Welcome to OrchidsForum.com. We are a friendly online community for Orchid Growers all over the world. If you haven't joined yet we invite you to register and join our community. Hope to see you on our forums!

Lepanthes calodictyon- tolerant of water on leaves?

Discussion in 'Orchid Culture' started by Tired, Jan 15, 2022.

  1. Tired

    Tired Member

    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    32
    I just got one of these little jewels, and I'm hoping I can get it to do well. I have an orchid terrarium with a Mistking system (automatic mister with very fine spray) and a circulation fan, which has been doing well for other species. The issue I'm having is that this little orchid's leaves seem custom-made to catch and hold water, with that cupped shape. It came in with a number of buds, and the buds practically get submerged on a couple of leaves.

    Does this tolerate water on the leaves better than other orchids? I don't think I have anywhere I can put it where it'll get mostly sprayed around the roots, and still be in decent humidity. And I can't picture how it gets water in the wild without having the leaves stay wet for at least a little while, unless it grows somewhere that never rains, only fogs heavily.

    Basically, I'd love to hear from anyone who grows this beauty with an automatic mister. Hand spraying isn't an option, I have a fatigue issue and would miss a lot of spraying sessions.
     
  2. EvanT

    EvanT New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Germany
    I grow mine in quite wet conditions and many people grow them in vivaria where water may be on the leaves quite a bit. New growths will probably orient themselves more vertically and thus catch less water. I wouldn’t worry about it unless your plant shows signs of stress.
     
    Tired likes this.
  3. Tired

    Tired Member

    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    32
    It arrived with flower buds, has bloomed with said buds, and is continuing to grow new buds and bloom with those. I know some orchids will flower when stressed, trying to reproduce before they die, but I'm hoping the blooming is a good sign here. At the very least, I'm glad to see that the buds are blooming just fine even with how wet they get.
    [​IMG]
    Seems healthy enough to me. Hard to get a picture with the lighting, my phone doesn't like it. The two yellowed leaves were like that when it came in; I assume they're just old. That leaf at the back is the one that catches the most water, being angled up like that, and stays wet the longest.

    I'm really hoping this plant does well for me. It's such an interesting shape, and I love the leaf patterns and the tiny, precious flowers. Any tips? I'm growing it intermediate-warm, kept moist, with fairly high humidity but not stagnant air.
     
  4. Piranhacon

    Piranhacon Member

    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Rosemead, CA
    Oh, Lepanthes will let you know when they're stressed alright! They'll drop leaves left and right faster than you can do anything about it if it's bad enough.

    In the case of Lepanthes, if it is alive and blooming, chances are they're gonna be alright.

    To answer your original question. Yes, Lepanthes can tolerate water on their leaves just fine. In some cases, it will help straighten out crinkled leaves if you catch it early enough.

    Don't keep them sopping wet - they don't like that even though they can tolerate quite a bit of moisture.

    Intermediate to warm is fine for this species.

    Moderate to high relative humidity is fine.

    I think your lighting may be adequate enough. They are lower light growers, ("bright shade").

    Don't need to mist these. They'll do just fine without it.

    As with other orchids, pay attention to root health. Lepanthes can drop all leaves and still be alive if there are enough strong living roots on it and the rhizome is still alive. On the flip side, if the roots are all dead, it'll be near impossible to save them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2022
    Tired and Marni like this.
  5. Tired

    Tired Member

    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    32
    Oh, right, that lovely trick. I had an L. gargoyla that was growing and blooming, then abruptly self-destructed over the course of about a week. Best guess is it got a little too dry while I was trying to fine-tune the sprayer schedule.

    Do orchids ever 'lag' in showing a problem? I have a small reef tank, so I have some experience growing corals. If they're stressed, it can take up to a couple of weeks for them to physically show that stress, meaning you might not realize what the problem is because it started half a month ago. It also means that you can fix the problem and still lose the coral, if it takes two weeks to start recovering and doesn't last that long.
    It also means that you can buy a coral and have it do quite well for a few weeks, then slowly start going downhill, because it was coasting on the conditions from the last tank and the current conditions are just now hitting it. Do orchids ever do that sort of thing? Or will a micro-mini orchid newly placed in subpar conditions tend to show it reasonably fast?

    The mount moss for this little guy is a bit more moist than some of my other plants, but if I were to take the moss and squeeze it hard (I will not, it has roots in there), it wouldn't drip any water. So it is, I think, a reasonable moisture level.

    I misspoke about the light; it's working just fine for the plants, and looks nice in person. I just have a hard time taking nice-looking photos with my phone camera because of the exact color of the lights.

    The misting is because that's how I keep everything watered, and the humidity nice and high. I have a circulation fan in there, and it loses humidity fast if I don't regularly have the mister spray everything.

    [​IMG]

    This is my Lepanthopsis astrophora. It's directly in the path of one of the sprayers. Every time the sprayer goes off, its leaves and flowers get soaked. When it blooms, the flowers will sometimes be caught inside a droplet of water for half an hour or more after the morning spraying.
    Either it doesn't mind, or it likes this, because it's bloomed 3 times and nearly tripled in size since I put it there in April 2021. The flowers last a tidy couple of weeks, so I don't think they're dropping early at all. The wonders of air movement, I suppose.
    The L. calodictyon doesn't get nearly this wet, but I thought I'd show this one anyway, because it still entertains me that this little fella gets soaked and does just fine. Everything around it stays slightly drier, though you can't tell in this photo, the sprayers had just gone off.
     
  6. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,323
    Likes Received:
    3,107
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Yes, orchids can lag and slowly go down hill. So slow that you don't really realize it. I've experienced that with water quality issues several time over the years. And as if bad water weren't enough, I bought a badly formulated batch of fertilizer a couple years ago. I lost a lot of plants before I figured it out.
     
    Alex Shepack and Piranhacon like this.
  7. Piranhacon

    Piranhacon Member

    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Rosemead, CA
    Orchids, in general, lag in showing distress or decline.

    Smaller Lepanthes show it really fast - within 1 - 3 wks if they were growing well to begin with.

    For example:

    I just got a Lepanthes quadricornis (a small species) that looked somewhat decent a few days ago, and the largest leaf is already starting to go out (leaf mesophyll is shriveling; you can see the large veins, making it look "emaciated"). The second most mature leaf is about to senesce too , and this is a plant with only 3 leaves. The newest leaf will likely survive. It has a strong root system. Overall, this plant is likely to pull through in the long-term. They tend to explode in growth once they settle in.

    Larger Lepanthes may take a bit longer to show signs of decline (about 1 - 1.5 months).

    Btw, Lepanthes can be sensitive to fungicides, be careful!
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2022
    Alex Shepack likes this.
  8. Tired

    Tired Member

    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    32
    Oh, lovely. I wish we had sci-fi scanners that we could point at a plant and view whether or not it was happy with its conditions. It would make so many things so much easier.

    If I put an orchid in a temperature or moisture range it doesn't like, and it lags on starting to decline, will it grow at all while it's lagging? In other words, I have a couple of plants that arrived with small new leaves and are growing those leaves out larger; does that mean they're doing reasonably well, or could they be lagging?

    If a micro-mini orchid still seems to be doing well a month after arrival, can I be reasonably sure that the general environmental conditions (light, moisture level, temperature) are to its liking?

    I have a phone app that may help with the watching for decline. It's called A Florist, and it lets you create entries for your plants. You can upload photographs to those entries and have them seen in chronological order. When I have a new plant, I try to remember to photograph it every week, to see if there's any sort of trend. Once it's had a couple months and seems to be happy, I photograph less often, maybe once a month. It's fun to see the progress of the plants, and it means that, if something starts declining, I have a good chance at spotting the difference between the photos.

    I haven't had any visible fungi in this setup, aside from a dash of white mold on the leaf litter when it was first added (very common in new terrariums and seems harmless unless there's a plant right next to it), but that's still good to know about the fungicide.
     
  9. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,323
    Likes Received:
    3,107
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    If the new leaves are larger, it may be that it is in less light than before. It may be that the plant is a seedling and has not reached full size yet. I'm sure it could mean a couple other things. Perhaps more nitrogen than before?
     
    Piranhacon likes this.
  10. Tired

    Tired Member

    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    32
    The new growths seem to be on track to be the same size as the other leaves, but they're currently small growths that haven't matured yet. Whatever the term is for a leaf bud. A baby leaf, like this one:
    [​IMG]
    If a plant arrives with a baby leaf, is placed in unsuitable conditions, and lags in showing its distress, will the baby leaf grow into an adult leaf while it's lagging, or will the baby leaf stay a baby leaf?
     
  11. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,323
    Likes Received:
    3,107
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    A new growth can continue to grow if conditions are good and even if they aren't good. If conditions are bad, the new growth could just rot off. I don't think you can make make hard and fast rules about what is going to happen. There are so many variables. The answer to your questions will frequently be "It depends" and "Time will tell."

    If you find that a plant puts out a growth and at the same time or a bit later, it looses an older growth, you may have a problem. I think a longer view is going to serve you well. Is your plant progressing, standing still or going backwards? Except for a few instances (heat or cold stress, some kind of rot) orchids do things slowly. A change in conditions may take a month or two or much more to show results.
     
    Tired and Piranhacon like this.
  12. Piranhacon

    Piranhacon Member

    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Rosemead, CA
    How large the leaves grow is a rather poor signifier of whether the plant is doing well or not, even if it is in comparison to its older leaves. I'll give you a couple examples:

    1) Using the plasticity model (in this case, plasticity is referring to adaptability)...like what Marni had said, an orchid's leaf may grow out bigger or smaller than the previous leaves because of different lighting conditions.

    - Lower light may trigger the leaf to grow larger to increase the surface area of the leaf that can be exposed to more light.

    - Higher light may trigger the leaf to grow smaller leaves to decrease the surface area of the leaf exposed to too much light.

    2) In the case of certain Pleurothallids, some of them (particularly certain Lepanthes), will grow smaller non-flowering growths, but will also push out larger flowering growths, and this is normal behavior. Lepanthes gargoyla is one of these species that displays the aforementioned growth pattern. If you see enough of these grow out over a long enough period of time, you'll see what I mean.

    If you're trying to determine how well the orchids are doing with respect to the lag time that they respond due to changes in stimuli, you can usually tell the [sometimes] subtle differences between what is normal behavior and what is abnormal behavior given some time and experience.

    Generally speaking, if the plant is growing much faster than it is deteriorating, the plant's in good shape. On the flip side, generally, if the plant is deteriorating faster than it is growing, the plant is in deep trouble.

    The better determinant of an orchid doing well or not is usually looking at their roots. Lots of dead or dying roots, usually (not always) mean heavily stressed out or declining plant.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2022
    Marni likes this.
  13. Tired

    Tired Member

    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    32
    Fair enough; nature doesn't have so many hard-and-fast rules. Infinitely frustrating when you like clear lines and boundaries.

    I know some about variable leaf sizes, mostly from my Nepenthes. The same principle applies to just about any plant that has leaves, I think. I was more asking, if an immature leaf grows into a mature leaf of any size, how good of a sign is that?

    Since I've turned this into a general question thread, any tips on L. gargoyla? I like the colors, the odd shape, and the two different types of leaves, and I'd like to not kill another one.

    It's nice to get answers to relatively specific questions, thank you both. I have some experience with houseplant orchids, Nepenthes (vining pitcher plants), pygmy sundews, and some relatively easy terrarium plants in a dart frog vivarium I used to have. I also had a micro orchid terrarium a few years ago, but lost almost everything in it and had to rehome the rest when a chronic fatigue condition got bad and I couldn't keep up with the upkeep.
    So I have experience with plants and general plant troubleshooting, but most of them were a lot less specific in their desires than some of these little guys. I'm decent with trying to get my own research done online, but Googling variations on "do orchids lag" doesn't seem like it'll get anywhere.
     
  14. Piranhacon

    Piranhacon Member

    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Rosemead, CA
    Well…I can tell you what do with my Lepanthes and you can decide if it is worth doing or not…

    I have found it beneficial to remove the orchid from the potting medium it was sent in and inspect the well-being of the roots.

    I would also invest in a pair of glasses that allows for you to switch out magnifiers. Get the one that contains 2x - 25x lenses and has LED lights. These glasses are usually used for working with jewelry or watches. They’re not terribly expensive either. You can find them on Amazon.

    I would put these magnifier glasses on to carefully clean my Lepanthes of any dead roots or stems. I recommend using a toothpick and a pair of small scissors as cleaning tools. Have a container of RO/DI water handy while cleaning the plant off with the toothpick. Occasionally, there will be dead plant materials that get stuck in hard to reach places, and that’s what the water is for. (You can dip the plant in the water or gently slosh it around to dislodge the dead tissue.)

    The reason why I go to great lengths to clean off as much of my Lepanthes as possible without causing damage is to minimize possible bacterial or fungal infections.

    I would also not put too much moss around the roots. Also, watch how much water the plant tolerates. It may have had its roots rotted off due to inadvertently overwatering it.

    Lths gargoyla likes moderate to high relative humidity 50% - 90%.

    It is an intermediate to warm grower.

    Grow under bright shade.

    Play around with either putting the roots on top of the moss or beneath the moss, and see how it tolerates the placement.

    Here’s a cool tip with Lths…

    Try not to grow them in the high end of their humidity tolerance grow it closer to their lower end of humidity tolerance. They will adapt by growing thicker leaves with a waxier surface to prevent excessive water loss.

    Don’t mist.

    Don’t water everyday.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2022
    Tired likes this.
  15. Piranhacon

    Piranhacon Member

    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    Rosemead, CA
    By intermediate to warm, I mean 60 F - 85 F.
     
  16. Tired

    Tired Member

    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    32
    Seems like good advice to me, thank you.

    While I'm at it, a question about etiquette here on this forum. If someone posts pictures of a rare plant that looks like it's definitely big enough to be propagated, is it rude to ask if they ever have any for sale or trade? I'm not planning on running around treating the place like a menu, I just wanted to check whether that's allowed here on the off chance I see something I've been looking for.
     
  17. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,323
    Likes Received:
    3,107
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Some people do that. Although some members may not like it. What you think is a divisible plant might seem like it to the owner. You could ask if they can recommend a source to purchase that species. Perhaps it would be better to send them a private message so they don't feel put on the spot. There is also a forum for "Wanted" that you could use. Some people use it as a compliment. I frequently ignore requests like that in a thread I posted. I've gone back and gotten in touch with someone only to be told "Oh, I was just joking."
     
    Tired likes this.
  18. Tired

    Tired Member

    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    32
    Ooh, asking for a source is a good idea, I'll just do that. Problem solved.

    I'm definitely not about to ask someone to divide their specimen plant for some random person on the Internet; more along the lines of "if you do happen to propagate this, I'm interested".