Shop Orchid Care OrchidTalk Orchid Forum Weather Station Links Nursery

Welcome to OrchidTalk Orchid Forums


The Friendliest Orchid Community on the Internet!


  •  » Learn to Repot your Orchids
  •  » Learn Orchid Care Tips and Secrets
  •  » Find the perfect Orchid for your Growing Environment
  •  » Chat with Orchid Growing Professionals

OrchidTalk - "Bringing People Together to Grow Orchids Better!"


Let us help you grow your Orchids better; Join our community today.


YES! I want to register an account for free right now!


Register or Login now to remove this advertisement.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 25
Like Tree7Likes

Cattleya calcium levels

This is a discussion on Cattleya calcium levels within the Genus Specific forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I've been able to find the optimum levels of n-p-k and Mg (ppm) for cattleyas, ...

Click here to increase the font size Click here to reduce the font size
  1. #1
    Missanna is offline Cattleya lover
    My Grow Area
    Under Lights
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Cattleya- anything fragrant
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Gender
    Female
    Location
    idaho
    Posts
    49

    Default Cattleya calcium levels

    I've been able to find the optimum levels of n-p-k and Mg (ppm) for cattleyas, but I can't find optimum ppm of Calcium. Cattleyas are prone to calicium deficiency showing up in the tips of new growths in the form of leaf tip dieback and black rot. This happens because Ca is a non-mobile or only barely mobile. I have two cattleya seedlings (maxima) that are showing these types of symptoms and since the leaves never get wet and I never have cold, wet conditions, I am pretty sure it's a calcium deficiency. I use reverse osmosis water and an all purpose RO orchid fertilizer with a bit of calicium, but I think it's only 3 percent. I was able to find that cattleyas need 50ppm of magnesium (the same ppm they need of nitrogen), so I have been supplementing once a month with 1/4 tsp per gallon of Epsom salts when not using regular fertilizer, but it need to know what the proper amounts of calcium are before I choose a cal/mag fertilizer.

  2. #2
    raybark's Avatar
    raybark is offline Senior Member
    Real Name
    Ray Barkalow
    My Grow Area
    Under Lights
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Oak Island NC
    Posts
    1,272

    Default

    I have a number of questions for you:

    1. Where did you find these so-called "optimum levels"?
    2. What are they?
    3. How were they determined?
    4. How often must they be applied?

    I ask, as I am skeptical of any "ideal" or "optimal" concepts when it comes to plant nutrition, considering the variability of the various cultural parameters among growers, all of which affect nutritional needs.

    I also want to know, as I wonder if the data is being interpreted correctly. Let me explain:

    The Greencare "Orchid Special for RO" (the original so-called "MSU Formula") is 13-3-15-9Ca-2Mg. For each ppm of applied nitrogen, the solution will contain:

    N 1 ppm
    P 0.099 ppm
    K 0.943 ppm
    Ca 0.682 ppm
    Mg 0.152 ppm

    If we use the 50 ppm Mg as the base for calculations, using this particular formula, to reach that "optimal" 50 ppm Mg level, we would need to apply it at a concentration of 330 ppm N, giving a solution of containing 225 ppm Ca, but with a total of about 1500-1700 ppm TDS - a level likely to be damaging to the plants' roots.

    By contrast, I am feeding 25 ppm N K-Lite (a derivative of the MSU RO formula @ 12-1-1-10Ca-3Mg), giving me a TDS of about 100, and in order to match that 50 ppm Mg level, I would have to feed at 215 ppm N. I am seeing no issues with any deficiencies.

  3. #3
    clintdawley's Avatar
    clintdawley is offline Wrapped in metal..wrapped in ivy...
    Real Name
    Clint M. Dawley
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Cattleya Alliance
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Posts
    2,743
    Member's Country Flag

    Default

    leaf tip die back can also be caused from too much fert

  4. #4
    Missanna is offline Cattleya lover
    My Grow Area
    Under Lights
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Cattleya- anything fragrant
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Gender
    Female
    Location
    idaho
    Posts
    49

    Default

    I only feed 1/4 tsp once a week and these seedlings are new. None of my other maxima plants are showing these symptoms nor are any of my other 50 orchids. I don't know what the previous grower was using and I've only just had these plants for a month or two. One of them also has a mottled appearance (like it sat under a plant with stationary light and so some parts are darker while others are lighter and root growth is not as awesome as it should be. Anyway, I've read a lot about calicium deficiency since one leaf turned black in a few days- now the new growths are doing the same thing. One was sprayed with daconil and the rot stopped and before that I had sprayed it with alliette thinking it was pythium or phytopthera.

    Ray- these optimum levels were from a scientific paper using inert media and were only used on one specific cross of cattleyas, so of course depending on species, medium, temperature, etc etc, and frequency of feeding (I believe it was every day, but that seems like a lot) the nutrient needs can vary, but it was interesting to see that the levels of mg needed for the best growth of this cross were the same levels as that of the nitrogen. (50 ppm in this case). Anyway I've seen some cal-mag fertilizers with about a 3:1 ratio and from the info on ray's site about Epsom salts (I just discovered this huge wealth of information today- thank you, Ray) 1/2 tsp per gallon of calcium and 1/8 tsp Epsom without fertilizer seems like a safe place to start for trying to fix this deficiency if it is one. (if I understood that article and the math (not my strongest suit) correctly. So I'll try it on one and see if that helps. The plants haven't been "fed" in a week.

    Also- here are the ingredients of my RO fertilizer 13-3-15. There is actually 8% ca and 3%mg it says 100ppm N in 1/2 tsp (2.5g). Anyway, I also read that some guy will crush up calcium citrate pills and give two to each tomato plant, so I thought "let's try 1" I have to make or water and it's a time consuming process for me, so I wanted to be able to just make up a cup of solution instead of having a full gallon but dividing one pill by 32 is tough unless you have a digital scale, so I just dissolved one in a bit of water with 1/8tsp of Epsom and then added a tsp at a time of that solution to a cup of water until I had about 150ppm in solution (of course meters can be inaccurate because the EC of different salts varies) but even if that's double, a 20 minute soak shouldn't hurt. I also ph adjusted the solution to 7.5 so the calcium is available for uptake. So- Ray, since you are the most knowledgeable, scientific minded orchid grower I've ever had the pleasure of "meeting" do you think that's a good amount to fix calcium deficiency? I grow under lights and the temps range from 80-85 days, so these babies are growing quickly like they would in the spring/summer when I've read this problem usually occurs. Sorry this is such a long post. I will keep everyone updated and post some photos if I can figure out how to do so.

  5. #5
    Catt Mandu's Avatar
    Catt Mandu is offline Senior Member
    My Grow Area
    Porch/Patio.
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Cattleyas, Phalaenopsis
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    208

    Default

    Get some pelleted lawn & garden gypsum, dissolve an equal amount to your Epsom salts overnight in a gallon of water. Next day, keep the liquid, strain off the solids. Water with the liquid. Do that once or twice a month. Easy-peasy. I never get Ca deficiency symptoms in my Catts.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    Last edited by Catt Mandu; September 12th, 2014 at 03:44 AM.

  6. #6
    Missanna is offline Cattleya lover
    My Grow Area
    Under Lights
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Cattleya- anything fragrant
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Gender
    Female
    Location
    idaho
    Posts
    49

    Default

    Oh yeah, it's not leaf tip dieback per se. The rot is starting about .5 cm down from the leaf tip. I sprayed with chlorothalinol yesterday and it doesn't seem to be worse this morning. It seems like when new growth on cattleyas rots because of ca deficiency, it doesn't start in the very tip, but further down a little bit, if I remember correctly.

    Ray- the title of the article I earlier referred to is "nitrogen, potassium, and magnesium nutrition of three orchid genera"

  7. #7
    raybark's Avatar
    raybark is offline Senior Member
    Real Name
    Ray Barkalow
    My Grow Area
    Under Lights
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Oak Island NC
    Posts
    1,272

    Default

    Frankly, Missanna, if you've been feeding the MSU RO formula at 1/4 tsp/gal once a week, I cannot imagine that your plants are calcium deficient - without any other additives - so it makes me wonder what else might be going on.

    Also, I'd keep the solution pH between 5.5 and 6.5. There is no reason the calcium would not be available at that acidic level, which is what the plants prefer.

    I's still like to see that scientific paper....

  8. #8
    Cjcorner's Avatar
    Cjcorner is offline Senior Member
    Real Name
    Connie
    My Grow Area
    Porch/Patio.
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Mini Vanda, Schombs &Encyclia.
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    West of Tampa, FL
    Posts
    9,139
    Member's Country Flag

    Default

    I used to have a huge Maxima. I can tell you the only way I could keep it alive was by a regular regimen of spraying for fungicide and bacterial infections. When I finally began spraying for those two on a regular basis and bought two additives; one for Calcium and Magnesium and the other was for silicon, my plant began to thrive and bloom.

  9. #9
    Missanna is offline Cattleya lover
    My Grow Area
    Under Lights
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Cattleya- anything fragrant
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Gender
    Female
    Location
    idaho
    Posts
    49

    Default

    Ray- I don't think I can post the link to the article because I can't find it on any purely educational websites. Anyway, if you search for the title of the article, you will be able to find it. I don't want to break any rules of the board.
    Anyway, one of these siblings has mild color variation with spots of lighter and darker areas. I did more research and found a site with various photos of orchid ailments. There were two similar photos with these kinds of symptoms. One was nutrient deficiency and the other was nutrient toxicity. There is no necrosis, roots are growing satisfactorily. Tips are fine. The symptoms were on the plant when I got it a few months ago and the new growths had already started. They have been fertilized on a regular basis since I got them, so I agree that it seems like there's shouldn't be any deficiency, but I think it's possible that if they were "starved" for a very long time that it could take until the next flush of growth to come out normally. Anyway, since I have two, I am giving them different treatments one got the calcium one didn't. They were both sprayed with fungicide and the rot seems to have slowed or stopped. My other 3 maximas are totally fine, but they were robust when I got them already. These two are runty and weaker than the other two I got from this vendor. They some moderate root loss when they came to me. Maybe they are too inbred, maybe something else. It's distressing though because I've never had anything like this happen.

    Connie- I didn't thank your for your post. I love your photo by the way. I got lucky and got a very nice maxima years ago and I've loved them ever since. Fragrance is lovely. Never had problems with my one. Anyway, you said you used to have a huge maxima- what happened to it? Was it the one in your photo? I'm sorry you had to spray it and it didn't just grow well for you without that treatment. I think I've stopped the rot on these little ones for now and hopefully I won't have problems with any new growths that they pop out, but I will definitely keep what you said in mind. Again, thank you for your post.

    I decided for everyone's convenience to give some specific details from this paper. I can't copy and paste so I will summarize.
    Optimal for cattleya 50ppm N, K, and Mg (abstract)
    Grown in nutrient culture in quartz glass beads
    Pumps delivered nutrient solution at 8am, 11:30 am and 3 pm daily (this is not weekly weakly)
    Lol- upon closer reading in materials and methods, I found that they were supplying 200ppm Ca. 4:1 ratio to "optimal" Mg"
    Here is the the entire list of "micronutrients"
    The N was supplied in a ratio of 1:3 NH4 to No3
    P 20
    Ca 200
    Cl 10
    Fe 3
    Mn 1
    B .25
    Zn .20
    Cu .0025
    Mo .001

    So, in this case the Ca was 4 times higher than the N which still may be more than what is needed and possibly excess, but the authors of the paper must have done some good research to come up with that number, which makes me think that our regular fertilizers don't have enough Ca and need to be supplemented with it. So perhaps all of my cattleyas should be receiving supplemental amounts and if a regular msu type was being used for these originally, they may well be deficient.
    Well, even though I feel pretty dumb for missing that bit of info the first time around, I am glad that this discussion is public so more people can be aware of how important Ca and Mg are to orchids and maybe it will help someone in the future with similar problems and questions. I keep detailed records of treatments and I will keep this post going with updates of my progress. It's no scientific study and there are many variables that can affect results, but At least I do have two siblings at the same age with the same symptoms and I will be able to compare the progress. I will start giving the one 200ppm Ca with 50ppm Mg on a different day from regular fertilization and if I see improvements, I will start giving the other one the same supplementation and try to chart the progress with as much detail as possible.

    Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to respond and give their insights. I think it's great that we all have a place to come.

  10. #10
    Albert Nakaji is offline Junior Member
    Real Name
    Albert Nakaji
    My Grow Area
    Greenhouse
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Cattleya and Vanda
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Papaikou, Hawaii, USA
    Posts
    21
    Member's Country Flag

    Default

    Missanna, I was using a certain time release fertilizer and got the same problems you are experiencing. Initially, I also suspected calcium deficiency, but even after heavy applications of calcium, the problem did not go away (it improved a little). After repotting and getting rid of the time release pellets in the pots, things are much improved. In my case, it was definitely due to the fertilizer. Exactly what was going on, I don't know, but I suspect it may have been a matter of too much fertilizer being released to fast. I have since changed to chicken manure (initial after repotting), and then liquid fertilizer thereafter. Supplemental calcium is applied because the fertilizer contains no trace minerals and our water doesn't have any calcium, magnesium, etc. The best trace mineral supplement I've tried thus far have been "All Season Blend". It's got everything needed.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. calcium and magnesium
    By Puppies2 in forum New Growers: Ask the Senior Members
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: September 2nd, 2015, 09:46 AM
  2. Calcium supplement hilarity
    By OrchidAddict in forum General Orchid Culture
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: January 15th, 2013, 12:13 PM
  3. Oyster Shell Calcium
    By Brutal_Dreamer in forum Orchids Which Benefit from Extra Calcium
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: February 28th, 2012, 09:32 PM
  4. Do You Use Calcium
    By Bikerdoc5968 in forum General Orchid Culture
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: February 15th, 2009, 10:45 PM
  5. co2/o2 levels
    By boots_n_braces in forum Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: July 21st, 2008, 08:38 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
OrchidTalk --An Orchid Growers Discussion Forum brought to you by River Valley Orchidworks. A World Community where orchid beginners and experts talk about orchids and share tips on their care, cultivation, and propagation.