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S/H for oncids in arid west?

This is a discussion on S/H for oncids in arid west? within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hi All, I'm in eastern Montana where the humidity is probably around 15%...and I'm struggling ...

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  1. #1
    mtequine's Avatar
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    Default S/H for oncids in arid west?

    Hi All,

    I'm in eastern Montana where the humidity is probably around 15%...and I'm struggling keeping the pseudobulbs on my oncids/etc. happy. Some have suggested mist plants 2-3 times per day, some say maybe pot in sphag/clay instead of the bark/plastic I have them in now.

    Julie wondered if S/H would be the answer to getting these plants the moisture they need? I'm currently watering 2-3 times per week and still have wrinkled p-bulbs on most plants. Most have new growth that looks pretty good, but some are growing wrinkled leaves, etc.

    Anyone in an arid area that's having luck with S/H and their oncids/etc.? Tricks? Suggestions? While I love my orchids, I'd love to find a less labor intense way to keep these things happier and more likely to bloom!

    Thanks!

    Jenny

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    Hi Jenny,

    I'm in Colorado with similar conditions. Over the past couple of months I have gradually started trying some oncids in s/h culture--just a few because I didn't know if they would like it.

    It hasn't been long enough to really tell, but I am cautiously optimistic. A Sharry Baby and a Brassidium seem to be enjoying their conditions, and are putting on new growths, have lots of new roots, and have healthy looking pbs. And I really like that it's only once a week to water them--though I do keep an eye on the reservoirs. I have a bunch of paphs and phrags in s/h also, and they're loving it.

    But I still have the bulk of my oncids (about 20) in clay pots with small CHC/chopped sphag/lecca media. Most of these are large plants in large pots so I am wary of all-sphag, although I do use pure sphag in my small pots. It is these smaller pots which take the several times a week watering, and that is one reason to have larger specimens and heft them around to the sink--at least it's only once a week! These oncids have different degrees of pb wrinkling--none of them severe. And they are all growing and spiking nicely. Some of these plants had pleated leaves right out of the Colorado green house which sold them to me--so I have decided not to be alarmed about that.

    Like you, I have little time for multiple waterings or mistings. My plants can either get with the program or I will throw them off the deck. It's the law of the west.
    :-)

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    Mehara,
    Thanks for the reply....glad to know someone else in the dry west is having luck growing orchids in general! LOL I have no where to put a greenhouse on this property, so that's going to have to wait a number of years if that's the only way for me to get humidity up!

    The few plants that you have in S/H....what type of media are you using, did you make the pots yourself or buy them?

    I have a few larger plants that came from a greenhouse with slightly wrinkled p-bulbs and happy looking new growth. However, one of my smaller plants from a local orchid grower came with no wrinkles, big happy p-bulbs and now I'm seeing the wrinkled leaves and wrinkling in the pbs. However, it is spiking right now......

    Also, dumb question....what is "small CHC/chopped sphag/lecca" ???

    Thanks!

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    If these Oncis are new to your home, it is going to take time for them to adapt. You will see wrinkle pbs on the old ones, but new ones will learn to adjust to the dry condition and be more plump, but may be smaller and thiner.

    Qing

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtequine
    Also, dumb question....what is "small CHC/chopped sphag/lecca" ???

    Thanks!
    Not a dumb question at all. That is the description of the media she is using. small CHC mean small Coconut Husk Chips, a fairly common planting media now. She mixes it with some chopped up sphagnum moss (sphag) and some expanded clay pellets used for s/h called lecca, also called leica and a couple other brand names.

    Many growers come up with their own blend to suit their environments. As an example, I tried some of my phals in straight sphag, but it's too wet for my environment. So now I am slowing transferring them into a similar mix, except I use small bark instead of CHC, and also have charcoal and perlite in the mix..

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    Ahhhh. Since I don't have to do all that typing now, I'll just relax and ask another related question--anyone know where to get chopped sphagnum? My chopping hand would appreciate it! (It really helps my mix!)
    :-)

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    Wish I knew... I usually get frustrated and just sort of hand shred it!!

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    Hi Jenny, I'm in central Wyoming and my onc alliance plants are fine in S/H. Aboput all that misting (2-3-4 times a day) has done for me was to kill roots before that got into the medium. I am using lava rock that I broke up with a hammer in standard pots with external resivours (ramikens work great as do candy dishes). Consider a swamp cooler for you home it will not only cool you but will add humidity in the summer, ultrasonic humidifiers in the winter. Sw9itch your plants when the are putting out new roots. also recomed you do a search for semi hydrophnics and look for Rays site. A tremendous amout of info on s/h and general culture.

    Ron

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    I would expect the evaporation rate with such low humidity is going to be pretty big.Even in s/h i would think that the res will need topping up pretty often.Misting the top of the medium a couple of times a day should help matters , i do this in my g/h during the hotter days.
    It is quite noticable that the "wet layer"(where the LECA appears to be wet) seems to be lower when the humidity is low for a day or so .
    I would suffest to try & find room to create a grow area , it does not have to be huge.Seperate it from the rest of the room with some type of screening , which could be plastic , wood , Mylar or Black & White sheeting.
    This smaller area would be a lot easier to control the enviroment but will probably need supplemental lighting.

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