Semi-hydroponics bottom line

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swamprad

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I have read and re-read many of the threads on here concerning the use of Prime-Agra in semi-hydroponics. What I am hearing is that many people use it exclusively and love it, many others say it killed their plants, and to further complicate things, the Prime-Agra has changed in appearance, and many of the success stories were with the "old" Prime-Agra that is no longer available.

It seems to me, on the one hand, that with these mixed results, I should not risk my precious plants by repotting into Prime-Agra and practicing semi-hydroponics. On the other hand, I LOVE the concept of semi-hydroponics, it seems so simple, and my fear of over-watering would not apply.

So what's a guy to do? :confused:

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--Mark
 

Heather

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Personally, I'd either forget it or find out the name of Candace's vendor for the stuff that is the old prime agra but doesn't call it that, forgive me, I forget their name at the moment.

Alternatively I could ship you some old PA if you pay for shipping.

I think if you have seedlings or plants without actively growing roots, I would wait to repot them into it, and be sure to water enough when you do. Those were the plants I had the biggest problems with.
 

Candace

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First, if you're interested in trying s/h start off with a few cheap, replaceable plants. I would say this to anyone considering trying new medium of any kind, not just s/h.

Second, don't switch any over now, you should wait until the Spring and warmer weather.

Third, the new P.A. is complelety different than the old and I'm now buying my media from www.cropking.com It looks exactly like the old P.A. and acts like it too. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck...well, you get my meaning. Be prepared to pay a fortune for shipping. The bags are very large and you'd get many pots from it but the shipping charges will astound you. It's worth it, IMHO because you can sterilize and reuse it. So, the up front costs will over time be worth it. Do take Heather up on her offer to save some $ if you've got the time to heat sterilize it before use. You should have the time, since you've got until Spring to switch some plants over.

Hope that helps.
 
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Grandma M

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My plants, expecially phrags, love S/H but I suggest you follow the advice from Candice. Good sound advice.
 

SlipperFan

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If you want to experiment, use diatomite (medium size) instead of PrimeAgra. Works as well, if not better.
 

swamprad

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I didn't tell the whole story on my initial post. I bought some Prime-Agra from Ray last Spring and potted some cats and phals in it. I have to admit I didn't take the best care of them over the summer, what with moving to a new house and starting a huge renovation project. The 107 degree summer temps in Memphis didn't help, either. But I have a cat in bud now, and my phals are doing pretty good, lots of new roots. I do note a lot of white specs on the Prime-Agra, presumably salt buildup, that makes me nervous. I repotted some Oncidium Sweet Sugar last weekend (from Costco, almost dead as they were growing in DIRT, but hopefully I can same them). My paphs and phrags are something different, though. I know they are a bit more sensitive than cats and phals, and I am nervous about putting them in semi-hydroponics, especially when I read certain posts on here. But then there is Candace and others who have great success.

Here's a kick, today I talked to a salesman for a LOCAL producer of LECA. That's right, here in town they make the stuff! I'm going to pay them a visit soon and buy a trashcan full (they only sell in bulk) and check it out. It is obviously intended for industrial use, but I think it is equivalent to PA. Interesting, no?:clap:
 
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johnndc

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I'm using the crop king stuff and it looks the same, but honestly I get the sense that it dries out quicker. So I often add some diatomite, lava and/or pumice to the mix, though with a catt I'd leave it as is, or maybe just add some pumice. I moved all my plants about a year ago, because I'd had it. Too many plants, too much trouble watering, etc. Everyone's experience is subjective, obviously, depending on their conditions. But first, yes, wait until spring unless you have a plant that is kicking out new roots now (like some catts). You definitely want a plant in a root growing phase when you transplant. Otherwise, I decided that what lived lived and what died died. Most lived. Phals don't work for me in s/h. Phrags are great, most paphs are doing well too. Catts tremendously well. Oncs very well (though thick rooted onc do better for me (sweet sugar types) than thin rooted onc (Onc Ornithroblahblah) - though the blahblah is doing well, just not as well. But yeah, for my paphs, I just decided it was too much trouble growing in mix, and for me at least, I was still having a hard time, after 4 years, watering my paphs correctly and not killing the roots.

Now, I have fluorescents for a lot of my plants and CFLs for others, and during the summer many of them get southern exposure sunlight (and shade) on my balcony, so they get good light, which is crucial as well for semi-hydro as you want roots (new roots). But currently I'd swear by semi-hydro, with good light. I took a "repot them into semi-hydro and let god sort them out" attitude because I was sick of all the different media and the watering and then having to explain to friends how to water. This way really is much better IF it works for you.
 

Gilda

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I took a "repot them into semi-hydro and let god sort them out" attitude because I was sick of all the different media and the watering and then having to explain to friends how to water. This way really is much better IF it works for you.
I have taken the same attiude as you John . My hybrid phals never slow down, even if in bloom..just keep on ticking like a Timex ! Paphs are another story, some have took to it like a duck to water, others have went to the great compost pile in the sky . M biggest difference in success & failure with paphs have been potted in the hot part of summer , no new root growth & a paph in not good condition..SH is not a cure for a failing paph. Below is a few paphs that are a success..these were put into SH in late winter/ early spring. I have some in old PA and hydroton...success is equal in both mediums. I find this is a much easier watering system with paphs if they will grow in it.
 

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Eric Muehlbauer

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My SH success stories are few and far between....maybe 2 phrags and a phal. And I neither of them will need repotting to a larger size container anytime soon.....Eric
 
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Paphs_in_Rocks

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My experience has been quite different from others here. I have had a lot of success at growing paphs in the new prime agra. The new prime agra is different from the old prime agra but it actually works better with my environment and cultural methods while others clearly have had the opposite experience with their methods and environment. I recommend experimenting with a few cheapies anytime you are thinking of changing cultural methods. At various times I have grown Paphs in standard bark mix, mud mix, my own custom mix (bark, charcoal, sphagnum and chicken grit), old prime agro, new prime agra, even live sphagnum (the pre-modern delenatii's seemed to like this better). Experiment and find out what works best for you.
 

Candace

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Paphs in Rocks, I've never tried the new P.A. but won't due to several members negative test results with PH and TDS and many more people who've had problems. Leca should be PH neutral, especially for horticultural purposes. Any material that lowers the PH of resevoir water over time seems to be leaching "something". Have you read some of the old threads on this? You may be doing fine with it, but you may see some problems with those paphs that are more sensitive to lowered ph or salt build up. You are the first person I've heard of that likes it better than the old P.A. and since I'm in contact with many s/h growers I find that telling. Good luck with it, but keep your eyes out!


edit: Here's a link a thread detailing the ph issue http://www.slippertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3352
 
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Paphs_in_Rocks

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Candace,
I have read these threads I am sure people are correctly reporting their own observations. I know one way that I differ from the other S/H growers I know is that I flush the pots more thoroughly and more often and tend to grow a little wetter. My methods are very idiosyncratic and have evolved over the years so I wouldn't recommend them for general use. I just wanted to point out that not everybody has had negative experiences with the new prime agra. I may change my mind six months from now depending on what I am observing with root growth. For things I tend to grow dry in S/H like cattleyas I still use the old prime agra.
 

NYEric

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Well, [I probably should post a photo] I put a Paph vietnamense into sort of s/h (leca on bottom and mixed media on top) so we'll see. Not exactly a "cheapie" test but...
 

Candace

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Feel faint...problems focusing....I may be hallucinating because I think I just read that Eric is using leca.

If it doesn't do well, one, this isn't the time of year for transferring to s/h and two, it's not s/h what you're attempting, so failure shouldn't be attributed to s/h. Eric, if you want to really "test" s/h you should do it with all leca with a self-contained resevoir. Then if it doesn't work out I'll earn your ribbing:>
 

e-spice

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My experience has been quite different from others here. I have had a lot of success at growing paphs in the new prime agra. The new prime agra is different from the old prime agra but it actually works better with my environment and cultural methods while others clearly have had the opposite experience with their methods and environment. I recommend experimenting with a few cheapies anytime you are thinking of changing cultural methods. At various times I have grown Paphs in standard bark mix, mud mix, my own custom mix (bark, charcoal, sphagnum and chicken grit), old prime agro, new prime agra, even live sphagnum (the pre-modern delenatii's seemed to like this better). Experiment and find out what works best for you.
Ray, is that you? ;)
 
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Jim Toomey

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I love the new PA and works very well for me.
Make sure you rinse and soak it well prior to use.
Soak in calcium nitrate and or epsom salts overnight.
Best of luck,
AHAB
 
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