Multipart thread, mineral nutrition of Paphiopedilum

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Roth

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Higher value of Ca, Mg, Mn, Zn than N, P, K in leaves and soil....

Who is feeding the Paphs additional with the first elements?

15 years ago an orchid friend was feeding his Paph. niveum with more Na; the result: leafspan (niveum !) = 40 cm and the flower stalk was nearly 35 cm!
Poorly he can't remind the high of value from Na

Actually for Mn and Zn, I spray/drench with Dithane - Mancozeb quite frequently. I found out that when I do not do that, the leaves are a little bit bleached out. There were many reports from the horticulture industry about a "greening" effect of mancozeb.

Ca and Mg, with my base dressing of the substate, are supplied, and I use Mg sulfate from time to time. So far, Calcium is plentiful with the type of loess I use in my mix, from time to time a heavy spray with calcium ammonium nitrate, and that's done...

Na, I think that we tried to avoid that one for too long, but it is part of lifeforms anyway.

The keypoint of the whole story is that most of the "plant nutrition scientists" do not have any idea about specific genus or species requirement, so they simplified in their dumbness that all plants are equal and need the same...

It is of course completely wrong, try to give limestone to a sarracenia, or feed live sphagnum with osmocote, give to some proteas a high P fertilizer, use a corn fertilizer full strenght on a dendrobium cuthbertsonii, or anything like that and you end up with a big disaster. It just proove that different plants have different requirements, something that the fertilizer companies usually do not like to hear. They want their sales very simple, NPK, and cannot afford to do the cuthbertsonii specific fertilizer, the paph sanderianum specific fertilizer... It is understandable, but they cannot claim that one fertilizer will suit all.

Of course as well, you can lower the rate of fertilizer, but then you proportionally lower the micronutrients, and anyway if there is 5ppm Fe and 2 ppm Mn to 1 g of 20-20-20, when you use 0.1g, you get only 0.5 and 0.2, which can be far too low. The only way is to make home made, custom tailored fertilizers at home, something I did for many years, but I feel tired to do so sometimes. I am pretty sure that the plants are happier with specific fertilizers, but it is simply too much work. I would tend to think that the better way would be to have a combination like that:

- NPK only fertilizer
- Magnesium sulfate
- Calcium nitrate eventually
- Chelated iron
- Others micros including Zn, Mn, etc...

This would allow to keep the micros high, whilst lowering the NPK. With the commercial fertilizers, you must lower everything or nothing, therefore ending up with suboptimal levels of micros compared to the NPK...

Some paphs require this, some that, some hate this... One of the main reasons why things like paph papuanum - the zieckianum, not the violascens type..., wentworthianum, bougainvilleanum, etc... die in cultivation is that they have specific requirements for their nutrition. First, they accumulate iron to toxic levels very quickly, second they need a lot of micronutrients apart from iron, Mn, Zn, and Ni... Failure to do so, and the plants are bleached out and very sensitive to various rots and ailments.
 

TyroneGenade

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- NPK only fertilizer
- Magnesium sulfate
- Calcium nitrate eventually
- Chelated iron
- Others micros including Zn, Mn, etc...

So what would you suggest the best all round Paph fertilizer would be? How many ppm Fe, Zn, Mn, Ca, Mg, N, K & PO4? I work in a lab and could pretty easily "whip" up a concentrated micro and macro mix for my Paphs.

tt
 

Rick

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I don't think you can ever have a perfect nutritional supplement for all paph species for the reasons Sanderianum has posted. A good "all-around" mix would certainly be a compromise for many species.

Look at this another way. If all nutrition requirements were the same for all Paph species then they should all have broader geographical and geological ranges rather than being spaced out in small scattered single species communities (we see up to only 3-5 species at time are even close to truly sympatric).

Even as homogeneous as the human species is there doesn't appear to be a perfect diet that supports every one equally.

I like Sanderianum's "priority of nutriets" idea.
 

Ray

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Look at this another way. If all nutrition requirements were the same for all Paph species then they should all have broader geographical and geological ranges...
Maybe I'm just reading this wrong before my coffee, but isn't that backwards?

Seems to me that the different species have evolved - to some extent - based upon the nutrients locally available (all else being equal - which it's not).

Consider that there were evolutionary precursors that may have been quite widespread. Those in one area, because of the localized nutrients, evolved into what we now know as species "A". Some that were exposed to a different array might have become "B".

After eons of "line breeding", as it were, the metabolisms have become so finely tuned to those nutrients, that if you tried to cross-populate the areas, they would be unable to thrive.

Of course, that also suggests that if the misplaced plants at least survived (if not thrived) to the point of reproduction, or if the seeds were somehow translocated, some might have a genetic twist allowing them to do better, and eventually a new population would grow in a different nutritional zone.

So then...is that new population going to be the same species, a variety of it, or a different, but similar species?

OK, coffee is ready. I'll probably come back to this later and ask "what was I thinking?".
 

Roth

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Of course, that also suggests that if the misplaced plants at least survived (if not thrived) to the point of reproduction, or if the seeds were somehow translocated, some might have a genetic twist allowing them to do better, and eventually a new population would grow in a different nutritional zone.

So then...is that new population going to be the same species, a variety of it, or a different, but similar species?

The same question would apply when we do an in-vitro seed sowing... Maybe we start to select something we have no idea about when we use the tissue culture medium. I am not completely sure that the plants that we grow in cultivation would survive in the wild.

Back to the natural hybrids vs. artificial hybrids using supposedly the same parents, maybe the natural hybrids look better because they have been pressure selected by the environment as opposed to peaceful life in flask and nursery, and this could involve genetics of the plant as well.

Let's think, some jungle sanderianum plants can stand of a lot of iron in their died when they are grown artificially. Most jungle sands cannot stand of, and die after a couple of years.

No plant of giant type of sanderianum can stand of iron anyway, I have a few dozen for years, and the only time they got a fertilizer with chelated iron, they took 2-3 years to recover from that with bleached leaves and iron necrosis... The foliar analysis showed that they intoxicated so quickly with iron that it is even hard to believe.

Now, let's say that the genes that allow some sands to stand of iron are located very closely to the genes that control petal length, or are part of in a way or another, though a metabolic pathway. It means that possibly the plants that we grow and are iron-resistant will have short petals.

In the sanderianum case, I am inclined to think that the sand plants that are iron-resistant are not really showy, just an observation.

For me, but I became difficult with so many sanderianums bloomed and grown over the years :D a nice plant is about a meter leafspan and petals at least 90cm... or the pygmy one, 30 cm leafspan and very dark 40 cm flowers :evil:

The delenatii Dunkel/vinicolor/whatever you want to call it is growing in a limestone area, unlike the standard delenatii. It hates acidic conditions actually.

So maybe we select through nutrition and artificial culture plants that will have different floral characteristics from the jungle ones, not even by breeding and selecting, but by the fertilizer we supply to them.

I have seen myself some natural seedlings in greenhouses, I remember of niveum, concolor, chamberlainianum, and praestans. For the former 3, there were only few plants, but growing extremely strongly, far stronger than anything in flask I have ever seen. Maybe we keep in flasks a lot of genetically sick plants, but that are adapted to our artificial growing conditions, who knows...

When I went to see the rothschildianum in the wild a couple of times - nothing to be proud of or especially difficult, the access is easy, and there are many, many colonies - I have bee surprised by some colonies. There was far more variation in the hundreds of plants of some colonies than in any selfing/sibling ever done, from 20 cm leafed plants up to 2m monsters next to each others, rough leaves like sandpaper, smooth leaves, soft, hard, big, small. dark green, yellowish. And it has really nothing to do with the light or anything like that, just genetic variability. I have never seen that in any seed-grown roths. Maybe some of those types just die at the protocorm stage when we do the sowing...
 

paphioboy

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Sanderianum, any updates to this thread..? :)

IMHO, I think nature does it best.. From my limited experience, I have tried various potting media, and the most organic substances resulted in the best root growth. I have observed (from pictures) that paphs almost always grow with ferns in the wild. I assume that there might be some symbiotic relationship, or the fern leaves contain just the right amount of micronutrients so when they decay, the nutrients become available to the paph. I did use fern leaves to pot up some paphs (put a few lumps of charcoal, with or without limestone, add fern leaves and roots and then top with a layer of soil + sand + crushed charcoal), and the root growth was very good. But the only problem is that fungal attacks might occur in wet weather and the medium needs frequent replacing. In the medium I'm currently using (leca + charcoal + limestone + asplenium fern root), the roots grow well but not as rapid as they used to, but this more inorganic mix is more suitable as I'm away most of the time..
 
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etex

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This was an awesome thread. There is a huge body of knowledge here!! Let's keep the research and sharing of information coming. I have learned so much in the short time I have been here from you all!
 

Rick

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Maybe I'm just reading this wrong before my coffee, but isn't that backwards?

.

Need your coffee Ray. Your understanding is just what I meant.

As you describe species get fine tuned to specific local requirments. And species segregate and compete to "be the best they can be" and take advantage of specific local conditons (which includes the nutrients). Subsequently if all orchids in the greenhouse turned out not to have a specific needs to do excelently on any given generic and fertilizer /trace nutrient mix, then you could conclude that either nutrients are not specific to a given local or are not important to defining the distribution of species. But in reality not all orchid species ( or even within paphs) do equally good on a single mix in one persons GH. Some do great, some do Ok, and some seem to be poor doers no matter what we do.

There are obviously a ton a variables in this subject. One that we don't often refer to is time. It is not unlikely that any two orchid species may have similar nutrient requirements over all, but different needs at different times. For example, the cycling and availability of Ca and Mg in tropical forest leaf litter vary independently over the course of the year and is usually associated with rainfail. So the timing of the monsoon events could suggest a Mg need for sukhakulii at a different time than for bullenianum (totally hypothetical), but both still need Mg.
 

Stone

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was probably present at the right strength…).

Probably would the analysis of the soil in which our paphs grow in the wild (mainly on the ground itself, but also in the fissures and cracks of the rocks, or in the forks of the big branches of trees) be another good approach to their nutritionnal needs,

Yes!! I just read this old thread and Xavier mentioned that he did get some soil analysis done but I could not see it? With the preferencial uptake of various elements, I believe this kind of data would be of even more value than leaf tissue analysis. I would especially like to see the Fe levels available!
Does anyone know if he posted this information anywhere?
Xavier???
 
A

ALToronto

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This issue of iron toxicity has me intrigued as well. K-Lite contains chelated iron - could it be too much for some plants?
 

Ray

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Anything's possible Alla, but its not a lot different from the MSU fertilizers from which it is derived, and I have not heard of any reorts of toxicity.

Thanks for resurrecting this thread, Mike. A good read...again.
 
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