Water in the crown of Phrags.

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Rick

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Lance and Jon made some key points. One of which I made way back on the old forum. How do orchids survive in the jungle when it frequently rains at night, or in the case of monsoon systems where it can rain nonstop for days/nights on end.

I think airflow is the key, and an otherwise healthy plant will have resistance to disease.

I use a misting system for humidification and temperature control. It doesn't spray directly on the plants, but there is alot of overspray that can get on some of the plants (including my bessea). Since the system is hooked up to a humidistat and thermostat, the system comes on on demand, which often happens at night in the winter.

I used to worry allot more about wet crowns at night, but with each year I run this system my anxiety on this issue goes down.
 

gonewild

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Rick said:
Lance and Jon made some key points. One of which I made way back on the old forum. How do orchids survive in the jungle when it frequently rains at night, or in the case of monsoon systems where it can rain nonstop for days/nights on end.

I think airflow is the key, and an otherwise healthy plant will have resistance to disease.

I use a misting system for humidification and temperature control. It doesn't spray directly on the plants, but there is alot of overspray that can get on some of the plants (including my bessea). Since the system is hooked up to a humidistat and thermostat, the system comes on on demand, which often happens at night in the winter.

I used to worry allot more about wet crowns at night, but with each year I run this system my anxiety on this issue goes down.
I think it is kind of like the old saying Mothers like to use on their kids...

" get out of the rain, you're going to catch your death of pneumonia!"

I like to walk in the rain.:p
 

myxodex

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A really fascinating discussion. I have to wonder whether there might be some additional factors that allow these plants to survive wet in the wild? What comes to mind is microbial ecology ... apart from the presence of protozoa and other bacteria-eating protists, most organically rich soils conceal a battle ground of microbial chemical warfare ... antibiotics are what we know about this. In addition there may be anti-microbial organics released from neighbouring plants ... some trees have bark that contain anti-microbial
chemicals. It is also possible that some chemicals mineral and/or organic might be absorbed by plants and help protect them from pathogens while not being essential for growth per se. I also wonder whether water from electrical storms has an advantageous chemistry. These factors might not be easily replicated in culture and might just give plants in the wild ... together with natural ventilation ... the edge. Just wild speculation I know but ecological relationships between organisms often throws up fascinating discoveries.
Cheers,
Tim
 

ScottMcC

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This has been a very interesting discussion so far, and I've certainly learned a lot. One thing I will say though is that plants in the wild rot and die all the time. In the home, we expect close to 100% disease-free survival of our plants, and want them to all be growing briskly and flowering regularly. In nature, this isn't the case at all. A great percentage of plants never make it to maturity because of diseases, predators, and the like. The percentage varies greatly between species, but I seem to remember that with many cactuses it takes billions of seeds to yield one mature cactus. Perhaps this is a concept we should think about more, and we need to realize that growing in the home is simply NOT the same as growing in the wild on a number of levels.

But on a different note, I accidentally got my Masdevallia in the line of fire of a misting bottle (was misting another plant next to it and oversprayed), and the next day, there were black spots on the leaves exactly in the pattern that was hit. They since progressed to little depressions in the leaves, or in the case of one, a small perfectly round hole. I can't help but think this is a result of the water, perhaps through a small bacterial infection. The plant is doing fine now, and hasn't had any further outbreaks since then (although I've been much more careful not to get the leaves wet at all).

Anyway, are our expectations of our plants realistic? In commercial agricultural operations a certain percentage of losses is expected...perhaps this is just a manifestation of that?
 

gonewild

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myxodex said:
A really fascinating discussion. I have to wonder whether there might be some additional factors that allow these plants to survive wet in the wild? What comes to mind is microbial ecology ... apart from the presence of protozoa and other bacteria-eating protists, most organically rich soils conceal a battle ground of microbial chemical warfare ... antibiotics are what we know about this. In addition there may be anti-microbial organics released from neighbouring plants ... some trees have bark that contain anti-microbial
chemicals. It is also possible that some chemicals mineral and/or organic might be absorbed by plants and help protect them from pathogens while not being essential for growth per se. I also wonder whether water from electrical storms has an advantageous chemistry. These factors might not be easily replicated in culture and might just give plants in the wild ... together with natural ventilation ... the edge. Just wild speculation I know but ecological relationships between organisms often throws up fascinating discoveries.
Cheers,
Tim
You are absolutely correct. All the factors you mention play a role. When it comes to microbes I imagine plants rot easily in cultivation because a "beneficial" microbe is not present to combat the bacteria that causes rot. "Bad" microbes simply build up and at some point explode into a problem.

We can't hope to replicate nature in our small growing environments, but we can utilize the parts of nature we have access to. Water is a cleansing agent. Perhaps plants benefit from the water baths by having increasing populations of bad microbes washed away? Maybe water has gotten a bad rap as the cause of rot problems?
 

gonewild

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ScottMcC said:
This has been a very interesting discussion so far, and I've certainly learned a lot. One thing I will say though is that plants in the wild rot and die all the time. In the home, we expect close to 100% disease-free survival of our plants, and want them to all be growing briskly and flowering regularly. In nature, this isn't the case at all. A great percentage of plants never make it to maturity because of diseases, predators, and the like. The percentage varies greatly between species, but I seem to remember that with many cactuses it takes billions of seeds to yield one mature cactus. Perhaps this is a concept we should think about more, and we need to realize that growing in the home is simply NOT the same as growing in the wild on a number of levels.
The subject here goes way beyond water in the crown but it certainly pertains to it.

In nature it is all about survival of the fittest. The genetically resistant individual plants survive to reproduce and perpetuate the specie. Plants that are genetically prone to rot, when rained on, die. They most likely die soon after germination.

In horticulture it is necessary to respect this genetic necessity. Orchid seeds are grown in a sterile environment that does not allow the genetically weak to die. The seedlings are taken from a sterile environment and cared for with love and not allowed to get sick add die. Watch this scenario...

The little first bloomer has a fantastic blossom and gets an award. On to a special space on the greenhouse bench to get special care. Next season the plant blooms and is used to create the next generation of hybrids. IF a little rot happens because some water got on the leaves it is promptly treated with chemicals and it's life is saved. It is a prize plant. When the rot reappears it is treated again and the plant will grow and breed for many generations.

Now here is the point of the above scenerio. That plant in nature would have died. It would not have reproduced. The seedlings it produced will carry on it's genetic weaknesses. A higher percentage of the next generation will likely be even more sensitive to microbial and environmental problems. Once a plant is infected with "bad" bacteria it most likely always has the bacteria within it's system. If a division of the infected plant is created the division will also be infected and move to whatever new location the division goes to.

We expect 100% disease free survival of our plants.
Boy are we arrogant or what? ;)

but should we be responsible and let the weak plants die?
If I have a few seedlings out of my collection that just die because I got them wet, then so be it! I don't want orchids to evolve into plants so frail they can't take a walk in the rain. Remember it is not the water that causes the death, unless it is uses incorrectly. Too much or not enough is what this thread started as. (I think)

But on a different note, I accidentally got my Masdevallia in the line of fire of a misting bottle (was misting another plant next to it and oversprayed), and the next day, there were black spots on the leaves exactly in the pattern that was hit. They since progressed to little depressions in the leaves, or in the case of one, a small perfectly round hole. I can't help but think this is a result of the water, perhaps through a small bacterial infection. The plant is doing fine now, and hasn't had any further outbreaks since then (although I've been much more careful not to get the leaves wet at all).
Are you sure you misted with water and not window cleaner? :)
Is there a chance the leaf temperature was at a much higher degree from the water you misted with? Some plants will not tolerate a sudden drastic change in leaf temperature without tissue death.

Anyway, are our expectations of our plants realistic? In commercial agricultural operations a certain percentage of losses is expected...perhaps this is just a manifestation of that?
Yes, our expectations are realistic. We should expect our plants to survive. We should work hard to make sure they do. But to make this happen we must use tough love and good breeder selection.

I like to use stories......
I have a good friend who was one of the first to work with breeding Gerbera daisies (1960s). He started with species form wild collections. Wild Gerberas rot in cultivation if you even look at them sideways. After many years of breeding he managed to get a strain of beautiful flowered hybrids established. It was at this point in his breeding program I gave him one of our greenhouses to use. After working everyday pollinating flowers and carefully collecting and counting seeds one by one for a year, he finally sowed 100,000seeds. The resulting seedlings were beautiful and flowered in 4 inch pots. It is at this point where this story becomes relevant to our orchid discussion. He set out all of these seedlings outdoors, in less than ideal, unsterilized conditions and watered with way to much water. When I questioned his intelligence (he is old enough to be my father) and told him his most beautiful plants would die from rot he gave me some sound knowledge. Yes, many, if not most of the plants would die. But those that survive will be the foundation of breeders to make it possible to grow a Gerbera daisy almost anywhere and under normal garden conditions. To him beauty was in the fact the plant was strong and could survive, after all he or future breeders could always breed the pretty flowers in the next generations. Any breeding program should have selection for vigor. What good is a beautifully flowered hybrid if dies when planted or causes worry to it's keeper? Let's call it the stress test.

Anyway, are our expectations of our plants realistic?
No, not if we expect everyone of them to live forever.
 

Lance Birk

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Very, VERY rarely have I ever seen a plant in nature, dying from disease. Mechanical injury from insect predation and the like is more common.

Plants and their flowers in natural habitats can take week's worth of rain without damage--remember, monsoons?. This is because the constant moisture wipes them clean and never allows rots to get a foothold. Light mists and dew at night are another story. When the water stays, and does not drip off, it is a good enviornment for diseases to grow and cause their damage.

In this light, it is particularly advantageous to water your plants frequently, possibly 2, 3, or even 4 times per week, and more. With the proper air movement and potting media, this actually washes out the soil pathogens before they can build to a dangerous level, and it makes your potting media last longer. Also, since plant growth is in DIRECT proportion to the amount of water they receive, your plants will be healthier and more robust. Don't forget they would benefit from more light with this protocol.
 

NYEric

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Having spent way too much of my adult life crawling around in the jungle, forest and woods I have seen plenty of plants w/ diseases. I'm sure some of them have died. I think a large part of the problems w/ our plant ailments come from the environment we have created. I have great air movement but almost always have leaves covered in dust and small soot. Living in NYC I'm not suprized. We have to make the effort to give our plants the best environment. I dont want to really breed my plants I just want them to grow healthy and strong and to produce pretty blooms. If I was looking to breed plants I dont think I would try it in a NYC apartment. E.
 

gonewild

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NYEric said:
I think a large part of the problems w/ our plant ailments come from the environment we have created. I have great air movement but almost always have leaves covered in dust and small soot. Living in NYC I'm not suprized. We have to make the effort to give our plants the best environment.
You are 100% correct and part of giving our plants the best environment is giving them wet foliage. The plant needs a sanitary environment.

The dust and soot covering the leaves is why I said it is good to frequently drench the foliage. Water is Nature's cleanser. The soot and dust carry contaminants and bacteria. If contaminants are on the leaf surface they are also accumulating down in the crown of plants. If this is not flushed out frequently it can become quite concentrated. When water inadvertently sits in the the crown of a plant that rarely gets wet, the accumulated debris will make a "tea". This tea may be loaded with bacteria and is a super growth environment for rot. It is the dense population of bacteria that overcomes the plants resistance and allows an infection to advance.

Now if you never get water in the crown you may never have a problem. But keeping the crowns dry is always a constant worry. If you frequently wet the foliage this debris never has a chance to accumulate.

Just keeping the dust and soot washed off the leaf will increase the leaf's biological efficiency. Sanitation is a very important part of any artificial environment. Of course not all in house growing spaces allow for misting and drenching and a person has to adapt to whatever works best for them. But I still say water in or on the foliage does not cause the plant to rot.
 

slippertalker

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Lance Birk said:
Very, VERY rarely have I ever seen a plant in nature, dying from disease. Mechanical injury from insect predation and the like is more common.

Plants and their flowers in natural habitats can take week's worth of rain without damage--remember, monsoons?. This is because the constant moisture wipes them clean and never allows rots to get a foothold. Light mists and dew at night are another story. When the water stays, and does not drip off, it is a good enviornment for diseases to grow and cause their damage.

In this light, it is particularly advantageous to water your plants frequently, possibly 2, 3, or even 4 times per week, and more. With the proper air movement and potting media, this actually washes out the soil pathogens before they can build to a dangerous level, and it makes your potting media last longer. Also, since plant growth is in DIRECT proportion to the amount of water they receive, your plants will be healthier and more robust. Don't forget they would benefit from more light with this protocol.
I knew there had to be some validation for my watering practices! I have always been heavy on the water and air, and low on chemicals. As long as the mix stays fresh, the plants seem to love it. A more open mix seems to help......
Also growing water loving plants and also mounting plants makes heavy watering more practical.
I also agree with the statement about light, the plants can take, and need more light under these conditions.
 
P

PHRAG

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They did just fine. The watering system worked perfectly, as far as I know. I came home to full reservoirs. I think I need to take a more agressive approach to watering with the besseae especially.
 

NYEric

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Thanx to Lance I'm now going to flush more water thru a sampling of my phrags. I may also get a can of that compressed air stuff to blow the water out.
 

gonewild

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NYEric said:
Thanx to Lance I'm now going to flush more water thru a sampling of my phrags. I may also get a can of that compressed air stuff to blow the water out.
Brrrrrr Brrrrrr! Wind chill!
Be careful with the cans of compressed air. The air comes out very cold at the nozzle tip. Don't want freezer burn :sob:
 

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