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Change in watering regimen

Discussion in 'Orchid Culture' started by KellyW, Sep 13, 2022.

  1. KellyW

    KellyW Orchid wonk Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A little background…
    In July, 2018, my wife and I had to evacuate our house due to an approaching wildfire. After 5 days of being away we were allowed back home, fortunately, to an intact home. I did not have an automatic watering system and fully expected to return home to a greenhouse full of dead plants. Surprisingly most of the plants were in decent shape and showed no, or little, signs of stress. I then realized that not all of the plants, even the mounted ones, required daily watering in the summer.

    Following the 5 day absence I stopped watering daily. Over time I have continued to increase the watering interval. California is in severe drought so I have stretched the watering out to 4 or 5 days. I have an evaporative cooler and a single mister on a timer to keep the humidity up to 40%+.

    You can imaging that not all of my orchids have appreciated this change in watering. Some have died, some very stressed and declining, but others are doing perfectly fine. I will list the observations I have made.

    Those doing fine with summer watering intervals of 4-5 days
    Most Dendrobium … exceptions: moniliforme, hekouense, nakaharae.
    Gongora
    Miltonia spectabilis … currently blooming
    Most Bulbophyllum … exceptions: hirundinis
    Epidendrum
    Barkaria
    Philodota cantonensis
    Vanda / Ascocentrum
    Tolumnia
    Cattleya labiata … 3 sheaths currently forming buds
    Meiracyllium trinusutum … blooming now
    Coelogyne kelamensis … new leaves are smaller
    Barbosella australis … looks better than ever
    Ancistrochilus rothschildianus
    Schoenorchis scolopendria
    Dendrobium bigibbum … currently blooming beautifully
    Acianthera polystachya
    Angraecum distictum
    Lockhartia lunifera
    Epigeneium triflorum v. orientale
    Pleurothallis sarracenia
    Eria aporoides
    Lepanthopsis astrophora
    Ornithocephalus
    Brassavola nodosa
    Mediocalcar decoratum (in moss)

    Some that are doing poor
    Most Pleurothallids … some exceptions mentioned above
    Restrepia … all look bad, some have died
    Maxillaria … mixed results
    Bulbophyllum hirundinis
    Dendrobium moniliforme, hekouense, nakaharae
    Cryptotus elatus
    Coelogyne nitida
    Zygopetalum maxillare
    Kefersteinia
    Paphiopedalum
    Schoenorchis gemmata
    Microterangis
    Zootrophion
    Aerangis bioloba
    Aerangis monantha
    Trichosalpinx chaemolepanthes
    Gastrochilus japonica
    Ceratostylus philippinensis
    Mediocalcar decoratum (on mount)
    Lepanthes calodictyon … died

    There are numerous others in both categories.

    I am not suggesting that anyone else do what I have done but I felt it was interesting enough to share. I eliminated my lawns about 10 years ago and have my landscaping on drip irrigation. Watering my orchids less and shifting to species that can tolerate less water is just another water conservation effort that I’m willing to try.
     
  2. spiro K.

    spiro K. Well-Known Member

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    Kelly, you are doing the right thing.
    I have also ,through the years, concentrated on species that like my conditions.
    I figure there is no point holding plants alive that just dont like my growing conditions.
     
  3. rico

    rico Active Member

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    That's a very brave and novel experiment to take; thanks for sharing your current results! I've also noticed significant drought tolerance among some of my plants. In particular, in the past I've given Ang. magdalenae winters with watering only once or twice a month with no leaf-dropping, discoloration, or shriveling to be seen. It's amazing how resilient they can be - sometimes.
     
  4. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    That is a great thread! I may have to rethink a few of my plants to see if I can improve them. Do you have mandatory rationing there?
     
  5. KellyW

    KellyW Orchid wonk Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Marni, within the city limits we are limited to 3 days per week for landscape watering. Outside the city, some of the water districts have severe rationing. Many private wells are going dry.

    I have taken upon myself to use as little water as possible. 44 years ago when I moved to California most winters were wet with an occasional dry winter. It has reversed now where winters are dry with an occasional wet one. I hope I’m wrong but I believe this is the new normal.

    For the past 5 years I have been volunteering, 2 days per week, at a local non-profit nursery that grows and sells CA native and other drought tolerant landscaping plants. It is amazing how many people are now coming in to get plants because they are removing their water hog lawns.
     
  6. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    In Santa Rosa, we have been on a mandatory 20% cut for more than a year and a half. I haven't had a lawn since the late 1960's, so that is not a problem. I now use the reject from the RO system to water the plants that are outside. I've lived in northern California all my life and I, too, think this is the way it is going.

    For mosst, you didn't say if these are mounted or potted plants. For the ones you care about that aren't doing well, have you tried using a more moisture retentive medium for some that are not happy with reduced watering? Or potting the ones that were mounted? Sometimes I just have to tell myself that I can't grow everything.
     
  7. KellyW

    KellyW Orchid wonk Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Marni, most of my plants are mounted on cork, tree fern or sticks. I may take some plants off mounts and put in baskets with moss to revive them.

    Some of the ones already in moss or moss mixes are doing poorly such as the Restrepia, Pleurothallids, Kefersteinia, Zygopetalum (in coconut fiber/basket), Paphiopedilum.

    fyi… my Restrepia chocoensis is in a 2” terra cotta pot with sphagnum moss and looks great. Surprised me.
     
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  8. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    The orchid-growing globe is experiencing all sorts of changes these days. You western-US folks are getting hit pretty hard with the short water supply, and folks in Europe who grow under lights are having to cut back on that due to the cost of electricity.

    One grower told me the monthly bill has jumped from €150 to €700!
     
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  9. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It isn't just the under-lights growers who are going to face a disaster in Europe. The big commercial nurseries are going to have a real problem with heating this winter. Growing Phalaenopsis without adequate heat in Germany and the Netherlands won't work.
     
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