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Onc. Mendenhall Hildos potting medium

This is a discussion on Onc. Mendenhall Hildos potting medium within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Good Morning I recently boought an Onc. Mendenhall Hildos from a sellet at a Maryland ...

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  1. #1
    stargazie's Avatar
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    Default Onc. Mendenhall Hildos potting medium

    Good Morning
    I recently boought an Onc. Mendenhall Hildos from a sellet at a Maryland Orchid Society Show.

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    It is potted in what I would call volcanic rock, except the pebbles are perfectly round.

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    The pot has a water reservoir in the botton that is supposed to keep the roots from sitting in water while keeping the plant hydrated.
    I have never grown this type of orchid. I understand that they are very slow to bloom and I don't mind waiting since the leaves are very interesting. However, I'm not crazy about the potting medium.
    Does anyone have experience with this potting system or this orchid? I want to make it happy and pot it in the best medium for that type of orchid. I believe the sellers also sell and promote this growing system.
    Thanks in advance for your help!
    Starr

  2. #2
    stefpix is offline Senior Member
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    Leca / Hydroton / fired clay. works great for me. it dries evenly and reduces risk of overwatering. Bark may be dry at the top and be soggy at the bottom. This medium does not break down.

  3. #3
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    As stefpix pointed out, they are fired clay pebbles. There are several forms of this medium that are manufactured slightly diferently (hydroleca, hydroton, seramis, etc...) but they are all basically the same stuff and they are sold in several sizes (your pebbles look like like the larger size). The material is inorganic and doesn't break down over time, unlike bark, which eventually rots. It is often used as an additive with bark, to help with aeration and to stop the bark from rotting so early, but the most common use of this material is in a system called Semi-Hydroponics. Here you use the pellets on their own, in a container that has a reservoir at the bottom that can hold water, but with a few holes a bit further up to allow excess water to drain off so that the majority of the pebbles are never submerged in water. This way you can't overwater a plant as the water level inside the pot can never be higher than the point where the drainage holes are (usually a quarter of the hight of the pot from the bottom). The clay pebbles have a wicking ability that allows them to draw water from the reservoir right up to the top, but this is only enough to keep the pebbles moist, not wet. Because the pebbles are inorganic, you need to add all the necessary nutrients to the water and plants grown in semi-hydroponics need to be fertilised weakly but constantly. This system works really well with a large number of orchids that resent being repotted (they can stay for many years in the same container as the medium doesn't decay) or plants that rot easily in wet bark. Your plant is a Psychopsis hybrid and all Psychopsis are well know for being very temperamental and rotting at the first sign of over watering, so this system is a good idea for this particular plant if you are a grower (like me) who might be a little bit heavy handed with the watering can.

  4. #4
    Ron-NY is offline rothaholic
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    to water, just fill the container to the top and let it drain, leaving the reservoir filled

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    stefpix is offline Senior Member
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    serama you explained really eloquently - I wa sready to sleep. what works well for me is using Leca in a net pot and insert the net pot in a clear plastic cup (solo / iced coffee cup) so that there is space at the bottom. a bit of water in the solo cup will keep humidity around the roots that will grow downwards...

    I have low humidity since I grow in a east coast apt and I have a shelf with T5 lights so the top of the medium needs to be misted daily. anyway bark breaks down and the middle of the pot can be soaked and the top bone dry and that contributes to root rot. I used hydroton but now I found another brand that seems to absorb water faster and I like it better. Stargazie, if you do not like the look you could always top up the medium with a thin layer of sphagnum...

  6. #6
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    Very interesting, I kinda like the look of the huge pebbles!
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    Default Mendenhall Hildos

    Thanks for the information Ron! I'll keep this orchid just where it is! I have it in a very bright window si I hope they like that. The roots I can see look healthy!
    It is an interestimg looking plant and I will be very pleased if it ever blooms for me!

    The information and friendly helo I am getting from this forum is awesome!
    Starr

  8. #8
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    Thanks, that is a good idea. I do have to admit that it is the "look" of it that I don't like, and of course that shouldn't be a reason to avoid it!
    Thanks again
    Starr

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    They may be slow to bloom, but once they have a spike, they can bloom on the same spike for up to a decade.

  10. #10
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    Wow! I will treat it well. It surely looks healthy now. A decade of blooms sounds great!
    Starr

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