Ask an Expert: Five Questions with Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City President Glenn Lessenden

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Ask an Expert: Five Questions with Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City President Glenn Lessenden

Categories: Ask an Expert, Blog

It’s Orchid Extravaganza Weekend (March 23-24) at Powell Gardens! See the Gardens’ stunning orchid collection on display in the ‘Living’ Room conservatory exhibit and talk with Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City members. They will be here from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to answer your orchid-related questions.

 orchid 3.21.13

Growing orchids is easier than you might think, says Glenn Lessenden, president of the Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City. Here, Glenn talks about his love for orchids and offers advice to those who find these exotic beauties a bit intimidating.

How did you get involved with growing orchids?

In 2003, my father-in-law, a longtime member of the Kansas Orchid Society, gave me a hybrid Cattleya (corsage orchid) that he was unable to bloom. I placed it in a south-facing sunroom and in 2004 it bloomed with two clusters of 6- to 7-inch blooms, white with a large purple lip and delightfully fragrant. I decided I needed to know more about these plants and how to grow them.


What is your favorite thing about orchids?

Two things come to mind. My education is in the biological sciences and the incredible diversity of orchids and the interplay with their pollinators is fascinating to me — lots to learn and marvel at. An added bonus to me has been the wonderful fragrances displayed by many orchids. This was totally unexpected and very nice to experience in a small greenhouse.

What is your favorite orchid and why?

LC Leonard Reed Holguin, the hybrid Cattleya mentioned in question 1 — a personal attachment as the plant that got me started in orchid growing. It has large showy blooms, is very fragrant, and is not difficult to grow. What’s not to like?

What advice do you have for people who want to grow orchids but find them intimidating?

I’ll give the same advice that was given to me. Join your local orchid society. For us that is the Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City. We meet monthly, with programs aimed at the beginner/novice grower and more advanced topics as well. Any newcomer will find friendly, knowledgeable people to learn from, orchid plants grown by members displayed, orchid plants raffled off each meeting (a good low-cost way to try your hand at growing), and an informative program related to some aspect of orchid growing. We can be found at

What is your favorite thing about Powell Gardens?

Powell Gardens is a great place to spend a day — marvelous displays and informative exhibits. I always try to go back through the greenhouses when possible.

Orchid Weekend 2013

The Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City’s annual auction is Sunday, April 7 at the Lenexa Senior Center. The society’s yearly fundraiser is a great opportunity to get quality orchid plants at reasonable prices. See details at