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Giving it another go

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Jai CG, Jan 15, 2022.

  1. Jai CG

    Jai CG New Member

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    Hi orchid lovers.
    Just introducing myself a bit..have been an orchid fanatic for some time now…have had bad luck or simply bad experiences with many plants..probably my fault though..overwatering and inappropriate light and want to give it another go..am especially interested in Paphiopedilum and Phalaenopsis species and hybrids.
    Hope to share and learn a lot from anyone here and looking forward to check out others collections.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2022
  2. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum, Jai. I've never met an orchid grower who hasn't killed a lot of plants. If you see something posted or in the archives that you've had trouble with, feel free to ask how it is grown. Or if you have problem plants you can ask about something specific. We all of have questions and some have answers.
     
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  3. Jai CG

    Jai CG New Member

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    Thanks a lot for offering your help..will find out how to upload/show pictures and from there hopefully be able to present some of my issues and struggles
     
  4. Tired

    Tired Member

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    It's fortunate that you like Phalaenopsis, as they're quite easy to grow in the average house. You can also purchase them easily at grocery stores, if you don't mind a hybrid with no listed ancestry. The grocery store hybrids can be very pretty, just be aware that any with blue in the flowers are dyed, not natural. The flowers will regrow without that blue color.
    If you buy one at a grocery store, it'll probably need repotting, but that's easy enough. There are plenty of commercial mixes that work just fine for phals. You might take the opportunity to pot it in a clear pot, as that makes it easy to see the roots and check if they're healthy and whether they need watering. You can then place that clear pot in a prettier pot, as long as the clear pot is elevated so water can drain.
    A general rule of thumb for phals is to water them the day before the media goes dry. That is, if the plant takes 6 days to dry out, water it every 5 days. You should water by pouring water through the pot until the media is thoroughly moistened, and let any remaining water drip out.
    The first time you water, look at the roots. You'll see them go from silvery-green to bright green. Never water while the roots are still bright green, they have to go all the way back to silvery-green.
     
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  5. Jai CG

    Jai CG New Member

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    Excellent advice..much appreciated

    How do I know what the last day is before the media goes dry?..it is not like a light switch that is there to turn the light on and off again..how do I see the roots even to check the greenness or greyishness when they are buried in the media and can decide that it is time for the next watering?

    What kind of water and fertilizer do you recommend?

    For lights, I just bought a set of Jeff Young grow lights and am hooping they arrive soon to install them.

    Any special brand or type of media recommended?

    Thanks in advance
     
  6. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    How to check the water content. If you have a plastic label that goes down to the bottom of the pot, you can pull it out to check it. if there is still moisture in the medium you will see the reflection of the water on the plastic tag. When it gets to where there is only a reflection at the bottom of the tag, it is almost dry.
     
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  7. Tired

    Tired Member

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    Another way to tell when the media will go dry is to check it daily for the first couple of weeks. A phalaenopsis will tolerate going dry a few times as long as you catch the dryness pretty quickly, so you can simply let it go dry a few times to learn how long it takes, then remember that time and water slightly beforehand.

    A third way is to watch the bottom roots. When the roots at the bottom of the pot have gone completely back to their pre-watering color, it's probably about time to water.

    You should be able to see the tops of some roots on the surface of the pot. For a starter orchid, I'd recommend a transparent plastic pot, as you can then look at the roots through the wall and see what state they're in. It's also nice to watch the roots grow.

    Tap water is often fine for hybrid phals, provided you water them by pouring plenty of water through the pot to rinse out lingering minerals, though it depends on your area and water quality. Particularly if you've gotten a grocery store phal, as they're usually hybrids with at least some emphasis on hardiness.

    For the media, look for something that has a mixture of bark chunks, charcoal or perlite, and sphagnum or peat. Many different medias will work for phals, up to and including pure long-fiber sphagnum (if you water very carefully so as not to smother it), but a basic commercial orchid mix will generally work fine. Soak the mix for a few hours before repotting, preferably, it generally comes very dry and then needs to be re-hydrated so it will absorb water at all.
     
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  8. Jai CG

    Jai CG New Member

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    Thanks again for your good advice.
    For water I will rely on the osmosis filtered water or very soft bottled water since the tub water is very hard here. I like dunking the orchids for 5-10 minutes fully in water and let them drain the excess water out.
    I think the biggest mistake I made was that I did not give them time to dry and watered them too often without individually checking wether they really need it.
    Concerning fertilizing, guess now in winter one week mildly and one week flushing and plain watering?
     
  9. Tired

    Tired Member

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    Submerging the orchid in water for that long might be more than it needs. Make sure the pot drains very well, so that the only moisture left is in the media, not in droplets. Also, make sure you pick a media that doesn't stay soggy- sogginess kills orchids. Pick up some pieces of the media and squeeze them; if water drips out, it's too wet.

    Checking whether the individual plants need watering is a good idea, particularly when giving that much water. Err on the side of too dry. A phal that gets too dry will shrivel, but can recover (unless left bone-dry for a long time), whereas a phal that stays too wet and starts rotting is often doomed.

    You'll find many, many different opinions on how much and how often to fertilize. A very dilute fertilizer in every watering can be a good option, particularly when using RO water that doesn't have any minerals or anything in it. A slightly less dilute fertilizer once a week is also good. Most orchids are epiphytes, meaning they grow attached to trees, so most of them don't need much fertilizer at all. Watering and decent air movement is far more important, then light. Fertilizer is often the least important factor in growing orchids, particularly since they do get some nutrition from their potting media.
     
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  10. Jai CG

    Jai CG New Member

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    thanks again..very useful wise words
    …and how does all this go for the Paphiopedilum variant? They like to be a bit more wet I guess..?
     
  11. Tired

    Tired Member

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    Paphs are a completely different orchid species, largely unrelated to phals. They're a semi-terrestrial plant; they grow in the leaf litter on the forest floor, and sometimes in pockets of leaf litter caught on cliffs or in trees. They're reasonably similar in care, due to being reasonably similar in shape and habit.

    They like to stay a bit more moist, yes, but should never be soggy. No orchid (that I'm aware of) should ever be soggy. If you get a kitchen sponge, run it thoroughly under the tap, and then squeeze it until it stops dripping, that's a good example of how moist is good. You'll want to avoid them drying out fully, but they should get slightly less moist between waterings.
     
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  12. Jai CG

    Jai CG New Member

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    excellent!
    When you say: “You'll want to avoid them drying out fully, but they should get slightly less moist between waterings“
    You mean ….slightly less dry as you would do with Phals between waterings..keep them a bit moist..not wet..?
     
  13. Tired

    Tired Member

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    Sorry, let me rephrase.

    With the Paphs, you'll want to water them, then let the media get slightly less moist than it was when it was first watered. If you imagine the level of wetness as a meter, like a gas gauge, you'll want the wetness level to go down. You don't want it to get to dry, you just want it to go down some, then you water again to bring it back up. With Phals, you let the imaginary wetness meter get closer to dry than you do with Paphs.

    The media will get very wet when you first water, but you want that wetness to go down to something near wrung-out-sponge level pretty fast. That's what the drainage is for.
     
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  14. Jai CG

    Jai CG New Member

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    very clear..thanks
    Concerning water kind, Ph levels and PPM, what recommendations would you give?

    The tab water here is terrible so I am forced to seek other solutions, thought of osmosis cleaned water or very soft drinking water instead.
     
  15. Tired

    Tired Member

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    Reverse osmosis water works great for orchids if your tap water is especially bad. It might be good to mix a small amount of tap into the RO water, to add some minerals back. Some people do water their potted orchids exclusively with RO water, and that works fine as long as you remember to fertilize with something that adds calcium. RO water is, after all, very similar to rainwater. Though rainwater usually has pollen and dust in it.

    Since we're not keeping fish, we don't need to worry much about pH, as long as it's not anything bizarre. PPM doesn't matter hugely for a lot of large potted orchids, but if you're really concerned, aim for 50 or below. That's the tolerance of many carnivorous plants, which are native to mineral-starved bogs and will die if given minerals, as they're unable to filter the minerals out. If water is good enough for them, it's definitely good enough for orchids.

    I'm not currently growing any potted orchids, only mounted minis and micro-minis, and I water them with RO water. They're doing quite well on that, and on once-weekly gentle fertilizer. If I gave them tap water, they would probably shrivel up very shortly; a lot of these are cloud forest epiphytes, which naturally grow in bits of moss on twigs, and get very, very few minerals in their native habitat.
     
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  16. Roberta

    Roberta Active Member

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    If the water is "hard" - lots of calcium - Paphs actually tend to like it! At the Huntington Botanic Garden in southern California, they found that their world-class Paph collection actually does better with well water that ranges from 200-800 ppm TDS (high in calcium carbonate) than with RO. Now, if your water is high in sodium, that's another story - then diluting with RO might be advisable. So it depends on what makes the water "bad"
     
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  17. Jai CG

    Jai CG New Member

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    Thanks a lot guys.
    Guess the best combo is RO with CalMax do give them at least magnesium and calcium? Separately from that fertilizing every other week I guess but at least to water them with a minimum of CalMax and maybe for the Paphs a bit more?
     
  18. Tired

    Tired Member

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    Are you able to get a water quality report from your local water treatment plant? That sort of information is often available for free online or with a phone call. RO with CalMax should be good, but you'd save yourself some trouble if you could just go ahead and use tap.
     
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  19. Jai CG

    Jai CG New Member

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    Have tasted the water and it’s horrible…have also measured PPS and PH and they are quiet high so no option unless i.o. or destiled water. Have already a reverse osmosis machine and have just changed filters today so should be in excellent working condition.
     
  20. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You might want to check the water agency report. If you have a high pH number and are on a city water supply (as opposed to a well) in the US water agency must raise the pH to above neutral. Mine has a pH of 7.4 where it used to be 6.5. Some water supplies are are above 8.0 and others higher. They usually add potassium hydroxide. Some places (like where I live) save a bit of money by using sodium hydroxide which kills orchids. It is worth finding out if there is a high amount of sodium in the water. If so, RO will fix that. With RO water you will need to add fertilizer to offset the fact that there are no nutrients in RO. Fertilizer will generally help to lower the pH. If you want to adjust the pH, phosphoric acid is good. Hydroponic stores sell a product called "pH Down" that I have used at times.
     
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