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Substitute for Clay Pellets

This is a discussion on Substitute for Clay Pellets within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I am thinking of a new project in regards to potting up orchids. I am ...

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    Post Substitute for Clay Pellets

    I am thinking of a new project in regards to potting up orchids. I am intrigued by the idea of Semi-Hydroponics and wanted to try it as this is a very good season to do so being early Summer. Can I use broken bricks as a substitute to the traditionally used expanded clay pellets? I am doing this setup for my recently brought Psychopsis. Also, I have a sick Cattleya Maxima and Laelia NOID in water culture. There are no new roots as such, there never were but I am hoping they put out new roots. As the new roots develop, I'd like to transfer them to SH as well. Any advice and suggestions are welcome.

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    I've seen people use the broken bricks and clay pots but I'm not sure how well they work, I suspect they should function the same way if the pieces are small enough.

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    As long as the material has a capilary effect, that it suck the water up, it should vork. Then you have to consider the size of the pieces to balanse air, moisture and wet surface.

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    And you need to consider the weight too. Clay balls are very light comparing to bricks.

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    Liz hit my thoughts. Seems like the brick could get a bit heavy. Be sure to let us know what you do and how it turns out.

    cheers,
    BD

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    I agree, the disadvantage of using crushed brick is the weight factor. I have looked everywhere and the clay pellets come in a minimum capacity of 5 liters and I don't need so much. So, I thought of crushed bricks, broken to mimic clay pellets. My partner has been convincing me of the fact that bricks are made by gradually heating up the kiln and they aren't taken out until the kiln has cooled down which means the bricks get the least of air trapped in them and they shrink considerably with the least of porosity. On the other hand clay pellets are completely the opposite, their structure expands to trap air and create pockets to retain moisture. I am caught up between the two, I also think that the roots will make their way between the gaps and spaces of the bricks so technically they won't be crushed. I could also place a capillary mat running through the crushed brick media to improve the capillary action. Hence, all is in theory at the moment. I have yet to do research on using broken brick as a substrate for SH.

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    Have you ever thought of the large gravel used in the aquariums? I've considered it but they sell the clay balls in smaller bags here and it works out cheaper. Though there is a weight problem there too but I'm thinking that it should be a good thing if you have a top heavy plant.

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    Another problem with bricks other than the weight issue would be any chemicals that might have been added. I think I would stick with the pellets. Even if you have more than you need you will probally add more orchids to your collection. Remember we are all involved in a very addictive hobby! LOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
    Have you ever thought of the large gravel used in the aquariums? I've considered it but they sell the clay balls in smaller bags here and it works out cheaper. Though there is a weight problem there too but I'm thinking that it should be a good thing if you have a top heavy plant.
    I have a lot of large gravel, we have a driveway full of it. I wasn't aware that I could use gravel and that gravel would be capillary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gardenguysorchids View Post
    Another problem with bricks other than the weight issue would be any chemicals that might have been added. I think I would stick with the pellets. Even if you have more than you need you will probably add more orchids to your collection. Remember we are all involved in a very addictive hobby! LOL
    Oh yes! chemicals such as Barium Carbonate which determines the chemical reaction of the brick if exposed to other chemicals. I think pellets are the ultimate choice, now that Dazed suggested gravel. Thinking about it, I concur with the last sentence :O)

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