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Oyster Shell Calcium

This is a discussion on Oyster Shell Calcium within the Orchids Which Benefit from Extra Calcium forums, part of the General Information category; What are your thoughts on adding crushed oyster shells into your potting media? What plants ...

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  1. #1
    Brutal_Dreamer's Avatar
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    Default Oyster Shell Calcium

    What are your thoughts on adding crushed oyster shells into your potting media? What plants thrive in media with higher calcium levels? Which would not benefit from higher calcium levels? When creating your lists please use both the plants name and genus to help out new growers. Instead of saying 'most paphs do well with increased calcium', give examples of your first-hand experience and the plants you grow.

    Cheers!
    BD

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    many paphs grow on limestone cliffs in nature and therefore receive some amount of calcium, although one has to realize that limestone is much more dissolvable in cool water, as opposed to the typically warm rains that soak paphs in situ. a well-known commercial slipper grower from upstate NY has an excellent list on which paphs typically are exposed to calcium in nature and, therefore, might be expected to benefit from calcium supplementation. (PM for a link). personally, having used various types of lime, I've turned to crushed oyster shell purchased from a pet store, originally meant to be fed to birds (for what reason I am not familiar). this stuff doesn't dissolve too easily and sticks around, at least until it gets washed out of the pot.

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    kind of off topic, but birds need to consume calcium to keep their beaks hard, and also if they are laying eggs, that takes a ton of calcium.

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    Interesting bird factiod, P1!

    Jason, why do you prefer the bird oyster shells over, say, dolomite? That's what I've been using.

    Also, please PM me the Paph list, or a link to it. I chatted with a major Coryo breeder about Cribb's suggestions for how some species grow in the wild. The reaction was rather cold. He responded, "Those guys that write the books know nothing about how the plants want to be grown!"

    I strive now for the middle ground. Ask the grower what works, and try and edge my conditions towards what they liked in the wild - as far as nutrients, anyway.

    McJulie

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    Default Tap water..

    If you water with tap water from any area of our great state, there is more than enough useable calcium for most species without having to supplement. Check the Calcium carbonate levels in your supply before adding any supplements.

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    I have used bird cuttle bone scraped , my birds share with the plants , without Vit. D the sunshine Vit. birds can not use the calcium they get a full spectrum light is good for them too . Gin

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    I am kind of agreeing with Clint on this one. There are tons of calcium dissolved in tap water that I use to water my orchids. Adding supplemental crushed oyster shells might not be needed. However, these materials might act as a buffer agent, maintaining the pH of the growth medium on the alkaline side. Maybe that is why certain orchids or paph species like it.

    Cheers. Hoa.

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    I read somewhere a few months back that most of the dissolved salts in tap water are not in a form usable by plants. They raise the TDS, but offer little of nutritional value.

    I'd be hard pressed to find that reference, though.

    McJulie

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    Most minerals in tap water are not available to the orchids.Orchids are slow growing,slow to use nutrients.Calcium must be applied though means of calcium nitrate or dolomite.Dolomite usually take 4months or more to actually be useful to orchids.If a foliar calcium supplement is used you will see results in weeks not months.Calcium is one of the slowest moving nutrient in plant tissue.A foliar supplement is the best way to get calcium to your orchids.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Piper View Post
    I chatted with a major Coryo breeder about Cribb's suggestions for how some species grow in the wild. The reaction was rather cold. He responded, "Those guys that write the books know nothing about how the plants want to be grown!"

    I strive now for the middle ground. Ask the grower what works, and try and edge my conditions towards what they liked in the wild - as far as nutrients, anyway.

    McJulie
    Sorry to continue sidetracking the sticky, but I think there is a subtle yet important distinction to make.

    In their natural habitat, plants are rarely if ever in ideal conditions. They survive where they are because they have some suite of superior competitive characteristics there, not because they could do no better in the absense of competition. Many of these adaptations involve dissemenation, and growth strategy. Only in certain situations where rapid growth is a common strategy does resource limitation & uptake effieiency actually shift species dominance (see papers on plant competition by Tilman). In fact slow growth is a strategy employed by many organisms, and especially plants in harsh environments. If you could look at an actual representation of their niche dimensions, say in 3d, you would have a peak that is rapidly moving and changing direction. Plants are 99.99% of the time somewhere behind this peak and trying to catch up. Only very rarely will they be preadapted when the peak meets them. They have to be behind it or they would be preevolved.

    Therefore, supplying nutrients at appropriate levels for their current growing situation is primary. While there is some level of adaptation in roots and enzyme systems for nutrient uptake in natural environments, you cannot rely on information from their natural habitat exclusively for determing optimal growth conditions in the absense of competition and in artificial environments that are otherwise altered from the natural location. In the specific case of Calcium, however, we have a chance to optimize the medium for a whole slew of enzymes and therefore the uptake of many important nutrients, and clues from nature may be much more important here than in other situations.

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