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Stone

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It's difficult to flush out solid (and even those in solution) salts in a very open medium because the water does not stay in place long enough to dissolve them. Remember that in the wild they are subject to mild to intense rainfall for days at a time. That's why the best way to water is with a sprinkler system that runs at least a couple of hours every now and then. That seems to give the best growth response. Of course most of us can't do that so the next best thing is to flush with plain water with 2 or more times the volume of the pot at least 3 times with perhaps 15 minutes between each go. This is to bring accumulated salts back down to a benign concentration. I do this maybe once/month but in between that I feed at every second watering with about 1/4 to 1/2 strength (0.25 to 0.5 grams/litre) and and also use a small amount of IBDU - which is a slow release urea - for a constant background of N.
I don't think we can get the same results as the growth of wild plants by using the concentrations of NPK measured in those natural systems for some reason. Also important to keep in mind that anions are the first to be removed from the pot by water (usually along with Ca.)
They are mainly - sulphate, phosphate, nitrate and molybdate, (and boron too) so they must be continuously replaced somehow. S is very easily flushed. I use 1- 3mm gypsum, which lasts for months for that and with the added benefit of extra Ca.
 

gego

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It will be interesting to see how that affects bloom. Hadley Cash says to promote bloom in Paphs:
“Mid-Sept/mid-Oct shift to bloom booster type (low nitrogen). Or, ⅓ strength normal fertilizer for 2-2.5 months then use summer fertilizer at 1/2 teas/gal.”
The idea is if you are pushing growth with nitrogen you are less like to get bloom.
I'm not sure if having a lot of nitrogen available makes the plant take up more of it. For me adequate light is a must.
 
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At an orchid show in February a vendor told me to always soak my orchids before fertilizing lest I risk root tip burn. My weekly watering routine now consists of allowing my plants to soak in water for awhile while I get other tasks done (usually water changes for my fish tanks, since I’m already working with water) and then fertilizing, allowing the fertilizer water to run through the pot. They all get monthly flushes as well.

However, as I’ve had a lot of time home lately my collection has grown and I’m looking for ways to make watering more efficient. Now I’m wondering, can I save myself a step and just soak in fertilizer water, while still doing the monthly flushes?

Dustin from the herebutnot.com blog and YouTube channel grows incredible plants indoors with about 20 to 30 percent humidity. He soaks with fertilizer first (say water + fertilizer is around 600ppm) and then rinses with tap water (say over 200ppm).

He stated that if he didn't rinse the PH will go up progressively over time. Whether this was measured by him or not I'm not sure, but I have never seen better indoor grown plants.

With all due respect though I suspect @Ray could give him a run for his money but Ray's pics of his orchids are hard to come by in my experience. Without a doubt I have had the best success implementing their techniques though they say opposing things 😆.
 

Ray

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I wouldn’t say they were opposing, just different. As far as I can tell, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - that is “black or white” in orchid growing, just a whole lot of “grey”.

There is a phrase stated to me by the formulator of the MSU fertilizers that fits very well: “We tried it, and it worked”.

My recommendations tend to be based, to a major degree, on what the plants see in nature. In the case of feeding, they get a minuscule amount of nutrients at the very first instance rainfall begins, not a soak in it.

Yeah, you’re right. You don’t see a lot of photos of my plants around. There are a few reasons for that, first and foremost is that I grow them for my own satisfaction, not to garner “oohs and aahs”. I have never shown a plant to get an award, either. I do have lots of photos of my flowers - well over 1000 of them - and at one time they were in an online gallery for view, but when I changed the platform of my website, I decided to not bother reconstructing it, keeping the website informative, rather than a showcase of pretty pictures. I find it a great deal more satisfying to have folks thank me for my contributions to understanding orchid culture than for my pretty pictures. Besides, if you want pretty flowers, look at what they post.
 

Ray

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By the way, Dustin's comment on the pH rising over time is likely due to the overall alkalinity of the water. You can adjust the pH all you want, but if the alkalinity (i.e., resistance to pH change upon addition of an acid) is high, the pH of the rhizosphere will gradually increase, ultimately leading to toxicity.
 
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