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Plant food question

This is a discussion on Plant food question within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; Hi all, Got a question regarding fertilizers, or more specifically the GrowMore plant foods. Currently ...

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  1. #1
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    Question Plant food question

    Hi all,

    Got a question regarding fertilizers, or more specifically the GrowMore plant foods. Currently I have both the 20-20-20/20-10-20 types which I feed at ~1/4 to 1/2 the recommended strength, but I always wondered at the description:

    20-20-20 (Yellow)
    General purpose feed for all cattleyas, vandas and dendrobiums and other orchids year round.

    20-10-20 (Green)
    Urea free for paphiopedilum, phalaenopsis and others year round.

    Now, besides what's listed for each type of plant food, what do the "others" mean? i.e. Would it be okay to feed (Yellow) to Phals, which falls under the "other orchids" category, but it's better to use (Green) or I should only use (Green)?

    I've been feeding all my other orchids with the (Yellow) type for: Oncidium, Neofinetia falcat, Epi. Green hornet, Dendrobium bigibbum var. compactum, and Zygopetalum. Do I need to switch anything over to the (Green) type?

    Thanks for your help

    Jimmy

  2. #2
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    Hi Jimmy,

    First of all, I think either would be fine for all your orchids, and I totally agree with your strategy of 1/4 to 1/2 the recommended strength. Many orchid growers I've spoken to have touted using a different fertilizer from time to time because one may be a better source of certain nutrients than the other, but not necessarily (probably not) a better source of all nutrients. So, to try to sum up what is getting to be a long answer, I'd say, yes, switch between both fertilizers for all your orchids.

    Cheers,

    Rob
    Last edited by Orchidzrule; December 3rd, 2008 at 04:43 PM.

  3. #3
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    For those growing in a bark mix: the organisms decomposing the bark mixture use nitrogen. So, to offset this, use a higher nitrogen fertilizer mix such as a 30-10-10.

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    I wonder about fertilizing when the plant is in bloom. Could that shorten the duration of the bloom?
    danitamc

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    Quote Originally Posted by danitamc View Post
    I wonder about fertilizing when the plant is in bloom. Could that shorten the duration of the bloom?
    danitamc
    No, I don't believe it does. Because of how we grow (in a greenhouse), we cannot withhold food from plants in bloom or out of bloom, so everyone gets fed at the same time. I cannot tell any negative difference. I recommend feeding once a week with a 1/4 percent mixture. Also flushing the orchid pot with pure water after feeding the following watering cycle is a must to avoid buildup of salts that can harm your orchids roots.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    I'm wondering: if the recommended strength (by fertilizer producer) is 1 tea spoon/5 l water (for example), why we all reduce these instructions? Why we all feed with just 1/4 or 1/2 the recommended strength? Does it mean the fertilizer producer dond know much about orchids?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paph View Post
    I'm wondering: if the recommended strength (by fertilizer producer) is 1 tea spoon/5 l water (for example), why we all reduce these instructions? Why we all feed with just 1/4 or 1/2 the recommended strength? Does it mean the fertilizer producer dond know much about orchids?
    No, it is a way to keep from having the fertilizer burn the roots of the orchids. In nature, the orchids get fed when it rains and the nutrients that are on the surface of the (tree, rock, etc..) that they are attached to, mixes with the water and flows over their roots. Growing in our homes/ greenhouses is different and requires adjustments. Orchids grown in the home are potted up in pots for ease of display and care (so we can move them around, take them to shows, know where one plant ends and another begins...). In nature they grow differently.

    Long story short, we adapt to try to match as closely as we can their natural way of growing. By diluting the fertilizer, we can feed more often (as happens in nature) and avoid burning the roots and leaves of our potted and mounted orchids.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    The rules for labeling fertilizers require that the max amount of chemicals released at one time be stated. For chemical fertilizers, such as you're describing, all the chemicals are released at the time you fertilitze. That's why they have much higher numbers than natural fertilizers such as kelp, seaweed, or fish extract, etc. These natural fertilizers slowly release their nutrients over time. So their numbers are lower, but are actually a much more effective way to feed your plants.

    That's why the chem fertilizers are always suggested to be used at lower dosages more frequently.

    I use both. More dilute chems with some natural thrown in. And I periodically sprinkle Osmocote (a time release fert) into the pots because I'm lazy about fertilizing and it helps make up for it.

    McJulie

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    i call it weekly weakly. just think about it in human food terms, what's healthier for you a few small meals throughout the day or one big meal once a day? both will keep you fed but several meals is healthier.
    does anyone find changing the fert starts things blooming? i only ask because i was using 25-10-10 before (but, y'know, diluted) but about four months back i switched to a 20-20-20 and about a month ago three 'chids started spikes. coincidence? other factors? temps did start dropping in late october too...

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    I use to use GrowMore Fertilizer 30-10-10 (Red) and 20-20-20 (Yellow) all last year but stopped it because it has Urea in it and I understood that Orchids need to be Urea free. I am still using the GrowMore Fertilizer 20-10-20 (Green ) and 6-30-30 (Blue) which are both Urea Free.

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