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  • 3 Post By raybark

Help with orchid fertilizer...

This is a discussion on Help with orchid fertilizer... within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; ok so i have never used fertilizers on my orchids, but i bought a bag ...

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  1. #1
    Spirytman's Avatar
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    Default Help with orchid fertilizer...

    ok so i have never used fertilizers on my orchids, but i bought a bag of Better-gro 20-14-13 fertilizer. it says on the bag to mix a teaspoon with a gallon of water. it says to soak the roots.

    So here is my question...Is there any other way to fertilize? Can i pour the mix into the pot, let it drain, collect the liquid that drained through, and re-pour? How much of the gallon do i need to use? I don't want to accidentally burn the roots. any suggestions?

  2. #2
    ksriramkumar is offline Senior Member
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    Soaking the pot in a weak fertilizer is a good idea but is difficult if you have a large collection. I prepare a weak fertilizer and pour through the pot. suggest don't reuse the runaway liquid in other pots as it could be a easy way to spread pests and diseases.

  3. #3
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    Agree with ksriramkumar, don't reuse the liquid. Not only can it spread any present diseases it also has been thru roots which take the nutrients it wants. So the run-off is less than it was when it went thru the roots.

    I usually get 4 or 5 orchids watered per gallon of mixed fertilizer. I use 1/4 teaspoon/gallon. And use it at every watering.

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    How-, and how often do you water now?

    For a 20%N formula, a teaspoon per gallon is roughly 265 ppm N, and your total solids content is probably around 1500 ppm, which is WAY more than an orchid should ever see. Terp's recommendation of 1/4 tsp/gal would be about 65-70 ppm N, and far more appropriate for weekly feeding.

    Fertilizer is cheap - mix it up, pour it through - about a quart per 5"-6" pot seems fine - and let it drain. If you want the bark to absorb more, wait 30 minutes and repeat that treatment. After you do that one- or two weeks in a row, it'll stay open enough that a single drench will wet it sufficiently.

  5. #5
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    rule of thumb......quarter the dose from the label's recommendations works for all soluble fertilizer.

  6. #6
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    For 20-14-13 fertilizer, make sure that at least half of the nitrogen (20 - in this case) is readily usable by the plant. Most fertilizers are the cheap quality where the nitrogen is made up of Urea or Ammonia. This is fine if you are going to use it in a pot or on grass where the fertilizer will be present long enough to break down. Urea breaks down into ammoniacal nitrogen, which then breaks down into nitrate nitrogen, which is then usable by the plant. Since most orchid mix is 'open' and fast draining, you need at least half of the nitrogen number to be made up of the nitrate type of nitrogen, other wise most of the nitrogen will be unusable and is just wasted. Look at the label on the side where it actually breaks down what those numbers have in them. Your 20-14-13 should have at least 10% nitrate nitrogen. Also, the bark mixtures tend to absorb nitrogen, so they will need a higher amount. The breakdown of the numbers in general is Nitrogen(20), Phosphorous(14), and Potassium(13).

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