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Hydroton Question

This is a discussion on Hydroton Question within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I hope to get some advice from others who use this growing medium. A couple ...

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  1. #1
    gardenguysorchids's Avatar
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    Default Hydroton Question

    I hope to get some advice from others who use this growing medium. A couple years ago I purchased a catt growing in hydroton and it has out preformed my other catts in growth and bloom. I purchased a few bags of hydroton to use when I repot my catts this spring. My question is can it be mixed with bark or is it best used alone? I know there are some of you that use this to grow orchids in water. I am not interested in doing that in that I have friends who have had very mixed results. The cattleya I have that is growing in it has such a strong root structure that it is hard for me to see if it was mixed with other media or just the hydroton. Also the directions say to soak for 3 to 4 hours before using. I have heard others say they boil it first. Is that needed? Thanks in advance for any help you can give me. Sincerely, Bill

    PS How well does it work with Phals as a growing medium?
    Last edited by gardenguysorchids; March 16th, 2011 at 03:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    Bill, I have used Hydroton and many other LECA (Light weight Expanded Clay Aggregates). They can be used with bark like pumice, lava rock or charcoal. At the greenhouse at my University, all orchids are planted in the bark, LECA mixture including Phals, Paphiopedilums, Cattleyas etc. But I personally do not like to mix them up. The reasons for it being that bark or any organic media will eventually decompose and then it will be labour and water intensive and also difficult to segregate and reuse the LECA which can be used for ever (Original Hydroton is very very costly in India roughly 15 dollars per litre, other LECA brands cost 5 dollars a Litre, but I still do not like to waste it anyways.) It finally boils down to what is convenient for you and your growing conditions. Here in Bremen, I have all my Cattleyas planted in 100% LECA, just that you have to water more often as it will dry out pretty fast.

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    Bill, I've been looking for a good site to purchase some LECA from. Would you mind PMing me the web site? Thanks...Betty

  4. #4
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    I have always been under the impression that the movement of water upwards is due to the contact of one ball to the next - if you mix other media I would expect that contact to be broken and the trail of water upwards could be broken.

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    espranch is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks for that info, Don. I intend to put a few catts in it (no bark); just as a experiment. I've heard good things about it, but do not know "where" to purchase from. Betty :-)

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    betty or don, could one of you also share that info with me please?
    thank you
    aja

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    Look for a store specializing in hydroponics. Online is not as expensive to ship as one might think because it is a lightweight product. I am currently growing part of a compot in bark and part in hydroton to see the difference. Right now the main difference is the huge roots like nightcrawlers coming out of those little seedlings in s/h

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    As Don mentioned, just look in the phonebook for any place that sells hydroponics materials. If they do not have "Hydroton", look for "Leca" or "Prime Agra" -- it's all the same thing.

    I don't use straight hydroton -- it would require me to water far too frequently. (Also s/h is a no go for me -- I've tried it with a couple plants with very bad results. Pity too as I have known a number of folks for whom s/h works fantastically.) Instead I do mix it with coconut husk chunks. The chunks retain moisture well and the hydroton keeps the media more airy.

    I would recommend thoroughly rinsing any of these puffed clay aggregates. They generally have a substantial amount of "dust" on them.

  9. #9
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    Well that is a great point. The product can certainly be mixed with other media in a non-semihydroponic situation with good results.
    When looking for it you might also find it under the name of Expanded Clay.

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    maria1971 is offline Senior Member
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    Default growing in LECA

    I grow all my Laelias, Catts, myrmecophilas, well....everything except my few phals in LECA. It's wonderful!!!

    No root rot, no pesky decomposition.

    However, the existing roots tend to suffer a bit when transferring plants from other media to LECA.

    I wash mine thoroughly but do not boil.

    I've used up 2 50 gallon bags. I just ran out--have to buy another one.

    I don't reuse. If I repot---I throw it away.


    ETA: I don't mix it with anything else, as I feel it would defeat the purpose of it. I also pot everything in clay as opposed to plastic--I've gotten the best results from that. I transferred my entire collection from plastic pots to clay last summer (2010) and I'm now seeing roots winding to the bottom of the pots, in some cases, as early as 6 months from repotting.
    Last edited by maria1971; March 25th, 2011 at 08:19 PM. Reason: add text

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