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Time-release fertilizers and RO

This is a discussion on Time-release fertilizers and RO within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hell bent on making my orchids the happiest plants around and expecting them to return ...

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  1. #1
    Piper's Avatar
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    Default Time-release fertilizers and RO

    Hell bent on making my orchids the happiest plants around and expecting them to return the favor with long-lasting, floriferous blooms, I now water primarily with RO reverse-osmosis water - ie, pure water without salts. I also know that there's no way I can fertilize everybody as often as I should, so I tend to add Osmocote a time release fertilizer into most pots. It lasts for about 4 months, and provides steady, low levels of fertilizer in between my less frequent fert sessions.

    I have managed to scorch a number of plants with horrific fertilizer burns, and many with lesser burns, and it's puzzled me. I now know which Paphs and Phrags are very fertilizer intolerant, and I've tried to go lightly with those. I tend to add a bit of the Osmocote and skip the other ferts altogether.

    But I still couldn't quite explain why the plants were so pissed. In discussing fertilizers with Lisa up at the Dartmouth greenhouse, she let me on to a really interesting factoid. Through experience, she's found that when watering with RO water, time-release fertilizers do not behave as expected. Rather than release their nutrients gradually over a four month period, the pure water tends to pull all the fertilizer out at once. POW! Your plants get hit with a salt blast that rocks their poor little roots and leaves. And it doesn't rock them in a good way.

    These time-release fertilizers are designed to work with normal tap water, which is full of impurities. Combine them with pure water and all the stuff inside those time release granules simply busts down the door trying to achieve what the fertilizer thinks is a balanced concentration. Pure water + way too much fert = normal concentration.

    So, important note to self: DO NOT USE time-release ferts with RO water!

    Julie

  2. #2
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    wogga is offline OCD - Orchids, Cycling, and Drinking
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    Good to know (and very sorry about your learning the hard way ) - thanks for the info

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    what about regular orchid fert with distilled water???

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    I do use Osmocte but only for Cymibidiums & my Ascocenda but these are heavy feeders so seem fine with my rainwater(which has a very low TDS).

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    I try Osmocote on Phal and Den about 3 months. So far so good plants look healthy. One Den gives me 5 keikis; another Phal gives me a huge leaf. No plant dies yet, LOL. I don't think the pure water pulls all the fertilizer out at once. What is the different between RO and tap water: only a small amount of salt.

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    LOTS of salts, actually.

    Julie

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    Hummm.. Don't tell my Phrags .
    I use Osmocote on them with rain or Ro. have done it for quite awhile no burn at all . Gin

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    Just had a thought , if the Osmocote gives up all it,s fert in 1 go with pure water then what happens when i use it on my other plants outside ?
    I can see that purer water will tend to leech the fert out quicker than water with impurities but all in 1 go

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    They're good questions. This was Lisa's experience. I can see it - the osmality will pull the nutrients through barrier; and the gradient will be higher with purer water. But I can't speak to exactly how these ferts are intended to be used.

    Julie

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