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This is a discussion on Phals/Vandas in LECA within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Kiwi, I just wanted to add, that after my original post, more out of curiosity ...
Kiwi, I just wanted to add, that after my original post, more out of curiosity than anything, that I did a google search on "hydroponics, new zealand" and was able to find a few online shops, and even a regional guide to retail stores on the island(the few I checked had it listed as hydroton). So if you do the above you shouldn't have no issue tracking it down
I have all of my phals in LECA S/H, and one of the important things I did to make the change a success was keep them on heat mats until the phals had become established. If you're having trouble with phals in LECA S/H, it's probably because they need heat to grow their new roots. It made a massive difference for me.
I'm starting to branch out into other types of orchids (catt, onc, paph) and am planning to put them all in LECA S/H over bottom heat. From what I've read, they should be quite happy.
I'm also going to try to grow a couple of Vanda in straight LECA in a normal plastic pot, no S/H, with bottom heat. S/H appears to be too wet for Vanda, but I'm hoping the LECA will make a good medium and reduce watering needs to a couple of times a week (I'm in NJ, so the climate is not amenable to bare roots). I might also water by sitting the pot in water for a bit, rather than pouring over the LECA, but will see. (As long as the water line is lower than the top of the LECA, it won't try to float away.) Vanda are out of my comfort zone, but the flowers are so beautiful I have to give them a try!
Yes my main motivation for moving the vandas into LECA was to reduce the constant need for watering -- especially indoors in the winter. I only have one phal in LECA s/h and it does great. It is a hybrid though and I'm nervous to move some of my more temperamental species into s/h.
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Yeah, there's no way I could do all that finicky misting or even vase culture. I have a lot of plants and if something is that demanding, it's not going to get what it wants. Better to get it into a medium that will keep it going for a few days. I am hoping I can get away with weekly watering, but I need to see how the LECA does with moisture. I am going to test a pot with LECA and without any plants and see when it fully dries out. I think that with Vandas, the goal is probably to let it fully dry before soaking the LECA again, so the watering rate will depend on how long the LECA retain moisture. The humidity levels will affect that, I expect, but I think the low humidity/cooler temps will come out to a similar rate vs higher humidity/warmer temps.
I have a vandaceous Neostylis in LECA in a hanging plastic basket, but am watering nearly every day (it's in a warm and humid paludarium with good air movement from a fan). I would suggest if you're trying to do less watering to use a larger basket or pot to hold more pellets (more moisture-holding mass) then dunk it for an hour every week to really soak the LECA, as an experiment.
I figured I'd put it in a big plastic pot, yeah. If the Vanda isn't happy, I'll keep fiddling. :-)