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Growing paphs au naturel..?

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paphioboy

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Has anybody tried growing paphs the natural way? Why do we treat paphs like epiphytes, even though very few of them are truly epiphytic? Most of them are humus epiphytes, so why can't we grow them as such, using leaf mould etc..?:confused: I have tried mulching my paphs with crushed dried leaves as a fertiliser, just to see if they grow faster... I'm now planting my paphs shallower, and using only 2 thirds of the usual amount of medium. I then supplement the top layer with crushed dry leaves and moss... What do you guys think?(",) Btw, is it possible to grow the epiphytic species mounted? A member of this forum has tried mounting paph delenatii, if I'm not mistaken... But what about lowii and parishii? So far, I've only seen lowii truly grown on a wooden slab in a very moist greenhouse (university herbarium) with lots of moss at its roots... Thanks for your opinions... :wink:
 

Ray

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The use of "leaf moulde" was very common in the old days.

Putting them in pots of other media is for convenience, as the leaf-litter formulas can decompose rapidly.

By the way, potting is not treating them like epiphytes. Mounting would be treating them like epiphytes...
 
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Bob Wellenstein

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You will probably have great results with leaf mould as long as you don'y mind all the worms and beetles and centipedes and ants and insects that come with it. If you sterilize it you will lose the main benefit, the microbial community that comes with it that is very effective in breaking it down and providing nutrient (and stabilizing pH). As far as the epiphytes, you will have a hard time providing the humid conditions year round that they will need. I suggest you take a look at some photos of plants in the wild. Our books tend to show the nicest specimens, but go over to OSF and look at the lowii and stonei photos in situ posted by Rainforest. That is not how I want my plants to grow and look.
 
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kmarch

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Dear paphioboy,

I actually do, sort of, grow my Paphs as you propose. I use leaf material (not "moulde" but shreaded leaves), peat, sphagnum, in addition to the small bark and charcoal and perelite. It feels very loamy to me. I do have to take care not to over water as it does hold quite a bit of water. I still use tall pots for ease of drainage.

-Kevin
 

Leo Schordje

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Hey Paphioboy
Your profile says you are in Malaysia. You are in the native climate zone for many of the Paphs. If anyone on this forum could grow Paphs epiphytically it is you, because you don't have to fight the weather as much as the rest of us. I live near Chicago. Outside I still have areas with several inches of snow on the ground. The soil is frozen to a depth of several feet. We have had 5 days of above freezing, but it still hasn't melted all the snow. Indoor relative humidity is near 10%, a far cry from your normal 80 to 100% that you get. The use of flower pots and bark potting mixes is an adaptation we temperate zone growers have to make for our desert dry conditions.
So give them a try as epiphytes. You should be able to have success.
Leo
 

gonewild

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It is great to experiment but you might want to decide on what your goal is.... Naturally growing plants or plants that are even more beautiful and pleasing to look at than those found in nature?

In times past it was a common assumption with hobbyists that paphs were terrestrial and as such needed a terrestrial mix. It was damn hard to grow a paph back in the 1960's and early 70's. I remember a lot of people used soil for a media. Plants did great for a while and then the roots would all rot and die and so would the plants. :sob: Paphs were very expensive back then.

To grow the plants truly naturally in a terrestrial manor don't forget to keep the plants almost completely covered with freshly fallen leaves and tall grasses. That is how they are in nature! The environment of the jungle floor is not really practical to duplicate in a shallow pot. You need layers and layers of different organic materials all in different stages of decomposition. You also somehow must figure out how to let new organic matter slowly replace the old to keep the "natural" organic processes alive. Be prepared to repot very often to prevent root loss.

If you truly do want to grow naturally in leaf mold I think you would want to use a very deep pot no a shallow one.

Growing in a shallow pot is great if you can maintain the proper moisture level. Mulching with leaves is good also but in nature fresh fallen leaf mulch would be above the root level and may actually cover the crown and a good part of the leaves. In nature the leaf mold organics would also contain live moses, can you duplicate this in a shallow pot in your growing environment?
 
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Bob Wellenstein

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Leo's eyes are more wide open than mine today, I did not see your location. If you can grow them outside so the various critters of the leaf litter are not a problem, I'd say go for it with a few plants, both in leaf mold and for the appropriate plants mounted. A sugestion I would make from some experiments in potting we are running right now is to place a stone inside the root mass below the center of the plant to spread the roots outward and allow for quick drainage of water from the base of the plant outward to the roots where you want it.
 

bwester

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Mahon is using google and a reality vastly disconnected from the rest of mankind.
 

smartie2000

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Sure he is different,
Anyways there aren't many oak trees here for humus, and I'm gonna try the material out. What type of tree would be a good alternative? There are a lot of elm treees. The natural forests in the river valley nearby would have tons of humus. I think they are aspen.
 

gonewild

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smartie2000 said:
Sure he is different,
Anyways there aren't many oak trees here for humus, and I'm gonna try the material out. What type of tree would be a good alternative? There are a lot of elm treees. The natural forests in the river valley nearby would have tons of humus. I think they are aspen.
Look under the trees to see how well plants grow. If there are not many wild plants growing in the leaf mulch it probably is not a good specie to use. If there is a lot of grass and other plants growing it should be a good one to try.

I would choose aspen or alder over elm.
 

terrestrial_man

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Interesting thread. I really think that Jewel Orchids would better with the kind of culture that PaphioBoy is recommending.
The only modification I would make is to use net pots and not regular pots at all. In fact use net pots period. I have gone away from using regular pots for orchids except for phrags and I use 32 oz styrafoam cups that I poke lots of holes around the sides. Plants seem to do quite well in these!!! In a wood based debris mix.
For paphs in net pots bottom fill with coconut chunks or nuggets then the wood based mix. especially for the mottled leaved species. I have a delenatii mounted on a branch with only straw wrapped around its roots. Plant is doing great but may be in too much shade to set bud.
Images available if you want to see. Let me know.

For leaves you can use pin oak leaves, aspen or any that is fairly leathery though I am using japanese maple leaves with bletillas. but keep in mind that most orchids that grow in litter are Jewel orchids, think Ludisia and the fact it has a creeping stem. "Now you know the rest of the story.":D
 
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Eric Muehlbauer

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I used to regularly use crushed dry oak leaves to my mix, years ago, when I used a (good quality) bark based mix. I felt it was more natural...However, the leaves broke down too quickly, breaking the mix down further...I gave up on this technique after my tragic use of Rexius bark....the combination of an extra fast decomposing acidic bark with oak leaf mulch was too much for the plants to handle. Now that I use CHC for paphs, I've dispensed with leafy/mossy additives. Take care, Eric
 

dave b

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Eric Muehlbauer said:
I used to regularly use crushed dry oak leaves to my mix, years ago, when I used a (good quality) bark based mix. I felt it was more natural...However, the leaves broke down too quickly, breaking the mix down further...I gave up on this technique after my tragic use of Rexius bark....the combination of an extra fast decomposing acidic bark with oak leaf mulch was too much for the plants to handle. Now that I use CHC for paphs, I've dispensed with leafy/mossy additives. Take care, Eric
You commented on the acidic bark, and when reading this thread earlier, that acidity issue crossed my mind. Especially after so many recent discussions about the use of calcium supps. for pH. Seems like the addition of leaf mulch/ shredded leaves, would just add to the lowering of the pH, necessitating the need for calcium supplementation. In fact, in the aquarium world, 2 natural methods to help lower pH are the use of peat or dried oak leaves in a mesh bag (think tea). Intersting thread nonetheless.

Anyone ever use crushed limestone (aka dolomite gravel for salt water / African cichlid tanks - keeps the pH high) as an additive to their paph mixes?
 
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IdahoOrchid

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gonewild said:
Look under the trees to see how well plants grow. If there are not many wild plants growing in the leaf mulch it probably is not a good specie to use.
Oak, by far, is considered one of, if not the best source for leaf mould. If you have ever looked under an Oak there are plants that grow, but it is pretty barren. That may be due to light issues though. I guess my point is to not be too quick to judge just because plants do not grow there.
 

gonewild

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IdahoOrchid said:
Oak, by far, is considered one of, if not the best source for leaf mould. If you have ever looked under an Oak there are plants that grow, but it is pretty barren. That may be due to light issues though. I guess my point is to not be too quick to judge just because plants do not grow there.
That is a good point Steven, I should have said around the trees and not under.
 

Hien

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paphioboy said:
Has anybody tried growing paphs the natural way? Why do we treat paphs like epiphytes, even though very few of them are truly epiphytic? Most of them are humus epiphytes, so why can't we grow them as such, using leaf mould etc..?:confused: I have tried mulching my paphs with crushed dried leaves as a fertiliser, just to see if they grow faster... I'm now planting my paphs shallower, and using only 2 thirds of the usual amount of medium. I then supplement the top layer with crushed dry leaves and moss... What do you guys think?(",) Btw, is it possible to grow the epiphytic species mounted? A member of this forum has tried mounting paph delenatii, if I'm not mistaken... But what about lowii and parishii? So far, I've only seen lowii truly grown on a wooden slab in a very moist greenhouse (university herbarium) with lots of moss at its roots... Thanks for your opinions... :wink:
You already have great answers from the best of minds already so I have nothing to add to those answers above.
My only wonder is how natural is this environment that you are in?
Are you in the city and just try to immitate the natural jungle setting?
Or you actually live near nature, or farm area?
Do you still have to fence in the paphs to keep the critters/animals like chickens , ducks, pigs out. Or the opposite,keep the animals inside the fence?
 
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Eric Muehlbauer

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Its been getting much harder to find dolomite these days...around here (NYC), they sell crushed coral for African cichlids. Partly its because dolomite isn't as good a buffer, and doesn't maintain pH in a tank. Dolomite is Ca Mg carbonate, and reacts less under acidic conditions. I learned the hard way years ago, teaching an earth science class, when my "limestone" refused to react with HCl...another teacher with a geology background checked out the rock and recognized it as dolomite...and explained it's lack of reactivity to me. Take care, Eric
 
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