Am I sailing on dangerous waters?

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So I have paphiopedilum plants: mostly multi florals. They were in large bark and it dried out to quickly. So I changed it to 50% small orchiata, 45% pumice, and some oister shells and lecca balls. I had 3 plants in this and they seem to be fine with new roots: hopefully !!! I am worried that this could cause root rot so im wondering what people think. I also planted in plastic soup containers to keep costs down because I saw orchid web do it: holes on the sides and bottome. Also I really do not want to change/ repot because I have spent quite a lot on the media. Photos below!!!
Thanks
 

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Here is my “two cents” of advice. I know it is not ‘perfect’. I always like to measure and compare results. Whenever I drastically change my setup (potting media, pot type, culture area changes...), I fill two containers with media, but without a plant in it.
I keep one completely dry, and I fully soak the other one submerged for like 20 mins. Then I weigh both, so to know what to expect as weigh loss between soaked and completely dry. Then wait a few days and measure your soaked one again to see how fast it dries.
If it takes +2 weeks to dry, probably your setup is set for rotting.
If it takes -2 days to dry, your setup is set with not enough water holding capacity.
The drying period should also be aligned with your watering frequency possibilities.
I even do a test like this mid-summer and one mid-winter, as both results will be very different.
Without knowing the bigger picture of your setup, this could give you a measurable test…

I know it is not saying everything, as root size and plant health also plays, but at least you are not making a wild guess and hope for the best. And on top you can compare old versus new and learn from it.

And finally : please keep sailing !!!
 
For what it is worth, I talked to Sam Tsui and Rob Halgren @ Littlefrog Farm about this three years ago as I am growing a few of these now. They advised me to use deep pots, a mix that dries out rapidly yet holds moisture. To me, that seems like a complete contradiction! I am using one part medium bark, three parts seedling bark, one part medium perlite and one part charcoal. To that mix, some growers add one part of chopped sphagnum moss. So far, so good.
I water about once every five days, feed twice a month with a fertilizer with extra cal-mag.
The plants get about an hour of morning sunshine outside from May to late September. As plants mature spikes will develop I hope. It could be the case of as many growing mixes as there are growers.
I only use plastic pots.
 
Just one additional point: If you use clear plastic pots, put them in another not clear outer pot. This prevents the growth of algae and other unwanted growths, that will otherwise very rapidly form on the inside of the clear pot, and contribute negatively to the biochemistry of the growth medium.
 
Drains rapidly and holds moisture. Not dries out... :) Honestly I think that is the entire trick. Doesn't matter how you get there - there are lots of different components out there. I've grown slippers in everything, including semi-hydro, straight chunky peat (very hard to find) and peat based high porosity mixes (Promix HP, for example, but I'll add another 25% or so perlite). It freaks customers out though, so I mostly use bark mixes. Can grow them in marbles if you water twice a day.

My mix varies (I never measure, just mix what I have available until it feels right) but it is about 1/2 small bark, 1/4 sponge rock, 1/4 fleximix (which you can't buy anymore, I reserve it for phrags) - I'm using rockwool cubes now which is an inferior substitution - + a generous amount of oyster shell for the 2.25" pots. I use a similar mix but with medium bark and larger sponge rock for things that are bigger. I've used leca balls instead of the sponge roc before. I used to add a generous amount of charcoal but it has gotten hard to find recently.

Very important to let the mix hydrate for at least a day or two before using it. I often add a small amount of detergent to the mix. Helps the bark get wet faster. I will literally drown the mix, as much water as I can fit in the container and I put something heavy on top to keep it submerged. After a day or two I drain off the excess water.

Pro-tip. Aerate your water. Hard. As many bubbles as you can force through your water reservoir. I use a pond bubbler in my 1000 gallon rainwater tank that runs constantly. Try it.
 
Drains rapidly and holds moisture. Not dries out... :) Honestly I think that is the entire trick. Doesn't matter how you get there - there are lots of different components out there. I've grown slippers in everything, including semi-hydro, straight chunky peat (very hard to find) and peat based high porosity mixes (Promix HP, for example, but I'll add another 25% or so perlite). It freaks customers out though, so I mostly use bark mixes. Can grow them in marbles if you water twice a day.

My mix varies (I never measure, just mix what I have available until it feels right) but it is about 1/2 small bark, 1/4 sponge rock, 1/4 fleximix (which you can't buy anymore, I reserve it for phrags) - I'm using rockwool cubes now which is an inferior substitution - + a generous amount of oyster shell for the 2.25" pots. I use a similar mix but with medium bark and larger sponge rock for things that are bigger. I've used leca balls instead of the sponge roc before. I used to add a generous amount of charcoal but it has gotten hard to find recently.

Very important to let the mix hydrate for at least a day
Drains rapidly and holds moisture. Not dries out... :) Honestly I think that is the entire trick. Doesn't matter how you get there - there are lots of different components out there. I've grown slippers in everything, including semi-hydro, straight chunky peat (very hard to find) and peat based high porosity mixes (Promix HP, for example, but I'll add another 25% or so perlite). It freaks customers out though, so I mostly use bark mixes. Can grow them in marbles if you water twice a day.

My mix varies (I never measure, just mix what I have available until it feels right) but it is about 1/2 small bark, 1/4 sponge rock, 1/4 fleximix (which you can't buy anymore, I reserve it for phrags) - I'm using rockwool cubes now which is an inferior substitution - + a generous amount of oyster shell for the 2.25" pots. I use a similar mix but with medium bark and larger sponge rock for things that are bigger. I've used leca balls instead of the sponge roc before. I used to add a generous amount of charcoal but it has gotten hard to find recently.

Very important to let the mix hydrate for at least a day or two before using it. I often add a small amount of detergent to the mix. Helps the bark get wet faster. I will literally drown the mix, as much water as I can fit in the container and I put something heavy on top to keep it submerged. After a day or two I drain off the excess water.

Pro-tip. Aerate your water. Hard. As many bubbles as you can force through your water reservoir. I use a pond bubbler in my 1000 gallon rainwater tank that runs constantly. Try it.
You have mentioned this before and I was very close to purchasing a device that aerates my reservoir. The device I was going to purchase mentioned in the instructions not to aerate an RO reservoir. I’ll have to dig into this again as there was no detail in the instruction as to why not. In the back of my head I imagine the metal device just will not hold up in the tanks.

I don’t have a handle on the chemistry. Would aerating an RO reservoir be beneficial? If so, would anyone recommend a device that would hold up in an RO tank?
 
You have mentioned this before and I was very close to purchasing a device that aerates my reservoir. The device I was going to purchase mentioned in the instructions not to aerate an RO reservoir. I’ll have to dig into this again as there was no detail in the instruction as to why not. In the back of my head I imagine the metal device just will not hold up in the tanks.

I don’t have a handle on the chemistry. Would aerating an RO reservoir be beneficial? If so, would anyone recommend a device that would hold up in an RO tank?
Pete, you might want to look into this. I don't know about using it in an R/O tank, although you can use it in very large applications. Jerry Fischer had a video on his website about them showing the comparative increase in root development between plants grown with this and without it.
I’ve used one in my fertilizer (10 gal) container of R/O water and whatever fert I’m using presently. I pump out of that to water my plants. The bubbles are really nano-sized and many more stay suspended than rise. Apparently the water stays oxygenated for several hours. You can call the owner/developer and speak with him. He’s very helpful. I have his cell if you’d like to talk to him. His name is Dennis Clarke.
I mentioned this in a post a couple of years ago and it was panned by a couple of people here but I stand by it. It appears to be a new technology that many are unaware of. Jerry did sell them, but I ordered straight from the company (same price). Here is a statement under one of the videos available.

Bubbler Air Stone vs Emitter
O2 Grow technology is uniquely different. An air stone grabs the surrounding air and pushes it through a diffuser. The O2 Grow product increases dissolved oxygen via electrolysis, separating the water molecule, hydrogen from oxygen.
Www.o2grow.com
 
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Pete, you might want to look into this. I don't know about using it in an R/O tank, although you can use it in very large applications. Jerry Fischer had a video on his website about them showing the comparative increase in root development between plants grown with this and without it.
I’ve used one in my fertilizer (10 gal) container of R/O water and whatever fert I’m using presently. I pump out of that to water my plants. The bubbles are really nano-sized and many more stay suspended than rise. Apparently the water stays oxygenated for several hours. You can call the owner/developer and speak with him. He’s very helpful. I have his cell if you’d like to talk to him. His name is Dennis Clarke.
I mentioned this in a post a couple of years ago and it was panned by a couple of people here but I stand by it. It appears to be a new technology that many are unaware of. Jerry did sell them, but I ordered straight from the company (same price). Here is a statement under one of the videos available.

Bubbler Air Stone vs Emitter
O2 Grow technology is uniquely different. An air stone grabs the surrounding air and pushes it through a diffuser. The O2 Grow product increases dissolved oxygen via electrolysis, separating the water molecule, hydrogen from oxygen.
Www.o2grow.com
Yes. Thank you for this link.. I was trying very hard to find this product and could not recall the name. Must have been you posting on this. The price tag is significant, and what threw me off last time was the use in RO:

Q: What if I am using reverse osmosis (RO) water?​

A: RO water is a great baseline for starting, however, it does not have any electrolyte in it. The emitters need some electrolyte for conductivity in the water. Adding nutrient to the water first will create the bubbles.


I don’t add anything into my RO water directly to the reservoir.. I amend the water once I get it into a larger pump sprayer. I’ll have to look into my setup and see if this would be worth the investment.

Thanks for posting.
 
Yes. Thank you for this link.. I was trying very hard to find this product and could not recall the name. Must have been you posting on this. The price tag is significant, and what threw me off last time was the use in RO:

Q: What if I am using reverse osmosis (RO) water?​

A: RO water is a great baseline for starting, however, it does not have any electrolyte in it. The emitters need some electrolyte for conductivity in the water. Adding nutrient to the water first will create the bubbles.


I don’t add anything into my RO water directly to the reservoir.. I amend the water once I get it into a larger pump sprayer. I’ll have to look into my setup and see if this would be worth the investment.

Thanks for posting.
I bought mine 5 years ago and it was ½ the price. You could do what I do and fill a 10-20 gallon trash can with R/O and add your nutrients give it O2 then fill the sprayer. In plain R/O nothing much happens as he says but add fertilizer and it goes to town. And the water 10 gal for the small unit reaches saturation in about an hour. The website says it holds the O2 for 12-24 hours.
 
Southernbelle and I started using the O2 Grow technology at about the same time and the data do show that the water is more oxygenated after use. That could really matter in a full hydroponic situation. However, in pot culture I think the key issue is the permanent air space in the pot for the roots. We want to fully wet the roots with a watering but have it completely drain out so the roots are in abundant air. As FirstRay says very well, roots don’t rot because of water but because of too little air. When I began growing in well ventilated pots, full LECA, and a top layer of Grodan cubes I stopped using the O2 Grow because the roots are getting the oxygen they need from the air right around them. Always good to remember that oxygen is not transported from the leaves to the roots - the roots have to take up oxygen from the air/water around them.
 
So much science in this post lol.

I think as long as roots have air around the roots (using perlite or clay pellets, even charcoal), they will thrive in any combination of media.

The key is to find a balance between your conditions and the media for the plant. An experiment like DirGo is a great way to determine rate of evaporation to determine watering frequency.

I agree with Terry that O2 generators are more beneficial to roots that are submerged in water or media. Or used in stagnant tank stored water. That’s my experience with talking with growers here that use them.

I also use clear plastic pots so I can see root status. As Jens mentioned, the threat of algae overgrowth is there, so if you’re exposing them to sun, put them into opaque outer shell/pots.

I do have one tip though… I use a layer of clay pellets at the bottom of every pot (1-2 inches depending of pot size) to prevent the pots from rotting roots at bottom (I sit them in trays growing inside).

Also look at the net-in-pot method that SlipperKing mentioned in another post (parishii post). It’s interesting.

Guru and Guidal use inorganic media exclusively, so that’s worth checking out. This needs less repotting.
 
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