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  • 3 Post By raybark
  • 1 Post By notsogreenthumb

Most trusted fertilizer

This is a discussion on Most trusted fertilizer within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Simple thread with a simple question. What's your favorite all purpose orchid fertilizer? Do you ...

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  1. #1
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    Default Most trusted fertilizer

    Simple thread with a simple question. What's your favorite all purpose orchid fertilizer? Do you also use a bloom boost fertilizer? If so which and why.
    Thanks
    Ryan
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  2. #2
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    raybark is online now Senior Member
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    Hi Ryan. This is not as simple as you may think!

    Starting in reverse order - there is no such thing as a bloom-boosting fertilizer.

    When Dr. O. Wesley Davidson (Rutgers University) invented the first "chemical" fertilizer, what is now the Miracle-Gro 30-10-10 product, folks saw that their plants grew great. Over time, however, they saw their frequency of blooming drop or stop altogether, due to overdosing of nitrogen. So the manufacturer diluted the nitrogen in the formula with inexpensive phosphorus compounds, creating the 10-52-10 product. Marketing hype was then applied, and the so-called "bloom booster" was born. It really doesn't "boost" anything, but "allows" the plant to bloom freely by not overdosing the nitrogen. If you use the 30-10-10 formula at low doses, it accomplishes the same thing.

    In order to maximize blooming, your plants need excellent culture in all regards, including a small amount of a complete fertilizer formula, so that they can bloom to their genetic maximum. Nothing you "add" will improve upon that, but any slip-up in the overall culture can degrade it.

    While there are lots of "orchid fertilizers" in the marketplace, most are just relabeled general formulas. There really are only three fertilizers designed specifically for orchids, Greencare Orchid Special for Well Water, Orchid Special for RO, and K-Lite Orchid/Epiphtye formula. The first two are often referred-to as "MSU Fertilizers", as they were developed with the help of folks at Michigan State. The first (MSU WW 19-4-23) is intended for use with water supplies that already contain calcium and magnesium, which includes most wells and municipal water supplies. The second one (MSU RO 13-3-15-8Ca-2Mg) is intended for water supplies that do not contain them, so it has been added to the formula. Such supplies include reverse osmosis, distilled, collected rainwater, and believe it or not, NYC tap water, to name a few. The K-Lite formula (12-1-1-10Ca-3Mg) is a derivative of the MSU RO formula with the P & K reduced to mimic a general average analysis of the "throughfall" of rain cascading through the forest canopy, down onto epiphytes in the wild.

    In my opinion, they are the best choices for orchids, and I believe you cannot go wrong with any of them. I do recommend that they be applied at very dilute concentrations, regularly. My personal regimen is to feed at about 25-35 ppm N at every watering, which can be every other day in summer, less frequently in the gray winter time. As a general rule of thumb, if you divide 2 by the %N in the fertilizer formula, the result is teaspoons-per-gallon for 25 ppm N. In other words, with the K-Lite, that's 2/12=1/6 tsp/gal, and with MSUWW, that's 2/19, or somewhere between 1/9 and 1/10 tsp/gal.

    If you feed less frequently that that, increase the concentration accordingly - for once a week application, for example, I'd recommend around 75-100 ppm N, making those calculation numerators 6 and 8, respectively.

  3. #3
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    Thank you Ray for that incredibly detailed and insightful explanation. There were many facts you brought up that I was not aware of and had not considered. I will gladly use your recommendations and I'm positive this has been part of the reason some of my older orchids gave yet to flower. Thanks again!
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  4. #4
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    Dyna-Grow 7-9-5 at 1/2 tsp/gal except for Catasetinae and Australian Dendrobiums from May-Aug 1 tsp/gal.

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    Thanks for the great answer, Ray!

    I've been searching the forums for a bit, but it took me a while to find this info. Good stuff.

    MSU it is!

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    Anyone has tried Flower Fuel 1-34-32? It has b1 vitamin, sea weed, and a lot others ingredients, including organics, I'm using it and my onc. Twinkle has 4 spikes after a few weeks using it
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    It seems unlikely to me that a few weeks of fertilizer would be responsible for 4 spikes. That seems to have a very low amount of nitrogen. I guess that's supposed to be one of those "bloom booster" type fertilizers?

  8. #8
    CynthiaMartin is offline Junior Member
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    Yes, it's a bloom booster, and good to roots too, I've used to promote new roots on some orchids...
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