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Switching to Semi-Hydro: a repotting pictorial

This is a discussion on Switching to Semi-Hydro: a repotting pictorial within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Thanks, dosal! Some more experimentation is in order here. What size diatomite are you using ...

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  1. #21
    LJA's Avatar
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    Thanks, dosal! Some more experimentation is in order here. What size diatomite are you using from that site? Are you using it exclusively in your trials or mixing it with the LECA?

  2. #22
    dosal is offline Member
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    I am using it exclusively but not by way of S/H. Since Diatomite retains water up to 150% I don't see a need for a water reservoir and the wicking action the orchids depend on. I am experimenting with a bag of # 3 mostly for Cattleyas, but have put the leftover rocks through a grate to catch the smaller rocks. These latter I use for thin roots.

  3. #23
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    Cool. I'm going to try some. Thank you!

  4. #24
    Callie in Toled is offline Junior Member
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    So interesting to hear everyones thoughts on S/H. I'll tell you what I've found over the past few months of trying s/h.
    I have used the deli containers, plastic drinking cups and McDonald's sundae cups (which is a good excuse to have some ice cream BTW). The plastic is relatively thin on all of these. The first one I did, I put the holes (4 of them) all around the pot, only about 1 inch from the bottom. I quickly found out that you get a "fountain" effect when you water. The water flow is more controllable when the holes are on one side. To make the holes I simply heat an old small metal flathead screwdriver on my stove, stick it through the plastic and rotate in a circle. Makes perfect sized circles.
    I am using prime agra for my pellets, which is highly recommended by the S/H guru Ray at www.firstrays.com. He's got amazing research on this topic.
    The idea when you water is to fill the container to the top with water, so the pellets at the top get replenished. I will even fill my sink with water and set the pot in the "pool" of water. Don't fill the water higher than your pot, or the dry medium will float out until it absorbs the water. When you lift the pots out, the excess water flows out of the holes, which is why all the holes on one side is preferred. You only have to watch one side instead of 4 if you're moving the pot around.
    Before I bought my Prime Agra, I wanted to experiment inexpensively to see if this method was something I really wanted to do. I went to boxstore and bought some landscaping rocks - Clay Spanish Tile pieces that are pretty small. I got a broken bag for $1.00. I mixed it with large chunck charcoal I was using to mix with bark and put an ailing Phrag in it in the McDonalds sundae cup. The plant totally took off and has recovered in only about 4 months. I was convinced! So went full speed ahead. Now as orchids NEED to be repotted, I move them to S/H. No need to repot if they're not ready. Plus if things don't take well, I don't want to be in a position to have to repot too many plants back to traditional bark.
    But so far - S/H is the way to go. And you will never, ever need to throw it away. It's good forever, which is more cost effective in the long run.
    Hope this helps!

  5. #25
    cattlover is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by lja
    dosal, Sue, I'm sorry. I must be missing something.

    The more holes you have drilled in the pot, the less water pressure you'll have at each hole when you water. If you put holes on only one side, each of those holes is going to spurt like a geyser when you fill up the pot with liquid.

    With more holes all around, the excess water will be distributed evenly to all of them, resulting in less of a spray per hole, and a mess that's much more catchable in a drip pan if you're doing this indoors on fine furniture.

    If you don't believe me, fill up a plastic cup sometime. Use a nail, and punch one hole in the cup, near the bottom. It'll spray really far. Punch five holes, each of those holes will spray, but to a much shorter distance. Punch twenty holes all around, and the water from each hole will come out just a dribble, even though a greater amount of water will be leaving the cup per unit of time than if you punched only one hole.

    Try it. It's really true.

    If you don't want to get soaked, drill more holes, the more the better, at the same level, all the way around. More holes all around won't spray remotely as far as a few on just one side, and you'll actually stay dry when you go to water your pot.
    I totally agree, makes much more sense...

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    pretty_bug01 is offline Senior Member
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    How is the little guy doing anyways? Is he still that little tiny thing or has he grown?

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    So how,s the Phal doing Louis ?

  8. #28
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    I totally forgot that this thread was still open, and was completely oblivious!

    The plant is doing just fine, seems like. It lost its lowest leaf, and has developed its very first spike, now about a foot long. The S/H reservoir has gone green with algae, but no harm done, I don't think. I'll unpot it to check out the roots and post pics of everything in the next day or so.

  9. #29
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    Default Ten Months Later.....

    The plant has grown quite a bit, put out a new leaf, and developed its first spike, currently about 10 inches long:


    Algae has grown in the reservoir, obscuring what little view there was, and I'm not very happy with the foliage color. The roots might be fine, or they might be mush....


    After unpotting, it turns out that the roots are not only ok, they're doing great! Some are covered with algae, but there isn't a rotten one in the bunch: they're all healthy and firm, and have grown like crazy, practically filling the reservoir.

    As for the lost leaf on the bottom, here's a closeup of the leaf axil. Phals will often send roots or spikes growing through their lower leaves, resulting in that leaf's demise. Not much one can do about that:


    The plant and pot get a general cleanup and are put back. The foliage color concerns me because that yellow blotchiness usually means a lack of proper micronutrients, but given the color of the Phals growing right beside it, that may not be the cause. Here's a pic of a NOID white we grow for the local florist trade. This particular plant is kept right alongside the one in SH, and to give you a sense of scale, it's potted up in a ten inch pot, so that leaf on the lower left is a good 14 inches long. Color on the leaves is exactly what we want to see:


    The spike is also very well developed, about four and a half feet tall, with the blooms' spread almost the entire width of my outstretched hand:


    In its growing location, the leaves on this plant face in toward the center of the GH, while the leaves on the Phal in Semi Hydro are facing the western GH wall. That makes me suspect that the plant in SH is getting too much light, so I'm going to move it to see what happens on its next leaf growth....

  10. #30
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    Well that does seem to be pretty happy.Leaf colour is a bit yellowy but may be it,s the partiular hybrid ?
    I have Phals with leaf colour ranging from the same as that 1 to almost red ,
    some of this is down to the HPS lights & some down to particular hybrids.The mini phal i saved has almost red leaves but seeing as the flowers are purple i,d expect them to have a fair amount of red .
    Give it a dose of Epsom Salts & see if that corrects it

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