Ron McHatton

Phone: 352-989-7227 Email:

SpecialtiesOrchid Pollination, Orchids of Madagascar, Pest and Disease Management
FormatOnline and in-person
Provides plants for sale?No


Ron is currently the organization’s Chief Education and Science Officer. He started
growing orchids in Northern California about 60 years ago at the age of eight with a
cattleya purchased from a local grower. This single plant quickly became a collection
occupying every window facing east or south and his fascination with orchids has never
waned. Over the years his private collection has numbered in excess of 2,500 plants; a
direct result of no willpower or common sense.
Ron’s growing experience spans lights while a graduate student in Iowa, out-of-doors in
Southern California as a postdoc at Cal Tech, a northern greenhouse in upstate New York,
a temperate greenhouse in Atlanta and a shade house in Central Florida. He even has
experience on the mass-market side of the orchid work (he calls it the dark side of the
Ron is a PhD Chemist by training, receiving his degree from Iowa State University and
spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech in Pasadena, California. He is
responsible for the editorial content and layout of the Society’s monthly magazine,
Orchids and holds a monthly orchid Q&A webinar (Greenhouse Chat). Don’t let that
name scare you off. If you haven’t registered for one, you should. In addition to the
magazine, Ron represents the Society on the Orchid Hybrid Registration Advisory
Group, an international group that advises the Royal Horticultural Society on matters of
hybrid registration and nomenclature. In addition to his professional position, Ron is an
accredited American Orchid Society judge with 35 years under his belt. Prior to joining
the AOS staff in 2007, he volunteered for over 25 years; chairing several national
committees, twice holding a seat on the Society’s Board of Trustees and briefly serving
as a vice-president. If this weren’t enough, Ron has also been a long-time supporter of
the Orchid Digest. In this role, he has served (and currently serves again) on its Board of
Directors and its Executive Committee for many years and as its President for three
consecutive terms.

Talks and Abstracts


Orchid Pollination - Why they look and smell like they do.

"Why are the flowers of Angraecum sesquipedale fragrant only at night? Why do those of Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis smell so bad and what’s up with all those little white things on the outside of the flowers? Why are many cattleyas so fragrant and seemingly similar guarianthes aren’t? How can all those flower forms still be oncidiums? The 1 development of fused reproductive structures, the so-called column, and pollinia are rare outside the Orchidaceae and set the stage for the development of fascinating reproductive ecology spanning the gamut from floral mimicry to sexual mimicry and food rewards — real or deceitful. Humans tend to think of the world in anthropomorphic terms and forget that orchid flowers have the shapes and fragrances they do not for us, but to ensure one thing and one thing only —successful reproduction."

Orchids of Madagascar

"Madagascar is often called the land that time forgot. Geographically and climatologically it is very isolated with dramatic variation in microclimates. As a result, an estimated 85% of the species found there are endemic to the island or the smaller surrounding islands. Home to most of the world’s Angraecum and Aerangis species, we tend to think about Madagascar’s orchids as all white but truth be told, Madagascar’s orchids are an incredible array of forms, colors and habitats. This presentation is intended to be an introduction to that incredible world."

Effective Pest and Disease Management

Indiscriminate applications of pesticides, especially in the closed environment of our greenhouses, easily leads to the development of resistance in the same way that overuse of antibiotics is leading to the development of so-called superbugs. New treatment methods within the reach of the average orchid hobbyist are few and far between making it critical that proper techniques and application intervals be clearly understood. Is your pesticide of choice truly systemic or only translaminar (they really are different) or strictly a contact poison? If truly systemic, is it transported only in the phloem or vascular system and is uptake preferentially by roots or leaves? These questions are critical to a pesticide’s effectiveness. As an example, Safari is a remarkably more effective pesticide applied as a drench than it is as a foliar spray. The effectiveness of the old standby Acephate (Orthene) is driven by its almost unique ability to be transported in both the phloem and vascular systems of the plant meaning coverage of roots, leaves and flowers isn’t necessary for effective control. Know your insect’s life cycle. Pesticides effective against a particular immature stage need to be applied at intervals corresponding to peaks in the population of that stage. Scale insects incubate their eggs under the female’s shell and most pesticides are ineffective against the eggs. For this reason, scale colonies should be removed prior to pesticide application. If not, eggs present will continue to develop, hatch and re-establish the colony. Even what appear to be simple pests such as aphids can prove remarkably difficult to eradicate unless pesticides are used appropriately. In today’s world of dwindling beneficial insect populations, indiscriminate pesticide use is not only dangerous but also irresponsible.