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How to keep em alive

This is a discussion on How to keep em alive within the Orchid Ailments / The Compost Pile forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Well, next Saturday I head off to Japan again for 2 weeks. I know the ...

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  1. #1
    Diane's Avatar
    Diane is offline Can't Re-Member
    My Grow Area
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    Catts and Paphs
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    Jun 2005
    Surprise, AZ
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    Exclamation How to keep em alive

    Well, next Saturday I head off to Japan again for 2 weeks. I know the 'chids can not survive without attention for that long. (They grow inside on carts and windowsills and are hand watered). So - I am recruiting my cat sitter to be my Catt sitter. I am going to show her how to water the plants and check them for dryness.

    I was thinking of adding a layer of sphag to the tops of all the pots to help with the watering problem... I've lost 5 plants since October from being too dry while I was gone. I also have a humidifier running 18 hours a day near the plants.

    Is this a good idea? Bad idea? Have any suggestions??

    This is a test for what I will do if I get sent there for 2 months.....

  2. #2
    Gin's Avatar
    Gin is offline Senior Member
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    ... If the person caring for them tends to think if a little is good a lot is better I would not use the Spag . What I did when gone was use the colored stickers on ones that needed more water sooner than the others did . Plus a lot of written directions lol . Gin

  3. #3
    jenn's Avatar
    jenn is offline Felix
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    Jul 2005


    Oh Diane! As if your travel schedule is not hard enough... I would also just write a ton of directions. I know I left heavy reading for my poor cat sitter when I was only gone for just one week. LOL
    It's a shame we are all spread out over the place, I would help you if I could.

  4. #4
    mde's Avatar
    mde is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2005


    Do you have an orchid grower/vendor near you? One of our local growers has staff who are willing to take on 'side jobs' for very little $. Or do you belong to the local orchid society? Otherwise, use tags or stickers like Gin said and leave plenty of notes. Your sitter will think you're nuts, but they'll be extra careful that way!

  5. #5
    Piper's Avatar
    Piper is offline Hangs
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    Dec 2004


    Hi Diane,

    I've faced the same trouble with travel. I can't help you with an extended stay, but I've found that unless you have a real orchid-phile to help, you have to dumb the routine down to ensure the care-person will actually do something, and not get overwhelmed and cut corners (the usual response to us anal orchid types, when we're not looking...)

    Two weeks out of the sun won't hurt the plants. Stick them in the bath tub and have her turn the shower on for so many minutes on certain days. It's easy, painless for the sitter, and gets the plants watered.

    If you have more than will fit in the tub, than put the frequent waterers in the tub, and have her do the others by hand as needed (the tub guys can get sprayed while she tends to the rest).

    That's worked well for me - good luck!


  6. #6
    Hoa Tony Nguyen's Avatar
    Hoa Tony Nguyen is offline Senior Member
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    Nov 2005
    Pasadena and Costa Mesa


    Hi Diane,

    If I was you, having to rely on the cat sitter to water the babies, I would make it simple. Most orchids are more hardy than you think. I have a few orchids (phals, brassia, oncidiums, one catt, paphs) in my office, they live by the window. I water them twice a week (Thursday and Saturday morning or Monday and Thursday) and sometime I water them only once a week. But they LIVE and grow. But everytime I water them, I do it thoroughly, giving them a good soak. Except mounted orchids and certain orchids that I would not go into (OK, vanda, equitants), you need to water them daily but I don't think you have them.

    So for common orchids that we have, cattleyas, phals, paphs, oncidiums, dendrobiums, they will get by with watering only once a week (just taking them to the sink and give them a good dunk or to the backyard and hose them!). And that means you will water the chids before you leave, the catt sitter will do it in 7 days and then you will do it when you are back. They will live. But if you can train your cat sitter to water the plants twice a week, that might be better and that is the most watering that they could take. Even twice a week, that might be too much for a mature cattleya in 5-6 in pot. More watering than that, it would be too soggy.
    Hope this might help.

    Have fun in Japan! I was there for vacation a while back.
    Cheers. Hoa.

  7. #7
    WolfinKW's Avatar
    WolfinKW is offline Wolf - I bite but only when asked.
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    May 2005
    Las Vegas - - baby!


    Hmmm Maybe you could set up a small drip irrigation with some aquarium airline tubing and valves. Sorta like an IV for the plant without needles. Then just tell your cat watcher to keep the source (2 liter bottle, bucket) filled and not to move it since moving it would change the drip rate. Another idea is to use cotton thread from the source to the plant though with this there is less control.

    Keep in mind that the water source must never run out completely with the air tube because it will not self start just by pouring water in...

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