Friday, March 19, 2010

A case for semi-hydroponics in orchid cultivation

All of my gardening friends know that I not only grow but preach to high heaven the wonders of growing plants- all of them- hydroponically. I use a material called hydroton that not only is able to hold water but wicks moisture quickly and provides a beneficial humidity to new and existing roots that may not be actually in the water. The stuff has really allowed me to take out the guess work of growing my phals in bark or moss and by giving my plants an inorganic medium, I need not worry about rot and other bad things that come about as a result of using material in over time breaks down and releases toxins.

However, I inadvertently did a small study-- one group of phals grown in hydroton and another that were grow in other material due to their delicate health as a result of root-rot in bark. Now granted, the plants I'm focusing on here were not in the best of health, but to be fair, neither was one of their counterparts that has come to be known as my Monster Phal, because, well, its a monster.

So to the results-- three of my phals that had difficulty with their roots were placed in hydroton at a later date than the rest of my plants and therefore did not have a chance to grow as much as the others. And one might say-- well duh-- if they didn't grow as much of course they're not doing as well. However, these plants were all in bark. Something that most people use to grow these plants-- and many to great success. However, I've had no success with bark. And every plant that I have planted in hydroton last Spring or Summer has bloomed for me this year. So the appeal of hydroponics only increased for me. But the real vote was cast when I placed one of those ailing phals into a larger pot of hydroton as its roots were confused and were not doing well with growing into the water or medium. About three weeks after I planted it in a deeper pot and putting those roots into the medium, a spike appeared, the leaves are now full and shiny and it has grow new roots (as well as new parts to existing ones) into the medium.

I'm sold and convinced-- hydroponics rocks.

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