How to grow multifloral paph? Need help.

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Jan 26, 2008
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Hi all, I have been a member of Slippertalk for 14 years, but never really participate.
I need help with multifloral paph. I have grown a very small numbers of them, so far, I have never lost one. I keep in the dry side.
However, I happened to watch Norman Fang podcast regarding multifloral paphs. He said if we are not sure whether to water them or not, we should just water them.
From your experiences, should multifloral paphs be kept at more moist side or dry side? Really appreciate any respond.



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Oct 4, 2008
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Canberra, Australia
I watched that Norman Fang video too.

The advice that you generally hear in relation to watering is, if in doubt don't water. All the warnings are about the dangers of too much watering. I was petrified to turn the tap on. The result was for the first 10 years, I grossly under-watered my Paphs. I agree with Norman. If in doubt, water. Multi-florals in particular love water. I think your plants will do best when you start getting green moss growing over the top of your mix. Your mix needs to be kept quite moist for that to happen and not dry out too much. To get multi-florals with high flower counts, you need big leaves and to get big leaves your plants need a lot of water. Just make sure you repot regularly so the potting mix doesn't break down, otherwise you will rot the roots.


Orchid Iconoclast
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Jun 9, 2006
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Oak Island NC
I have concluded that “grow on the dry side” is yet another residual byproduct of the fallacious “orchids must dry out between waterings”. One apparent important factor is airiness, or if you prefer, the air/water ratio (AWR). Another is exposure duration, which may work counter to that ratio.

A vanda in an open basket has an infinite air supply, so needs a LOT of water to compensate. Also, since there is no medium to hold water for future uptake, the exposure duration (and volume held) is only that caught by the velamen during watering (and that has an impact of feeding, too).

Paphs, on the other hand, tend to grow with their roots spread widely in that soil/leaf litter interface on the forest floor. The amount of moisture held there tends to be limited - still airy but a lower air/water ratio than that of a vanda - and the moisture level is relatively constant, after a rainfall trickles away.

That said, while every plant has its own ideal AWR, they all have some flexibility in it, once the roots have grown to function optimally with a different one.

The bottom line is that water is the true driving force for growth. An infrequent contributor here, Naoki Takebayashi, a professor at U of Alaska, Anchorage, once sent me the calculations of the chemical processes that fix carbon in plants - that is, growth. In order for a plant to add one pound of mass (and that’s a long time with most orchids), it must absorb and process about 200 pounds of water, but only about 5 grams of NPK fertilizer. Then if we add transpiration losses to that, which has been estimated to be 95+% of the water absorbed, that would mean that a plant must absorb about 5 tons of water to gain that pound. I don’t know how well that transpiration percentage applies to paphs or orchids in general, but it is bound to be a significant multiplier, no matter what. Then let’s add to that the amount of water that just pours through our pots!

Use an airy medium and pour it on!

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