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How to get longer spikes

This is a discussion on How to get longer spikes within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I was just wondering what sort of fertiliser combo you should use to get your ...

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  1. #1
    scopinox's Avatar
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    Default How to get longer spikes

    I was just wondering what sort of fertiliser combo you should use to get your flowering spikes as long as possible. On the two occasions that the phal has flowered, its spikes were much shorter than when I bought it. (I use the same stake over and over). Also, the distance between the flowers decreased and they were partially blocking each other.

    So, while the spike is developing, should I use a high nitrogen feed or should i use the bloom boosting fert (on the box it says-to be used before and during flowering).

    Just wanted to know cos I have a few orchids that have just started their spikes.

    Thanks.

    Praveer

  2. #2
    Ron-NY is offline rothaholic
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    I do not think that the crowding is due to your fertilizer but may be more of a quotient of light level, I would think. Are you growing your Phals in the high end of light for the genus? You may want to decrease the light level a bit when in spike and that should increase the distance between buds.

  3. #3
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    Reduce the over head light , make em reach for it .. gin

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    I'm growing in SE Michigan and it is cold and gray here most of the fall - winter months as many of you already know. Some of my spikes on phals are very looooong, too long for me growing in the GH because they get in the way of other "stuff". But then I guess I wouldn't have beautiful flowers to adorn the GH, would I !!! Some of my spikes are quite short with tight flower clusters on the ends of the spikes. So I thought spike/flower growth was a function of the specific plant with enviornmental influences only a small part of the total picture. Whenever I've asked growers in Florida what makes the spikes long or the flowers large, they shrug their shoulders and give me that "beats me" look. But the notion that lower light makes them "reach for the sun" sounds plausable. Sorry for being so long-winded.....just had to vent!

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    Ron-NY is offline rothaholic
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    Bikerdoc, with some plants genetics do come into play but she had seen this plant when it had a longer spike and better spaced flowers.

  6. #6
    jfrizz743 is offline Senior Member
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    As far as the fertilizer, I would not recommend using a high nitrogen fertilizer when your plant is in spike or blooming. Nitrogen can inhibit flowering, so that's why bloom booster fertilizer's have a low amount of nitrogen and a high amount of phosphorous and potassium. I'm at school right now, but when I get home I will give a better explanation.

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    jfrizz743 is offline Senior Member
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    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by jfrizz743 View Post
    As far as the fertilizer, I would not recommend using a high nitrogen fertilizer when your plant is in spike or blooming. Nitrogen can inhibit flowering, so that's why bloom booster fertilizer's have a low amount of nitrogen and a high amount of phosphorous and potassium. I'm at school right now, but when I get home I will give a better explanation.
    Ok, I'm home...
    I'm just going to quote a book I have on the subject of fertilizer. Its authors give a much better and more detailed explanation than I could ever hope to give.

    "At the risk of appearing dogmatic, it is safe to say that there are four principal periods in the feeding programme, which must take into account the following broad rules:

    1) When new growth resumes, it is much more important to provide nitrogen than potassium and phosphorus. This is only logical, since the structure of plant tissue consists, in large measure, of nitrogen.
    2) When flowering begins and the inflorescence develops, too much nitrogen may be inhibiting. So the formula goes in reverse: less nitrogen, more phosphorus and potassium. This is because the development and opening of the flowers entail a rhythm of cell division, and thus the formation of nucleic acids rich in phosphorus. Potassium, the major element of the intracellular medium and of metabolism of young tissue, is equally indispensable in this phase.
    3) During the flowering period, a small level of nitrogen and phosphorus, and a high level of potassium must be maintained.
    4) During the winter rest period, watering is reduced and totally halted; feeding should also be completely suspended or carried out at most once a month.

    The feeding programme becomes rather complicated when a number of different genera are being grown. For certain orchids, the growth of the flower spike coincides with the growth of the leaf shoot, and it is impossible to separate the first two phases of the programme..."

    I hope that helps...

  8. #8
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    articuno75 is offline Orchidolic...No need for cure.
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    What about Magnesium? How would this play a picture with blooms and spiking? I know a lot of people who use Epsom salt as a fertilizer for orchids as well as other plants. Could this also play a role?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron-NY View Post
    Bikerdoc, with some plants genetics do come into play but she had seen this plant when it had a longer spike and better spaced flowers.
    Ahem. I am a he.

    As for Gin and Ron. Thanks for the info. I think the easiest way to accomplish that would be to throw them under the benches.

    jfrizz743, thanks for the info. It really helps.

    I do recall redaing ages ago, that high light will produce stronger, larger and more blooms but on shorter spikes and low light will do the opposite. Maybe the light helps florida growers produce larger flowers?

    Anyway, thanks for all the help.

    Praveer

  10. #10
    GiovannaD is offline Senior Member
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    In my case, I keep one of my phals within 1ft (33cm) from a big southern window with full sun behind a sheer curtain. (it's not the one in the photo). The light level is high.
    The spike grew 3 nodes then started developing buds. The buds are 7, becoming bigger and bigger and the spike has remained short, so I think you should ask yourself: would you rather have a large spike and less buds or a medium spike and more blooms?
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