The May DVOS monthly meeting will be held in a “virtual” (Zoom) format once again, though, we hope to return to in-person meetings in June.

Our May meeting will feature Ray Barkalow of First Rays LLC (, a company he started to provide supplies for orchid enthusiasts and to disseminate his orchid expertise. His DVOS talk at our May meeting, entitled “Bugs and Juice”, will provide an overview of the use of beneficial microbes and phytochemical stimulants in orchid care, including curative, preventative, and supportive functions. He will cover plant “probiotics” to make them more disease resistant; biological bactericides, fungicides, and insecticides; plant growth stimulants; and nutritional uptake enhancers.

Ray’s orchid-growing career began nearly 50 years ago when he was a Ceramics Engineering student at Georgia Tech. After a year as a volunteer at the public greenhouses at what is now the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the orchid grower there gave him a big, “floofy” purple cattleya. Ray says it took him just two years to kill it via the typical root rot-desiccation torture cycle. Because he didn’t want to be known as an orchid assassin, he became determined to learn more about orchid culture and, like many of us, became addicted to this fantastic family of plants.  Nevertheless, he admits to killing his share of other orchids in the subsequent decades and quips: “Isn’t it true that you’re not an orchid-growing ‘pro’ until you have killed your weight in plants?”

Ray is known for his scientific approach to cultivation, looking at the factual “whys” behind the myths and dogma associated with orchid culture, allowing him to confirm or disprove them.  For instance, he partnered with Rick Lockwood (our speaker at the Feb. 2021 DVOS meeting) to develop the formulation of the K-lite orchid fertilizer, a low-potassium formulation based on the compositional analysis of actual orchid tissues.

During his professional career in the chemical industry, Ray had many opportunities to travel internationally, and put together an extensive collection of orchids from around the world, mostly purchased from street vendors and shipped back to the U.S. on his (pre-CITES) import permit.  His busy travel schedule led him to do much experimentation on how to keep his collection healthy and happy during his absences, and that led to his development of a semi-hydroponic method of raising orchids.  Ray summarizes his work in this area in an American Orchid Society (AOS) webinar talk that’s available for AOS members to view:  (AOS member login required).

Ray loves meeting and communicating with people from around the world to share his knowledge of orchids.  For him, sharing his obsession is second only to growing the plants.

DVOS members will be sent the Zoom login link via e-mail.  Non-members of DVOS who wish to attend Ray’s talk should RSVP to: and you will be sent the login information for the meeting.

DVOS members who “attend” the meeting and who have paid their 2022 dues are automatically entered into the monthly drawing for one of three $50 gift certificates, good towards a purchase of an orchid or supplies from a recognized orchid vendor.