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Why stop feeding your plants ???

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Roy

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Folks, reading many posts, both here and elsewhere, I read, mainly from newer growers and some experienced, that they stop feeding their plants in the cold weather.
From the posts I read that some are growing in Natural warm environments, heated glasshouses and indoors in specially converted rooms or growing areas with controlled environments including temperature. The plants don't know its cold outside!!!!
From my experience over too many years to think of, Paphs and Phrags for example, continue to grow all year round as do many orchids.
Plants such as Paphs, Phrags, Vanda family plants, Masdevallia and other orchids have to keep growing as they do not have bulbs in which to store food in order to survive. Many bulbed plants have a slow up in growth in cold weather if grown with out warmth, some require complete rest from food and water but rely on the reserves in the bulbs.
Bulbless plants as mentioned, paph, phrag, masd' etc are continuous growers and have to be given water and food as do you and I. It is quite noticeble in the flowering season when growers who stop feeding through the cold months ( even in heated houses ) that their plants and moreso the flowering, is very ordinary. The plants have not been able to sustain both plant growth and flower production together. The effort has gone into growth to sustain the plant and the flowers have taken second spot by a long way.
 

Paul

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Hello,
Well I would be stupid to stop feeding my Paphs and Phrags during autumn/winter, as most of them grow faster during these seasons, probably due to better temps (not too hot) and high humidity levels!!:)
 

Roy

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Hello,
Well I would be stupid to stop feeding my Paphs and Phrags during autumn/winter, as most of them grow faster during these seasons, probably due to better temps (not too hot) and high humidity levels!!:)
Correct but thats not what I read at times. It will be interesting to read other comments.
 

likespaphs

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i think that part of it is that the plants respond to {lack of} fertilizer stress which induces blooming.
also, when a plant needs a rest, fertilizing can kick the plant out of its rest period and interrupt the blooming cycle...
 
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Ernie

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Roy,

Excellent points. We never stop feeding. We gauge it all be what the conditions are in the grow areas- NOT outside as you mention.

-Ernie
 
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Ernie

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i think that part of it is that the plants respond to {lack of} fertilizer stress which induces blooming
Not sure how much I buy into the stress induces blooming idea. I totally see the basic idea ("Oh crap! I'm going to die! Do everything to preserve my genetic contribution to the world ASAP!!!"), BUT I've never heard this logically and scientifically explained by a plant physiologist. Any takers to the challenge? I see these more as selective pressures than "immediate harm" stress as msot orchids are (can be) long-lived???

My pre-rebuttals:
Regarding temperature drops at night (another factor often regarded as "stress")... Flower production is energetically costly. Since plants respire at night, cooler nights would reduce respiration and help the plant retain the energy (sugars) it made during the day with photosynthesis instead of using them back up again to respire.

Regarding temporal nutritient deficiencies... This varabiltiy implies that at some point in the future there will be a nutrient bonanza (in the relative sense). Is it not likely that the timing is such that the fruits will bear viable seed to coincide with the the higher nutrient availability (for the seed or ensuing seedlings at some point)? In other words, plants that spit out seed or whose seedlings become nutrient-dependent at a time when nutrients are in low amounts would be selected out of the population over time because the seed/lings would have less vigor than those germinating/growing at more optimal times.

Just my $0.02 (or the turkey talking). Again, would love to hear "the truth" from a plant phys specialist (please cite primary literature if available).

-Ernie
 

TheLorax

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I never thought much about this other than to begin fertilizing using the MSU with the intent of continuing throughout the year. Made sense to me to continue as these plants aren't exactly temperate species.

I do buy into the "stress induces blooming idea" but am not willing to test it out on my poor babies that are already subjected to indecencies here. I'll try to ask a few friends if they can cite any primary literature on evolutionary adaptations to support same. Initial thoughts being of Sonoran Desert species right now in that they frequently channel all of their life sustaining energy into producing seed but other examples of stressed plants setting seed come to mind also. It is my understanding one of the reasons why we are having such horrible issues controlling and managing invasive species is because they have an unparalleled ability to set seed when stressed. Purple Loosestrife and Norway Maple come to mind for me based on personal observations so why not orchids too?
 
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Ernie

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TheLorax,

I still don't think this resolves the fine line between stress and environmental cues???

-Ernie
 

paphreek

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The only reason I would consider reducing (not eliminating) fertilizer in the winter would be if the plant has need for less due to cooler conditions and less light if growing in a greenhouse under natural light. This time of year, we get only 7-8 hours of daylight, much of it overcast. It stands to reason that plants would need a little less fertilizer under these conditions.

That said, the majority of my plants also receive artificial light, so I fertilize the same pretty much all year 'round.
 
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Eric Muehlbauer

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My underlights paphs (mostly seedlings) get even fertilizer all year. My windowsill plants get less fertilizer in winter....hybrids and warmer species get fertilizer twice a month....cooler species paphs get no fertilizer at all from Oct through Jan. I begin fertilizing in early Feb. First of all, it coincides with the drop in temperature....but also in the drop in light. By October, the sun is low in the sky, and the trees are fully leafed. Even my outdoor plants are in continuous shade. For me, leaves don't fully drop until sometime in Dec. Right now, even though I am constantly raking, the the trees on my south side are still mostly leafed...so my plants are in shade even in an all glass southern exposure. They won't get direct sun until mid-Dec. So I fertilize when light noticeably increases, which is early feb. Take care, Eric
 
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Corbin

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I would think that plants grown in a warm environment under lights would need fertilizer all year.
 

Roy

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So far there have been some interesting posts on ths topic. Mostly to the fact that plants grown in controlled environments are fed to some degree all year round. The naturally dormant plants that require rest periods are of course given little water or feed because of that reason. I hope others in the forum will add their comments here or atleast have read the current posts and have them think of what they are doing and if they are gaining the best results from their plants. The minimum being have new & old growers think more about a plants requirements rather than what they think or "someone said" this is the best thing to do, whether they actually know or not.
 

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