I done research on bark media for Phalaenopsis Orchids, and would like to share some facts I found interested for me.

Orchids, which are growing in bark, usually need extra nitrogen for green growth, and in order to compensate for the decay organisms’ demand for nitrogen. Fertilizers with a 30-10-10 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium represent the grow formula.
Bark media goes through a stage of rapid drying, and usually within a month after re-potting, the bark becomes “seasoned”, or thoroughly moistened. Once this is achieved, organic decay of the bark begins in earnest, with the proliferation of decay microorganisms which themselves require nutrients, particularly nitrogen. This decay continues, and generally within two years the bark is reduced to fine-particled humus, a decay-resistant material capable of retaining large amounts of water and nutrients. That’s why recently re-potted plants are likely to need more frequent watering and fertilizing than those which have been re-potted for a year or more.

One can think, oh well, if bark became decay-resistant material capable of retaining large amounts of water and nutrients in two years, why bother to re-potting? But this reduced porosity has a significant drawback in that it greatly reduces the oxygen level of the mix — particularly when it is wet, so roots begun to decompose. Roots cannot function without adequate oxygen, and Phalaenopsis roots especially seem to require excellent aeration.  Phalaenopsis potted in dense media often produce roots which refuse to penetrate the mix, moving instead along the surface and over the side of the pot. 

This question was always bothering me: why some Phalaenopsis had too many aerial roots and some doesn’t. Seems the answer is simple – roots are not happy inside the media…… What do you think about this?


Let’s talk Orchids

June 6, 2019

If you are new to the Orchids’ lovers world you probably would need to understand the terms people use all over the internet when talking about Orchids.

When I started to learn about Orchids it was very confusing to recognize what people are referring to by saying: keiki, crown, spike, backbulb, etc. It’s like a different language. I decide to put some information together which might help one to better understand these terms.  Here is some of the terms and definitions you may see people using when talking about orchids:

Orchids, Aerial Root

Aerial Root– a root which develops from the stem above the medium.

Orchids, Flower Spike

Flower Spike– a single or branched stalk with buds and flowers.

Orchids, Crown

Crown: the area where the leaves join with the base of the plant. Spikes and roots come from from crown for Sympodial Orchids.

Orchids, Happy Sap

“Happy Sap”: small beads of sticky sap that appear on parts of an orchid. In the absence of insects, this means that the plant is happy and is sending sugar to the area of the plant where the sap is visible. The presence of this sap can indicate that the orchid is gearing for reproduction.

Orchids, Rhizome

Rhizome: horizontal, underground plant stem capable of producing the shoot and root systems of a new plant.

Orchids, Side shoot

Side shoot: a new spike that sprouts from the node of an already established flower spike. Often produces more blooms.

Orchids, Backbulb

Backbulb: an old, often leafless, sympodial pseudobulb that is still alive and can be used for propagating a new plant.

NOID: an acronym for “no identification”. This is used for any orchid whose exact species is unknown. Most orchids available for sale at big box stores are NOID.

Sympodial orchids: such as Oncidiums, Cattleyas, Zygopetalums grow new pseudobulb from rhizome horizontally.

Monopodial orchids: such as Phalaenopsis, Vanda grow new leaves vertically from the stem.

If you are local to DC, MD, VA area and like to share your experience with orchids and learn more please join the FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/DMVOrchidsLovers/

Orchids Care: How I Fertilize Orchids

orchidOrchids like people need to eat to be healthy and reproductive. There are so many information and recommendations could be found on Internet these days. I am not advising anyone to change the way they hydrate and fertilize their plants, just sharing how I do it.

This is what I learned, experimented and adopted for my orchids and seems it works well.  By “orchids” I refer to different types I have: phalaenopsis, dendrobium, oncidium, cymbidium and epidendrum. Hope to extend in future to other types.

Most of the orchids are light feeders and do not need high amount of food, but it should be constant. I am rotating fertilizers I have feeding ones a week and each forth time just flashing with clean water. By clean -I mean rain, distilled or dehumidifier water. All clean water I use have less than 25 pps.

I know that proper PH is very important for orchid to except the nutrients. You may use the finniest cocktail and orchid won’t take it if PH is not in between 5.5 and 6.5 which is slightly acidic. As I learned, dendrobium nobile can tolerate up to 7.5 PH.  I tried to use PH meter for a while and give up because of the constant calibration requirements. But I know my water now (usually 7-8.5 PH) and know that adding regular fertilizers are lowering PH to required range.

I do a quick flash to let roots get wet and then in about 15 min soak pots in high trays with fertilized water for about 20-30 min. The ones in leca or lava rocks may stay a little bit longer. Very important to do this in a morning and run a fan or keep outside for drying out by evening. Otherwise some problems might start with root or crown rot.

To measure the concentration of nutrients in water I am using the TDS meter which shows the parts per million results. I try to stay in 160-180 ppm for my mixes picking up the ingredients. I am watering during summer every 3-4 days and during winter ~ 7 to 10 days. TDS meter is very easy to use I might add another article on how I use it and what my starting water results  TDS meter I use

Ok, now WHAT I am using… here is the list:

  • Epsom Salt -it’s actually a Magnesium Sulphate which helps for proper chlorophyll syntheses in leaves. It is very important as well as calcium for cell development in new leaves and other tissues You can see deficiency when leaves have yellowish spots or foliage discoloration. I use ~30 ppm for each watering and foliage and aerial roots spray (avoid spray on flowers). Epsom Salt I use
  • Organic Lime– this is a major source of calcium. It is very important as well as magnesium for cell development in new leaves and other tissues. I take a pinch and spread it over on top of the media ones a month at the summer time during the grow period and hot weather. It is slowly dissolving during watering and absorbing by roots. Organic Lime I use
  • Seaweed/Kelp Extract– seaweed is an organic, low-nutrient fertilizer with some essential micro-elements, less likely to burn orchid roots and leaves than chemical blends. It aids in decomposition and release of nutrients. I add 15 -20 drops per gallon of water. Seaweed/Kelp Extract I use
  • Better-Gro/Grow formula (20-14-13)- high nitrogen content fertilizer applied during active growing periods promotes healthy foliage and plant vigor. I use about 60-80 ppm. Better-Gro/Grow formula I use
  • Better-Gro/Bloom formula (11-35-15)– orchid flower production is enhanced by high potassium levels. I start to use in in early fall about 60-80 ppm. https://amzn.to/2HxSbyJ
  • Dyna Grow/Bloom– I just recently learned about this brand. Seems it is very easy to use, and it has the calcium/Ca which usually not present in Better-Gro formulas. I just bought this sample on Amazon. Dyna Grow/Bloom

Please let me know if you want to hear more about anything else or have questions. I am learning too and will be glad to share with you what I know so far.

If you are local to DC, MD, VA area and like to share your orchids’ experience and learn more from other, please join our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/DMVOrchidsLovers/

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