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Phrag. besseae, how does it grow in nature?

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How does phrag besseae grow?

  • lithophyte

    Votes: 10 62.5%
  • terrestrial

    Votes: 5 31.3%
  • epiphyte

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • other, please explain

    Votes: 1 6.3%

  • Total voters
    16
I

IdahoOrchid

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Is phrag. besseae a lithophyte, a terrestrial or an epiphyte?
 

terrestrial_man

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Phrag. besseae is a terrestrial that occurs on slopes.
A lithophyte is a plant that grows in and on rocks and in the talus or decomposing rock that slides down a cliff face that form a very coarse mix with some blown in soil and plant debris. The reason why the plant grows the way it does is because of its adaptation to a slope habitat. Of course one can say all lithophytes are terrestrials but not the reverse!
 
I

IdahoOrchid

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Why do I ask? Mainly because I recently purchased one. Secondly, to try to clarify the conflicting information I have been seeing around. I guess it didn't really help.

I guess it is like most orchids and is quite adaptable within a fairly decent range of tolerances.
 

NYEric

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IdahoOrchid said:
Why do I ask? Mainly because I recently purchased one. Secondly, to try to clarify the conflicting information I have been seeing around. I guess it didn't really help.

I guess it is like most orchids and is quite adaptable within a fairly decent range of tolerances.
Don't believe that. Phrag besseae are as noted terestrials that grow on the sides of cliffs. If you look closely at the photos I dont think you will see any growing directly on rocks but anchored into some kind of moss or soil and leaf material. One thing noted and not so obvious from most pictures is the high level of humidity and ground water. Some people grow besseae and besseae hybrids in semi/hydroponic conditions in a rock-like material called PrimeAgra; I grow a lot in a mix of Primeagra, coconut chips and horticultural charcoal. My pots are in trays w/ R.O. water circulating through the bottoms. In the clear pots you can see the roots growing into the bottom and in some cases the roots have grown out into the trays. Hope this helps.:)
 

terrestrial_man

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NYEric,
Sure would like to learn more about your set up on the P. besseae. With the kind of flash and heavy downpours that can occur where this species occurs plus the downhill flow it would make sense that there is probably a continual flux of water flowing down under the litter the plants are in. This is also analogous to a report I read online about how Calypso bulbosa is growing in one Canadian locale.
I see that your "ground water" is circulating. Has anyone has success with "stagnant sitting water"??
 
I

IdahoOrchid

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So, you don't think the roots are growing through the detris and clinging to the rocks at all?

terrestrial_man said:
NYEric,
I see that your "ground water" is circulating. Has anyone has success with "stagnant sitting water"??
I think Eric's setup is the exception, rather than the traditional setup. From what I have read and heard from local people, most submerge their phrags in water up to 90% of the pot height. They change it regularly, but it is not circulated.
 

NYEric

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terrestrial_man said:
NYEric,
Sure would like to learn more about your set up on the P. besseae. ... Has anyone has success with "stagnant sitting water"??
My Phrag Aurora came from a grower who said she grew it sitting in water, when I tried to grow it in the trays it almost died. I took it out and keep it separate w/ less water and now it's coming back. My set up is simple, I got some of those Sterilite containers, fluval 1 aquarium pump/filters [the foam filter is replacable] and some plastic"egg-crate" ceiling light diffuser material to raise plants to different levels in the water. The trays are lifted under one side so the water flows into the pumps in the bottom. To fertilize the plants I sit them in separate trays [fert. solution is stagnant] for a few days, then rinse them out w/ R.O. water and put them back in the clear trays. I change the filters and R.O. water in the clear trays when the water doesn't seem clean. I used to change them every 2 weeks but the water is now almost constantly clear. I am thinking of adding a LOW! dose of MSU or other fertilizer to the clear trays, I will get some kind of meter to measure the salts and pH. I think this will be the secret to bigger plants.
 

gonewild

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IdahoOrchid said:
So, you don't think the roots are growing through the detris and clinging to the rocks at all?
I think Eric's setup is the exception, rather than the traditional setup. From what I have read and heard from local people, most submerge their phrags in water up to 90% of the pot height. They change it regularly, but it is not circulated.
I think you might have the submerged portion % reversed in your understanding. 90% submerged would leave less than 1 inch out of water for a 6 inch deep pot. I'm afraid that would make the plant an aquatic.

I doubt besseae has roots that cling to the rocks to any degree. Roots growing in the mosses and soil/organic compost layer would be consistent with most orchids that grow in similar conditions. Roots may well grow along the surface of the rock under the moss layer but that is because the rocks acts as a barrier just like the side or bottom of a pot.

The stolonous growth habit of besseae may very well be how the plant keeps the crown well above saturated substrate.
 

kentuckiense

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Ok, so what is the correct terminology?

A terrestrial that grows in accumulated organic matter / moss on rock faces?
 

gonewild

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NYEric said:
To fertilize the plants I sit them in separate trays [fert. solution is stagnant] for a few days, then rinse them out w/ R.O. water and put them back in the clear trays.
How deep is the fertilizer solution?
Do you add fertilizer solution to the top of pot or only from the bottom?
How often do you fertilize them?
How strong is the fertilizer solution?

I change the filters and R.O. water in the clear trays when the water doesn't seem clean. I used to change them every 2 weeks but the water is now almost constantly clear.
You probably have a well balanced bacterial filtration system established. Which of course means there is zero nitrogen for the plants.

I am thinking of adding a LOW! dose of MSU or other fertilizer to the clear trays, I will get some kind of meter to measure the salts and pH. I think this will be the secret to bigger plants.
It's not a secret! :) A constant supply of balanced nutrients will enable your plants to grow at a constant rate, thus bigger faster. You should get a meter and test your current water ppm before you add fertilizer to the clear trays so you will know what you changed from.

One annoying side effect of having fertilizer solution in your clear trays will be algae that grows in the water and on the sides of the trays. But the increase in plant growth will be worth it.
 

gonewild

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kentuckiense said:
Ok, so what is the correct terminology?

A terrestrial that grows in accumulated organic matter / moss on rock faces?
Here is my thought:

I think besseae could fall into any of the classifications.
It is terrestrial because it grows on the ground.
It is a lithophyte because it grows on rocks.
It could easily grow on a tree trunk and then it would be an epiphyte.

Besseae mostly grows on rocks or cliffs or rocky slopes. So it must be a lithophyte.

BUT...

If you define and limit lithophytes as plants that attach directly to rock for support besseae does not fit.
If you define epiphytes as plants that attach directly to a tree or another plant besseae does not fit.
If you define terrestrial plants as those that must grow in or on the ground where does the ground start and stop?

I've always thought of terrestrials as being plants that grow in soil or in the decomposing organic layer directly above it (leaf litter).

Besseae does not fit into my above definition of a terrestrial plant so I will say it is a lithophyte. But I will assume the definition of lithophyte is a plant that grows on rock but not necessarily attached directly to it.
 

SlipperFan

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gonewild said:
I guess besseae could be a semantic. What kind of stuff do they grow on?
:evil:
:rollhappy: BS, I think.

So I have a stupid question. If besseae is not a lithophyte, why does it grow so well in diatomite?
 

gonewild

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SlipperFan said:
:rollhappy: BS, I think.
About as BS as you can get.

So I have a stupid question. If besseae is not a lithophyte, why does it grow so well in diatomite?
That's not a stupid question, it makes a lot of sense.
Most plants will grow in any media as long as the correct moisture/air/nutrient relationship is present.

Besseae can grow well in bark also. But that does not make it an epiphyte.
Just growing well in rock does not make a plant a lithophyte.

Maybe... If you grow a plant in rock you are growing it as an lithophyte.
If you grow the same plant in wood you are growing it as an epiphyte.
If you grow the same plant in a soil mix you are growing it as a terrestrial.

The above explains how you might be treating a plant but not how the plant grows in nature. I think (maybe) plants are best classified into one of the growth habit groups based on how the grow naturally in the wild. But that does not mean they won't grow better in a completely different artificial environment. Trying to mimic Nature is not always the best way to grow a plant at the fastest most productive rate.
 

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