Opinions on Nutricote?

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Ernesto

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I’ve been a die-hard fan of K-Lite since I started growing orchids in 2020, getting consistent growth and flowers over the past few years. However, mixing fertilizer up in a bucket and dunking one plant after another has proven to be a time intensive task— 4 hours on a weekend morning! I grow indoors and can’t speed this up with a pump sprayer (not enough water flow to beat the speed of the bucket method). Watering in the sink with the sink sprayer I can water everyone in an hour or so, but nobody gets fertilized. In an effort to get the best of both worlds I’ve decided to move to Nutricote’s 18-6-8 180 Day formulation, which isn’t quite the K-Lite 12-1-1 formula, but was as close as I could get to a high N low K formula (I’ll make up for the lack of Mg and Ca with a monthly dose of Epsom Salts and a top dressing of oyster shell) It’s also supposed to be less temperature sensitive than Osmocote, so I can ease my worry about my slow release fertilizer dumping all the nutrients into my pots on a hot day and frying my roots. I’m planning to also dose at half the recommended amount since Paphs aren’t heavy feeders. Does this line of thinking track?

tldr; spending too much time watering, moving to Nutricote to save time. Pros: high N low K like K-Lite, more controlled release than Osmocote. Posting to make sure I haven’t missed anything
 
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Ray

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All slow-release fertilizers’ rates of nutrient release rate is dependent upon temperature. I suppose the polymer coating on the Nutricote might have a lower thermal expansion coefficient than that of Osmocote, but I don’t see that as being a particular advantage - to get proper nutrition, one must select the formula + temperature profile + amount that’s appropriate for their conditions.

I have never used slow-release fertilizers on my orchids, because it does not give me the control that water-soluble fertilizers do, I’m not comfortable that it will mix uniformly with most orchid media, and I simply do not have a good grasp on the temperatures in my various pot sizes, colors, and media choices to allow me to be confident of what’s actually being released. Most larger-scale growers I know that do use them do so at no more than half the recommended rate, and continue with solution fertigation.

I did consider doing so after moving to windowsill culture from a greenhouse, but decided to do a “mechanical” workaround instead, by placing my plants in large “boot trays” to collect the drainage and direct it into buckets I could dump as needed. I also bought a battery-powered sprayer to eliminate the pumping.
 

TyroneGenade

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...4 hours on a weekend morning! ...
That is about half an hour per day. Why not just space the work out over the week?

I had been using Osmocote and was happy with it and then I started watering once a week with K-lite on Ray's advice (previously I had been spraying daily) and the result has been impressive. A small roth that was doing nothing is suddenly pushing up a new growth. I would much rather spread the work out than go back to slow release or other fertilizer regimens.
 

Ernesto

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All slow-release fertilizers’ rates of nutrient release rate is dependent upon temperature. I suppose the polymer coating on the Nutricote might have a lower thermal expansion coefficient than that of Osmocote, but I don’t see that as being a particular advantage - to get proper nutrition, one must select the formula + temperature profile + amount that’s appropriate for their conditions.

I have never used slow-release fertilizers on my orchids, because it does not give me the control that water-soluble fertilizers do, I’m not comfortable that it will mix uniformly with most orchid media, and I simply do not have a good grasp on the temperatures in my various pot sizes, colors, and media choices to allow me to be confident of what’s actually being released. Most larger-scale growers I know that do use them do so at no more than half the recommended rate, and continue with solution fertigation.

I did consider doing so after moving to windowsill culture from a greenhouse, but decided to do a “mechanical” workaround instead, by placing my plants in large “boot trays” to collect the drainage and direct it into buckets I could dump as needed. I also bought a battery-powered sprayer to eliminate the pumping.
Thanks for the input, Ray. I agree that the lack of precision with dosing is a cause for concern. I also considered the mechanical workaround, but unfortunately I don’t have the space to install a drainage system in my current setup, and I don’t want to lug anymore buckets around than I currently have to (we have an aquarium in the same room). All that being said, I’d rather underfertilize than overfertilize with Nutricote, so I’m doing my best to manage temps here and also use no more than half the recommended amount. It may not be optimal growth, but something has got to give and my fertigating routine might have to be it. 😅
 

Ernesto

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That is about half an hour per day. Why not just space the work out over the week?

I had been using Osmocote and was happy with it and then I started watering once a week with K-lite on Ray's advice (previously I had been spraying daily) and the result has been impressive. A small roth that was doing nothing is suddenly pushing up a new growth. I would much rather spread the work out than go back to slow release or other fertilizer regimens.
I attempted to space out watering over several days before, but with my current schedule it’s been really easy to get behind and tracking which groups of plants have/have not been watered has been an extra mental task I don’t want to deal with lol. The routine that has worked for me is having one big watering day on a weekend morning that also serves as some nice quiet alone time with the plants, and giving the seedlings and phrags a second watering halfway thru through the week.

When you switched to K-Lite, was it in combination with Osmocote or K-Lite alone? A big concern of mine is overdoing it with the slow release ferts.
 

TyroneGenade

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I started using K-lite when I came to the USA and started growing semi-hydropinically. I was living in Iowa with rock-hard well water and it was a total disaster as it was impossible to stop the salt accumulation on the leca. I started misting instead and watering with distilled water and using osmocoat which didn't' work so well either as it turns out. Now in TN I have soft tap water and am again fertilizing with K-lite weakly weekly. I still put some osmocoate in the pots for the heavy feeders but will likely scale this back.

For Paphs I would put the osmocoat along the edge of the pot where the roots are.
 

Ray

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I think Tyrone has hit and important and usually unconsidered aspect of orchid feeding - “exposure”.

Terrestrial plants tend to have root systems that are fine and “hairy”, extending throughout the container of medium. Orchids, on the other hand, have root systems that are very narrowly “channeled”, so nutrient solutions must be in close proximity to them in order to be absorbed. Repot a plant up against the side of a pot and water the opposite and it gets nothing.

Then there’s the “time of exposure” aspect. A bare-root vanda’s exposure is only when the roots are hit with fertilizer solution. On the other end of the spectrum is a plant In hydroponics, whose roots are constantly exposed to sold and can absorb them.

This all means, of course, that “feeding” is not only related to concentration and frequency of application, but extent of the root system and the ability of the potting medium to deliver it to where the roots are…
 
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Does
Thanks for the input, Ray. I agree that the lack of precision with dosing is a cause for concern. I also considered the mechanical workaround, but unfortunately I don’t have the space to install a drainage system in my current setup, and I don’t want to lug anymore buckets around than I currently have to (we have an aquarium in the same room). All that being said, I’d rather underfertilize than overfertilize with Nutricote, so I’m doing my best to manage temps here and also use no more than half the recommended amount. It may not be optimal growth, but something has got to give and my fertigating routine might have to be it. 😅
Ernesto maybe test out a few lower valued plants with just slow release, then another set with both slow release and fluid, and finally the rest of the collection can be your usual treatment.

Also since you have an aquarium you might want to use the fish deposit water to help fertilize as another experiment. It seems some big commercial nurseries have done this in the past.
 

Ray

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I don’t know if it’s still the case, but when I used to visit EFG orchids in Deland FL, they were contract growing a large stock of Sam’s plants.
 
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Thanks @abax will try Sam but sometimes he answers my questions and other times he ignores them. I think I might of annoyed him asking too many culture questions. 😆 I know he's retiring soon too so I'm sure he's been busy.
 
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I don’t know if it’s still the case, but when I used to visit EFG orchids in Deland FL, they were contract growing a large stock of Sam’s plants.
Unfortunately Sam isn't getting back to me at all even if it's relating to new orders. I called with no answer I hope he's ok.

So finally followed up with these folks and talked to George seems like a great guy.

In short they no longer contract out Sam's plants and George doesn't know what he used for the slow release.
 
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It looks like EFG really grows incredible plants. So I asked a lot of culture questions.
His responses for Paphs:

• Fertilizer: Peter's 20-10-20 at 200 to 400 ppm twice a week. Flush ever 4th watering.
• Fungal infections: Zerotol active ingredient Hydrogen Peroxide at a higher dosage than over the counter. (says it works on Rhizoctonia and Fusarium)
• PH needs to be 5.6 - 6.6 for absorption
 

Ray

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One important correction here: zero-tol, when applied, has a MUCH LOWER concentration of hydrogen peroxide than does the drugstore stuff; if I remember correctly, it’s on the order of 0.3%, rather than 3%.
 

bjw86

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Ernesto maybe test out a few lower valued plants with just slow release, then another set with both slow release and fluid, and finally the rest of the collection can be your usual treatment.

Also since you have an aquarium you might want to use the fish deposit water to help fertilize as another experiment. It seems some big commercial nurseries have done this in the past.
Wouldn't snails be a possible cause for alarm? I have never had a planted aquarium that didn't have a few hitchhikers in it.
 

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