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  • Pacific Island Times Staff

Got an ailing orchid? University of Guam can help

They'll show you how to grow and treat your sick orchid... For Free

A tissue culture laboratory and nursery team at the Guam Department of Agriculture and the University of Guam’s Western Pacific Tropical Research Center are accepting sickly orchids from the public and exchanging them free of charge for healthy phalaenopsis or dendrobium seedlings or mature plants. The two entities are also offering free one- to two-week courses on how to grow and propagate healthy orchids.

The tissue culture lab team: Kamille Wang, tissue culture assistant;

Ricardo Lizama, agriculture management specialist III at the Guam

Department of Agriculture; Alicja Wiecko, research associate

with UOG’s Western Pacific Tropical Research Center; Jaena

Taitagua, UOG student; Alexander Chingyan, research assistant;

Alyanna Del Rosario; and Edwina Chiroo, both UOG students.

(Photo: UOG)

The plant exchange is part of a “Growing disease-free orchids on Guam” project started in 2013 by Ricardo Lizama, agriculture management specialist III at the Guam Department of Agriculture, and Alicja T. Wiecko, a research associate with UOG’s Western Pacific Tropical Research Center. Their work has been presented at many conferences, including the American Society for Horticultural Sciences and last year at the 22nd World Orchid Conference in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

The free course will teach the basics of growing healthy orchids and how to propagate them through tissue culture. The dates are flexible, but the course will be held from 8 a.m. to noon on weekdays for one to two weeks at the Department of Agriculture laboratory. Those who complete it will receive an “Orchid Grower” certificate.

As part of the orchid-growing project, new orchids are propagated at the Department of Agriculture laboratory from disease-free orchids that had tested negative for two common viruses: cymbidium mosaic virus and odontoglossum ringspot virus. These viruses infect more than 60 percent of local orchids and 30 percent of imported orchids.

The nursery has thousands of orchid seedlings planted in small pots and hundreds of medium-sized and mature orchids growing in larger pots. Some orchids have already produced seedpods, which are ready to propagate on a special medium where they will eventually germinate.

The laboratory growth room houses hundreds of containers holding miniature phalaenopsis and dendrobium seedlings growing on agar. The tiny plants produced by the tissue culture team are free of viruses.

The tissue culture team includes Alexander Chingyan and Kamille Wang — who are both experienced in growing orchids and bananas in vitro and in the nursery — and student hires Alyanna Del Rosario, Jaena Taitagua, and Edwina Chiroo.

Those interested in the orchid growing course can sign up by contacting Alicja Wiecko at 671-735-2132 or


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