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Curious about Semi Hydroponic growing....

This is a discussion on Curious about Semi Hydroponic growing.... within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; Has anyone had any success with Semi Hydroponic Orchid Growing? I saw a YouTube video ...

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  1. #1
    Spirytman's Avatar
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    Default Curious about Semi Hydroponic growing....

    Has anyone had any success with Semi Hydroponic Orchid Growing? I saw a YouTube video of someone with a bunch of Phals. She seemed to be doing well with them. I was wondering if anyone has tried with other species..

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    ksriramkumar is offline Senior Member
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    Many of us grow on Semi hydrophonic method of growing. I grow all my oncidium, phal and cattleya hybrids on S/H and they seem to be doing good

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    I developed the semi-hydroponic concept for orchid growing some 25 years ago, as a way t keep my plants alive while I was on my frequent business trips, and used to think that some plants are great for it, some "OK', and some to be avoided. However, over that time period I have seen enough examples of the latter two groups thriving in it for others (I have a nearby customer who gets awards for her cacti, succulents, and caudiciforms grown that way), that have come to the following conclusion:

    ANY PLANT can be grown in semi-hydroponics if the rest of your cultural conditions - temperature, humidity, air flow, light levels, and your own tendencies to "mess with" your plants or not - all come together with it to provide what the plants need.

    "semi-Hydroponics" does not define all the parameters of orchid culture. It is nothing more than the use of an inert medium and a constant source of moisture.

    With over 40 years of orchid-growing experience, and as the inventor, with more S/H experience than anyone, I cannot grow a dendrobium that way - in my growing conditions - to save my soul, yet others - with entirely different conditions - say they they are the ideal "S/H beginner plant".

    Let me give an example: Phals are truly "hot growing" plants. In nature, they thrive in 100°F days, and rarely, if ever, see nighttime temperatures below 70°-75°F. Fortunately for us, they are fairly tolerant of the lower temperatures we prefer, so they do great in the average home. Fast forward to winter - the ambient relative humidity is low, and with energy costs what they are, many lower the thermostats at night to a temperature that really is out of range for the plants. I set mine to 63°, which is "marginal" for them, at best.

    Now we add the open, airy nature of the S/H pot environment - close to "perfect", most of the time - and the low humidity typical of winter, and the evaporative cooling from the moist, open medium pushes the root zone temperature down into the 50's, a point that basically "shuts down" the functioning of the roots, and they can die.

    That very same plant kept in my greenhouse can also be exposed to low 60's at night, but with very high humidity, the evaporative cooling is nonexistent, so they do fine.

  4. #4
    78Terp's Avatar
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    I have had mostly happy plants in s/h.

    I have at least 1 of each in s/h: Oncidium, neostylis Lou Sneary, phal, paph, phrag, sedirea, laleia, catt. The catt has been slowest to catch on but it has now.

  5. #5
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    Here, my Catts LOVE S/H and thrive in it. I moved my Masdevalia into it recently and I think it's going to do well - no leaf loss and two new shoots coming up. My Oncidiums that are happy are happy in S/H or bark, the ones that sulk and get spots seem to do that in either bark or S/H, I'm experimenting still. I haven't tried Phals, in main because they do great for me as I've been growing them and we have very cool nights, even in the summer and very dry. I'd be concerned about the evaporative cooling Ray mentioned. I do like that I can see when they need water, I tend to be very conservative with the water, but its pretty clear when the pots are nearly dry.

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    Okay, so that is fascinating. I did not realize that so many people on this forum we're doing that.

    Of course now I want to know how. I want to know how you go about preparing the plant for the media. I saw someone who put water at the bottom and let the roots just hover above it for humidity, then I saw another person who soaked the clay balls for a good 10-15 minutes then drained them and then she didn't water again for a week. What is the method that you all use? Does anyone have any photographs of their plants growing in the media?

    I have too mini phals that I need to repot soon and I was seriously considering using the semi hydroponic method so that I could observe the roots better.

    I also get these little stupid fungus Gnats all the time. They are driving me crazy. Right now I'm using a Apple cider vinegar and detergent trap for them. It seems to be working okay but they're still there, so I was thinking that the hydroponic method would avoid those little gnats from being around. Is this true?
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  7. #7
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    This is my phrag pearci. Moved into s/h in March. Then moved into an orchidarium in July. Now in flower for the first time ever.

    I use pots that have holes in them about an inch up providing a reservoir for the water. Minerals can and do build up. You need to keep up on it.
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  8. #8
    Spirytman's Avatar
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    thanks 78Terp! Great Phrag! That plant looks healthy and happy! Are you using anything besides the clay pellets?
    Last edited by Spirytman; September 15th, 2014 at 11:38 PM. Reason: duplicated text

  9. #9
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    Nothing but the pellets

  10. #10
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    Yes, the Semi-hydro (S/H) is a specific method. It's originator is a member of this forum and very helpful. He has a website that is full of good information and research results. I've tried it because of that, its really very easy and many orchids do very well in it. It seems that the plants you have and the conditions of your growing area determine whether it will work for you and it varies. For some people some species do great and for other people (due to differences of the growing area, watering habits, water quality, etc) those same species struggle with S/H. I recommend Googling "semi hydroponics" - you should find everything you need to know.

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