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Calcium supplement hilarity

This is a discussion on Calcium supplement hilarity within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hmmm...I'm sure we have a tap water analysis lying around here somewhere... I should look ...

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  1. #11
    OrchidAddict's Avatar
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    Hmmm...I'm sure we have a tap water analysis lying around here somewhere... I should look into it. The plant in question is a Dendrobium Green Lantern. It hasn't done much of anything since I bought it months ago. My other dens grow like gangbusters, but this one just sits there, and every so often a leaf will turn yellow and go fluttering to the floor. When I contacted the seller, he said this particular den is a heavy feeder that requires a calcium supplement to thrive.

    Hence the search for the calcium supplement. I've been watering all my orchids with the same tap water for ages now, so if it's a PH problem I would think that I would see problems in other orchids as well, not just this one.

    Oh, and the calcium "powder" is 100% calcium carbonate, so no worries there (thanks Amey!)

    The only other orchid I'm having trouble with is a Paph Micranthum. It arrived with yellowing leaves and signs of overfertilization (the media was chock-full of limestone and oyster shells and all kinds of other junk). I got it out of that media, and the yellowing has slowed but not stopped completely. The oldest growths on each little section of the plant slowly turn yellow and then fall off (this is one of those that looks like a compot because it has a bunch of little growths poking out of the surface at any given time, all coming from the same plant). There is always at least one leaf turning yellow at any given time. I'm not sure what to do with it, but since I got rid of all of the extra calcium sources the original grower had put in the mix, I thought I should probably at least add a little bit back in so that plant doesn't go into complete shock.

    I'm currently boiling some eggs to crush the shells for a top dressing for these two plants. Dealing with the pulverized powder is just ridiculous!

    If my micranthum doesn't perk up with the egg shells, I'll start a new thread on it. I'm a bit concerned about it. The Green Lantern is in a holding pattern for the moment; it hasn't dropped any leaves recently, so that's good. We'll see how it likes the egg shells.

    Thoughts?

  2. #12
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    Jenn, we use crushed oyster shell to supplement calcium for some of our paph seedlings.

    cheers,
    BD

  3. #13
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    Great information in this thread! I myself just increased the numbers of my paph section and was looking around for useful info.
    Good luck with your Dendrobium Jenn!



    Laura

  4. #14
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    Does anyone know where one can purchase crushed oyster shells? I know we're not supposed to say actual store names, but "internet," "home improvement store" or "pet store" would at least give me enough info to get my search underway. My local pet store didn't have any. I'm starting with the egg shells, but if they don't work and I can't find the oyster shells elsewhere, I may just buy some oysters from the fishmonger down the street and just start smashing them like a maniac with a mallet in my kitchen...

    If nothing else, it would be great for stress relief.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrchidAddict View Post
    Does anyone know where one can purchase crushed oyster shells? I know we're not supposed to say actual store names, but "internet," "home improvement store" or "pet store" would at least give me enough info to get my search underway. My local pet store didn't have any. I'm starting with the egg shells, but if they don't work and I can't find the oyster shells elsewhere, I may just buy some oysters from the fishmonger down the street and just start smashing them like a maniac with a mallet in my kitchen...

    If nothing else, it would be great for stress relief.
    Well, I would chose the fishmonger. I think that champaigne and oysters are the only things that would beat me into submission and stopping me from getting an orchid a day at the moment. Looooooooooooove oysters. Then I would suggest that you set your oven on 100*C, put the clean shells in and leave the door opened just a lil, it should dry them a bit and make them easier to crush. At least it worked for eggshells

    Hmm...now that I think about it, the image of a perfect day come to mind...going around to check on the orchids with a glass of cooooold yellow widow in one hand and an oyster with a twist of lemon in the other...

    Have a great day you lot, mine just finished and I am dead after being up for more then 36 hours straight.

    Laura

  6. #16
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    Jenn, what do you define as 'Ages'?? Orchids are very tough and will handle less than optimal conditions for years while suffering slowly in one department or the other, until their demise. Secondly as you yourself observed not all plants are equal, some can handle the stress better than others. Orchid roots produce an array of organic acids that help dissolve the calcium and make it available to them, depending on the environment they come from these capacities are different so they will react differently. Water with a pH greater than 7-7.5 is not good for your orchids in the long run. The low pH acidic water which is good for our orchids is termed as corrosive water as it readily dissolves metals not only like Calcium but also Copper, Lead, Aluminum and Iron used in plumbing, so water companies tend to make water a pH of 7.5 and above to avoid corrosion of the the plumbing systems and pipelines. Another argument in favor of the alkaline water is that acidic water also dissolves elements like Arsenic which are toxic, alkaline water cannot, so for human application the water supplied is preferred to be in alkaline pH 7.5-8, it can be reacidified by adding acids later.
    Quote Originally Posted by OrchidAddict View Post
    Hmmm...I'm sure we have a tap water analysis lying around here somewhere... I should look into it.
    I've been watering all my orchids with the same tap water for ages now, so if it's a PH problem I would think that I would see problems in other orchids as well, not just this one.

  7. #17
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    Jenn - I suggest you wash that powder out of the pot right away. Even though most calcium minerals have relatively low solubilities, a fine powder, having a huge surface area, may overcome that and result in too alkaline of a rot environment.

    Something along the lines of crushed oyster shell is more appropriate.

  8. #18
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    Are you sure they are powdered classroom chalks? Im using calcium supplements for my birds and they are powdered shells and grits.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
    Are you sure they are powdered classroom chalks? Im using calcium supplements for my birds and they are powdered shells and grits.
    Thanks, Ric! Apparently where I went wrong was that I bought something called "Repti-Calcium" instead of the kind for birds. I have since gone to another pet store and purchased a calcium supplement that's meant for birds, and its main ingredient is oyster shells, so I think I'm finally on the right track. It's still a powdery mix, but it's not "chalky" like the other stuff, and I can see larger granules of shells in there, rather than it being one tub full of uniformly fine dust that you end up inhaling because it flies everywhere and tastes like the dust we used to clap out of our classroom erasers in elementary school!

    Anyway, the plant is much happier now, and it appears to be starting a spike too!! Yippee!! Hopefully I'll have some Green Lantern blooms to share soon! Thanks for weighing in! I appreciate all the help!

  10. #20
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    Oyster shells is part of my bark mix. I dont think they need more than that.

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