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When to fertilize?

This is a discussion on When to fertilize? within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Diane, yes. He was responding to people who water with plain water and fertilize heavily ...

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  1. #11
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    Diane, yes. He was responding to people who water with plain water and fertilize heavily twice a month.

    THE BEST WAY TO APPLY FERTILIZER IS: fertilize with every watering, at an extremely dillute concentration: 1/4 to 1/5 the amount recommended on the box.

    What brand?

    ANY BRAND. Don't fall for media hype. "Orchid fertilizer" and "houseplant fertilizer" are made up of the same three basic elements. As long as you use something "general purpose" and balanced (ie, the same number for all three numbers, 10-10-10, 20 -20-20,) your plants will be fine, and will bloom for you repeatedly with really good results. Dillute, dillute, dillute. You DO NOT need to change fertilizers to a "blossom booster" when your plants are in spike; as a matter of fact, doing so will give you a shorter spike with less flowers.

    Can you use fertilizers that say they're for some other kind of plant, like African Violets?

    ABSOLUTELY. AND YOUR ORCHIDS WILL DO GREAT.

    Orchids have evolved to make the best, most efficient use possible out of ANY nutrients they receive. Some growers have achieved awesome results by using no fertilizer at all, but by watering with lake water from a nearby handy source. Plain old MIRACLE GRO works great: DILLUTE IT. Don't think that because something doesn't say "orchid hoo-hoo ha-ha" on the box, your orchids will suffer. Far from it.

    Epiphytic orchids in nature survive and reproduce from a little bird shit dilluted by rainwater dripping off a branch. Stick to a fertilizer you're comfortable with using, DILLUTE IT, and your orchids will be perfectly happy.

    Fertilizer is really just not something to get hung up about when it comes to growing these things. I kid you not. Dillute it, hose your plants down with it in the mornings so that the leaves are dry by nightfall, don't keep your roots soggy, and 99% of any orchids you're trying to grow will do great for you.

  2. #12
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    Default Dillution of Fertilizer

    For those of us using S/H,
    I have heard recommendations to fertilize at 100 to 150 ppm N.
    I could understand if one were using 1tsp/gal of 30-30-30,
    that cutting fertilizer amount by a 1/3 to 1/4 would get results in that range.
    But if someone were using 1sp/gal of 10-10-10,
    and cut by a quarter amt, that person would be getting less than 50 ppm N.
    Although if one were using 1 Tbl/gal of 10-10-10,
    then only using 1/3 Tbl/gal would get that person at the 150 ppm N range.
    I know it's a lot of numbers and fractions,
    but the question I ask is
    since in SH fertilizer is constantly available to the plant,
    and 100-150 ppm N is a recommended goal,
    then perhaps less frequent fertilizing would require a higher ppm N?
    The scientist in me takes all orchid "tips & tricks" with a grain of salt,
    and so instead of just following what my fertilizer label says,
    (or arbitrarily cutting the amount in half)
    I arbitrarily have a 125 ppm N goal in mind,
    and adjust the fertilizer amount per gal to acheive that goal.

    DISCLAIMER:
    oh yeah,
    I don't grow disas,
    or other sensitive plants, so I'm guessing YMMV when it comes to ppm N for those guys.

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    Ennui, very good point. Generalities are just that, but they serve as a "median guide" to give decent results.

    When and how much to fertilize is one of those ongoing debates that never seem to get resolved. I've heard the 150 ppm N goal too; I've also heard 200 ppm, and of course, all of that gets reduced drastically when a plant is not in active growth, or over winter with reduced light levels and reduced warmth, conditions during which plants won't take up nearly as much nutrient. I go from 200 ppm in late spring and summer when most things are in active growth, down to about 50 - 75 ppm in the dead of winter.

    ...then perhaps less frequent fertilizing would require a higher ppm N?
    I would be wary of that also, because if you follow the math and decide to only fertilize once every six months, you'll easily be doubling or even tripling any recommended amounts, a practice that will burn the heck out of your plant.

    Using less but more often has always given me good results, at least, here....

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    I just got back from vacation and was VERY happy to read the response. That makes SO MUCH more sense then what those folks were saying, and I am SO glad I checked with you before trying what they recommended!

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    Well no prob--you're very welcome!

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