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New member from LA

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Darby Gaines, Jun 12, 2020.

  1. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Hi all--I'm from Los Angeles, I've had a small collection of orchids (mostly Cattleyas & their relatives) under shade cloth in my back yard for years. They were suffering pretty badly in the heat & low humidity, so last fall I built a DIY mini-greenhouse for them. Now they're doing a little better, but not exactly thriving. Hoping to get some advice here on how to improve growing conditions in general and make them happier.

    Where would be the best place to start a thread about this topic, Growing Areas or Orchid Culture? I feel like my situation sorta overlaps both subjects.
     
  2. Raven

    Raven Active Member

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    Welcome to the forum!
    We would like to see pictures of your growing area, for sure.
     
  3. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Heh. It's preeeettty DIY, but sure. I'll post some this weekend. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
  4. KellyW

    KellyW Orchid wonk Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome, Darby.
     
  5. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.
     
  6. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Thanks all. Ok, here it is--I had originally planned on building an actual GH from a kit, but budget/reality intervened and so I ended up building this out of scrap wood and the remains of my son's old loft bed:

    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
     
  7. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You are off to a good start.
     
  8. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    It's basically a 4'x4' cube with a peaked roof added. I've got a pump attached to a 55 gal. barrel and a timer for mist, it goes on for about 10-15 minutes an hour. I've got a little fan going (from goodwill!). I've got 50% shade cloth. Ventilation is currently via leaving the GH doors open, I'll probably have to do something better eventually.

    Humidity (according to the little digital meter I've got in there) is consistently between 75-90% down by the plants. The plants are doing ok-ish, they've got new growth and some are blooming (see buds on Laelia purpurata plant above), although not profusely.

    What they're not doing, though, is growing a lot of new roots, and I did think they'd be doing more of that by now. That's the main thing that worries me, I sort of assumed that once I got the moisture level in the air up they'd respond with more root growth, but I'm not seeing it. So I assume they're still stressed, and I'd like to see what I can do to improve growing conditions for them.
     
  9. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    So yes, any suggestions are welcome, or if I need to give more info, let me know. Thanks!
     
  10. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Are you fertilizing them regularly?
     
  11. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A lot of orchids put out new roots with a new growth, so it doesn't necessarily happen with humidity.
     
  12. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Yes, sorry, forgot to mention that -- I use a heavily diluted manure tea-type fertilizer recipe that I got from a book somewhere. Very weak, mostly water, I spray it on a couple of times a week when they've got new growths/blooms.

    A bunch of my plants are starting new growths now, so ok, maybe new roots aren't obvious yet. But I have one Sarcochilus hybrid growing in crushed rock that steadily puts out new leaves but has only a couple of roots, none of which are especially new. They're thick and green, but nothing new.
     
  13. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    When new roots do emerge, check to see that nothing is hollowing out the tips. That would probably be bush snails (very tiny things). I would say you either have it way too bright in there or you aren't fertilizing enough. My bet would be on the fertilizer. That Cattleya purpurata looks way too light green. I have big spikes on robust plants that are a darker green. This is an active growing season and plants need nutrients to be able to put on and mature new growths.

    Personally, I fertilize at almost every watering at 1/4 tsp per gallon. I use MSU for reverse osmosis. Some people do a bit stronger a bit less often. Perhaps others will talk about what they do.
     
  14. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Ok -- I can increase fertilizer for sure. I'll check the light with a light meter app, I didn't think it was too bright but it very well may be, the sun is pretty fierce here.

    By MSU, do you mean this stuff? I'm from East Lansing originally so that would be appropriate if I switched over...
    FEED ME! MSU Fertilizer - RO/Rain/Tap Water - Granular 8 oz
     
  15. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The light and the amount of fertilizer are related. The more light, the more fertilizer they can utilize.

    Yes, that is what I use. But mine comes if 25 lb bags. :)
     
  16. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Ok, great. Thanks! I'll give it a try.
     
  17. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Update--I just set up a reverse osmosis filter system and started with the MSU fertilizer. Thanks for the tips, Marni--I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.

    Also, despite my concern, most of the plants have started growing new roots over the past few weeks, so that's encouraging.
     
  18. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Keep us updated.
     
  19. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Will do. Thanks.
     
  20. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Here's a question related to feeding, specifically for mounted orchids:

    So I've started using MSU fertilizer at 1/4 teaspoon/gallon in RO filtered-water. How do people prefer to apply fertilizer to their mounted plants? Via a spray bottle? Does that deliver enough food? I've also seen pics of people dunking/soaking mounted plants in a 5-gal bucket of water/fertilizer solution, which I could certainly do although it seems like it might be hard to manage if you have a lot of plants to get through.

    Is there a 'best practice' for this? Or just trial and error?

    Thanks all.