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S/H media differences

This is a discussion on S/H media differences within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; What are the differences between primagra, hydroton, hydro pellets, etc? Are these just different names ...

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  1. #1
    jkhom is offline Senior Member
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    Default S/H media differences

    What are the differences between primagra, hydroton, hydro pellets, etc?
    Are these just different names for the same media from different manufacturers or is there really a difference?
    Which do you prefer?
    I've just started (a few weeks ago) using primagra. So far I haven't noticed any difference between this and the regular orchid mix that i was using.

  2. #2
    Ron-NY is offline rothaholic
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    To start I use Hydroton because it is easily accessible for me. It is carried by a local hydroponic store. I have been happy with it and use it for S/H culture as well as using it as medium, in baskets, for Catts . This medium is sphere-shaped. I have a couple of plants in Primagra, which came to me in that, Priagra is more irregular and some swear by it. I think the irregular shape gives more medium to medium contact and therefore possibly better wicking action. The round Hydroton gives a bit more airspace. Which is better...???

  3. #3
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    cindiras is offline Senior Member
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    I am using Prime Agra coarse grade for catts and some of my phals and a finer frade for the two maxillarias and the few miltoniopsis and oncydiums that I have. I have noticed that if I do not give it an overnight soak, I will get some mineralization on the top pellots in a few weeks (white crystals). I put 1/4 tsp time release fertilizer pellots in each container, so only water with plain water- dehumidifier water as long as the machine pulls moisture out of my basement air. this is the only brand I have used, I'm happy with it and so are most of the plants.

  4. #4
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    A website had tested the different S/H pellets and found out that Hydroton and Aliflor had weak wicking capacity and Primeagra, Seramis and Blusana had strong wicking capacity, meaning that with Hydroton and Aliflor the top part of the pellets will dry out faster. Which is not necessarily a bad thing because it creates 3 distinct zones in your pot (submerged, humid and dry)
    Even though the top pellets are dry in the "dry zone" , the air evaporating from the humid zone is still saturated with humidity, which is helpful if you are transitioning an orchid to S/H, instead of submerging the roots right away.
    They also suggested adjusting the size and height of the pots depending on whether you wanted a dry zone or not.
    Lastly, the smaller the pellets, the more they will retain water and the stronger wicking capacity they will have.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lambert View Post
    A website had tested the different S/H pellets and found out that Hydroton and Aliflor had weak wicking capacity and Primeagra, Seramis and Blusana had strong wicking capacity, meaning that with Hydroton and Aliflor the top part of the pellets will dry out faster. Which is not necessarily a bad thing because it creates 3 distinct zones in your pot (submerged, humid and dry)
    Even though the top pellets are dry in the "dry zone" , the air evaporating from the humid zone is still saturated with humidity, which is helpful if you are transitioning an orchid to S/H, instead of submerging the roots right away.
    They also suggested adjusting the size and height of the pots depending on whether you wanted a dry zone or not.
    Lastly, the smaller the pellets, the more they will retain water and the stronger wicking capacity they will have.

    This is an excellent post...its been a question in my mind for a while, but I'm like Ron in the sense that since Hydroton is more readily available to me, that is what I use. But I often wondered the differences!!! As you can see from the posts above, there are differences between each of the different types of media - and they can't really be categorized as positive and negative differences because what a positive for one plant may be a negative for another. For example, I grow catts, and I actually like the top of the media to be a little drier more often...I get less rot that way, which has been a problem for me in the past. However, when I tried to grow a paph in hydroton, it was really unhappy with it because it was just too dry.

    Another thing to point out is like Ron said, hydroton (due to its spherical shape) will dry out faster entirely, whereas the more jagged-edged media wics water perhaps faster and tends to stay a little more humid overall. I actually have a bilra. tahoma glacier in the S&H media that is a little more jagged, and it seems happy...and since that is generally considered part of the oncidinae, I think it is meant to be kept a little wetter.

    So, in conclusion, I don't know how to answer your question about "which is better?" because it really depends entirely on what plants you are going to use the media for. Once you determine the culture your particular plant needs, pick a S&H media that is most suitable for it. If it likes to dry out quickly, I think hydroton would be a great choice for you....if it likes to be a little more evenly damp, perhaps the jagged-edged media would be your best choice. That is how I would approach the situation, anyways

  6. #6
    jkhom is offline Senior Member
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    Everybody, thanks for your input. This advice give me better insight on the use of S/H media. Since I already have the primagra, I will try varying the depth of the pots depending on the specific needs of my different plants.

  7. #7
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    Another thing you can vary is the depth of the water reservoir. I use 16 ounce plastic cups for 'junior' catts (junior: a bit bigger than babies, but not full grown). I cut the drainage slot 1/4 inch by 1/2 inch at about half the height of the cup, or just under that, so tender young roots don't have to reach far to get water. Some of the larger catts I have in tall quart cups with the slot at 2'' up, the rest are in quart size deli containers with the slot only 1'' up.

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