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Thread: My first orchid

  1. #1

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    Ok, I finally bit the bullet and bought myself an orchid. Actually its a KMart rescue cause $3.50 was all I was willing to pay for a plant that I have no clue about. Don't worry, I understand the logic that it may not make it cause it was so abused, but I'm use to that. I figure if I can get it to make it then I've got all the issues figured out for the next one.

    Ok, the tag simply said Dendrobium-- I know that doesn't narrow it down much as far as what kind. It is not in bloom, so I have no clue.

    There are 4 canes, two have no leaves at all, one has a few leaves at the top, but most of the cane is bare and the fourth has leaves from about half way up (this one was staked when I bought it). It was potted in what looked like regular potting mix, with a lot of extra perlite in a plastic pot.

    I have repotted it into a sterile pot of the same size, using orchid bark (I think Schultz). I soaked the bark before potting and since I had to soak the plant roots to clean off the store medium I have not watered it yet (about 1 week) although I have misted the top of the bark a couple of times. I guess I'd say the bark size is medium (although I've not seen any other size to compair---it is not fine). The pot size is maybe 3-4 inch and all the really fit was a small amount of bark at the bottom and some on the top cause the plants roots seem to take up the rest of the pot. Since these plants can be mounted on a tree, I guess this is ok, but it doesn't seem quite right to me?[img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img]?

    All four canes appear to have a sheath along them (kind of looks like my lizard ready to shed). I think this is natural?[img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img]
    The two canes that have no leaves, one appears to be shriveled and pinched at the top, the other appears to be as plump as the rest of the cane. Will new leaves grow on these Are the to be cut back to ground level Do I just let them be?[img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img]

    Do I watch for new canes to come up from the pot, is that where new growth will be?[img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img] Will the canes with leaves continue to grow and get new leaves?[img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img] Should I leave the one cane staked (its maybe 5-6 inches tall) or is it to grow over the side of the pot?[img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img]?

    There were no roots growing at the top of the pot that I could tell (would look like roots on a spider plant or pothos right)?[img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img]? The roots did appear white and in good shape when I washed off all the dirt so I didn't cut anything off.

    Right now it is sitting on my kitchen windowsill which faces north but under a florsecent light a few inches above the tallest cane. The rim of the pot sits on the edge of a clear plastic container, there is several inches of space at the bottom of the clear container where I have put water (the water level DOES NOT reach to the bottom of the pot), I figured this would help with humidity. I plan to move the plant to an East window soon, but can watch it better where it is to look for new growth. I would not call the leaf color dark green, but I'm not sure HOW dark to consider it is not getting enough light (the color is about the same as the green of a grape ivy that is in the same window). [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img]??

    Ok---As usual, I talk way to much. Any thoughts on how I'm doing so far will be appreciated. Any of the areas above that end with [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img]?? mean I'd like feedback in those area. Thanks so much, and looking forward to adding to my collection if this one works out.
    Linda in PA

  2. #2
    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    lol Linda...I like your enthusiasm!

    First off, congratulations on your first orchid. It will probably be one of many. hehe You have one that will be a good starter orchid. Dens are pretty easy. As for I.D.ing it...if its not labeled its almost impossible to know since there are thousands of hybrids and more being produced all the time. It will be fun to see it when it blooms and see what color you have. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]

    It sounds like you've done the right things so far. With rescued orchids like you have, all you can hope for is to keep the living canes alive and hope you will get new growth. The leafless canes will not grow new leaves. They will sometimes produce what's called "keikeis" on them which are little baby orchid sprouts. Once a kiekei has grown roots about 1" or so long, you can remove them and plant them. I leave old canes alone until they become very dessicated and then I will cut them off. The "sheath" is natural...you can leave that alone.

    I think you might want to try a little larger pot if there are four canes (even if some are leafless). You don't want to over pot them but it would be good to have some of the orchid bark around the roots. Get something the roots will fit into comfortably without being forced and still have room for the bark medium. Orchid bark drains well so water freqently but don't keep it soggy. Allow it to dry out a little between waterings.

    When it produces new canes, it will be from the bottom. You will see them coming up. Sometimes the canes needs staking if they are a bit top heavy and might fall over or cause the pot to turn over. The canes can continue to grow and produce new leaves at the top but how tall they get depends on the variety...some get taller than others. But they will not just keep growing and growing and growing...like Jack and the Beanstalk. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]

    Dens enjoy an eastern window exposure...bright early light but not too hot. They will also grow under artificial light. As long as your leaves aren't looking yellowish then I'd say their color is good. If they do start to yellow, I just allow them to shrivel and drop off on their own.

    You can fertilize them every other week with an orchid fertilizer or you can fertilize with every watering if its a weak solution (1/4 strength). I use a little Superthrive every once in a while.

    Keep them moist (and you can mist if you like but do that in the morning if possible), give them medium lighting and good air circulation and some fertilizer and you should be rewarded in the next blooming cycle with flower spikes.

    Its very satisfying when you make a rescue and the plant pulls through. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]

    Good luck!
    Suzanne
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

  3. #3

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    Listen to Suzanne! [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]

    Just a couple of additional notes -

    New canes will grow from the base of the youngest cane - which is probably the one with the most leaves. So when you pot, you move the side with leafless (oldest) canes to one edge of the pot and leave the youngest cane close to the middle for maximum growth room.

    Most Dens are only going to spike from the youngest cane but there are species that flower on last year's (leafless) cane. So it's possible that you might get some surprises.

    Old canes are used to store water so I leave them on - if I have room in the pot and they don't show signs of disease.

    Since you've potted in fresh bark, use a balanced fertilizer (eg. 20-20-20). After the bark starts to age, switch to high-nitrogen fertilizer (eg. 30-10-10) to make up for the 'nitrogen draft' created by the breakdown of the bark.

    Good luck and enjoy it! [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif[/img]
    Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

    Ageing is not a problem, ageing is a privilege.

  4. #4

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    Thanks Suzanne and Merlin,

    I am really excited about this baby, wish it could stay in my kitchen window cause I love to just watch it for signs of new growth and I seem to always be at the kitchen sink doing dishes LOL. I will look for a slighly larger pot to move it into and will take your advise to heart. Thanks again, although I can't afford another addiction, my husband already goes crazy evertime I bring a new plant in the house LOL (I've gotten real good at sneaking them in and its weeks before he notices, so I can honestly say "I've had that one for awhile" LOL)
    Linda in PA

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    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    Linda...trust me...you are dealing with all plant addicts here. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif[/img] So everybody understands. Unfortunately I have no one to stop me from buying plants and thats a dangerous thing! But I think sometime in the future...you are going to say..."Welllllll...maybe just ONE more orchid...mine needs a friend." hehe

    Suzanne
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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    Pseudobulbs store much more than water. They are food storage organs just like bulbs.

    Being a midwesterner I would recommend more than just an eastern window for most Den. hybrids. If you can I would put the plant outside for summer in a northeastern exposure or under the shade of a large tree it would really appreciate it.

    During the winter months Dendrobiums appreciate some form of a rest period. Usually with holding all fertilizer for the darkest months of the year is enough, some plants however require slighty less water as well.
    During active growth Dendrobiums are fairly heavey feeders and I would recommend feeding 1/4 strength with every watering.

    One thing no one mentioned was the need for a source of N other than Urea, it(Urea) must first be converted by bacteria to be readily available to plants, in the sterile conditions orchids are grown in that bacteria does not prevail.
    And so one must provide another source (Ammoniacal nitorgen is what most manufaturers use). Personally I lean towards high end hydroponic fertilizers these were produced with the idea of a constant feed program with purified water, as a result they offer everything one could want in a fertilizer.
    FWIW
    [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif[/img]
    Peace

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    Thanks for your input Khai,

    My outdoor choices are pretty limited, I will study my areas this week and see if there is anyplace accomodating but in a place where I will see it to remember to water regular. Most of my potted outdoor plants are full sun and I can keep in our sitting area so I look at them daily.

    I was thinking all weekend about how I could get it to fit into one of my two inside terrariums, which would provide the optimum humidity and great light under florescent tubes (my nepths and many other tropicals are doing great in them). Problem I see is the highth issue of the Dend. The terrariums are planted, but I think I would want to keep this guy in the pot and bury the pot, but a quick eyeball looks like there will not be growing room for the dend even if the pot sits on the bottom of the tank (and I think I would want a couple inches of gravel under the pot to assure drainage). The tallest cane would be almost to the top of the terrarium. How tall do these guys get [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img]

    OH!!!!!! EXCITEMENT!!!!!!! I see some new growth at the bottom of one of the canes, the one with the most leaves. So I guess something is working LOL

    I will have to look at the fertilizers that I have at home and compare to what I need. I'm usually not much of a fertilizer person, but will have to get more educated in it I guess.

    Well, thanks again and I'm sure I'll be back with more questions. And Suzanne, your right I've already started looking for the next one LOL
    Linda in PA

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    Since this is still at the top, figured I'd keep the same thread going. As I said before, I've never been much of a fertilizer person, usually ended up overdoing it and burning the plant. I just picked up a package of Peters All Purpose plant food, says water soluble 20-20-20; 1 teaspoon per gallon of water.

    Now here is the really stupid questions:

    Can I use just a regular teaspoon (like for cooking) or are fertilzer measurements using something else. This package does not come with a scooper--seems to me the one that comes with Miracle grow has scoops on each end (I assume 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon), anyhow, I dont' have any floating around the house and wasn't sure if they are the same size or not.

    To get 1/4 strentgh as suggested by Khai do I mix full strength in the gallon of water then dilute that each time I water? I know, sounds stupid, I'm having one of those moments LOL

    Is there a shelf life to fertilizers, in particular already mixed? If I make up a gallon, it could take awhile to use it up. If I shake to mix well with each use will it last?

    Do I need to use distilled water on orchids? Between all my cp's, and lizard terrariums I am going through 4-6 gallons of water pretty quick. If I need to keep one reserved for just fertilizer I guess that's ok but was wondering if I could use tap water for the regular waterings and maybe flush the pot everycouple of weeks with distilled?[img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img]??

    Ok, I guess I'm done with my questions for now but stayed tuned, I'm sure I'll be back LOL.

    Oh Khai, I think I've figured out that I can put the plant out on my front mud room porch. I've had christmas catcus do well out there in the past. It will get west sun, but because the porch is enclosed its not the hot direct sun. I'll also be able to check it regular as I go in and out the front door.

    Thanks again all, maybe will check Lowes this weekend and see if I can rescue any more LOL
    Linda in PA

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