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Well Water and orchids

This is a discussion on Well Water and orchids within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; First time posting.. I have well water and will be getting the most recent values ...

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  1. #1
    Joanie is offline Junior Member
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    Default Well Water and orchids

    First time posting.. I have well water and will be getting the most recent values back soon but in the meantime I have older values I wanted input on. My orchids are suffering, dry roots and root tips turning black, brown spots on the leaves, leaf tip burn, chlorotic leaf blothes, general failure to thrive. This condition worsens as summer ends leading me to believe this is when the water table is low and salt and minerals concentrate.
    My most notible water values are sodium 160, calcium 2 (very low) TDS 480, specific conductance 788 and PH 9.2. Not a pretty site but the water is very soft due to the low calcium. Good for showers and not spotting. Any ideas other than R/O? Is there anything out there that will remove salts and I am thinking this is slowly killing my orchids. I have another well where the sodium is 66. Is this a safe range? I have read less than 50 ideal and not over 100/ppm.

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    Besides the high TDS, especially the sodium level, the PH is way too high also.

    Although Cattleya can handle a bit more salt than other genera, I still will go for R/O and take care of the PH!

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    Have you tried catching the water run-off from your home/roof? Maybe that is an affordable alternative?

    Cheers,
    BD

  4. #4
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    Water from a dehumidifier, but that will only work if you have humidity in the air around you. Could buy dehumidified water by the gallon at supermarkets. That can get expensive.

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    The TDS is way too high and with such a high Na content and pH it is a recipe for disaster. Apart from RO you could try a solar water distilling unit. It may cost as much as a RO unit, but it will give you distilled water for a very long time and you will also be using renewable energy.

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    Thanks everyone for the confirmation that my water is killing my orchids. Catts are about all I can grow and now I know why. I do have some lovely ones! R/O is going to be installed asap. Husband is a plumber and the under sink model with 3.2 gallon storage should work fine....in the meantime I am collecting rain water and thankful it is winter. On an optimistic note, I have been growing for over 9 years and have some wonderful plants despite my lousy water so I am very excited to see what happens when I start using good water!

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    Joanie is offline Junior Member
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    I hooked up my new RO system this weekend. I have not used any of my VERY salty water since my first post around Jan 1. How long does it take to see a difference with good water? AND should I just flush my orchids for awhile before adding any fert? I know I need a special one for RO water. I was thinking of mixing half rain and half RO. By the way, the last sodium level was over 191 and PH 9.1. What can I add to the water to decrease the PH? Thanks

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joanie View Post
    How long does it take to see a difference with good water?
    It can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months for the plants to fully recover, sympodials will be faster to recover as their new growths and pseudobulbs will be healthier and stronger. Monopodials will need much more time say 4 to 6 months.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joanie View Post
    AND should I just flush my orchids for awhile before adding any fert?
    I would definitely recommend that. If your plants are ready repotting in a new media will also be very desirable as your old media will have a lot of salt build up from the hard water evapouration and it will take a lot of RO water to get rid of this salt build up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joanie View Post
    I was thinking of mixing half rain and half RO.
    Rain water is also ideally distilled water, so mixing rain and RO water will not be of much use, it will just save your RO water. I have watered all orchids with deionised water for two years and fertilized with a complete fertilizer 20:20:20 with Mg, Ca and micronutrients once a week and I did not have any deficiencies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joanie View Post
    By the way, the last sodium level was over 191 and PH 9.1. What can I add to the water to decrease the PH? Thanks
    I hope this Na level was before installing the RO system, with the RO system Na should not be a problem anymore and the levels should be nil. For reducing the high pH use of Phosphoric acid (H3PO4) is recommended.

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    Joanie is offline Junior Member
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    Yes, that sodium level was pre RO. Phosphric acid? I have citric acid I use for making wine. Will that work and what amount? I am using my pool water tester for PH. Thanks for the information. I will start repotting when it is time. Maybe now I can grow Masdevallias..Some of my favorites.

  10. #10
    orcoholic is offline Senior Member
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    Citric Acid is fine. pH should be anywhere around 5-6. You can get a meter that will tell you what the ph is, or you can go to an aquarium store and get the strips that measure ph.

    Your orchids should steadily improve. Make sure you use a complete fertilizer and measure the ph after adding the fertilizer. Flushing is okay, but in light of the very high Na in the well water, I'd think repotting is your best way to go.

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