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Misting Fertilizer

This is a discussion on Misting Fertilizer within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I have a coworker whose wife and he have a greenhouse and grow many tropical ...

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  1. #1
    Shannara's Avatar
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    Default Misting Fertilizer

    I have a coworker whose wife and he have a greenhouse and grow many tropical plants, including orchids. For their orchids they mist the fertilizer onto the foliage rather than water it into the soil. I have seen some of the phalaenopsis that were fertilized this way and I must say they had more flowers on them than any phal I have ever seen!

    His advice was to mist once a week, early in the day, and keep on a strict schedule and to not deviate...using 1/4 to 1/2 strength orchid fertilizer.

    What are your thoughts on misting fertilizer?

    Shann~

  2. #2
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    Never tried it, generally I try to keep the leaves of my phals dry to ward off rot and fungus. But I live in an area with generally high humidity, I could see where it may be benificial if your humidity is low.

  3. #3
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    Applying fertilizer to the foliage is a valid way to feed plants (not only orchids).
    Foliar feeding should SUPPLEMENT root feeding, as not all nutrients can be absorbed by the leaves (some are actually repelled in some cases).

    If feeding the roots alone gives you healthy plants, then adding foliar feeding to your routine should improve the plants' quality.
    Of course, the undesirable side effect is potential mineral build up on the leaves. But this is more likely due to calcium/salt concentrations in the water and not directly attributed to unconsumed fertilizer.

    I feed my plants via root feeding into the potting mix and by foliar spray and they appear to like it a lot.

    Some supporting information:
    Link #1
    According to the above article: "They found foliar feeding provided about 95 percent efficiency of use compared to about 10 percent of use from soil applications"

    Link #2
    Link #3
    Last edited by wetfeet101b; April 18th, 2008 at 02:42 PM.

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    GrumpyBear is offline Senior Member
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    so does any orchid fertilizer work or does it have to specifically say it's okay for foliar feeding?
    i actually keep being told by my sisters friend that i should only ever water (maybe she meant feed?) my orchids by misting the leaves. i've ignored her cuz before switching to pebble trays i was misting and the mineral buildup wetfeet mentioned was kinda bad...lousy water where i am...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyBear View Post
    so does any orchid fertilizer work or does it have to specifically say it's okay for foliar feeding?
    It would depend on the active ingredients of the fertilizer/plant food.
    Assuming that the fertilizer is mixed at safe concentrations, the question is not whether it is safe to spray the foliage. But rather, will the ingredients actually be taken in by the leaves? Or will they just go to waste?
    If the leaves do not absorb those ingredients, then they might end up collecting on the leaves or just run off to the roots, or the ground.

    A lot of the products on the market do not indicate on their front labels that they can be used for foliar feeding (some do), but the application directions may have a section for foliar feeding.

    Some specialized fertilizers may actually indicate something like "Do not use for foliar feeding". This is because they may contain ingredients that could harm the leaves. But these are usually for industrial/agricultural grade fertilizers.
    Most of the stuff accessible to us hobbyists are cotton-candy compared to what the big boys use.

    This is my personal mix that I use to fertilize 3 Saturdays out of a month. The fourth Saturday is just for flushing. I spray both the roots and leaves with the same mix.

    * 2 gallon pump sprayer with water (I dont need those fancy backpack sprayers... not yet )
    * 1 cap of soluble fertilizer. This would be the 30-10-10 or 6-30-30 depending on the season. And I also keep a 20-20-20 for those times that I am not sure which one to use. (When in doubt, use 20-20-20 hehe)
    * 1 cap of Seaweed Extract (I use the bottle cap that came with it)
    * 1/2 cap of superthrive (I use the bottle cap that came with it)
    * 1/2 ounce of Pro-Tekt - I have been told by local growers that this strengthens the plant cells to help them tolerate our very hot summers.
    Then during the growing/rooting season I add a minute amount of rooting hormone to the fertilizer mix.

    This 2-gallon mix lasts for my entire collection without refilling. So it gives you an idea of how "thinly" I apply the fertilizers.

    The Pro-Tekt is relatively new to me, I have only been using it for about a year.
    But the rest of the mix, I have been using for several years with no apparent negative effects to the plants.
    Most of my casualties die of other causes (too hot, too cold, squirrel got them, etc) but none can be directly attributed to the foliar feeding.

  6. #6
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    This is my personal mix that I use to fertilize 3 Saturdays out of a month. The fourth Saturday is just for flushing. I spray both the roots and leaves with the same mix.

    * 2 gallon pump sprayer with water (I dont need those fancy backpack sprayers... not yet )
    * 1 cap of soluble fertilizer. This would be the 30-10-10 or 6-30-30 depending on the season. And I also keep a 20-20-20 for those times that I am not sure which one to use. (When in doubt, use 20-20-20 hehe)
    * 1 cap of Seaweed Extract (I use the bottle cap that came with it)
    * 1/2 cap of superthrive (I use the bottle cap that came with it)
    * 1/2 ounce of Pro-Tekt - I have been told by local growers that this strengthens the plant cells to help them tolerate our very hot summers.
    Then during the growing/rooting season I add a minute amount of rooting hormone to the fertilizer mix.
    I want to look into this Pro-Tekt because I am in a hot climate and wasn't aware that such a product existed. Since you have used it for a year with no negative effects that sounds promising.

    Do you mind my asking what do you use the seaweed extract for?

    I use the Schultz orchid food and superthrive. Sometimes for young or reviving plants I use a liquid rooting stimulant by Fertilome. I also have a 20-20-20 soluble fertilize I use once in awhile instead of the Schultz. I only started misting the foliage this past month so I don't have much experience with it yet.

    Shann~

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shannara View Post
    Do you mind my asking what do you use the seaweed extract for?
    Shann~
    It is just to provide supplemental trace elements to the plants. I dont think it is absolutely necessary to do so since the soluble fertilizer and Superthrive already provide the foundation of macro/micro nutrients. But it is "icing on the cake", to fill in any micro nutrient gaps from the standard formula.

    Will the plants thrive and bloom without it? Absolutely.
    But who knows... it might just provide the plants that extra "ooomph!" that could push the AOS judges to nudge the score from 88 to 90.

    I understand your apprehension about applying any ocean-based products to the orchids. Ocean = Salt = unhappy orchids.
    But rest assured, this is a commercially processed product that removes most of the sea salts and leaves only plant-usable micronutrients.

    I dont go harvesting kelp and make my own extract

    It does not have to be ocean based material. There are a variety of non-ocean based products that fill in the trace element gaps from the standard fertilizer mixes.
    Heck, if you have an aviary collect some bird poop and mix very dilute concentrations and you got yourself a very nice micro nutrient soup.
    Make sure the birds are healthy though and did not eat any questionable material (virused plants, etc).

  8. #8
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    Webfeet, all the poop my birds produce goes to the compost pit. I could see making a manure tea from the compost, but I don't think I would use it 'fresh'.

  9. #9
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    Pro-Tekt is mainly a Potassium and Silicon supplement. Potassium is already available in most fertilizer and micro nutrient products. But it may not be the case with silicon.

    Silicon tidbits:
    Link #1
    Silicon does not, by itself, make the plants heat/cold resistant (thermotolerant).
    It does however, allow the plant cells to function more efficiently thus mitigating the damaging effects of very high/very low temperatures that could lead to toxic build-up of certain nutrients.


    Link #2

    There are other factors/nutrients that makes the plant more thermotolerant.
    Silicon was not specified in this second link, but the first link implies that the presence of silicon in the plant makes all the other essential nutrients function properly in building up the plant's thermotolerance.

  10. #10
    Lizgeo is offline Senior Member
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    Wetfeet,
    Do you mix seaweed with other fertilizer together as a spay solution? I have used seaweed this past year, only once a month but I don't feed other fertilizer that week.

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