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Thread: Moisture Meters

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  1. #1
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    Default Moisture Meters

    I am new to phals and am trying to figure out how to know when to water them. I have made up my own medium (Miracle Gro Course+charcoal+oregan moss+perlite+verticilium), which seems to be working well. I live in high desert (central Utah), so it is a dry climate, which is why I wanted more than just bark.

    I bought a moisture meter and have been using it as an adjuct to visiually checking the plastic orchid pots, which are then place in a cachepot. I find that using a meter properly makes a big difference in accuracy.

    Just wondering if any others have found moisture meters helpful.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Bruce Brown
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisker View Post
    I am new to phals and am trying to figure out how to know when to water them. I have made up my own medium (Miracle Gro Course+charcoal+oregan moss+perlite+verticilium), which seems to be working well. I live in high desert (central Utah), so it is a dry climate, which is why I wanted more than just bark.

    I bought a moisture meter and have been using it as an adjuct to visiually checking the plastic orchid pots, which are then place in a cachepot. I find that using a meter properly makes a big difference in accuracy.

    Just wondering if any others have found moisture meters helpful.

    Thanks.
    Good idea. Since we grow most of our orchids in a greenhouse here, I do not worry too much about moisture as long as I water once a week during the winter and twice a week during the warmer months. (Some orchids do not get much water at all during their needed dry period over the winter). The orchids I grow in our small indoor orchidiarium I must keep the humidity up around them and it is difficult. I use a humidity gauge as well as a small waterfall fountain and a large glass vase with a fish tank bubbler in it to keep the humidity higher than in the house. I believe you are on the right track.

    cheers,
    BD

  3. #3
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    Ray Barkalow
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    Default

    I think moisture meters are definitely in the “iffy” category for orchid media.

    They rely upon electrical conductivity in a straight line between the probes, but orchid media tend to have very convoluted pathways, making the measurements questionable.

    I believe you are going to have a lot of issues with your homemade medium. The number one key to orchid growing is ensuring that the roots get plenty of air to them in addition to water. If the mix is too fine, the spaces will become filled with water, which will suffocate the roots.

    I will also warn you that the vermiculite, which seems like a nice “open” ingredient, will collapse over time. It is rarely used in orchid media for that reason.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Thanks, Ray. I am still in a learning curve, for sure. The meter I bought is a single probe type. Like you say it doesn't seem to help much with course medium, so I have been using it as just a general indicator. As mentioned I recently repotted my orchids, so the roots are not visible - still hidden by the potting medium. That makes it hard to judge how dry they are getting. The Medium is course enough that poking in my finger is next to impossible, which is why I am struggling. I have some 6-inch round applicator sticks I may try.

    The medium I mentioned has very little vermiculite in it. I live in a very dry climate so I decided to try to add something to the medium that would retain moisture a bit. Trying to get moss evenly distributed in the medium was difficult and that was when I thought trying a small amount of vermiculite might help. It's a lot easier to mix it in. I also added some perlite. The vasts majority is the Miracle Gro Course mix (80%+). I also shredded in some Oregon Moss (all I could find locally). I would really like to create my own medium if possible. The online one's are very expensive.

    I am nervous, being so new to phals, but am committed to work with them because my wife loves them. We have nine now, and I want to do everything I can to ensure they bloom for years to come. Any help you can give me will be very much appreciated.

    At BD'd recommendation I have removed all of the upgraded plastic orchid pots from their ceramic cachepots, so the roots get more light and air as well. Those pots are very light weight so now I am worred abut them falling over. BD's suggestion about putting lava rock in the bottom might be a good idea. Any other thoughts?

    If my DIY medium is not good I am more than willing to make the change again. The plants came densly packed in sphagumn moss and in poor quality orchid pots that had only one drain hole and no side slots for aeration. That's why I decided to repot all of them even though some were still blooming. So far they are fine.

    Light is fine. They are all near East windows and a light app I downloaded says 40-60+ PAR, which should be perfect.

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