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Blooming Orchids all year - what "calendar" does one go by?

This is a discussion on Blooming Orchids all year - what "calendar" does one go by? within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Geoff, if I understand what you've written correctly, would this not suggest that using cold ...

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  1. #11
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    Geoff, if I understand what you've written correctly, would this not suggest that using cold water would increase surface tension and as such capillary action? As my rudimentary grasp of the physics of water would suggest, colder water is more dense and as such has a higher surface tension.

    I wonder, if increased surface tension increases capillary action, what a small amount of Deuterium would do in S/H.

    Questions, questions.

  2. #12
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    Glancing at an article written about Deuterium, it does not actually have higher surface tension, so my theory is null and void. However it is more viscous than standard water, are these not conflicting statements?

    I would assume that surface tension is what makes something viscous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HHLL38 View Post
    Glancing at an article written about Deuterium, it does not actually have higher surface tension, so my theory is null and void. However it is more viscous than standard water, are these not conflicting statements?

    I would assume that surface tension is what makes something viscous.
    Two drops of the same water fall on different surfaces, at the same temperature. One drop forms a globule, the other a thin film. Is there different surface tension in the water or on the surfaces ? If the surfaces are both sheet metal, viscosity is not a factor ? Its the same water, and "viscosity" is not a parameter of sheet metal.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by HHLL38 View Post
    would this not suggest that using cold water would increase surface tension and as such capillary action?.
    If we wanted to increase capillary action - make the root environment wetter, in an inorganic media used for S/H, controlling water temperature to below that required for the orchids would not be a practical solution ; root temperature is usually as important, sometimes even more important than ambient temperature of the leaves, in growth rates - e.g. the 19th Century use of hotbeds to grow pineapples in cold frames in England .

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    Quote Originally Posted by mauraec View Post
    In the past year I have accumulated orchids that pretty much bloom in somewhat overlapping succession - so that at least one of them is blooming at all times. The problem with this is that I honestly am confused about the advice I read that says things like: repot orchids in the late spring, after they have bloomed and while active growth is just emerging; and, water less frequently in the winter when most orchids are dormant. As for when to fertilize, I can't make heads or tails of most of the advice.

    Here are my questions:

    1) If an orchid blooms in the winter, then when is it dormant? How can you tell an orchid is dormant - and how frequent is "less frequently"?

    2) Do all orchids go into an active growth period after blooming?

    3) At what stage do you use a balanced fertilizer, or a "superbloom" fertilizer, or a just plain MiracleGro fertilizer - or no fertilizer at all? For instance, If an orchid is in bud, or just spiking, is THAT when you use superbloom-type fertilizer?

    4) Given that the generalization are based on a calendar year when most, if not all, orchids bloom in early spring, begin active growth in late spring-early summer, and set buds at some point thereafter, do I need to have 75 different calendar years, based on when mine are blooming?

    5) And this would REALLY be a help - which orchids go into dormancy, and when is that most likely? I'd like to know which ones I can pay a little less attention to, and when.

    Thanks for any guidance - trying to work this out is really giving me a headache.

    Maura
    As others have pointed out, the simplified advice you read in your orchid book(s) is just that -- simplified. It is indeed meant for the beginner so as, I would wager, not to overwhelm the rank newbie. Furthermore, considering that most "wet behind the ears" newbies (heh ) in all likelihood have a rather generic phal or hard cane den, that advice is really not quite sound. The real "trouble" arises as one's tastes broadens and exposure to previously unknown genera expands. (Rather like an aquarium lover who was initially just keeping goldfish "discovers" all the other types of freshwater and saltwater fish out there in the hobby.) At this point, the simplistic approach most orchid culture books provide no longer suffices. I highlighted some of the key phrases in your original post.

    Repotting
    Typically, the best time to repot is as an orchid begins to put out a new lead and new roots. For many of the orchids people grow -- especially newbies -- this time does happen to occur in the late spring. Does it do so for all orchids? NO. This is where your own observations and experiences with YOUR own plants comes into play. If you have a plant that you know in your care consistently puts out its new growth in December, then that is likely the best time to repot that particular plant. (Furthermore, this is only an issue if you are planning to actually repot that plant.) If you have a plant that seems to have "growth spurts" two or three times a year, then any one of those times will likely due for its repot time (though I, personally, would lean towards doing so at the time when temps happened to be a bit warmer). A plant that steadily puts out new growth all year can be repotted at any time.

    *NOTE: And to put things even more simply, many orchids -- IME -- can be repotted at almost any time. HOWEVER, if the plant is not gearing up with new growth at that time -- again IME -- there is a higher chance of the plant suffering acutely or "sulking" because of the disturbance. Also some types of orchids are much more sensitive than others to untimely disturbances and resent it greatly.*

    Dormancy
    Typically, orchids go through a period of dormancy after blooming. This is a perfectly understandable habit as blooming uses up a great deal of energy and resources to produce and maintain. (Even more if there is seed set.) Dormancy also can and does set in during the winter months for many plants (orchid or not) -- even if they have not yet bloomed. This is due to cooling temps and decreased sunlight that most of us in the temperate climes experience during the winter. Lessening of light decreases the amount of energy the plant can manufacture for metabolic processes. Decreased temps, decreases the rate of transpiration and rate of the chemical reactions which fuel metabolic processes. The plant's response is, again, quite sensible ... go dormant. Now do all orchids undergo a dormancy period? NO. But the common ones most newbies start with do and that dormancy tends to occur in the winter. in addition, for those of us who live where winters are cold, household temps are generally lower than they are in summer as folks keep the thermostat turned down quite a bit to reduce their energy bill. These cooler temps -- for many plants not just orchids -- require the grower to have the basic husbandry knowledge that water should be reduced at this time as the plant is not using as much of it and that chilled wet roots generally leads to root rot (and the plant's subsequent decline even to death).

    Fertilizer
    During a dormancy period, a plant has little to no need for fertilizer. Since metabolic processes slow to a crawl, nutrients in fertilizers will be used little if at all. Fertilizing during such a period, therefore, is a waste of resources that benefits no one except any bacteria at work breaking down the media and the manufacturers of the fert. If you have an orchid that does not have a dormancy period, then a weak solution of fert can be used year round.

    As far as what type of fert to use, many of the growers I know like to switch it around every so often just to make sure that if fert A might be missing or low in a certain mineral, than it can get that from fert B. I know others that use the same fert all the time with no issue. Probably the only two concerns I would have is
    1) Pick a fertilizer that contains micronutrients as well as the "Big 3". Plants in soil can often obtain said micros from the soil. That is not the case for non-soil plants.
    2) Personally, I generally do not use ferts wherein the highest number is for nitrogen. Nitrogen is used a great deal for vegetative growth and some plants, when presented with an excess of nitrogen will undergo vegetative growth rather than bloom.

    *Note: Some orchids are EXTREMELY sensitive to fert concentrations -- especially the Pleurothallids. Such orchids should be fertilized very sparingly.

    **Note: Regularly flush you orchids roots with fertilizer free water to rinse out any undissolved salts that may otherwise build up in the media and on the roots.


    Quote Originally Posted by mauraec View Post
    Okay - so much for fish fertiliser.... glad I don't have to do THAT again.
    LOL. As I recall, Maura, when you first brought up using fish fert some of us -- myself included -- warned you about the "fragrance" drawback of using same indoors. So you'll get no sympathy from me on your choosing to learn things the hard way. LOL

    This particular post has already become quite long winded. Apologies for my verbosity. Due to this, I will address the capillary action topic later as not to bore you all to death all at once. (But rather make you suffer over a longer period. )






  6. #16
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    Okay, y'all. A few points -

    First, yes, I did start with beginner books and beginner plants (seemed logical under the circumstances), but that was about a year ago, and I have subsequently acquired about 65 or 70 more plants - most of which bloom, seemingly, in their own darn time. That is to say, I have several things blooming year round - hence my question about different "calendar" years.

    Second, with the increasingly more complicated plants, I have done a significant amount of research (perhaps trying to make up somewhat for what I lack in sheer experience/time); this research, combined with the collective wisdom from OT members, and increasing experience, has brought on a slew of confusion as to how to make at least SOME simplifications to my routine and care - again, hence my questions about general rules of thumb.

    Third, because I cultivate each plant individually - right down to different watering schedules - having about 100 plants takes up a lot of my time, so again, I am looking for some way to categorize different plants according to the care required.

    Fourth, I have not grown orchids through a full winter yet, and have noticed that many of the plants that bloomed in summer and fall put out new growth shortly afterwards, and have now, whether repotted or not, stalled. I don't assume that these need less water; I monitor their water intake individually and water when it seems appropriate.

    Fifth, I absolutely HAD to repot the plants that survived my October vacation, as most had either root rot, brown rot, crown rot, fungus, insects - you name it - but I have since acquired several catt alliance hybrids that are more than pot-bound - are actually growing several inches over the side of the pot and, IMHO, need repotting sooner rather than later. I see a little new growth on some of these, but not all.

    Finally, as so many of the OT members grow in greenhouses, with automatic, scheduled, watering, misting, light and air control, I assumed that there would be a tendency to adjust these things wholesale, according to the seasons, and looked to their experience to find a way to adapt that to my particular situation.

    I'm grateful for all your extensive responses, and think I have managed to glean a few guidelines that will help me with streamlining my orchid care. Many thanks - and as more thoughts occur to you, please add on to this thread. I hope it has helped others as much as me.

    Note to Pavel: I fully believed your warnings about fish fertilizer, but was in possession of such fertilizer that, supposedly, had been smell-treated with wintergreen oil, depending on that difference to make the application bearable. Whether inside or outside, I doubt I shall ever do it again, unless someone discovers that fish fertilizer is THE ticket to growing fantabulous orchids.

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    Maura, In my 50 plus years of growing I have changed my methods and ideas, not quite as often as I have changed my socks, but...
    Its called the learning curve.
    Enjoy it !

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    Quote Originally Posted by mauraec View Post
    Second, ..., hence my questions about general rules of thumb.

    Third, because I cultivate each plant individually - right down to different watering schedules - having about 100 plants takes up a lot of my time, so again, I am looking for some way to categorize different plants according to the care required.
    Perfectly understandable and rather necessary unless one has a cadre of caretakers to fuss over one's plants for one. To some extent, some orchids will simply adapt to the conditions (including watering frequency) you choose to give them. Grouping plants by their needs/habits does help make such tasks easier. However, because my growing conditions are different than yours -- despite the fact that we both grow indoors -- and the actual plants each of us grows is different, much of said grouping/categorizing must be based solely upon your observations of your plants and how your conditions affect them.

    For myself, the vast majority of my plants get watered once a week. There are a few exceptions, and times when I am gone for a week or two is something they just have to deal with. I do have a few plants that want watered more frequently than this. If I am home, they get that which they desire. If I am not, I just hope for the best.

    In order to move as many plants as possible onto the same watering schedule, my media varies. Those which prefer to dry out more quickly get media that is less water retentive. Those that desire moister conditions get a more moisture retentive material and may even be left sitting in a saucer of water to tide them over until the next watering day. (This water "reservoir" in most cases will have completely evaporated by that next watering day.) It is a matter of experimentation as you try to find a balance between what works for you and at the same time keeps the plants happy ... or at least mollified.


    Quote Originally Posted by mauraec View Post
    Fourth, I have not grown orchids through a full winter yet, and have noticed that many of the plants that bloomed in summer and fall put out new growth shortly afterwards, and have now, whether repotted or not, stalled. I don't assume that these need less water; I monitor their water intake individually and water when it seems appropriate.
    If growth -- both root & pb -- has stalled, then you can ease up a little on the amount of water given. Stalling as light length & temp decreases is normal for many plants across the board.

    Quote Originally Posted by mauraec View Post
    Fifth, I absolutely HAD to repot the plants that survived my October vacation, as most had either root rot, brown rot, crown rot, fungus, insects - you name it - but I have since acquired several catt alliance hybrids that are more than pot-bound - are actually growing several inches over the side of the pot and, IMHO, need repotting sooner rather than later. I see a little new growth on some of these, but not all.
    Emergency repottings as with your October headache is a completely different 'kettle of fish'. Such repottings are done without regard for "most favorable" time.

    With the new catts, the situation you are describing is actually not an emergency situation. They will be just fine "as is" until new growth (new leads w/ their subsequent new flush of roots) commences. As far as growing over the side of the pot -- if you're talking roots, that's no big deal at all. It is simply the nature of the beast. If you are instead talking about the rhizome & pbs, then yes it is about time to plan on repotting or dividing. However, this is still not an "emergency" situation. The catts will be just fine like this if you wait until their next growth phase.


    Quote Originally Posted by mauraec View Post
    Finally, as so many of the OT members grow in greenhouses, with automatic, scheduled, watering, misting, light and air control, I assumed that there would be a tendency to adjust these things wholesale, according to the seasons, and looked to their experience to find a way to adapt that to my particular situation.
    (And let's not forget outside year round for our more tropical members... ) That "wholesale" adjustment is pretty much a requirement, I suspect, for any collection of substantial size -- whether indoors or out. I know I find that to be the case for me in my apt.

    Quote Originally Posted by mauraec View Post
    Note to Pavel: Whether inside or outside, I doubt I shall ever do it again, unless someone discovers that fish fertilizer is THE ticket to growing fantabulous orchids.
    heh



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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorsetman View Post
    Maura, In my 50 plus years of growing I have changed my methods and ideas, not quite as often as I have changed my socks, but...
    Its called the learning curve.
    Enjoy it !

    Well, I must say, I AM enjoying it - but my learning curve has resembled more of a roller coaster! Just think of how dangerous I might be when I've had even 10 years of experience...

    Afternote: I find your flexibility and willingness to examine your growing techniques and make changes that are well thought-out beforehand, as well as the fact that you seem to conduct some of the same controlled experiment that I would love to do, makes you one of the members I am most dependent on for insight as well as actual instructions. Thank you for that.

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    Hello all,

    What an outstanding thread. I have learned SO much! I do believe I have learned that the surface tension of my brain must be quite high, requiring repeated application of the same growing media to be absorbed. That's what I love about forums and the ability to reread threads as needed.

    To all, please keep up the great conversations you have on all the various topics addressed here at OT.

    I for one, thank all the members of this forum for allowing me to nourish my grey matter with frequent feedings of new information!

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