Slippers in inorganic media

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Sky7Bear

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I don't like repotting all of the time, and wonder what success others have had growing slippers in inorganic media. Please share your ideas.
 
Hello

I had good results growing a range of complex Paphs and insigne in crushed brick. The latter did ok without any organic material. The complex paphs had leaf litter mixed into the brick. This also worked with 8-12 mm gravel.

I also grew Paph godefroyae and thaianum in crushed brick. I can't recall if there was any organic component.

I watered daily and fertilized with sea grow -- a South African product made from fish emulsion. I grew outdoors in a temperant climate. Plants were under trees for shade or 70% shade cloth.

I never tried maudiae, parvi and multimodal types.

Instead of crushed clay bricks I think crushed terracotta would work. My mother still has the insigne and it has never been reported in 10 years.
 
I have to be very honest with you. To me orchid growing success in all my years of growing them tells me to repot. And repot often.
I think the key to flowering orchids is a healthy root system. Fresh media helps to produce healthy plants. Healthy plants make more flowers.
I feel that many houseplants can thrive without repotting, orchids for the most part do not.

I see you have been a member here for quite some time. Has this reluctance to repot produced success when it comes to flowering?
 
I have to be very honest with you. To me orchid growing success in all my years of growing them tells me to repot. And repot often.
I think the key to flowering orchids is a healthy root system. Fresh media helps to produce healthy plants. Healthy plants make more flowers.
I feel that many houseplants can thrive without repotting, orchids for the most part do not.
As roots grow, they “tailor” themselves on a cellular level to function optimally in that environment, and once they have grown, they cannot change.

That is a good reason to only repot when new roots are emerging, but it is also applicable to decomposing potting medium - the roots that were excellent in fresh media will fail if left in media that is changing due to decomposition.

Inorganic media like brick chunks or LECA don’t decompose, so roots that grow in them when first potted will still be viable well down the road.

Having said that, we cannot expect them to not change at all, as everything accumulates minerals and develops biofilms that may be detrimental, although I’m wondering how the regular use of probiotics might ameliorate that.
 
I have to be very honest with you. To me orchid growing success in all my years of growing them tells me to repot. And repot often.
I think the key to flowering orchids is a healthy root system. Fresh media helps to produce healthy plants. Healthy plants make more flowers.
I feel that many houseplants can thrive without repotting, orchids for the most part do not.

I see you have been a member here for quite some time. Has this reluctance to repot produced success when it comes to flowering?
With Cattleyas yes, as a pot is more of a perch than a container, and repotting is by division without disturbing the original, which for me is leca in a basket. Phrags seem to do great in semi hydro. Paphs not so sure. No repotting in nature. Agree about roots. But the the best Paph grower I have ever known is Terry Root at the Orchid Zone, who I think repotted at least once a year. That’s what you get with bark mixes, which were popularized by Rod McLellan in the 1950s.
 
As roots grow, they “tailor” themselves on a cellular level to function optimally in that environment, and once they have grown, they cannot change.

That is a good reason to only repot when new roots are emerging, but it is also applicable to decomposing potting medium - the roots that were excellent in fresh media will fail if left in media that is changing due to decomposition.

Inorganic media like brick chunks or LECA don’t decompose, so roots that grow in them when first potted will still be viable well down the road.

Having said that, we cannot expect them to not change at all, as everything accumulates minerals and develops biofilms that may be detrimental, although I’m wondering how the regular use of probiotics might ameliorate that.
Timing then is probably key as it is for many other genera. No new roots, no repot
 
If you look through my past posts I've shared my experiences growing in rockwool/perlite mix. It took a couple of years to find the right fertilizer regimen but I've been happy with everything except the cost. I'm experimenting now with cypress mulch/perlite for my epiphytes and a few expendable Paphs, if I can get Paphs growing well in it I'll save rockwool for my most important plants.
 
Agreed, new roots are best. I find that Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilums can be reported just about anytime. Many people do so after blooming.

I might be wrong but I think that years ago, Osmunda was the media of choice by orchid growers. When that became rare and expensive, other media’s were sought after.
Tree fern was popular in the 60’s and 70’s but that too became scare.
 
Timing then is probably key as it is for many other genera. No new roots, no repot
I spoke with the late Hadley Cash (Marriott Orchids) regarding this and observed in his greenhouse. He spoke at the Paph Forum about this one year also. He used on Orchiata bark mix, because it extended his repot time (over other bark) from 1 to 2 years on Paphs. Phrags could only go 12-18 months max. He also said Paphs could be repotted any time, even in bloom, except if in spike, you risk having the bud blast. His system worked incredibly well, as he hybridized and produced IMO the most beautiful complex Paphs in the world. Inorganic media was around at that point, but he kept to his system. We never discussed why.
 
I love leca/pumice mixes for paphs. I grow my plants in semi-hydro, but I've also used identical mixes for plants not in SH and they also seem to do well. The latter just requires more frequent watering in my growing conditions.
 
At home we are using more and more inorganic mix for Phrags. Semi-hydro, (Small Grodan cubes, a little Leca, coarse perlite, and a little Diatomite, to keep moist, the reservoir area is leca.)
 
I hear you. I hate repotting. I find it makes me anxious and somehow lonelier. I make excuses ("mix not that bad" and "but I don't want to interrupt a bloom cycle") and avoid it until I have to do a bunch of plants all at once. I think my growing suffers for these excuses and hope in the future either to figure out how better to use inorganic media, as you seem to desire, or to find a good organic medium that I don't mind going through mountains of. At one time, I fell for the Orchiata Bark line as the medium of the future; yeah, it lasts a long time... but in my conditions plants don't do as well as regular ol' reliable fir bark Hausermann's Mix, changed out every 2 years. I'm having good luck with Ray's LECA methods on a couple Paphs right now; fairrieanum seems to love the LECA semihydroculture in particular. Yay. If you never have, give Vandas in vases a try. Been working for me for several years; the daily misting is my morning meditation.

Ah, osmunda... that stuff sure was awesome. Everything would grow in it to bursting the pot, you didn't even have to fertilize much, it even broke down into lovely-smelling fluff. Lord I miss those big boxes.
 
You don't need to repot your slipper orchid often even if they are in an organic medium...The health and blooming of your plants will depend on many other factors...
Are charcoal and sponge rocks considered organic or inorganic? I don't know your definition, but I use them a lot, perhaps 50-60% of my growing medium consists of charcoal and sponge rocks, rest of it is fir bark. They work for me and the medium stays good for years(3-4 years, or longer). Perhaps people should pay more attention to the water quality and use of fertilizer, instead of repotting(***I am not saying you should never repot your orchids...)
 
To me orchid growing success in all my years of growing them tells me to repot. And repot often.
No..... I must contradict completely. In my eyes repotting is pure stress for the both of them .... grower and plant.
I grow all my orchids (there must be 150++) indoor and all in an inorganic potting mix. Almost all (Paphiopedilum and Cattleya) in the same mix. I wrote about that issue here already before (see post #6 in this thread). Only my Catasetums and my 5 Phalaenopsis grow in another inorganic medium , in pure cut Styrofoam stripes. I repot only when the plant is too big for the pot. Therefore some of my plant have grown in the same pot for more than 10+ years.
It works with me but I never would recommend it to others to do it the same way. I also won't hide that I lost some plants at the beginnings and it was a long way until I found a mixture wich works well.
 
I don't like repotting all of the time, and wonder what success others have had growing slippers in inorganic media. Please share your ideas.
Many growers use rockwool cubes for every slipper with great success. This case you must check your fertilizer solution ( ingredients, EC, pH) carefully.
 
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