So, what's your perfect long petalled paph substrate?

Slippertalk Orchid Forum

Help Support Slippertalk Orchid Forum:

clearsky57

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2023
Messages
46
Reaction score
36
Location
Richmond Va
There has been much discussion lately on growing (or not being able to grow) long petalled multi's, with particular attention to sanderianum and it's hybrids..
If we think about where paph sanderianum live in the wild, and we try to simulate the media they grow in, are we worrying too much about that part of their culture?
Afterall,,,, most long petalled paphs, are some generations from those wild collected plants, and does the actual in situ substrate have as much of a factor on their growing success as, does just proper care, light and watering? I think IMO, as long as you follow generalities, like light per day, and watering- x amount per week, do the type of medium you use have as much to do with good growing nowadays?
I would love to hear what others like to use for substrates, (and their reasoning for using such products) I think everyone that grows multiple plants have "their own" recipe that works for them and their conditions, but i would like to think that if we generalize there will be more in common than not...
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2022
Messages
788
Reaction score
558
I am new to the big strap leaved Paphs. myself and I’ll be happy to share my results and my mix. This represents 6 months of knowledge. My orchid growing knowledge spans almost 50 years.
My reading and research seems to indicate a deep, rapidly draining substrate that initially holds moisture yet dries out rapidly. Fertilizing is a matter of personal preference. I am using an even blend with cal/mag included.
My mix is roughly 1/3 seedling orchiata/bark. The other 2/3 are equal parts of medium grade orchiata, perlite and charcoal. I use plastic pots that are on the tall side. I water once every four days give or take. Humidity of 50-70% is what I shoot for. I have them outside here in SE Michigan in a spot that gets early morning sun for an hour or so. The rest of the day is bright.
Indoors I grow underlights, T5 tubes on 10-12 hours per day. Leaves will be 4-6” below tubes.
So far they are all well established and seem to be doing very well. How many do I have now, about 22-25. I need to count. 😁
 

Tony

Multi Junkie
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
934
Reaction score
1,019
Location
Columbia, SC
I've been very happy with my rockwool and perlite mix but it is becoming unsustainably expensive as my collection continues to grow. The cost has doubled since COVID hit and I'm using 3-4x each year what I used to in the before times. I've started experimenting with cypress mulch and perlite for epiphytes and a few expendable Paphs, if it works reasonably well I will probably start using that for most of my plants and save the rockwool mix for my most important ones.
 

clearsky57

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2023
Messages
46
Reaction score
36
Location
Richmond Va
So, Big 923 (may i call you that?)
your comment of "rapidly draining substrate that initially holds moisture yet dries out rapidly" I have seen in other posts i have read, that too me, seems to be an oxymoron. so what holds moisture up front, but then dries out rapidly??? I was going to try a light (aka unpacked) mixture of sphag and coarse perlite, but then add in some limestone gravel, or oyster shells, and know if i don't have too heavy a mix, i can feel by picking up pots as far as drying out.... Tony, i do have some rockwool cubes and have thought about using that, in conjunction with the perlite, but, being inert, there is no breakdown so might be easier to maintain...I think because i try to pay attention to the locale they are found in nature, maybe i put too much emphasis on the media there, rather than just being focused on what we are growing in now...generations from wild collected, and of course suitable light, watering, and fertilization.
 

Ray

Orchid Iconoclast
Staff member
Moderator
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
4,573
Reaction score
1,340
Location
Oak Island NC
1) The "perfect" or "ideal" potting medium for any plant is whatever works best in your growing environment to give the plant the root environment it wants.

2) What is "fantastic" for one grower might be "instant death" for another.

The longer I grow orchids, the more I think "Air/Water Ratio" (AWR) is the important factor rather than subsets of that like water retention and drying rate.
 

spujr

ST Supporter
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2015
Messages
345
Reaction score
171
I've been very happy with my rockwool and perlite mix but it is becoming unsustainably expensive as my collection continues to grow. The cost has doubled since COVID hit and I'm using 3-4x each year what I used to in the before times. I've started experimenting with cypress mulch and perlite for epiphytes and a few expendable Paphs, if it works reasonably well I will probably start using that for most of my plants and save the rockwool mix for my most important ones.
I'm surprised to hear this is more expensive, than say orchiata or nz bark, just given it last longer than those.

I recall somewhere you said that rockwool and pumice was near disaster, to me its interesting this change would have such dramatic results.
 

Tony

Multi Junkie
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
934
Reaction score
1,019
Location
Columbia, SC
I'm surprised to hear this is more expensive, than say orchiata or nz bark, just given it last longer than those.

I recall somewhere you said that rockwool and pumice was near disaster, to me its interesting this change would have such dramatic results.

Rockwool and LECA was the disastrous mix.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2016
Messages
1,963
Reaction score
2,481
Location
Cleveland, OH
I use the same mix for all of my paphs except brachy. Roughly 65% bark (combination of small and medium depending on the pot size), 20% perlite, and 10% chunky peat and 5% oystershell.

Other things to note... I am a recovering underwaterer, especially in the winter. I aim to repot most of my paphs
between 12-18 months. I have left my mult-florals for little over 2 years, and their roots in the mix have been fabulous. For my conditions I need a mix that holds moisture but allows air through the pot.
 
Joined
Feb 24, 2023
Messages
263
Reaction score
96
Location
Billings
Do this as it has grown roots like no other on my plant. Started with small one and they are literally at the bottom of the tall soup container. Drill three holes on the bottom in the middle then 3 on the bottom out side ring. On the sides about 2 inches from the bottom drill 4 holes. The mix in small orchiata, I swear the only way to go, about 60% then 30% pumis, don't mess with perlight and go straight for the volcano white kind that is pea size: cheep too. Then 9% oister shells, I like to go heavy on this. To top it off put some glacier dust and flower organic fertilizer: the company is Gia green. I when a little heavy on this so a little goes a long way and I'm not sure if this will be bad if I put to much in the long run. When you pot it up keep the sanderianum above the mix and put gordons rock cubes Ray sells around the new roots and then put straight bark on top. This is definitely the way to go and my plant has done excellent. However if you live in a humid climate you may want slightly bigger bark or more pumis. Happy growing and go sanderianum
 
Joined
Feb 24, 2023
Messages
263
Reaction score
96
Location
Billings
Do this as it has grown roots like no other on my plant. Started with small one and they are literally at the bottom of the tall soup container. Drill three holes on the bottom in the middle then 3 on the bottom out side ring. On the sides about 2 inches from the bottom drill 4 holes. The mix in small orchiata, I swear the only way to go, about 60% then 30% pumis, don't mess with perlight and go straight for the volcano white kind that is pea size: cheep too. Then 9% oister shells, I like to go heavy on this. To top it off put some glacier dust and flower organic fertilizer: the company is Gia green. I when a little heavy on this so a little goes a long way and I'm not sure if this will be bad if I put to much in the long run. When you pot it up keep the sanderianum above the mix and put gordons rock cubes Ray sells around the new roots and then put straight bark on top. This is definitely the way to go and my plant has done excellent. However if you live in a humid climate you may want slightly bigger bark or more pumis. Happy growing and go sanderianum
Also charcoal may be helpful but I'm not sure if that interferes with the calcium that is slowly released from the shells. I would skip and give it a good rinse ever week if using tap, also I have heard epson salt is useful
 

Austin Creek

New Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2023
Messages
3
Reaction score
13
Location
Petaluma, CA
Generalizations are all fine to a point, but there are exceptions to every rule. OK to start with a one size fits all approach, but if some particular plants don't seem to be thriving, it's either time to better understand the background of that particular species (or parents) come from and adapt accordingly, or decide that particular plant is "too much work" to bother with.

Multifloral species come from a wide range of habitats with varying physical conditions. In any given collection, a substrate (or light, or watering habits, etc.) that works for 95% doesn't necessarily work for the other 5%. Most multiflorals, I grow in Orchiata (with a bit of perlite and charcoal added) under somewhat bright (near Cattleya) conditions. There are a small number of species (like sanderianum) that don't grow well for me with that treatment -- These seem to be (mostly) species that grow in very wet limestone seep areas and with somewhat lower light than many other multifloral species. While sanderianum is difficult for me, related hybrids that are 1/2 or even 3/4 sanderianum do just fine.

The growers "habitat" can also a factor. A few years ago, I bought a stonei from a grower in Hawaii that was potted in 100% sphagnum. That worked well for him (and is perhaps a somewhat good approximation of the native habitat), but would have meant a slow agonizing death for the plant if I tried to replicate that in my growing conditions in Northern California.
 

tnyr5

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2014
Messages
2,378
Reaction score
2,268
Location
Pennsylvania, USA
I've been very happy with my rockwool and perlite mix but it is becoming unsustainably expensive as my collection continues to grow. The cost has doubled since COVID hit and I'm using 3-4x each year what I used to in the before times. I've started experimenting with cypress mulch and perlite for epiphytes and a few expendable Paphs, if it works reasonably well I will probably start using that for most of my plants and save the rockwool mix for my most important ones.
You just need to kill more plants so you can recycle the precious cubes.
 

Sky7Bear

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2013
Messages
86
Reaction score
41
I have been following this thread with interest, as I'm in the process of examining my Paph and Phrag collection in Semi-hydro the past few days. Generalizing I'd say it's great for Phrags and less than ideal for Paphs. But that doesn't really address what I believe is important here. Ever since Rod McLellan in the 1950s led the move to bark from more traditional growing methods, we have massive repotting (which I hate) as well as fancier and fancier recipes, some of which I'm sure work great. However, with bark I think the freshness of the medium is what is critical. If I'm not mistaken one of the great Paph growers, Terry Root of the Orchid Zone, repotted everything at least once a year (I wish I'd written down what it was), though I don't remember his using a lot of mixes.

Ray, I agree completely, that for orchid growing of all types, it's the water:air ratio at the roots which is critical more than it is the ingredients of the mix. And in my experience (just demonstrated with the difference of Paphs and Phrags in S/H I've found in the last few days) it varies by genus, and perhaps even within one based on adaptations nature has created for plant survival in nature, none of which involve pots.

But focusing on the ingredients of the mix is only half the story in how we create an ideal ecosystem at the roots, and I'm surprised that our ceramics expert didn't point this out, we miss the critical importance of the container and its composition. I've become much more aware of this recently. It started with Catts. I was interested in the approach that Tony Wells takes at letstalkplants, which is basically a wire net pot with leca, and the roots go everywhere, as they would in nature (trying to "contain" them may be our first mistake). So I bought one of his plants. And here it is now. All I've changed is that I mist once or more per day and may water more (I don't know). When I tried to count growing root tips yesterday, I gave up and estimate close to 100. I have never seen an orchid with more roots. Would that I could get that with Paphs.



So what if we expanded our list of media to include such as NZ sphagnum and tree fern and just place in a different container that allows more air to the roots? And here is where you come in, Ray. Experience teaches me that "clay" pots let in more air than those damn plastic ones (even with holes for S/H), but I don't know how THAT compares with say a metal, wood, or plastic net pot. But experience is showing me that orchids are far more adaptable to these materials (with some variation by genus) than to media in plastic pots, so perhaps a focus on mix is the wrong focus. Perhaps even the notion of "containing" is.

This month I bought a couple of Den. cuthbertsonii from Tom Perlite at Golden Gate Orchids. Beautifully grown in moss in clay. The roots were coming out the bottom, and he repotted in Feb. Many report having difficulty with this species. More air to the roots may be the secret. Would a net pot also work? Don't know.

Think for a moment about the traditional "clay orchid pot." Not only does the material "breathe" at least some, but it's also designed to be shallow and has slits for more air "down below." Obviously these were developed for a reason.

And so I've taken most of my Paphs out of S/H, and am trying a number of variations with simple media rather than complex formulas (none "bark"). And yes, Ray, leca with rock wool is one of them, but even there, clay or plastic pot? I'm assuming it would be difficult to keep enough water in a setup with a net pot.

Best,
Harvey Brenneise
 

Ray

Orchid Iconoclast
Staff member
Moderator
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
4,573
Reaction score
1,340
Location
Oak Island NC
(SNIP)
So what if we expanded our list of media to include such as NZ sphagnum and tree fern and just place in a different container that allows more air to the roots? And here is where you come in, Ray. Experience teaches me that "clay" pots let in more air than those damn plastic ones (even with holes for S/H), but I don't know how THAT compares with say a metal, wood, or plastic net pot. But experience is showing me that orchids are far more adaptable to these materials (with some variation by genus) than to media in plastic pots, so perhaps a focus on mix is the wrong focus. Perhaps even the notion of "containing" is.

This month I bought a couple of Den. cuthbertsonii from Tom Perlite at Golden Gate Orchids. Beautifully grown in moss in clay. The roots were coming out the bottom, and he repotted in Feb. Many report having difficulty with this species. More air to the roots may be the secret. Would a net pot also work? Don't know.

Think for a moment about the traditional "clay orchid pot." Not only does the material "breathe" at least some, but it's also designed to be shallow and has slits for more air "down below." Obviously these were developed for a reason.

And so I've taken most of my Paphs out of S/H, and am trying a number of variations with simple media rather than complex formulas (none "bark"). And yes, Ray, leca with rock wool is one of them, but even there, clay or plastic pot? I'm assuming it would be difficult to keep enough water in a setup with a net pot.

Best,
Harvey Brenneise
I only use plastic pots.
I don't think clay pots really allow much more air flow, but tend to wick water away from the medium faster. The pores are microscopic, and they probably stay pretty full of water as long as the medium is moist. Lower left is the microstructure of a terra cotta pot.

surfaces.jpg
 

Latest posts

Top