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Paphs among others

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Irongoat

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Hello Slippertalk members,

I grow orchids under HID light with no natural light. I've not had great success with paphs yet. I think it's a watering issue. Potting in sphagnum (my favorite medium) seems eventually to result in leaf-tip die-back for paphs - probably from salt-retention even though I fertilize lightly. Unfortunately I insist on perfect or near-perfect foliage. I've heard that sphagnum does not release salts. My one paph (yep, just one a Lynleigh Koopowitz - but another one is on the way - a Harold Koopowitz in spike) is in medium bark with a sphagnum top dressing. This seems to promote more even moisture throughout the pot and provide some insulation against the drying effect of the lights.

For future repottings I'm trying Lance Birk's "Pretty Good Mix" which has a little chopped moss (and a bit of river sand) mixed in with the bark. I'll still use the top dressing of sphagnum.

So I'll see how it goes. It seems that light-wise and space-wise paphs are a good choice for me. My temps are a bit warm day and night. I even thought of buying a wine cooler so I could give them a few weeks of cool nights, but that seems a little extreme. Anyway, I'd like to do my 'minor' in paphs, though my real heart-strings will always belong to standard catts.

This will be a great resource for me. Glad to be here!

John
 

Candace

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Welcome to the forum, John. I would recommend flushing more to see if that helps. Spagnum moss isn't the best choice for many paphs due to its acidic nature. This may be contributing to your problems. Catts will tolerate salt-build up, ph changes and other extremes more than paphs will.
 

Leo Schordje

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Welcome John,
You state that sphagnum is your favorite medium. Well, then - I recomend that you should definitely grow all your Paphs in sphagnum. I don't use it much myself except for a couple Paphs. BUT I do have the pleasure of knowing a local grower (Ms. Cathy the native orchid photographer for you Chicago locals) and she grows all her Paphs in sphagnum, some to award quality. Her experience of 20+ years of growing in sphagnum can not be denied. Sphagnum is an excellent medium, once you know how to water, and pot with it. Learn to adjust your potting and watering for the Paphs.
1.) leaf tips dying back - means the Paphs are drying out too hard. Keep your moss a little wetter, don't let it get so dry between waterings.
2.) Cathy showed me, pot your Paphs with damp or wet moss, don't repot using dry moss. Pot your Paphs loose. If you compact the moss, you won't get air to the roots. When damp the moss in the pot should be soft enough that you can easily shove a finger all the way down. If you can't, you packed the moss in too dense. Pull the plant out and remove some of the moss.
3.) Under the HID lights, make sure you have enough air movement. Maybe add a fan, that might also help with the leaf die back.
4.) Indonesian and Malaysian species and their hybrids do well with the warmer temps you describe. Paph lowii, stonei, kolopackingii, praestans, barbatum, virens, curtisii, etc. The ones that need cool tend to be from India or China origin. Hybrids with lowii will be very vigorous.

Hope these tips help.
Leo
 
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goldenrose

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:clap: WELCOME JOHN!!! :rollhappy: That took no time to get a helpful answer! Leo's been doing this awhile, he's got some good tips! :wink::clap:
 
I

Irongoat

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Thanks so much for your comments and warm welcome! Eric, I'm in NYC too - are you a member of MOS? I'm planning to go to the meeting tomorrow night.

Leo, thanks for the encouraging and helpful post. So much good, straight-forward information offered in such a short space! I appreciated the validation on the sphagnum. My paphs have always had good roots, just foliage issues. You probably nailed the die-back problem. I tend to underwater sphag for fear of overwatering it.

I wonder if parvi hybrids are more forgiving of warm temps? Great tips!

John
 
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Irongoat

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One thought - Candace mentioned the acidity of sphagnum. I can't remember what I read about sphagnum's acidity. But I wonder if the water in Chicago where Ms. Cathy grows may be more alkaline than mine in NYC - could that contribute to her success with paphs in sphag?

John
 
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goldenrose

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It could, water is different in other parts of the country. PH can be changed pretty easily.
 

Candace

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John, we'd love to see some photos of your growing set-up. How often are you watering? If you let your spag get "crunchy" they're probably not being watered enough and I'd agree with Leo on that.

Also, post a few photos of the leaf die back?
 

NYEric

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Eric, I'm in NYC too - are you a member of MOS? I'm planning to go to the meeting tomorrow night.

John
No, I'm in GNYOS; however I don't go to any meetings. After work I have paintball practice until 11 PM, Wed's, Fri's, and Sundays. :rollhappy:
 

Leo Schordje

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Hey John,
The grower I know that uses only NZ or Chilean sphagnum as her media for her Paphs does nothing to change the pH, no oystershell, no added lime, nothing. She does water with municiple water, which most cities buffer to the alkaline side to prevent lead in the pipes from dissolving. That alone seems enough. Her Paph bellatulum look great. SO ... I would not worry about pH. I would simply pot in straight sphagnum and really pay attention to watering, not too dry, and make sure you don't pack the moss too tight. ***note, she does use MSU Formula fertilizer, this has the calcium and magnesium. You could use a similar formula, if you can't find MSU, Dyna Grow makes a similar product.
Leo
 

paphioland

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I don't top dress unless to get root ggrowth and then just around the base of plant. Top dressing over entire top of pot really hurts air circulation to the roots.
 
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Irongoat

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Wow, I'm overwhelmed, everyone. I'll post pics of the setup when I figure out how. May not have pics of tip die-back - I'll check. Leo, doesn't the MSU come in tapwater and well-water formulas? The well-water formula offers the least minerals, right (since well water is generally mineral rich?). And the tapwater formula assumes fewer minerals coming from the water? Or am I backwards.

The reason I like sphagnum is the same reason I like to topdress. Under my lights because of the heat, using bark, the top of the pot tends to dry out and the bottom stays wetter. Sphagnum dries evenly (for me) and topdressing bark with sphag also tends to equalize conditions in the pot. I don't think I use enough to impede air supply to the roots. One of my paphs (actually my only paph at this point) is top dressed, and it gets water every three days. That's a pretty good rhythm based on what I've read on ladyslipper.com.

I should have my new Harold Koopowitz waiting for me tonight.
 

Leo Schordje

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You are right the MSU -Well water I believe is formulated for a 1000ppm water source; MSU - Metro mix or city tap water I believe is formulated for 225 ppm tap water source.
I think Atlanta metro tap water is less than 1/3 the tds. (60 ppm? correct me if I'm wrong). At that low a tds I would just use the RO and not worry about it. It is not precise, but the plants can't read, so they don't know.
Leo
 
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