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Thread: Got a Psychospsis and I want to grow it as an epiphyte

  1. #1
    swords's Avatar
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    Today I finally found some Psychopsis orchids at the orchid shop (not in bloom right now) and I want to grow it as an epiphyte on a piece of cork & sphagnum, or a log but I'm not sure how to go about it.
    I realize uprooting it and attaching it will probably shock the bejeezus out of it but like I said, it's not in bloom (or even producing a spike right now anyway) so I'm not worried about loosing the flowers or anything.

    I've never mounted an epiphyte before, things have always just sort of colonized the wood in my terrariums by themselves.. I did sprinkle moss spores and pieces over the log and things grew from that but otherwise this is a first for me.

    The plant is a Psychopsis verstegianum and is in a 3" clay pot (the largest leaf is about 7" long). It is planted in what I think is treefern fiber (it looks like little black sticks) but I like to make natural terrariums and wanna mount it on some cork or a regular solid wooden log.
    I have cork of all different sizes and shapes (round, half tube and flat sheets) which would be best-or doesn't it matter? I can also use real hard wood branches but I don't know how orchids will take to that?

    Thanks for any tips folks!

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    Hi Josh - let me see if I can help.

    The "standard" directions for mounting an orchid are:
    - Make a pad of long-fibered sphagnum, maybe 2-4” square and around ½“ thick
    - Place the pad on the mount (use your cork – it’ll retain moisture better)
    - Place the plant on the pad at an acute angle. I’ve seen recommendations of anything from 15 to 60 degrees from the mount. (You’ll have to trim the roots, especially those between the mount and the plant)
    - Tie the plant in place using some sort of waterproof material. The plant should be tied snugly - so that it doesn't wiggle. The ties go completely around the plant roots and mount. For small plants, fishing line is usually recommended (use a thick variety). For large plants, old pantyhose strips have been mentioned. Psychopsis would qualify as a small plant. I usually place additional sphagnum on top of the roots (between the plant and the tie) to help prevent the line cutting the roots.
    - Add some sort of wire hook to the mount and you’re done.

    This is both simpler and more difficult than it sounds. For instance, getting that first loop of fishing line anchored usually takes at least one more hand than is available. [img]http://www.**********.com/iBhtml/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img] It gets somewhat easier with practice.

    That said, some cautions: First off, Psychopsis don’t like to have their roots disturbed. Don’t try to mount them until you see new roots appearing as part of the normal growth cycle. You could lose the plant if you miss-time it.

    Also, the long inflorescence has a down side. A mounted Psychopsis is going to need very frequent watering – maybe even daily. I water my mounted plants by floating them in a tray of water. The ones with cork mounts are placed in the water with the plant side down. Obviously, if the plant has a 40” inflorescence, you won’t be able to do that, so you’ll have to work out a different way of watering them. Maybe you can figure a way to "sink" the cork while the plant soaks. The easiest would be some kind of artificial “rain” in a greenhouse setting.

    Oh, just in case you need some plant info:

    http://www.orchidculture.com/COD/FREE/FS1281.html

    Anyway, good luck!





    (Edited by Merlin at 4:21 pm on May 26, 2002)

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    swords's Avatar
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    Thanks Merlin!

    Well today (before I read your reply) I went to Borders Books and looked at some orchid books I hadn't seen before and saw what to do but from your description (the angle and root disturbance) I might have done something bad... I guess now only time will tell. I have readjusted it so the plant is at an easier angle than the 90* I tried to attach it at orginally.

    About the roots:
    How do I know if it's in it's root phase? It had no spike only one new leaf which looks quite unlike the others Is this a deformed leaf or normal look of new growth?
    I cut the black and/or dried parts off the roots and then soaked it in a quart of distilled water with a few drops of superthrive for a few minutes before I mounted it.

    Yes, they had a few psychs which were in bloom and i saw those flower spikes! yowza!!!) I am keeping my mounted orchids and taller Nepenthes in a 4 ft Tall x 2 ft W x 2ft D terrarium which gets humidity supplied by a ultrasonic humidifier.
    The humidity goes from about 70%-100% throughout the day and night when it hits 100% the plants leaves are wet, temps about 65*-70* & 80* night/day.
    There is a 110 W power compact lighting fixture for the chamber. (Is this too much light for orchids?) At this height the lights are fine for the Nepenthes but I'm very new to orchids (even though I have a few orchid species encyclopedias) and none of the orchid manuals really speak about light in terms I understand. I understand wattages and lumens, "footcandles" sounds like some kind of medieval way of measuring light...! And needless to say I wouldn't know a footcandle if it came up and bit me on the hand! 8-)

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    Okay, lessee -

    The angle of the plant is more aesthetic than anything else. The plant's going to grow towards the light, so if it starts off pointing toward the light, it won't wind up with a kink in the stem.

    As far a new root growth, it's visible as the tips of the new roots emerge from the stem - they look like little blunt cones. They are, BTW, very delicate.

    I don't know what the "deformed" leaf may be. It could be normal growth but it's more likely a leaf that was shocked when it was forming. It shouldn't be a problem. (If all the new leaves continue to look strange, then it's probably disease or environment - but cross that bridge only if you come to it.)

    The care you took with the existing roots was on the money.

    Humidity: Orchids with water-storage organs (pseudobulbs, canes, succulent leaves) almost always need to dry out between waterings. In particular, the roots may rot if they're constantly wet. Be sure the roots get to dry out - even if it means removing most of the sphagnum pad on the mount. You may want to put a small fan blowing on the plant - orchids like good air movement and it'll help dry the roots.

    Light - Psychopsis are listed as needing 'medium' light. That's the equivalent of a bright western exposure or a slightly-shaded southern exposure. I wouldn't venture a guess as to how much it'll receive in your setup. It sounds like it may be too bright.

    Anyway, while I don't think the Psycopsis was the ideal choice for your setup, I think you've got a real good shot at keeping it alive and hopefully, blooming.



    (Edited by Merlin at 2:21 pm on May 28, 2002)

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    Strange. I posted a reply but the 'last reply' name wasn't updated. Anyway, I replied, swords!

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    swords's Avatar
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    I got your reply, it must've been due to PFT upgrading the message board.
    So far the sphagnum seems to dry out inbetween humidifier "on" times pretty well.
    Going by the specs on my setup listed above what type of Orchids would you try? I have a couple small Oncidiums (I think that's what it is, when I bought it and it just said "fancy mounted orchid" that's nice way of IDing it...) and some phalenopsis but I'm not a big fan of these normal orchids, the weirder the better! My favorites are the Masdevallia and Draculas but I don't have a cool enough chamber to grow em super successfully. I have a Masd. bella which in in a 65*-75* vivarium but I think the planting mound may be far too wet as their roots are most certainly constantly moist if not damp. It's putting up leaves but no blooms.

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    Masdevallias and Dracs do need to be kept damp (no water storage organs), since they're cloud forest plants. Maybe there's another reason why your bella isn't blooming...

    If you're looking for weird, have you checked out Bulbophyllums? Most of 'em need medium light, high humidity and average to cool temps. They put out some of the strangest looking flowers you're likely to see - I invite you to do a Google 'image' search. If you decide to give them a try, and need some sources - send me a PM. Oh, one caution: a good number of them are pollinated by flies and smell exactly as you would expect them to. Always check that the particular species you're interested in doesn't smell like yesterday's Alpo.
    Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

    Ageing is not a problem, ageing is a privilege.

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    swords's Avatar
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    heh! Thanks for the tip-I was trying to buy a bulbophyllum actually a few weeks ago but the guy working at the shop couldn't find the price (they don't price their plants just look em up on the PC) so I didn't get it.

    I think the Ampopholous (spelling?) plants look neat but there's a message on one order form "warning: this bloom smells like rotten flesh" so I decided against it...! [img]http://www.**********.com/iBhtml/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif[/img]

    The Masd. bella doesn't get much fertilizer and it is in a high light terrarium (240 watts over a 75 gallon converted fistank). perhaps too much light is causing it?

    I never believe I can overdo the lighting with flourescents but maybe it is possible?

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