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When deciding which orchids
are best suited for semi-hydroponics ™, there are several points to
consider before choosing a plant for this culture.
Orchids can be classified into one of four groups according to the growing
condition to which they evolved. The majority of orchids are either
epiphytes, (air plants, living on other plants) or lithophyte's
(living on rocks). Saprophytes are those that grow in
mulch, (living on the forest floor), and the remaining terrestrial orchids
that have adapted to life on the ground in the sand and soil.
Saprophytes and Terrestrial orchids by nature are well suited for this culture.
Their roots resemble those of epiphytes and have similar needs for water
and air. But by living in rich fluffy humus, they generally have higher
water requirement. A good example would be a Paphiopedilum.
This brings us to our first point:
Consider the growth habit of the plant
Latin for “single foot”, primarily growing upward from a main
stem, producing new leaves from a single apex, or vegetative tip, and lacking
a rhizome and or pseudobulb.
- Phalaenopsis for example, has a monopodial growth habit.
Sympodial - Latin for
“many footed”, growing from a number of vegetative apices, growing
outward along the surface of the growing medium, at varying intervals along
the rhizome (modified or false stem), which may swell into pseudobulb's
(storage organs). Leaves may be produced at either the base, the apex,
or along the entire pseudobulb, and may be deciduous.
So depending on the structure of the plant some will not be suited for this
culture. Most monopodial, or orchids lacking pseudobulb's, would likely
benefit from being in semi-hydroponics™. I would recommend researching
their lineage if you are not familiar with the plant. (AOS culture
sheets are available below)
Some of the sympodial orchids may prove to be too aggressive a grower for
this culture. Bulbophyllum's
for example, would definitely benefit from the constant moisture, but will
quickly over grow the pot. By planting them in an oversized pot,
you will allow for a substantial amount of growth, which you could
extend by training the new growths to circle in the pot.
I have had great results with Bulbophyllum,
the Phalaenopsis alliance, Cattleya and related genera, Dendrobuim, Phragmipedium,
Paphiopedilum, Cymbidium, Maxillaria, Epidendrum, and Oncidium alliance
to name a few. I have been informed that it is certain death for
Toluminas, and is probably the case with most twig epiphytes, which need
to have their root dry quickly.
Consider the Flowering Habit
Orchid such as Acineta, Stanhopea, and in some cases Gongoria with
their downward inflorescence's, are not well suited for this culture.
Consider the Natural Habitat
If the plant comes from a rain or cloud forest, it is likely a good candidate
for hydro culture. If it is a twig epiphyte for example, it is less
likely to flourish in this culture and in some case may prove to be fatal.
It will likely suffer a long drawn out demise in an attempt to adapt, or
survive but not flourish.
For the most part, orchids by nature are hydroponic. Having exposed roots
systems that are constantly being saturated by water and nutrients washed
down from the rain, and enough exposure to air for good gas exchange.
This being said, the principal of semi-hydroponics ™ is simple. Provide
an inert medium (PrimeAgra ™) to anchor the plant, have properties
that allow for the transport of water and nutrients, and allow the roots
ample space to breath.
The term ‘semi-hydroponic’ was adopted because there is no need
for the pluming; holding tanks, pumps, and the timers used in full hydroponics
systems. This is a simple, self-contained method, and takes up no more room
than any ordinary plant pot.
PrimeAgra ™ is a LECA (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate) product.
The reason that PrimeAgra ™ out performs other LECA mediums is due
to properties of the clay used to manufacture it, and specifically its shape.
Capable of holding 56% of its volume in water, and is shaped it to provide
up to 26% of free space (total volume) between the pellets, providing the
best levels of gas exchange at the roots of any of the LECA product.
This is where it gets better...it can effectively eliminate root
rot. This is accomplished in two ways:
First, by being inert it has no organic materials to break down or decompose.
Its orientation in the pot it is consistent from top to bottom, allowing
even moisture and maximum gas exchange. Over 90% of the oxygen absorbed
by plants is taken in at the roots. When the roots are smothered
by waterlogged or compacted medium, it reduces the uptake of oxygen and
subsequently reduces the intake of potassium and phosphate;
affecting plant growth and it's overall health. One
of the first visual symptoms of this condition is brown leaf tips (tip
necrosis). Semi-hydroponic ™ culture helps alleviate this condition.
Second, the increased oxygen and drainage will promote and maintain strong
aerobic bacteria populations, keeping the disease causing anaerobic bacteria
in check, thus eliminating a main facilitator of root rot.
Watering is a snap, if you've ever worried about over or under watering,
or didn't have the time to check on the plants every day, this is the method
is for you. It was for me!
The pots are designed to hold a volume of water and or nutrients.
The medium being composed of clay 'wicks' the water evenly throughout the
pot using capillary action. Having a reservoir, it maintains constant moisture
for days, keeping the right amount of water available at the roots, and
ups the humidity around the plant. Now all you have to do is pay attention
to the water levels in the pot. And the pots are semi-transparent just for
It really makes orchid growing a joy. I have continually improved my overall
success rate switching to this method.
I believe in this product 200%, and am confident you will enjoy improved
success with it too!
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