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  • 1 Post By cdayinflorida
  • 2 Post By Brutal_Dreamer
  • 3 Post By cdayinflorida

How do I get my orchids through my 4 weeks away??????

This is a discussion on How do I get my orchids through my 4 weeks away?????? within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; In a bit of a quandary here. I have two different people who will take ...

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  1. #1
    mauraec's Avatar
    mauraec is offline Senior Member
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    Default How do I get my orchids through my 4 weeks away??????

    In a bit of a quandary here.

    I have two different people who will take about 10 each of my orchids when I'm in New England for all of October. One is a bonsai expert who may or may not know much about orchids, and most likely doesn't have a greenhouse, but will certainly be able to follow directions if I don't give him anything too tricky. The 2nd is a fellow orchid society member with an amazing greenhouse, who has agreed to take my AOS Miltassia, my V. lilacina, and any catts, paphs, or whatever I choose as the other 8.

    Here's my problem: I have 14 paphs - all pretty good plants, 2 are species and 2 are in bloom, and 2 are in spike; I also have the infamous cymbidium, which needs to be outside in bright indirect light and stay out unless the temp drops below 45F - not likely in Atlanta - AND it needs a lot of water and fertilizer, but it's my most beautiful specimen plant and this is a crucial spiking time for it; then, I have the new pink floofy in bloom, as well as 6 others, 2 of which are spiking, the others are just hanging out; then I have 15 or so misc. oncidium alliance orchids, all in new growth but no blooms; finally, I have an assortment of den-phals and phals, none of which are doing too much, and none of which I am particularly attached to, but I'd like to see them survive, at least.

    The real question: Which of these plants most need expert tending while I'm gone, which need general tending, and which can be left to their own devices? And for the ones I leave home alone, any ideas about how to set them up so that they don't turn into crispy critters by the time I get home. Are there any sphagnum moss, or bastardized semi-hydro setups that might help?

    I have thought this over way too much and totally confused myself - besides the fact that I've never left them for more than 36 hours in 10 months of growing, so I have NO experience with this.

    I could really use some ideas from those growers with more experience than I have, and who may have been through something like this - or just any suggestions at all. I'm really flailing at the moment.....


    Thanks,

    Maura

  2. #2
    cdayinflorida's Avatar
    cdayinflorida is offline Senior Member
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    Have you talked to your quirky nursery guy? As much money and time you all have spent there...he just might try and accommodate you? Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Brutal_Dreamer is offline Dreaming with my eyes open...
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    For your slipper orchids you could set up humidity trays and group them very close together to keep the humidity up while you are away. Since they do not have p-bulbs, they never want to dry completely out, but doing so for a short time will not kill them if they are healthy to begin with. Since I grow many slipper orchids and have had many ups and downs with them, I can say for certain that the paph hybrids are pretty tough little orchids - they want to survive. Granted, I grow in a green house, but I do have to leave my plants alone when I travel. I have a house sitter, but learned to not ask anyone to do anything inside the greenhouse. No matter how much I stress how to water this type orchid or that type orchid or for that matter what time of the day to water, etc... the person will somehow manage to do something that is worse for the orchids than me simply leaving them on their own. I have never been away for more than 15 days at any one time, but I am fairly sure I could do so and the slipper hybrids would be alright as long as they are sitting in my deep humidity trays full of water and grouped closely together. I would never travel in the middle of the summer, but in the spring time or cooler months, I think everything would be fine.

    As far as orchids that have p-bulbs - these guys will hang on a long time without much care as long as they are healthy to begin with and the temperature and light are not extreme. The p-bulbs will supply food and water. Will they look a bit worse for the ware - maybe. You will probably see some wrinkled bulbs when you return. Sometimes stress like that actually causes some orchids to spike too. (not that I recommend doing that).

    Your dendrobium orchids can dry out just like those oncidiums with larger p-bulbs and will be alright again if temps and light are not an issue. Their canes will supply food for the plant. You will need to place them closely together also on humidity trays so that they can absorb as much moisture from the air and limit the loss of humidity by being grouped closely together.

    Phals - well, they will behave similar to your slippers as long as they are potted and not mounted. Mounted, they will dry out extremely fast and go down hill. Potted, they seem to last, but you will probably see the most issue with them as the phal hybrids are not as strong (IMO) as some of the slipper hybrids. Some science-minded member could probably explain why, I just notice the difference in the longevity of the plants. (Or, maybe it is because I take better care of my slipper orchids than my moth orchids?? IDK.) If these phals are potted in some type of medium that will retain moisture and still allow the roots to breath, they may get through the vacation without much issue, but if possible, they would probably benefit from some type of semi-hydro type setup. That said, it sometimes takes a while for the orchids to adjust to S/H as they grow new roots into the S/H medium that can stand being in constant contact with water.

    I am sure others out there will agree with parts of this and disagree with other parts. Every growing environment and grower is different.

    I would recommend, as Cathy suggests, to contact your favorite nursery and see if you could just rent a small space for your plants. Most likely this will be fine. If not, then take the plants you most love to the people whom you believe can take care of them and hope for the best. (Probably the ones left alone will do the best anyway - that has often been my experience.) Good luck!

    cheers,
    BD

  4. #4
    cdayinflorida's Avatar
    cdayinflorida is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brutal_Dreamer View Post
    . I have a house sitter, but learned to not ask anyone to do anything inside the greenhouse. No matter how much I stress how to water this type orchid or that type orchid or for that matter what time of the day to water, etc... the person will somehow manage to do something that is worse for the orchids than me simply leaving them on their own.
    I couldn't agree more with Bruce. I've learned that the hard way. I had one person water the silk bamboo plants in the house? I was like...are you kidding?

  5. #5
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    I agree that the Paphs and Phals are going to get the thirstiest. Well, and obviously the Vanda, but you seem to have that one cared for.
    Last time I went away for a month, I adjusted the blinds to leave my orchids in more shade than usual. I watered the Cats and Dens well before I left and after I returned. They stayed dry while I was gone. I had someone come to water my Phals and Paphs once in the middle of my time away. I think I had them do my Oncids once too, since they're in smaller pots. Despite getting less water than usual, I was surprised how good they all looked when I got back.

  6. #6
    cdayinflorida's Avatar
    cdayinflorida is offline Senior Member
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    I let my vandas dry out this time of year. I'll let them go several days without water. This is bad time of year for rot.

  7. #7
    mauraec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdayinflorida View Post
    Have you talked to your quirky nursery guy? As much money and time you all have spent there...he just might try and accommodate you? Good luck.
    A very good thought and I seriously considered it - but since most of the plants I acquire from there need industrial cleaning when I get them home, in addition to thorough watering and less light on many, I thought that might be a bit risky - I'm still on the fence about it, though... Thanks for the idea.

  8. #8
    mauraec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brutal_Dreamer View Post
    take the plants you most love to the people whom you believe can take care of them and hope for the best. (Probably the ones left alone will do the best anyway - that has often been my experience.) Good luck!

    cheers,
    BD

    I was wondering whether damp sphagnum moss spread over the top of the media, as well as thorough watering before I go would help - or hurt. I use those hand-blown glass watering balls when I leave my non-orchids - maybe they would help some? You're right about the paphs and phals - I take better care of my slippers, so they tend to be healthier and stronger all the way around - tells you something about what one really cares about, doesn't it?

  9. #9
    pavel's Avatar
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    For which ever plants are left to "fend for themselves" move them to a location of lower light or, as Angie mentioned, adjust your blinds or curtains to provide them with much more shade than usual, make sure they are well watered before you leave. The cym might be okay to leave to its own devices though depending on your media, this might also be one with which your glass watering balls will work. I'd say experiment now with that while you are still around to monitor the results (perhaps even try that with a "guinea pig" or two of your other orchid types to see with which ones that method will work.) If you're expecting any hot temps in your area that time of year, leave your AC on -- set to run if temps go above a certain temp.

    What could work for the paphs, if these are ones that you normally leave sitting in a small amount of water, would be to set something up similar to what is often done for pet bowls when folks want to provide water if they know they'll be away for a day or so and can't get a sitter. *NOTE: The idea I am proposing is not one I have tried with plants so take this with a grain of salt.

    You would need a pop/water bottle -- considering the length of time you'll be gone I'd suggest a 3L pop bottle.

    Method "Automatic Tray Filler"
    1. You will need to find or make a scaffolding sturdy enough to support the water filled bottle when it is turned upside down -- whether made of heavy/thick wire or rigid plastic or wood. IMPORTANT: Remember, if you are using what amounts to a plastic or wood box or tube, that you will need to either cut a series of large notches around the bottom edge of the material or create little "feet" to raise the bottom edge off of the watering tray so water can flow from the bottle out past the edge of the support container and into the tray.
    2. Attach two toothpicks or similarly sized slivers of popsicle stick to the open mouth of the bottle (the bottle cap can be recycled since you won't be using it). The sticks should run parallel to each other.
    3. (Optional) Fill the tray with however much water you usually leave in there.
    4. Fill the bottle with water.
    5. Now comes the "fun" part. With the tray wherever you're going to leave it and the bottle support in place, up-end the bottle into the support stand so the mouth now sits on the tray. The mouth opening should now be underwater.
    Alternatively, picking back up after completing step 4 (step 3 is again optional) .....
    5. With the bottle sitting normally (on its bottom), turn the support stand upside down and put it over the bottle.
    6. Now, probably just as much fun as the original set of directions, turn over the bottle and stand together so
    once again the mouth is on the tray.

    Hopefully the following pic (as laughable as it is) will help to clarify what I'm talking about. Note: Two representations of possible support stands are shown.

    Name:  watering bottle diagram.jpg
Views: 1106
Size:  16.7 KB

    What will happen is that as the water level drops below the rim of the bottle mouth, air will enter the bottle and water will refill the tray. Once the water level is slightly above the mouth's rim, water will cease to leave the bottle as air will no longer be able to enter. The advantage of having water already in the tray, is that since the water level is already higher than what the bottle mouth's rim will be, once you get the bottle situated, the water will not leave the bottle. So your spare water supply will last longer.


    Last edited by pavel; September 24th, 2011 at 03:57 PM.

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