of them in some computer sytem. I just record the name and flower quality plus repot data on plastic tags in the pot, though perhaps the idea of tying the name tag to the plant as mentioned in a post above has merit.

  • 16 years ago

    Sheesh, Arthur, please excuse. I didn't mean to step on your toes. I wasn't trying to say labels aren't enough for recording information about repots and bloom times. Or that you have to enter all your orchids into a computer.

    What's pie in the sky about having curiosity about genetic traits? Obviously, a computer program on it's own won't tell me a thing. Never even tells me how beautiful I am, durn it!

    I was born quite a few moons ago, and I do know something about summarizing data to extract information. Honest.

    I'm just looking for a way to get at and recombine what I can read about and find out more easily than by copying and recopying and then recopying still again information into a lot of tables. Which by the way, I have done some of. Computers copy and recombine stuff a lot faster than people can. Why people use them, I've heard.

    As for B nodosa, you are precisely keerect, it ain't always so about the dots. I do overgeneralize sometimes, and I usually save precision for the tax man, two of my many besetting sins.

    As you say, you can get most things in the US, if you know what to ask for. I was just asking what to ask for.

  • 16 years ago

    Well I'm working on a basic info database right now, for my self I only plan on a little more than the basic info but once I have something I'm happy with I'll make it available and then take requests and try to personalize it for others to fit what they want. once I get the basics done the rest should be easy. I'ld probably have it done by now but the program I'm using is new to me so I got to figure it out as I go.

  • 16 years ago

    Who has time for all this? I have note cards (which I haven't updated in years) and a notebook with just the names, date and grower. Each plant has a number on a tag which corresponds to the entry in the notebook. Tag has the plant name, and repot date. That's it.

    Unless you are breeding, why would anyone go to all this trouble? Not for me. They are just plants.


  • 16 years ago

    Hi Jane, i'm retiring from this thread. No one believes me when i say that past point x it is a waste of that precious commodity, time.

    Just kidding. Lol. But in my working life i was a business analyst. so sniff.

    Salvialvr, have you received the business requirements yet ?

  • 16 years ago

    Mehitabel, i've got a concolour nodosa hybrid, somewhere down the backyard. The name escapes me for the moment, but i must hunt it up and see if the breeding is very different to something like Blc. Golden Tang.

    Sorry, no idea at all about Phal. breeding.

  • 16 years ago

    Salvia, anything you come up with (and whenever you do) will be very welcome and a big improvement over what's available otherwise. Thanks very much, and good luck with it.

  • 16 years ago

    I know why I would take the time to put info in a database. I have a bad case of CRS (can't remember sh**). I do have a file for each plant to record info on where I got it and when and I try to update it with bloom time and repots. But I would love to be able to sort through and see quickly when things will be blooming and what should be rested and when. I just can't remember that on my own. Plus, as many of you have experienced, my collection has grown. I have tried to go through my notes and figure out where I have gaps in my bloom times so I can focus on getting new plants that will fill those gaps. How easy would that be if I could sort by bloom times!!

  • 16 years ago

    You can tell when a plant should bloom by looking at the name on the tag. If you buy a Spring bloomer, its always a Spring bloomer. If you buy a Fall bloomer....there you go,

    You don't need a database to tell you when a plant should bloom, you need a tag.


  • 16 years ago

    Getting down to the real nitty gritty, this is the way it works for me: My greenhouse and my orchid plants are insured. You don't really think I am going to try to chase down hundreds of tags for miles around to give to the insurance adjustor after the hurricane, do you? The tags also tend to melt in a fire. And thieves don't always leave the tags neatly stacked on the potting bench while they haul off the orchids.

    Maybe it isn't important to the tag writers, but I am not going to be out thousands and thousands of dollars just because I don't want to keep permanent and informative records that would be accepted for a claim.

  • 16 years ago

    I have 2 purposes for my database. First, I wanted to have an up to date plant list on my website, and I found it impossible doing it one page at a time. Second, I need a printed plant list so that I don't get too many duplicates of plants I already have. I see so many different species over a years time that I sometimes forget what I have.

    The web page below and all the pages it links to are generated from the database. Eventually there will be pictures of all the individual plants and flowers. When I get a new photo, I update the database and the picture appears on the page. When get a new plant, I add to the database and the new web page appears and the plant is on the list.

    That sounds like a somewhat different focus than some have mentioned. I certainly wish I had done this a long time ago.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Plant List

  • 16 years ago

    Cj, I guess I'm lucky as I've had no fires, thieves or storms. Even if I did, I don't understand how that would help anything. If you loose your tags, plants burn up or thieves steal them, how does a elaborate database help identify anything? Losing a tag and losing a hundred plants to a fire or thief would make it difficult to identify.

    Unless I were a large grower, seller or breeder, (which I'm not), I can't see why anyone would spend so much time writing every little thing down. I keep notecards when I purchase or divide a plant with a photo (only if I keep the plant). I don't see any other reason for all this note taking and time spent on the computer. I flower a plant and decide whether it stays or goes. What a waste of time it would be for me to be writing down when it flowers, how it looks, etc., etc. and then give it away at auction.

    I am a indoor, windowsill grower, no big production - that's it.


  • 16 years ago

    I know you don't understand, Jane, but a ten-year-old backed-up continuous database along with purchase records is a basis for any claim. That's why we write descriptions and take photos of household items, jewelry, fine art, books, etc. and keep reciepts in banks. That is what the insurance company wants; proof of ownership and a guide for replacement value.

    People do have hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, floods, etc. No one is exempt from a disaster. My house has been hit by lightning and has been through three hurricanes in less than four years. Many of us have had to deal with past insurance claims during our lives and we have learned important lessons. I assure you that people who collect coins or stamps or oriental rugs or even crappy Hummel figurines keep records and descriptions and receipts and photos. And if they have a lot of them, they certainly keep it on a computerized database with back-ups in a vault.

    Until someone has had a major casualty loss (of any type) and has had to deal with an insurance company -- or an IRS tax write-off -- they don't have any idea of how necessary good records are, and without said records may not get to collect a dime. Some people live in la-la land and then wail and whine the loudest when they get stuck having to eat a loss. And it's a pity since in this age of computers, it is so easy and quick to record and document your possessions. It takes me all of approx 30 seconds to add a new orchid plant and description to my database. Got three new plants last week, took me all of a minute-and-a-half to enter them. Wow, I am sure wasting time at a computer, aren't I. Bet you can't write all the data down legibly on three note cards that fast, can you, Jane? Plant name, parents if it's a hybrid, date, dealer, price, basic description (seedling, div, PB, NBS) bloom season if known, etc. and then have it automatically alphabetized and inserted in its proper place in an inventory list by the computer -- 30 long wasted seconds each, right?

    The speed that a computer gives to the task is why no business on earth keeps inventory of its stock on note cards anymore either. Notecards are time-consuming and, if you keep them in the house, they'll burn up in it or blow away with it. But then again if you only have a dozen plants, it's not great loss anyhow. But knowing lots of true orchid addicts (ahem), they don't only own a dozen plants for long.

  • 16 years ago

    Nah, I have over a hundred. I just don't classify my orchids the same as my diamonds. They aren't worth that much. I never pay more than $25.00 for a plant (and thats rare). I get most of my plants through society members and auctions.

    My plants have a number. No alphabetized cards for me, just #1,2,4,--
    Date and name. Once. Take a photo once in a while and staple it to the card. My computers blow out faster than my cards. I'd trust my card any day over a computer. Have an ice storm going on in NY tonight. Power went out twice. Computer was useless.


  • 16 years ago

    So it isn't important to you. That's fine with me. I do remember you also saying in another thread that information about how orchids grow in the wild isn't important to you either. That too is fine. It's a minimalist approach to the hobby, I guess.

  • 16 years ago

    Hmm Jane you've just given me the novel idea of incorporating digital images into any sort of database I make / get my programming savvy friends to make! Lol I guess I'm just totally stuck in the digital age. I lose things tangible all the time (ie tags, labels etc..) but for some reason I have like 10 copies of my orchid list floating around, backed up on disks and various removable hard drives (along with other stuff that I happened to back up of course - Im not *THAT* obsessed! lol)

    Either way, I think it's clear that *some* sort of info about the plants should be kept....I haven't been keeping any records until maybe a few months ago when I broke the 30 plant mark, and I realized that I had lost the tags on half my plants (I'm bad that way I know). I ended up having to sift through old receipts and posts that I made *here* like years ago, just to re-identify the crosses. I suppose I will have to get better with tag organization anyway when I get more plants, since a digital database only helps you out so far. But yeah, whether computer or not, I think some degree of information recording is necessary - the beauty of elaborate databases is that you don't need to enter something into all the fields, so you record as much info as you want to! :)

  • 16 years ago

    Minimalist, I guess I am. Even using a computer, unless you are an OCD type personality, you would forget to enter something. I think whatever works for you - works.

    My power went off twice last night crashing my computer. The programs I use for work won't open. I'm awaiting calls from the software developers to see if I can get them open to retrieve my data. I do medical work and there are hundreds of patient records on these programs. Obviously, they are not backed-up because I was working on them at the time all afternoon. They were open when the power went on and off.

    Luckily, I do have paper copies of most data since Friday. I'm sure I lost 4 hours of difficult work done yesterday.
    Cj, important is a relative term. My plants are important to me. I keep the information I need. The people posting above are talking about recording every little spot on a leaf or blooming times. The Importance of that makes no sense to me.

    Back up - on paper,

  • 16 years ago

    I am one of "the people posting above" and I don't keep track of every little leaf spot. The fact that you lump me in is what gets me a bit annoyed. I certainly never said I posted leaf spots or watering schedules or other misc unnecessary data. Why not try "some" of the people posting above to make your point. You sure didn't make it to me.

    But when you are in the 500+ plant range, you can't be climbing ladders in the greenhouse all the time to read stuff on tags.

  • 16 years ago

    When i said pie in the sky, somewhere above, i was talking about the need to record everything when that everything was never defined.

    Computer records and systems are fine if there is a need, without the need the data in those systems will quickly become useless.

    I'm not anti computer. I have 10000 orchid society records in a Database purely so that i can print the monthly benching list and tot up the points from that benching,

    I also used the Data to make up a show schedule when the Society was asked by the management of a shopping mall to put on an Autumn show.

    Getting back to the requirements. What are they?

    Carol clearly has some. That is to record the name of the orchid and the cost on a list.

    I'm slack because i do not do any of that, but i could.

    Just an example, i have four flasks of Tolumnia. Cost $10 each. Record the name of the plants in the flask and the cost on a list, But what happens when you deflask and if they all live? What happens then?

  • 16 years ago

    Jane, if I may offer an opinion for why people keep extensive data bases - among other reasons I think some people enjoy it. The ability to find out (at times random) statistical information is often very exciting. This is why we keep track of player and team stats for almost any sport found on the planet. While one person may care less that Peyton Manning has seventeen 4 touchdown games in his career (I watched too much football yesterday), to the avid fan this is a thrilling trivia quesiton. The same way an orchid grower may way to know when their next red cattleya is most likely to bloom. Anyway, if someone does enjoy that sort of thing the best way to store and analyze the raw data is a computer. You can come up with almost any kind of query in a database without going through each listing one by one. That doesn't mean every orchid grower has to do it. I certainly don't have the patience for it yet, but then again I don't have enough orchids :)


  • 16 years ago

    For those who don't see a need for a database (I tried one for awhile), what I've done is engrave, the pot or basket, with the info I find pertinent with a Dremel tool. Since I rarely repot until the pot breaks or the basket deteriorates, I don't end up with info on multiple plants on one basket. This doesn't work so well on mounts, so I've started using mounts I can engrave, since most of my mounted plants lost their tags years ago. This eliminates the issues with plastic tags and if the roots etc., grow over my engraving, sooner or later, when I repot, I can still find the plant name etc. Albeit, I pretty much only write the plants name and winter watering schedule. For some reason I can usually remember when they bloom and I certainly remember the couple that refuse to bloom.

    One caveat, only drill on a clay pot that's been soaked in water or it will break.

  • 16 years ago

    Funny, Scott :)

    Whilst I slaved over this post, others said it well (and more briefly...alas!). I'll paste it in, anyway. Just for the record, salvia, I didn't see the hostility--thick skin, I guess. Here goes:

    Some people want to keep plant information, some don't. I assume each has his reasons and that for each the reasons are right and good for that individual.

    Some people have specific orchid data needs. Since people's needs seem to be infinitely variable, a generally useful database would have to be as flexible (customizable?) as possible. To my non-techie mind, that challenge looks staggering; to someone in information technology, it probably just looks like an interesting problem.

    I have so few orchids that one would think I could keep all the information I want in my head, on plant tags, or on my penciled monthly watering slips. One would think.... The truth is that it often takes quite a bit of time just to track down when this or that orchid spiked, bloomed, or rebloomed. Why would Anyone want to know that? Well, some wouldn't, and for a variety of reasons, others would. I'm just awfully curious about many, many things, and (for me) figuring out the answers is part of the pleasure of growing orchids. A good flexible database might make the figuring a lot quicker, easier, and (important) more accurate.

    I currently have a couple of very modest experiments running, just to satisfy my curiosity. Even so, recording results on paper would be inefficient and ephemeral. Relying on my memory wouldn't do. Some of my wishes for a database are similar to Mehitabel's in that I would like to have data in one place, where it could be manipulated, compared and contrasted to my heart's desire. Maybe someone will see this as do-able.


  • 16 years ago

    Chids are like kids...
    (So to speak!)
    We all have our own methods for both.
    To argue over the personalized details is an effort in futility!
    Although some people have bratty kids, you won't get very far telling them how you think that they should do it!

    There is a very big difference in organizing a large, expensive and hard won collection (exposed to often violent fits of Mother Nature) and a purely pleasure collection!
    I have rare and endangered heritage livestock.
    Most of my neighbors have, esentially, scrubs!
    I keep accurate records and make sure that mine are kept the hell away from theirs!
    Mine are fed and sheltered to the best of my ability, while theirs are left to fend for themselves.
    A lot more work, but worth it to me.
    I don't remember asking their opinion about any of it, but I don't openly criticize what they do either.

    Much of the requirements are determined by value placed and horrific expense in replacement costs.
    Especially if anything is truly irreplaceable!

    If anyone was offended by my irreverent postings.
    Well, too bad!
    I thought that it was more than a little sophomoric.


  • 16 years ago

    They made me laugh, Scott.
    Always good.


  • 16 years ago

    There was a point that I didn't keep a record my collection grew, I was finding that I end up purchasing things I already had. It was at that point that I decided I needed an inventory of my collection. I did that in MS Word. It was easy to update and also to print out a copy to bring with me to shows and other venues where I would be purchasing. I also kept a wish list at the bottom. Now that my collection is getting much larger, there is other info I would like to have handy, such as where or whom I got the plant from (there are ones in my collection form both Jane and Carol) I have decided to move the inventory to MS Excel format. It also gives me the ability to have a live link to pics in my photobucket album. I should have that complete by the end of winter. Info like potting dates I keep on the tag in the pot....Ron-NY

  • 16 years ago

    My records are on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet w/ no links so far. Pix are another place. Every column heading keeps me from wracking my brain about info that might be idle curiosity to others, if they were interested at all. Or my records might be baby steps to someone else.

    Probably the overall purpose is to give me a false(?) sense of control - if I can observe and record data, my orchid world is somewhat known and structured.

    Mehitabel, the why of spot sizes doesn't do it for me, but the rest of you, please don't tell me what you're tracking - there are enough columns as it is, and my need for control can handle only so much. :)

    Scott - your humor cracks me up.


  • 16 years ago

    What I am curious about is do people keep all of their orchids in one document or do you keep multi. As I have been moving things to Excel, I have separating different alliances into their own documents for I want different info for each alliance. I don't need a column for the cross for the alliances that I only do species.

  • 16 years ago

    I keep species and hybrids separate in both my active file and also in my 'dead/given-away/traded' inactive file. That's enough for me.

  • 16 years ago

    I have all the orchids together assigned a number. The number gets an * in front if it is gone for any reason and I don't reuse the number. I have a column for a species/hybrid indicator. The genus, the species, the whole tag contents, flower picture ID, plant picture ID, page ID, a collection/excess/for-sale indicator and what it is potted in.

    All that is sliced and diced and sorted with notes, which are separate files, depending on if the relate to the species or the specific plant. Printed lists are: one line per species (I take to buying opportunities so I don't get more), plants that need a flower picture, plants that need a plant picture. And of course the web plant list and individual plant web pages.

    I am still filling in the pictures. I had a lot of plants before I did the inventory, but every new plant now gets a picture. The flower pictures are only of that plant, not somebody elses plant, so I have to wait for a bloom for that.

  • 16 years ago

    Hi Ron, welcome back.


  • 16 years ago

    I use MS Excel for general info--Genus, species, variety, cultivar names. Also, Excel gets awards, source, year acquired and general temp range. I color code temp boxes for the coldest and hottest plants for quick reference for whenever it may be useful.

    I use MS Word for plant specific info such as condition on arrival, type of potting mixes used, data on spike initiation, flower numbers, duration, changes in culture etc. Into the Word doc, I also toss in hunches and wild speculation. Fotos of the plant on arrival and whatever might suit me at any moment are also found.


  • 16 years ago

    My husband convinced me years back that I needed a database. I now keep all the basic orchid info in Access DB.
    I have now over 500 orchids, and having this helps! Tags fade, break, and having a bit of name left or a number on the tag makes it possible to search through database and re-write the tag.
    Just recently, I discovered a tag that almost faded in the sun...Only lc Va was left. Put it in the Access search, found a match:
    94 Lc. Rojo 'Barbara' 4N x Slc. Vallezas 'Magic Fire' -- plant name is not lost! Having bought the plant in 2005, there is no way I would have remembered the name otherwise...

    Pictures are in a separate folder, by month and year...


  • 16 years ago

    Hey, everybody. I'm impressed with the number of people who are keeping their records on computers!

    Thanks for all the input, including what you use for your records and how you do it.

    I'd bet lots of people were given ideas by this discussion. I can see I have some new things to be learning.

    Thanks again for all the replies and ideas.

  • 16 years ago


    I think that you have the best idea by using MS Access. I guess that I ought to give it a go during the "off season". I have been trained in Access and even then, it's intimidating! :-)