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Thread: How important is lime

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    swords's Avatar
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    I have been delaying purchasing some of the more "difficult" Paphiopedilum species due to their supposed dependency upon alkalinity in the soil. Basically a PH up to neutral 7, but even that is far more alkaline than peat or even LFS. Some things I've read include going so far as to use crushed limestone cement pieces in the soil mix.

    Is anyone growing P. rothschildianum, P. sanderianum, etc. who are said to "require" this soil ammendment? Is it not as important in cultivation as natural distribution? As in the case of Nepenthes northiana, who does just fine in a normal Nepenthes mix but is said to be a limestone specialist in the wild...

    If limestone is required for proper care of P. roth and P. sander, how are you supplying the lime and how often?

    Thanks for any thoughts! [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html312/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]

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    Hi swords,
    We use carbon filtered tap water on the Paphs, and occasionally RO to flush the pots. Our water is loaded with calcium carbonate, and is a natural for the species you mentioned and brachys like belatulum and niveum.
    The northianas are treated like all the Neps, RO or collected rain water. We grow them in regular mix. Still, they are really touchy.
    Our problem in Florida is getting low night temps to induce flowering in rothschildianum. If you get conditions halfway to their liking they just grow and never flower.

    Trent

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    swords's Avatar
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    Thanks Trent,
    My N. northiana has always grow very well with thick sturdy leaves and nice pitchers on each leaf but slow to increase in diameter. It has now started to actually spread and is about 35-40 cm in diameter. I have read that an occasional flush with limewater might be benfitial to it but I'm afraid to try anything due to it's touchy reputation. Do you do this for N. northiana? In what ratios?
    Mine grows in plain long fibered sphagnum moss, much of which is alive and growing nowadays. There also maybe a bit of orchid bark in the soil, I don't recall anymore.

    Wow, only use R/O to flush paphs occasionally? I use R/O for all my plants and fishtanks for fear of my tap water's low PH but very high karbonate hardness (salinity) due to the sodium filter the condominium water system uses. Is there a product I can add to the R/O water (like horticultural lime or Kalkwasser calcium carbonate supplement for reef tank aquariums) to harden up the R/O for the more "hard water" species?

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    I hear that the Paph growers in Hawii use Cal-Mag because their water is collected rainwater. I've never used Cal-Mag because we don't need it down here, and it's hard to find in south Florida. Our problem with calcium is there's too much of it! I hear they use it on Vandas too, and in fact Vandas actually get a disease as a result of calcium/magnesium deficiencies. We grow Vandas and Ascocendas too and never have had problems because of our high ph values.
    As for the northiana, we use strictly RO on them. they grow slowly and sometimes pitcher, but cannot figure out what else to do for them. I would be afraid to put calcium on them for fear of shock, but maybe they need it.

    Trent

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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    Calcium deficiency is quite dramatic. Constant use of RO/distilled/rain water without supplimental feeding would certainly be an issue.

    Deffinately don't use any water run through a sodium water softener. That will kill most plants in short order.

    I wouldn't bother with hardening water for Nepenthes and if they are regularly fed with insects then mineral defficiency should not be an issue. A good fertilizer for houseplants and orchids and such would be needed however. Cal mag is good stuff but there are also a bunch of other fertilizers available for soilless (peat based soil) or hydroponic growers that contain all macro, minor and trace elements.

    On a side note.. most fertilizer found at the garden shop also contain minor elements like calcium but it is not usually listed on the label. If you read the ingredients however you might see something like calcium phosphate as the chief ingredient supplying phosphate. While supplying phosphate it is also supplying calcium.

    Keep in mind that most fertilizer is designed to mix with regular water that contains significant carbonate hardness. This acts to buffer the fertilizer and keep the Ph within acceptable range. If you add fertilizer to pure water such as DI, RO, Rain, 9 times out of 10 you will drop the Ph of the solution down into the 4-5 range (or lower). This should be adjusted back up to 6-6.5 for your houseplants and orchids etc.

    Tony
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    Bob Wellenstein from AnTec Labs wrote this awsome article on fertilizer and water and the relationship between the two. It is very technical but unavoidable when dealing with water/fertilizer chemistry.

    At the bottom are also more links which talk more directly about mineral and calcium supplimentation for Brachys etc..
    Notes on Fertilizer - Wellenstein

    Tony
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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    The Wellenstein's articles on Paph growing are top notch. He converted me to coconut husk chips, and use it with all Paphs and Phals now. I mix chips with aliflor and charcoal and have gotten great results.
    Tony, you're a Lycaste grower? Some of the species bloom easily down here (s. Florida), while others need it cooler (such as the beautiful L. skinneri). Anyone hybridize the warm growers with coolgrowers to get something survivable in southeastern US?

    Trent

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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    There are a few crosses using some of the Mexican species with some of the cooler growing ones. Not alot though because they are so dominant for multiple generations that you can pretty much bank on yellow flowers somewhere inbetween in size.

    I used to do alot of orchids, primarily Paphs, Lycaste, and Disa but have gotten somewhat away from it now with the CPs and the vast number of Nepenthes that only a short while ago I would never have dreamed of ever seeing in my collection! Maybe one day I will get back into doing more.. still some of my awarded things floating around as Par O Bek ___

    Tony



    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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