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S/H Why is it hit or miss with indoor growers?

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Candace

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I thought this would be a good topic to discuss as I don't know for sure why, but from my forum experiences those who grow indoors are the ones who have problems with s/h. Those who grow in greenhouses LOVE it. People who have indoor growing set ups seem to either like it or don't. I don't know if it's the increased light and temp. controls that greenhouse growers have that indoor folks don't... But, it's a bit trickier to grow indoors anyway, so.... But, I've just noticed over the years that anyone writing in to the forums whose have problems with s/h are growing inside. This may be a good new topic to discuss actually, as there are different variables to why this is the case.


Lance, could you copy and paste your reply to this new thread?
 

gonewild

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Candace said:
Lance, could you copy and paste your reply to this new thread?
The major variable is water. People who grow indoors tend to water less both in quantity and frequency. Greenhouse or outdoor growers generally water with a hose and apply lots of water with less effort. I personally don't like the idea of relying on the s/h pot reservoir to be the only water source for the plants on a daily basis. Leca makes a fine media in normal pots as long as it is watered frequently.
 

Kyle

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I agree with Lance. My SH experiment was short. My HPS lights would dry the surface really fast. New roots would die, established roots did well.

Its a great idea, but didn't work very well for me.

Kyle
 

Candace

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Many people who don't have success with it inside talk about the roots rotting which I would see as not enough light and maybe too low temps coupled with too much watering.:confused:

Many people growing indoors don't use supplemental lights and maybe their s/h problems would be different than those who use artificial lighting.
 

Kyle

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I use Hydrotron, becasue thats all I can get around these parts. My experiences might be better if I used PrimeAgra. Or if I made the reservoir deeper.

Kyle
 

suss16

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I also use hydroton but only for a few phals that seem to do well. At this point I grow inside under flor lights. The upper third of the media alway seems dry but that might be a good thing. I threw a very distressed phal stobartiania into s/h and it is now outperforming the others - but I never planned on keeping it in s/h. Who knows? I have a few catts that do amazingly well in s/h. No paphs or phrags though - they seem to do well in my chc/hydroton/charcoal mix.

By my personal experience I concur with Lance's comments about indoor growers. I now grow all of my indoor plants on 20" x 48" trays. My fiance helps me move them into a nearby shower and they get soaked for a while. Prior to adopting this method I just watered them and siphoned off the excess. I knew I never watered them "enough" and was always concerned with fertilizer build up. My plants have done much better over the past 8 months. And my fiance still wants to marry me!
 

Heather

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Well, I posted my comments on Phrags and Paph. seedlings in the other thread.

I think for me, a lot of things were going on. I'm experimenting with about a dozen plants outside this summer and it will be interesting to see how well they grow.

After seeing the roots on all of my Paph. seedlings and Phrags this week (the Phrag's roots were better but the leaves looked like crap due to (I think?) fertilizer burn) I am seriously thinking of going back to a more standard mix. The question remains, which one?!

I used to use a nice CHC/Diatomite base mix from Kelley's Corner but I was getting a weird gray fungus in the mix (I used a similar mix from Tindara before that and had no fungus). What have people tried for multifloral paphs from Repotme.com?

On the other hand, I really adore the ease of use and less mess that Prime Agra affords me. I just like the idea of S/H so much, but I'm not convinced that my plants adore it as much as I. Perhaps there is a reason I've never bought a plant from a vendor and had it come potted in the S/H fashion.
 

kentuckiense

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Heather said:
Perhaps there is a reason I've never bought a plant from a vendor and had it come potted in the S/H fashion.
I'd chalk that one up to the cost of the s/h LECA medias.
 

Heather

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kentuckiense said:
I've come to adore a mix that has small bark/chc/charcoal with added granite/marble chips.
And where do you get that mix, Zack?

My Mex. and besseaes (used to - the latter) love a small bark mix but I'm not sure my Paphs would like it so much. Not sure! If they would, this would be an easy switch but I think it might be too fine a mix.
 

kentuckiense

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I've never actually purchased it; I've just had some plants arrive in that mix. All the components can be found here: http://repotme.com/orchid_mix/SelectABlend.html

However, you're right, your multis may not react as well. I grow mostly Parvis in relatively small pots, so that could make a difference. For what it's worth, I grow all my phrags in a standard bark/charcoal/spongerock (from Kelley's) mix and they like it.
 

Candace

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Perhaps there is a reason I've never bought a plant from a vendor and had it come potted in the S/H fashion.
The higher cost of the leca, like Zach pointed out, but also the increased cost due to shipping weight. It's a lot heavier than other media, expecially when wet. For large scale nurseries who ship most of their product (wholesalers expecially), this increase in shipping weight is lost revenue. The weight of the pots are one of the negatives of using s/h. I have people joke with me all the time about it's good that I'm young(ish) and in good shape or I could throw my back out lifting some of my plants;)
 
E

Eric Muehlbauer

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I'm an indoor grower who puts his plants outdoors when the weather gets warmer...and I think for me, SH will be a thing of the past...I've tried every combination, from more fertilizer to very little, no luck. Some plants do well...a phal schilleriana and an Odtna are thriving and growing well, as maybe 1 or 2 phrags, but the rest are all doing worse than my regularly potted plants. All SH plants are in the old PrimeAgra....I like the idea, (but hate the looks of sh pots), but I think its run its course for me. Take care, Eric
 

NYEric

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All the [orphan] plant's I've gotten from indoor growers did seem to be showing symptoms of insufficient water. I don't like S/H because I water less from above as have the plants [phrags] sitting in running water. I have a NOID Pleuro that was dieing and I put it in S/H media in the watering trays and after the initial shock it is fulling out.
 

Candace

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Well, it would, for sure, be much more of a hassle to water indoors, so it makes sense people would put it off maybe a few days too long. Then the plants start to decline.
 

Ray

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I agree with Lance that watering is a significant aspect. Watering more frequently is better, as the chemistry in the reservoir changes with time, courtesy of plant processes and evaporation. That's certainly easier to do in the greenhouse. However, I'm certain that watering is not the only one that affects success. In fact, another major contributor that I've observed, as Candace mentioned, is temperature, and it can be a direct factor (warmer versus colder) or indirect (via evaporative cooling from the medium).

Greenhouses tend to be more humid than do homes, and that results in slower evaporation and less evaporative cooling.

The point is that "semi-hydroponics" does not, in any way, completely define how one grows plants - there are too many other variables.

Speaking of which, maybe we should challenge Candace's original premise that more of the folks having problems are indoor growers. Let's consider that other ways:
  1. There are more indoor growers than greenhouse growers, so maybe the frequency of problems is lower in the GH, but not the percentage (probably not, but it IS a way to look at the "data").
  2. People having problems - for whatever reason - tend to be more vocal than do those who aren't. Maybe the percentage of problems is minuscule, but those are the folks we hear from.
  3. I would think that there are a LOT more differences in home environments than there are greenhouse environments, and greenhouses are simply more "plant friendly" in the first place. I'll bet there are more problems with mounted plants in homes than in greenhouses. ("Mounted" being yet another example of an incomplete definition of how to grow orchids.).
  4. GH growers tend to have more invested (time and money) in their hobby, and tend to be more experienced growers in general, so don't consider s/h culture to be "the complete answer", as many novice indoor growers seem to do, and therefore analyze and adjust better.
  5. Following on with the experience level, we should also consider that many experienced, knowledgeable growers will fret less about a failing plant, so will analyze and take appropriate corrective action, or simply pitch it. The novice may tend to be very concerned that their "child" is not doing well (you can tell a lot about a grower by how they refer to their plants {"Oh no! She seems to be getting limp...}), isn't very well versed in orchid culture, thinks that semi-hydroponics is a savior, then blames it when their already root-rotted, desiccated plant doesn't survive.
 

Carol

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I have had great success with s/h and also a few failures. Every oncidium type has done tremendous. The few phals I grow seem to thrive in it. The Hwra. Lava Burst 'Puanani' is now blooming and has great roots. My phrags are on the whole great, but a besseae and Tara lost all roots and are now sphag in the bag. I have no idea why the difference since all are grown under the same conditions. I am a window sill/light cart grower. All the orchids are outside now, except the bloomers that are inside for me to enjoy.
My paphs are a toss up. There seems to be such a difference from plant to plant, some seedlings do fine, some do not. Also large established paphs sometimes are wonderful and others just fail. I am very observant of the new root timing also. I have 2 Paph Darling 'Christiane' Am/Aos that I saved with s/h and one has just finished blooming.
 

Marco

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I had all my orchids in s/h at one point but then switched all my paphs out from it because the results were to highly variable. I do have 2 paphs in s/h that seem to love it. But long petaled hybrids didnt. And my phals seems to love s/h
 

ScottMcC

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up until recently, I had zero problems with orchids in s/h. I'm a home grower, and relatively inexperiened (about a year and change), but I like to think of myself as at least relatively intelligent and I'm trying my best to stay informed about the various aspects of orchid culture.

So anyway, last week I noticed that my phrag besseae in s/h was doing poorly. the whole plant had been slowly looking more and more dessicated, and then one of the leaves suddenly dried up completely and turned brown. So I unpotted it to find that 90% of the roots had become black, soggy, and friable, prompting me to trim them and put the plant in sphag n bag (actually wet paper towel and bag, but that's immaterial). Since then, it's been perking up some, but there's no new root growth at all yet so it'll be in the bag a while before I try to repot it.

Then a few days ago I noticed that one of my phal hybrids was a little wobbly in its pot, so I gave it a gentle tug and found that about 90% of its roots were completely gone, so I gave it an analogous treatment. It has some new root growth already though, so it should be able to go back in the pot soon. When I examined the media though, I noticed that it was full of ruddy sediment, and it took significant numbers of flushes to fully clean it out.

Yesterday night, I went around to every plant in s/h and gave it a good wiggle and close inspection. One of my Sharry Baby's had completely overgrown its pot, so I upsized it to the next size up, and when I did so, the pot was completely full of roots, just like the pictures on Ray's website. Two other phal hybrids were wobbling in their pots, and one had similar root loss (although to a lesser extent) but another's root system was in great shape. I repotted both of them in their old pots after thoroughly cleaning the medium.

So anyway, I'm not sure what's going on with these plants. I tend to agree with Ray's conclusion that there's more going on with these plants than just s/h vs bark, and that being a home grower is different than having a greenhouse, and that experience matters a lot, as well as a certain understanding that a certain percentage of plants are going to die, but I also wonder if there's something else going on. Part of me wonders if it's also related to water quality, because I use tap water, and part of me wonders if it's lack of air movement, because I don't always have a fan running. But it could also be related to the terribly fickle weather we've had this spring, as well as to the nature of my windowsills as imperfect culture areas. Anyway, I'll take anyone's suggestions.

EDIT: I should also add that the vast majority of plants I have in s/h are doing great--the ones with problems represent maybe 10% of the collection.
 
C

couscous74

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I have paphs, phrags, oncs, dends, and phals in S/H indoors. They are all doing well. I water often and try to keep the humidity over 50%.
Every plant that I've repotted during new root growth has done well and thrived. I am stubborn and will repot anything anytime simply so I don't have to deal with different media. When I lose the occasional plant, I can say with certainty that the plant was already in trouble when I tried to switch it to S/H.

The problem for me when I first started S/H was that I was constantly checking on my "experiment". Constant unpotting to see if new roots were growing didn't do well for me, so now I practice neglecting them after I repot.

I like my Neos in their little sphag mounds too much to put them in S/H. I grow them over humidity trays and the roots of my older plants have all grown into the humidity tray reservoirs and are effectively wet roots, so I am sure those would do well in S/H too.
 

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