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Growing Paph micranthum under lights

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Leo Schordje

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I just answered a post on OGD and thought it might go over okay here. So here it is:

Jerry in Indiana asked about Paph micranthum a couple days ago.
I have been collecting Paph micranthum since 1986 when they first became widely available in the USA. I have more than 30 different clones, and at least 10 of them I have been able to keep growing for 20 years. I have had very little mortality, better than 95% of the micranthum I have acquired are still around after all these years. I have to say Paph micranthum is one of the slower growing Paphs in the hobby. I have some clones of micranthum that bloom pretty much every year like clockwork. I have some clones that have not bloomed yet in over 15 years. Fortunately they are small plants, they don't take much room. The average seems to be that it takes 3 to 5 years to mature a growth and get it to bloom. Every year I bloom 5 or 6 plants, so as a group they preform well. If you want to see one bloom every year in your collection, you need a bunch of them.
I am in the Chicago area, so my climate is similar to Jerry's. I grow micranthum under lights in an unheated portion of my basement. I use ordinary shop light fixtures suspended about 12 inches above the table on which the micranthum sit. The fluorescent tubes are the cheap 40 watt cool white lamps from the local hardware store. I believe this yields about 700 to 950 foot-candles of light. A timer is set to deliver 16 hours of light, year round. I make no seasonal light duration adjustment. Fan in room keeps air moving. In winter the temperature may drop into the upper 50's F in January and February. Most of the year night temperature is about 65 to 68 F. In summer it can get quite warm, but it tends to stay a few degrees cooler in this room than outside. In the midwest we get highs into the 90's F on the hottest days. A window is open most of the year in this room, so there is some day/night temperature drop, but not much more than 10 F. I do nothing to increase humidity, there are about 200 mixed Paphs on this bench, and the humidity they generate is the humidity they get. Relative humidity probably varies between 25% in winter to 75% in summer. I grow the micranthum in a seedling grade fir bark mix with charcoal & pearlite. I generally use 2.5 x 2.5 inch pots, the tall style, I think they are 4 inches tall. Multi-growth specimens are in 4 inch pots. I top dress the bark mix with small amount of crushed oyster shell that I get from the local feed store that carries poultry feeds. I try to repot at least once every 18 months, as time permits.
I do not let the plants get dry. This means I water every 4 to 5 days because of my conditions. I use my local municipal tap water. This is Lake Michigan water, about 225 ppm total dissolved solids. I add enough MSU RO Formula fertilizer from GreenCare, to my tap water to yield about 250 ppm nitrogen which when added to the naturally occurring solids in my tap water makes about 700 to 1000 ppm total solids every time I water. Yes, I water with this solution every time I water, all year round. My belief is that continuous feeding makes it unnecessary to use ultra pure water for irrigation. My thought is little fertilizer hides from the plant the fact that the tap water is slightly unbalanced in sodium, calcium, chloride and other minerals. I also keep my plants a bit wetter than some of the books might recommend. I really do not let them get dry between waterings. That is it, really pretty simple in terms of what I do for the plants. It took me 10 years of experimenting to settle on the above. My micranthum look good, nice leaf color, fairly robust growth. Through the 20 years I have been growing micranthum, they have been disease free and fairly simple to care for. BUT they have been very slow for me. I believe there may be ways to grow them faster, but the way I am growing them now is good enough. Micranthum is one of the few Paphs that I never get bored with. Still a delight to see in bloom.
Good luck
Leo
 

Paphman910

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Leo:

Good information. I bet you grow Paph armeniacum pretty well. My friend grows his micranthum very similiar to you and he has flowered them many times.

Paphman910
 

Rick

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Leo
That's a great perspective to those of us who usually have only one or two of everything and can't figure out why it hasn't bloomed in the two years we've owned it.

You can start doing real statistics with a group and duration as big and long as your collection is, and can really test different strategies for growing them. How many total plants do you presently have of the 30 clones?

Very solid info and very helpfull. Thanks.:clap:
 

Leo Schordje

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Thanks,
Eric - I am in the middle of changing computers. Once the new notebook is up and running, I'll update my website and start posting pictures. Sorry. I have photos of at least 20 different clones. I plan on putting a page together comparing the different clones of micranthum.

To Rick's question, generally I keep only one pot-full of each clone, once a division is established and growing, I tend to trade or sell them off. My orchid collection is near 1000 plants, I have at least 100 or so different clones of the various parvi species. Micranthum and armenicaum are my favorites. I treat all the parvi's, including emersonii, malipoense & vietnamense the same way. They are together as a group on the bench. I have a different area for the rest of the orchids. As for real data, unfortunately I decided some 35 years ago that life was too short to spend time on unnecessary paperwork. I have seldom regretted that decision. So my actual recorded data is thin. I can not give exact numbers, just annecdotal tales, which while useful they are not to be mistaken for science. I do have an inventory log, for most I can tell you when I bought a plant and how much I paid, but it is all locked in the old computer, and may or may not be recovered in the near future. I wrote this from memory, so I could be a little off. Ernie has seen my collection, he can vouch for the fact that I can grow a mean micranthum. Jon saw one of my Kwong See micrathums at the Dayton show.
For the Forum, as soon as it blooms, I will post pictures of an armeniacum that is such an aggressive grower that it demands to eat meat. Probably in March.
Cheers- Leo
 

Jon in SW Ohio

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There are pics up of your Kwong See micranthum on the Slippertalk Spotlight thread Leo. It is a beauty!

EDIT: Here's Leo's micranthum from the Dayton Show:



Jon
 

Leo Schordje

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Wow Jon, great photo, thanks very much for posting. I just harvested the seed pod from crossing that micranthum to a different all white pouched micranthum that I had aquired a number of years earlier than that one. Hopefully, well get a few seedlings.
I did not think to bring lights for that display, so the plants did not show well, so judges did not react to it, maybe next time it will get awarded. It has a huge pouch, that seems to hang lower than many micranthum, the petals & sepal don't have the roundest of profiles, so maybe the judges did not like the shape. I love this plant because it seems to bloom every 2 years, easier than many. The pollen donor was a Kwong See I got back in the early 1990's, that has a very round profile, but is a stingy once every 5 years bloomer. IF I get seedlings, I'm hoping for a more vigorous, free blooming plant with a rounder flower. We will see. By 2016 I should know how the cross worked. (I do plan on being around then - much to the embarrasment of my relatives)
Leo
 

NYEric

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Paph species

I dont usually like Paph species, because of difficulties to growing relative to hybrids, but that is a beaut!
 

Leo Schordje

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Thanks Jon for posting. The flower is about 9 cm vertical natural spread, good size for miranthum, but I guess because the pouch hangs down more than most and the dorsal and petals are on the smallish side, the judges passed on this. I crossed it to a rounder fuller flower that has rather different markings, though it too has a snow white pouch. Just harvested the seed pod last week. Hoping for some decent offspring.
Leo
 

Leo Schordje

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I just replied twice, I did not realize it went to page two, I am just not a good computer geek. I thought my previous post was vaporized. Duh.
Leo
 

Jon in SW Ohio

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If you get a slipper awarded by our local judges, you have something incredible! They expect a lot out of slippers, and don't give out many lateral awards unless what they're looking at goes above and beyond. Tom has so many HCCs that should be FCCs according to other awarded FCCs from other centers you can't help but laugh.

But, that said, these are the same judges that awarded the EYOF Phrag. Jason Fischer 'La Houge Bie' FCC/AOS of 97 points!! That should tell you just how incredible that clone is, I saw it in person when it was awarded, and have yet to see one better...so they are at least consistant.

Jon
 
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