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New To Orchids - A Few Questions

This is a discussion on New To Orchids - A Few Questions within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; ...

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  1. #1
    Styx is offline Senior Member
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    Default New To Orchids - A Few Questions

    Okay, just bought a cattleya orchid and Iím completely new to them. Itís also a baby plant, very small, tiny little leaves, I got it at boxstore so I could try out this plant and see if I can grow them.



    Now for my questions. I bought Schultz Professional Orchid Mix Exotic Potting Medium. Good, bad? Should I take it back? I also bought Gublerís Pro-Blend Orchid Food. Good, bad? Another thing I should take back? If not, how often should I give my plant this and how much should I dilute it? Also, Iíve read different things on the light requirements, what is successful?

  2. #2
    MikeWA's Avatar
    MikeWA is offline Senior Member
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    I have heard bad things about Schultz but it is all relative. It depends on your watering style. I hve heard Schultz mix likes to stay wet and if you water often the that is a bad mix.

    It really depends on what your Cattleya is. Is it an SLC, BLC, Cattleya or is it anything else. Some Catts prefer warmer growing conditions and some more on the intermediate side. Typically, all of them love lots of bright indirect light. If it does not bloom then it needs more light.

    Fertilizer is all relative as well. Most orchid specifics are fine and just follow directions but you can use any other type of fertilizer at 1/3 strength. here is some info I have compiled and noted over the years.

    Cattleya are some of the most commonly grown orchid plants, and their culture is
    often used as the basis for comparison with other types of orchids.
    The flowers in Cattleya and their related hybrids come in most all colors of the
    spectrum. Culture varies only slightly among most of these groups; this cultural
    information is a general guide to"standard" Cattleya culture.

    Like most other cultivated orchids,Cattleya are epiphytic, or air plants.
    Because they are epiphytic they have developed water-storage organs, called
    pseudobulbs, and have large fleshy roots covered with a spoungy water retentive
    velamen. They are accustomed to being dry at the roots between waterings, and
    therefore should be potted in very porous, free-draining media.

    Light is one of the most important factors in growing and blooming Cattleya,
    whether in a greenhouse setting or in a home. Bright light to some sun must be
    given to the plants but no direct sun in the middle of the day. this means an
    east, shaded South(as with a sheer curtain), or west window in the home, and
    30-50% of full sun in a greenhouse (3000 to 5000 foot candles). leaves should be
    a medium green color.

    Recommended temperatures are 55-60f at night and 70-85f during the day. Seedling
    should have night temperatures 5 to 10f higher. A 10-20f differential between
    day and night is recommended, especially for mature plants. Higher day
    temperatures can be tolerated, if humidity, air circulation and shading are
    increased.

    Water should be provided in two ways; in the pot by watering and in the air by
    humidity. Watering in the pot is dictated by many criteria-- size and type of
    pot, temperature, light, ect. Mature Cattleya need to dry out thoroughly before
    watering again. Seedlings need slightly more constant moisture. Compare the
    weight of a dry pot of the same size and type of medium; it can indicate if a
    plant needs water. if in doubt, it's best to wait a day or two before watering.
    Plants in active growth need more watering than plants that are resting.
    Softened water may injure plants.

    Cattleyas should be provided 50 to 80% relative humidity although this is not
    necessary. Air should always be moving around the plants to prevent fungal or
    bacterial diseases, especially if high humidity and/or cool temperatures exist.
    In the greenhouse the humiditycam be increased by wetting the floor. Evaporative
    cooling increases humidity while cooling the air.

    Fertilizer must be given to Cattleya on a regular schedule. In fir bark, a high
    nitrogen (30-10-10) formulation or a similar proportion is used. high
    phospherous or bloom-booster ( 10-30-20) formulation may be used occasionally
    (every 4 to 6 applications) to make sturdy growths and promote healthy blooming.
    When in active growth, plants need fertilizer every two weeks, and when not
    growing, once a month. Fertilizer can also be applied with every watering at 1/4
    recommended dilution. Thorough flushing with clear water every month is
    recommended to prevent build up of fertilizer salts.

    Potting is necessary when 10 the rhizome of the plants portrudes over the edge
    of the pot, or 2) the potting medium starts to break down and drain poorly
    (usually after 2 to 3 years). It is best to repot 1) just before new roots
    sprout from the rhizome, 2) after flowering, or 3) in the springtime.

    Cattleya are usually potted in medium-grade potting material, with seedlings a
    fine grade. Until a plant has six mature pseudobulbs, it generally should be put
    into a larger pot and not divided. If dividing a plant, 3 to 5 bulbs a division
    are required. Select a pot that will allow 2 to 3 years of growth before
    crowding the pot.

  3. #3
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    Orchidzrule is offline Senior Member
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    Hi Styx,

    Welcome. I really can't add anything to Mike's excellent information--except to say we're all very fortunate to have his expertise on this forum. I'm glad Louis is in agreement. BTW, don't worry about diluting your fertilizer to *exactly* a third of the recommended dose. Anywhere in the general vicinity will be fine and not burn your orchids.

    Cheers,

    Rob

  4. #4
    Styx is offline Senior Member
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    Thank a lot.


    For this potting mix I have, how do you recommnd it should be watered?
    Also, my aunt just bought me this beautiful pot for it, but it has no drainage holes. Should I take it back?

  5. #5
    MikeWA's Avatar
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    Just remember you are trying to recreate or get close to the conditions they want out in the wild. So, higher humidity is liked but not necessary. The medium should be that that can have good air movement through it so a pot without drainage is certain death to an orchid. You can slip pot it. Put it in a good orchid pot and put that pot in the decorative one.

    These types of orchids like to dry out between waterings unless you have them in a medium called "LECA" grown semi-hydroponically. If you look on this forum, there is a topic area for this type of growing nick named S/H or Semi-hydro.

    The most common beginner mistake to killing an orchid is overwatering.

  6. #6
    Styx is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks a lot. Yeah, I read that about orchids, so I'm going to try to be as careful as possible about the water thing.

  7. #7
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    Welcome Styx!I read through Mike's wonderful advice and I can picture a new orchid owner returning the plant about half way through the post! Don't despair! While everything Mike says is true, you can simplify it down if you want.

    Focus on three things:

    1. Light
    This totally depends on where you live. If you're in a northern location (or southern, in the southern hemisphere), where the sun isn't as strong for as long during the day, then give the catt all the light you can. Catts need strong light. Closer to the equator, (as in Florida in the states) you have to be careful not to burn it with too much direct sunlight (at mid-day, particularly).

    2. Water
    This is the trickiest to figure out. While the common saying is that most people over-water their orchids, I think so many have heard that now that the oppostite is also true. Plants are drying out and shriveling out of benign neglect in an attempt to not over-water.

    Again, where you live will influence this, as the relative humidity will effect how quickly the potting material dries out. I'd suggest watering once a week, without knowing anything more about your environment.

    The bark will need some time to absorb the water, so either soak the pot for a few minutes, or let the water run through it for a bit. There are good tests for when to rewater, but we can sort that out as we learn more about where you are.

    3. Fertilizer
    Osmocote is a decent time-release fertilizer that I often recommend for new orchid owners that aren't quite into all the fussing us rabid folks do. Mix 1/2-1 tsp across the top of your pot, just below the top layer of potting mix (so it doesn't wash out) and it will last for 4 months.

    This is sort of the cheat sheet of Mike's suggestions. Hope it helps!
    Julie

  8. #8
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    Was it that serious?

    *runs away crying*

  9. #9
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    Styx I would also like to welcome you and throw my 2 cents at you too. Well Toss it anyways. OK where I live in GA and in my GH I can water my Cattleya types every other day, but I have alot of air movement during the day. If I were you I would put your cat outside where it would get morning sun and or evening sun but protected during the mid day. You can leave it outside utill the temps get down to 55 or so. Since you got it from boxstore I am assuming its not a species and would be probably a Pot. Thats what I see alot of here in Ga. Being outside it will dry out faster too. This is a good thing, but it means watering more. If your really worried about over watering go grab some bamboo screwers from the grocery store and use them to stick into the center of the potting media when you think it should be watered. If it comes out damp don't water, if you cant really tell then wait another day, and if its dry then water. I use the bark bought from Lowes and I think it is the same kind as your talking about. Does the bag have purple in it? It works for me, I only use it for my cats and a few others. I mainly use Sphag, but may be changing that on some more. I find that the size of the bark is ok for the bigger cats, but I cut it down with shears for smaller plants. Just cut enough to pot what you need. The only stuff I have bought already small was seedling mix because it is really fine. Don't be freaked out by all the different "rules" for orchids. They are basicly guidlines. NO ONE I know would ever tell you to put a Cat type orchid in Sphag, but I have one in it in a pot and its growing great. Its still small and not mature enough to flower but its groweing and has roots coming out the airholes and wrapping around the pot. I have a Cat in a basket with sphag, and its growing good too. It dries out really fast being in an open basket so thats not as bad as a pot in sphag. I just wanted to share that with you to let you know that nothing with orchids is absolute. Everyone can so things that others can't. Even if those people are neighbors. Your going to kill your share and your going to have your share of successes. The best thing I can say is just pay attention to your plants. I call it bonding . GOOD LUCK!!

  10. #10
    Styx is offline Senior Member
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    Okay, well, I live in Utah and the summer sun here kills just about everything. Even plants that are supposed to like the sun burn and die in a day. So this cat will be an indoor only cattleya. Plus the weather can be a little screwy some time, like be 90 during the day and sudden drop to 40 at night. Good olí desert states. And since Utah is a desert, itís a very dry heat. Always dryÖ

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