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Algae on sphagnum

This is a discussion on Algae on sphagnum within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Liz, if you mean clay pots with holes or slits on the sides, "orchid pots," ...

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  1. #11
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    LJA
    LJA is offline OrchidTalk Tech Admin
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    Liz, if you mean clay pots with holes or slits on the sides, "orchid pots," then yes, the root zone should be getting plenty of air as long as the sphag isn't packed in too tightly and you're not using pots that are too big for the plants. A little algae on the strands of sphag will make no difference at all, and is nothing to worry about. The only time it becomes a problem is if it grows so dense that it blocks air--but with slitted pots, that won't be an issue.

    We grow in plastic and don't use slitted pots because it's a nightmare to extract plants from them once the roots have started to grow out of the slits. For that reason, I like to repot when the sphag goes seriously green with algae. If it's going to happen, it usually happens here after about five or six months, and by then, the sphag's antifungal properties have pretty much worn off anyway. The algae growing is a visual cue for me that the medium is no longer fresh. In your case though, with your particular growing conditions, that may not be an appropriate visual cue to use.

    To be honest, I've never seen algae grow on fresh sphag that wasn't exposed to the air and kept damp for some time, at least several months. Did you use a new bag when you repotted? (Just curous here, there's nothing "wrong" if you didn't...)

  2. #12
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    Yeah, it was a brand new bag, and everything was potted at the end of April, and they've been outside under the shade cloth for about a month. And these are "orchid pots" with holes. I'm not overwatering (I don't think -- everthing is thriving) and I figured it was just the result of the lower light from the shade cloth, humidity, etc.

    Although I have to say, I don't mind repotting. I find it really relaxing and therapeutic. So, if it's every 5-6 months, so be it. At least I won't wonder what to do with the HUGE bag of sphagnum -- the only size sold at the local nursery. Does it get old and bad if not used right away? I'm storing it in the plastic bag it came in, with a plastic grocery bag upside down over the top to keep stuff out, on a shelf in the garage. Should I be doing something different to store it?

  3. #13
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    It's just your conditions then--different from ours here. There's nothing wrong with the sphag after just one month. If you didn't have pots with slits, I'd have kept a close eye on plants that grew algae that quickly. But in your case, it doesn't seem to be something to worry about--especially if everything's thriving!

    (This is exactly why you can't etch orchid growing "rules" into stone. Everyone's conditions are different, and you have to grow according to the conditions you have.)

    The way you're storing the moss is perfectly fine. Just keep it closed in its bag and *dry.* It'll keep that way for years.

  4. #14
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    In humid conditions (i.e. a basement), a good way to store media *long-term* is in grocery brown bags. Any excess moisture can usually dissipate that way. In normal household conditions, plastic bags would be fine.

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