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Semi-Hydro when done correctly

This is a discussion on Semi-Hydro when done correctly within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hi all, as promised here are the photos of the Cattlianthe Tristan Fitch (guatamalensis x ...

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  1. #1
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    Default Semi-Hydro when done correctly

    Hi all, as promised here are the photos of the Cattlianthe Tristan Fitch (guatamalensis x skinnerii) that I recently bought and put into SH. The first picture shows the plant as I bought it, the plant was a division from a recently divided plant, it came to me bare root as shown in the picture, you can see that it hardly has any healthy roots, it had a developing bud which would have become the new growth, but the nursery did not pack and send it well, so that bud got damaged so no new growth from that bud as you can see in photo 2. I got the plant on the 12th of July 2012.

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    As you can see here the bud tip was damaged so it did not produce any new growth, but it immediately put out new roots, which it usually would have put out after the completion of the growth of a new pseudobulb.

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    Immediately I put it in SH and you can see the results in barely 2 months. There is already a new lead developing from another dormant bud.

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    I do not grow in a conventional SH pot with no drainage holes at the bottom but on the sides to have a reservoir, but I place this regular orchid pot in a bigger container which is the reservoir, now the roots are growing out of the bottom of the orchid pot into the reservoir. I like it better this way, because it gives me control to drain the reservoir, clean it and also adjust the level of the reservoir.

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    When the orchid has almost no roots, I keep the reservoir level high so that more moisture reaches the pseudobulbs, as soon as I see new roots striking, I reduce the level of the reservoir, so the grow deeper into the pot searching for the moisture.

    Giessen water has ~30 ppm Calcium, 10-15 ppm Magnesium, ~120 ppm HCO3- and 18 ppm Nitrate, fortunately it is low in Sodium 5ppm and Potassium 1-3 ppm. So it is moderately hard, so I mix 20% normal water with 80 % deionized RO water (This is a benefit of working in a science lab at a uni. unlimited free supply of RO water and this is the water all my plants get. I spray everyday with the plain RO water. All my plants are on a window sill with western exposure that does not go beyond 1000 Fc and yet all my plants including Paphiopedilums to Paravandrum are growing quite happily. Twice a week I fertilize with a balanced fertilizer that is 50 ppm each of NPK and trace elements. Thats about it. My main tips would be,
    1) Check your water, usually the city water board has a website where they have water analysis reports for your city. Depending on that you can decide the use of RO water.
    2) The level of reservoir is very important, very tall pots will prevent good capillary action leaving very dry top layer, or very wet tops in shallow pots.
    3) Most importantly, the time to put your orchids into SH is critical. The best phase would be the time the orchid has finished its new growth and you see tiny green root nubs just peeking out of the newest growth. For monopodials it does not matter, when you put them into SH, just make sure, they are not going into rest.

  2. #2
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    Some more pictures from my office windowsill grow area

    I got this A. houlletiana also sometime end of July. It was a recent import from Taiwan and had only one root, also as evident from the lower foliage it was quite dehydrated (but at 5 Euros it was a good deal), I put it under the drier version of SH but spray it regularly and you can already see it has many new roots and rootlets growing and also a healthy plump new leaf.

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    Another coerulea Cattleya hybrid (dolosa coerulea x purpurata coerulea)

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    And one of the windowsills, here you can see my Phrag. also in SH and growing wonderfully.

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    Thank you for this post Amey. I have checked the council website and the water we get is categorised as soft. But still, I have decided to boil cool it. What sort of nutrient would you recommend? Shall I stick to the conventional orchid fertilisers or strictly use fertilisers meant to be used for hydroponics?

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    Gurjeet, just knowing that the water is soft is not sufficient. when I was in London, I had a chat with my uncle and he informed me that the water is softened using Sodium Na cation exchange. Basically soft water does not mean good water, a 10% solution of NaCl will be chharacterised as soft water but it will kill your plants. Also if your water is sofened using Sodium, boiling it will not help. The only way you can be sure is to use some kind of water quality test. The best will be the use of a conductivity meter, that will calculate the amount of dissolved solutes in the water based on the electrical conductivity of the water. The only way out is the use of distilled or RO water which is free of any ions, then you can dilute your tap water with such RO water.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gurj View Post
    Thank you for this post Amey. I have checked the council website and the water we get is categorised as soft. But still, I have decided to boil cool it. What sort of nutrient would you recommend? Shall I stick to the conventional orchid fertilisers or strictly use fertilisers meant to be used for hydroponics?

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    I am using a water soluble orchid fertilizer 5:6:7 (NPK) at 5 ml/litre of water to get 25 ppm of Nitrogen which I spray on the plants. Once a month when I fertilize the roots I use 50 ppm of Nitrogen.

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    A couple of question came up regarding SH and them being as:
    1. Initial preparation of the media
    2. Keeping the SH algae-free
    3. What to do if algae has already developed into the media and its elimination without disturbing the plant.

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    Hi Gurj, here are the answers
    1) No specific initial preparation, I just wash the LECA pellets under running water till water runs clear, usually a lot of dust and powder from broken/crushed pellets will drain off, then I plant directly. For the first couple of days keep an eye on the reservoir, it will quickly empty as the the pellets suck in all the water.

    2) Luckily for me, I have not had Algae problems that frequently. Algae problems are basically caused due to the media staying overly moist and direct access of light to the pellets, since my orchids are double potted, light does not reach the pellets in the pot and on the surface the media remains just moist but not wet.

    3) There is actually no need to get rid of algae, just take care of the conditions like covering the pot, and reducing the moisture and the algae will die off, then washing the pot under running tap water will get rid of the algae. Another way which I have used a few years ago in India, is the use of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Just pour the regular hydrogen peroxide you can buy at pharmacies (termed as 3 volumes H2O2) in the pot, it will fizz over and the reactive oxygen will kill off the algae, but you will have to repeat the procedure very often to completely get rid of the algae. Some people have used diluted bleach or even Physan, but I have never used it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gurj View Post
    A couple of question came up regarding SH and them being as:
    1. Initial preparation of the media
    2. Keeping the SH algae-free
    3. What to do if algae has already developed into the media and its elimination without disturbing the plant.

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    Alright, thank you for the information. As for my cattleya, its existing roots have gone black and died back in the matter of hours. The same for a laelia. I don't understand, they were OK in the bark and their condition deteriorated in SH. I had an idea that SH would improve their quality but it all went downhill.

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    Thanks Amey. Very healthy looking orchid roots in your semi-hydro setup!

    cheers,
    BD

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    A very condensed and informative post on Semi Hydro culture!

    An addition for preventing alge: use a dark outer pot or reservoir pot. Alge need light and if you take that away you will get rid of any alge problem.

    /M

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