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This is a discussion on my result of semi hydro orchid growing within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I'll be using Vital Earth Brand Vermi-liquid from recommendations I've read on gardening blogs. However, ...
I'll be using Vital Earth Brand Vermi-liquid from recommendations I've read on gardening blogs. However, there are many products available - from worm tea bags to products to make your own worm compost and tea. I used to grow worm compost and its actually not difficult or yucky. I'll eventually start another worm colony, but in the meantime I'm just being lazy and buying the prepared product.
Hi Mauraec, I guess with that many orchids you can only do as much as is practical. I have far fewer than that in s/h. Downsizing is sometimes a good idea so then you can later upsize again with the chids you really want or new ones to try
By the way, whereabouts in Maine are you? I'm a native New Englander - Boston, then the south coast of Maine until 5 years ago. I still go back at least once a year to visit family and walk the beach. I love Atlanta, but get homesick a good bit. Welcome to OT!
Before this year I summered in Bayside Village of Northport ME, but after this school year I will be a permanent retiree there - then plenty of time and space to go orchid crazy.
A well-accepted theory is that any plant would grow better if one factor ( the limiting factor) can be removed. This means that maybe the plant needs it warmer, or more light, or less light or more Nitrogen or less, etc etc. Probably the same factor applies to all your plants whatever it may be. The trick is finding out which factor. If you change anything else, likely it will give worse growth.
Unless you have been in the rain forest (etc) it is difficult to understand just how much water orchids get in their growth season – like for example, three inches of rain a day, every day, for some months ( cymbidiums , in the monsoon in the Himalayas). S/H can work miracles in giving the equivalent.
But the plants need appropriate roots to do this, and as these grow they adapt to the compost ; if you can get to look at stained cross-sections of roots under about 100-200x magnification, you can pick out the root which grew in rockwool, from the one in bark and so on. So new roots growing into water will be different from old roots, and you need a full set of the new ones for the plant to give its best.This means that the results only come from S/H when they have a full set of new roots grown in that system which can take three years …
Likewise it is difficult to understand just how little rain they get at other times – like 6 months without any rain at all ( but probably nightly misting) in some places. That kind of orchid won’t do well in S/H unless you use it for the growing season only. Others – like oncidiums coming from places where it is usually damp or wet most of the year will do well in it.
And orchids coming from situations where they naturally dry out quite strongly, even if they are wet again within a couple of days – many phal species for example – are unlikely to do well in it all.
If you go for it – and I have used it on and off for some or even all my orchids for about 15 years now,- I recommend that you always add some plant disinfectant to the water – Physan is great – 1:5000 is quite enough . It will keep the water sweet, and cut down on rot.
Thanks, Geoff - extremely helpful, as usual. Happy to say, according to earlier posts where you advised it, I already use Physan, in very, very dilute strengths about every third time I water. So far, my paphs, phrags, 3 or 4 catts, 3 phal hybrids, and 5 oncid/brassia hybrids are in S/H - have been for about 3 weeks now, and no signs of distress yet, although I understand completely that transition deterioration is probably inevitable. Everything I have transferred so far had already begun new active growth. I am hoping to move the rest of my catts, oncidinae, 2 zygos and, perhaps my Lycaste (also a hybrid, of skinneri and macrophylla) into s/h as they show signs of new growth - unless there is some reason I'm not aware of not to do it.
The tap water here is very low in minerals - salt, copper, iron, chlorine, nitrates, nitrites, etc, but the pH is a little over 7.0. I have yet to measure what it is when I add nutrients to it - I am guessing that I will need to add something acidic (vinegar?) to lower the alkalinity closer to 6. This is getting into a very scientific-sounding area for me, especially if you add EC, mS and all that other conductivity information to it. I have to take these things in small steps.
How often do the plants in s/h need to be flushed completely? And how soon after that should regularly scheduled watering w/nutrients take place? And how much time do you give a plant to transition before declaring it needs to be back in bark? Questions, questions, questions.... I've an endless supply of them.
Ditto to Cathy, I never had the guts to try it, I seen failed results and amazing results too.