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Thread: Atypical epiphytic orchid culture technique

  1. #1
    Moderator Joseph Clemens's Avatar
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    Many years ago I had stopped at an Orchid Nursery in the vicinity of San Diego, California. While there I purchased a sibling cross produced seedling of Cattleya harrisoniana -- They were in 2 inch pots and staged together on a greenhouse bench. One of the parents was reported to be tetraploid. I selected my plant from this group, in comparison to its siblings it appeared that it might also be tetraploid. In the decade that followed I moved around the country (USA) quite a bit (miliitary) and never managed to grow this or my other orchids in a very orchid-friendly environment. While the Cattleya harrisoniana did manage to grow from a 2 inch pot to a 4 inch pot, it never managed to bloom.

    Then I managed to stay put for several years in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While there I designed and constructed a small backyard greenhouse. I designed and operated it in an unconventional manner -- especially as it concerned epiphytic orchids.

    The unconventionality:

    I used a 100 gallon cylindrical black polyethylene storage tank, partially burried in an inside back corner of the greenhouse, this was filled by use of a Reverse Osmosis unit rated at 100 gallons/day. The water was pumped out of the R.O. storage tank and pressurized to 60 psi by use of a shallow well pump and rubber bladder pressure storage tank system. This pressure tank and pump supplied the greenhouse. In the greenhouse were misting nozzles controlled by a solenoid valve connected to a humidistat. The humidistat was set to 80% Relative Humidity. Each misting nozzle was positioned strategically around the greenhouse interior to cover more than 90% of the interior of the greenhouse with a fog-like mist, this was assisted by using small 120 vac muffin fans, running continuously, placed behind each mist nozzle. In practice the mist ran almost 24 hours/day and 365 days/year. The precipitation provided by this artificial pure-water mist would fill an empty 5-gallon pail in less than a week, when placed almost anywhere in the greenhouse. Many remarkable and unexpected plant behaviors did occur under this protocol. An illustration of one is what happened to the Cattleya harrisoniana seedling, still unflowered. I repotted it from a square plastic 4 inch pot to a 4 inch round plastic mesh pot and used 100% rockwool for the media. I sprinkled a granular organic based fertilizer over the surface of the pot. Soon a patina of mosses grew to cover the entire pot -- the 4 inch high pseudobulbs were soon replaced with a crop of 8 inch high pseudobulbs with 7 infloresences and 23 - 4 inch flowers at this seedlings first blooming. The first blooming was followed 2 weeks later by a tardy infloresence with 3 flowers.

    Has anyone had a similar experience?



    Joseph Clemens
    Tucson, Arizona, U S A

  2. #2
    rattler's Avatar
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    boy dont you just like to do stuff unconventionally and throw away the book [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_m_32.gif[/img] actually it sounds like it would work in theory to me even without hearing of your great success at least for species used to the warm more or less constantly damp rainforrests of the world. it is basically a hydroponic system from the sound of it. i really need a better paying job so i can build a greenhouse and try some of this stuff for myself [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_n_32.gif[/img]
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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    Those conditions aren't very different from what lots of orchids experience. Especially if that much evaporation kept the temperatures reasonably cool. I wish I had some kind of similar experience to describe, but my plants get challenged by too little humidity.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    Very interesting.....Lol. You sure do like to grow thing unconventionally Lol.
    [img]http://home.**********.com/users/pondboy/Neps/Neps%20sig..JPG[/img]

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    Somewhat Unstable superimposedhope's Avatar
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    It does sound like an epiphytic hydro setup. It should and would I beleive work very well. The key is that you have an extremely quick draining medium. This is also used for growing Rhipsalis (orchid companion plants), you MUST have very fast drainage though or rot is quick on your heels. I do wish i had more money to play like this.

    Joe
    \"There is nothing here of interest to any nation, as a matter of fact there is nothing here but humans!\"

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