Does anyone grow paph/phrag in rockwool with success??

Discussion in 'Slipper Orchid Culture' started by Happypaphy7, May 15, 2019.

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  1. May 15, 2019 #1

    Happypaphy7

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    Either rockwool only or rockwool mixed with other stuff like clay balls or perlite?
    I have read people having success growing Miltoniopsis in rockwool only.
    Someone here (Tom Kalina I think?) said he grew phrags in rockwool but phased out of it. I wonder what happened?

    Input please!!
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. May 15, 2019 #2

    monocotman

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    Most of my phrags are in rockwool. The wet medium works well indoors growing plants in low humidity.
    OL have most of their phrags in rockwool.
    I use the minicubes and add a bit of perlite.
    David
     
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  3. May 15, 2019 #3

    mrhappyrotter

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    I use rockwool. Well, technically, I use a rockwool based mix, with other components like sponge rock, charcoal, orchiata, leca, and other stuff. I basically mix in whatever's available and cost effective. I think other folks like the Fishers (i.e. OrchidWeb) use a straight rockwool mix for small growing Phrags and Phrag seedlings.

    For Phrags, I go heavier on the rockwool. For Paphs, I go a little lighter on it. Parvies love it. Seedlings love it. Smaller sized plants love it.

    I first started using it because it was the most cost effective potting mix for me. I was having to get potting mix shipped to me, and rockwool is so lightweight that once I factored in shipping costs, it was the least expensive potting media by volume (per cubic foot). Eventually, I was growing most of the slippers in rockwool.

    However, more recently I've started experimenting more with other potting mixes and ingredients, so I've reduced the number of plants I grow in rockwool. Part of the reason is that as my collection has started to age, I have a number of big plants that I don't necessarily want to divide. I find it harder to properly water giant pots full of rockwool. The other issue I encountered is that I think I got a bad batch several years ago. It seemed like nothing would grow in the stuff, plants struggled after repotting, and root systems failed to thrive. I'm unsure why, since pH and TDS were good. I'll note that bad batch syndrome happens with pretty much any potting media from time to time. You'll get bark that rots to mush in less than a year, leca that crumbles to mud, sphag that rots within months, etc. Even so, it's made me nervous to rely solely on rockwool, so I'm basically hedging my bets.

    Overall, I think the pros and cons are...

    Pros: It's easily available locally (for me). If it's not available locally, it's still one of the most cost effective potting mixes once you factor in shipping costs because it's so lightweight. It holds moisture while still providing lots of air space. It's easy to tell when to water because the weight difference between wet and dry rockwool is very noticeable. It doesn't rot or break down, so you can go longer without repotting. Paphs and Phrags love it.

    Cons: It must be properly prepared before use, soaking and rinsing is required, and it may need pH adjustment. Regular flushing with pure water is required since it's prone to mineral/nutrient build-up. Careful fertilization is important because of the mineral build-up concerns but also because rockwool doesn't provide any nutrition to the plants they are more reliant on fertilizers and nutrient deficiencies can pop up quickly.
     
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  4. May 15, 2019 #4

    Happypaphy7

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    Thank you for the input, David.
    Do you treat rockwool before use and also every so often? I remember someone here mentioning the ph adjusting with certain solutions.
    I have also heard someone saying he does not treat rockwools cubes at all and use as is. I'm not sure which one to follow.
    I see small cubes (minicubes as you say) available, 3/8 to 1/4inch particle size, right?
    Do you mix it with some other stuff or just straight rockwool cubes?
     
  5. May 15, 2019 #5

    Happypaphy7

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    Thank you for detailed reply.
    By the way, I thought one of the benefit of using rockwool was not having to repot thus good choice of mix for growing plants large for years?
    I would think that the roots will adhere to the rockwool (inside and outside of rockwool cubes) and it would be very hard to repot the plant without inevitably damaging lots of root?
    Or do the roots separate quite easily from rockwool?

    So far, I've never had bad experiences getting potting mix that was in less than optimum conditions with the exception of chc mix by this one vendor. I used CHC based mix extensively with great results. Then, one year, the batch was not as good. The difference was visually obvious. I contacted the vendor and was told it is the same quality, which clearly was not. So I stopped buying the stuff and switched to orchiata based mix since. Happy! :)
    Just curious about using rockwool cubes for certain plants now.


     
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  6. May 15, 2019 #6

    monocotman

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    I use the rock wool straight out of the bag. No treatments. I’ve added a bit of perlite but it’s difficult to mix so some of the pots have little perlite. It doesn’t seem to make any difference.
    Repotting phrags in rockwool is very easy. The mix just falls off the roots. As rock wool is inorganic I would hope that it would be much more consistent than an organic mix and there would be very little variability from batch to batch.
    Like you I also use orchiata, but this time for my cattleyas.
    David
     
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  7. May 15, 2019 #7

    Tony

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    After some discussion and advice from Ed (ehanes7612) I switched to rockwool and perlite and couldn't be happier. I have struggled with organic media after moving to SC, none of them hold up to the heat and the amount of water the plants need here. Along with the media change I adopted Ray's protocol of K-lite, KelpMax and Inocucor, set up my spare RO unit to provide pure water and added a swamp cooler to my greenhouse. Too many changes to isolate any one factor as a "miracle", but thet have resulted in the absolute best growth I've ever seen in my 25+ years of growing orchids. 20190515_174810.jpg 20190515_174752.jpg
     
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  8. May 15, 2019 #8

    ehanes7612

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    I find a mix with at least 50% rockwool to be more forgiving if you forget to water. I probably use a 50/50 perlite /rockwool mix, although I have started to reintroduce some large bark chunks (about 10 percent) because I cant find large perlite chunks...small grade perlite clumping seems to cause concentration zones that affect water retention, ...the bark helps to break it up as the perlite moves around and settles with each watering
     
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  9. May 15, 2019 #9

    Tony

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    Have you tried LECA? I'm having the same problem finding perlite and grabbed a bag last time I was at the local hydro shop.
     
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  10. May 16, 2019 #10

    ehanes7612

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    I havent although I have bought brachys with leca in them , growing really well
     
  11. May 16, 2019 #11

    Tony

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    It makes a nice airy mix for bigger pots.
     

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  12. May 16, 2019 #12

    ehanes7612

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    yeah, i figured
     
  13. May 16, 2019 #13

    mrhappyrotter

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    Generally, yes. A little bit will stick here and there, but most of it falls off easily when swished in a bucket of water. Of course, Phrag roots are so pliable and break resistant that it's not a concern at all for them. Parvies obviously have more brittle roots, but I've never had issues with rock wool. I use the small croutons. I know there are bigger sizes available, but I don't know of a local source and I've never sought out any other size online.
     
  14. May 16, 2019 #14

    Ray

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    Can you please provide more info about the rockwool cubes you use?
     
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  15. May 16, 2019 #15

    Tony

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  16. May 17, 2019 #16

    Happypaphy7

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    Wow~ This is great to know! I assumed that the roots will adhere to the rockwool cubes and grow firmly on the surface of them as well as penetrate inside them. So This is really a great piece of information.
    Thank you!
     
  17. May 17, 2019 #17

    Happypaphy7

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    Than you for the detailed information regarding your regime and the photos. I'm glad that you are having such success!

    And thank you everyone for chiming in.
    Keep it going, please! :)
     
  18. May 17, 2019 #18

    Ray

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    When I experimented with Grodan cubes years ago, it was available in hydrophilic and hydrophobic versions, so you were able to blend them in your preferred ratio. Apparently that's no longer the case.
     
  19. May 17, 2019 #19

    southernbelle

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    I use the mixture Orchid Web recommends for phrags. 65% ¼” rock wool; 35% perlite; 10% fine charcoal. Just transplanted into this for my 4 phrags. Will report on success later.
     
  20. May 18, 2019 #20

    spujr

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    Tony, great picture, you have a nice setup, kudos!

    Question, roughly how frequently do you water? Are you the type of person who tends to over water (likes to water frequently) or the type that under waters (periodically forgets)?

    I see in the picture most plants are not sitting in a water collection tray, so I'm curious how quickly they dry out.
     
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