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Breakdown the fertilizer for me please

This is a discussion on Breakdown the fertilizer for me please within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; There has been a bit of talk about fertilizing , but what do the numbers ...

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  1. #1
    OrchidTraci's Avatar
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    Question Breakdown the fertilizer for me please

    There has been a bit of talk about fertilizing , but what do the numbers mean? Some say an even 20-20-20 is fine, but is it the same as a 10- 10- 10? Or is the 20 just more concentrated than the 10?

    I have 3 different plant foods, all with diffierent #'s.

    Dyna-Grow Orchid Pro 7-8-6

    Schultz African Violet plus 8-14-9

    Schultz Orchid Food 19-31-17


    I tend to use the Dyna Grow & the African Violet foods only now, but that is only because I prefer liquid rather than the crystal . What do the numbers mean and why are some numbers so much higher?

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    pretty_bug01 is offline Senior Member
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    I've used the shultz before, but I realized that it has urea in it, unfortunetly so does the african violet stuff. They have better-gro at lowes now, it will be buy the orchids itself, at least it is here. The urea is for the plant to take out of the soil and use at a later time. Since the orchids don't have a "retaining" soil, it does no good. Um...other than that I can't tell you about the numbers. All I know is that they signify how much of phosphorus, nitrogen and magnesium. Well, I'm not sure that it is magnesium. I think that lja did say something about it in one of my questions. The 20-20-20 is different from the 10-10-10. Because when you dilute it to half strength, they have different ratios.

  3. #3
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    The numbers tell you the percentage of each element (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) present in a type of fertilizer. So, a 10-10-10 fertilizer means that that mix is made up of 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% potassium. The other 70% is just inert ingredients the manufacturer adds in as a stabilizer and delivery system. A 20-20-20 fertilizer has twice the amount of each element as a 10-10-10, so theoretically, you'd only need to use half as much of it to get the same strength mix as a 10-10-10.

    Opinions vary; some people claim that fertilizers with higher nitrogen numbers (30-10-10 or 15-5-5) are better for orchids that are potted in bark, and that the balanced formula fertilizers (10-10-10) are better for orchids that are mounted or potted in something other than bark. We just recommend a balanced formula for everything, especially if you're just starting out. As you get going and start to develop some experience, go ahead and experiment.

    Fertilizers with higher middle numbers are blossom boosters.

    And PrettyBug, you're right, any fertilizer with urea in it is absolutely useless to orchids in a a bark mix: there's nothing in a bark mix to break the urea down into available nitrogen. Soil is needed for that.

    We've never used the Schultz (if it has urea, don't bother...) but we have had good experience with the Dyna-Gro, and OT, that 7-8-6 ratio you've got would be just fine to use on a regular basis.

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    pretty_bug01 is offline Senior Member
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    Oh...if you need spanish moss, since I know it's expensive in NY, and that you put your orchids on the bark. I know how to get it for free. Just get your boyfriend to pull it off the trees at Hugh McCrae Park. It's totally legal, but only if you can get your boyfriend to do it. If he needs directions tell him it is right after the College Rd. and Oleander intersection. The next red light on the left. . Happy convincing.

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    thanks for the explanations guys. So, would the orchid food with urea be ok to use with my Ludisia Discolor?

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    OT, the urea won't break down into the nitrogen the plant needs unless the plant is potted in soil. You didn't put your Ludisia in potting soil, did you??

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    LOL NO! I still haven't dealt with it, it is flowering now so I really want to wait.

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