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& transplant instructions)
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gardeners in the United States have probably heard about
hydroponics in a vague way. Usually related to the use
of hydroponics for the production of food. This method
has been used extensively throughout Europe, the Middle
East and Japan, because of its efficiency of water,
space and resulting high yield. The methods used are
system used for growing tropical ornamentals emerged
from Europe about thirty years ago. It consists of a
two pot system using expanded fired clay pellets as
a medium and a gauge or water level indicator to monitor
the liquid nutrient in the outer pot or reservoir.
nutrient is used every time the reservoir is empty.
Simply mix the nutrient in advance in a gallon jug and
pour through the clay pellets next to the gauge. The
clay pellets are sterile, light, porous, insect and
fungus free and everlasting. The perfect growing medium
for orchids. The clay pellets draw moisture from the
reservoir evenly throughout the root zone.
of the design of the culture pot the roots are not growing
in water; they are growing in the fired clay pellets
which draw the moisture by capillary action from the
supply in the outer pot. They are, therefore, evenly
moist but never wet. Because the fired clay does not
break down or decompose, the only reason to repot is
when the orchid is pot bound.
When repoting there is
no need to remove the medium. Except for some root
pruning that may be necessary, the roots need not
be disturbed. With conventional growing materials
the minute any medium is put into the pot, it is the
best it will ever be. The medium soon begins the process
of decomposition and all must be removed from the
roots at repotting time.In fired clay pellets the
plant is taken from the hyropot, roots pruned if necessary,
set in the next size hydropot and additional fired
clay pellets added to fill the pot.
Since there is no deterioration
of the fired clay and the roots are never too wet,
the orchid can remain in the same size hydro pot for
many years of growth to achieve a specimen size plant.
If the orchid is to be divided, this can be done without
radically upsetting the roots.
Another plus is that insects
and fungus do not live in fired clay pellets. Because
the orchids are not stress by being too wet or too
dry, foliage attacking insects are less prevalent.
If a foliage infestation should occur it should be
dealt with in the usual way.
Before reusing the hydro system
the fired clay pellets should be air dried and baked
in an oven in a roasting pan. The hydro pots should
be washed with soap and a mild bleach or peroxide
should be done once a month by taking the hydroplanter
to a warm water source. Separate the two pots and run
water through the fired clay. Return the culture pot
to the outer pot and refill to half way between "min"
and "opt" level with prepared nutrient. Always
allow the hydroplanter to go dry before refilling.
Light, temperature and
air circulation should all remain the same as conventional
orchid culture. The hydroculture system will add humidity
around the plant which is another bonus. In a dry
environment the evaporation rate will increase adding
to the humidity around the foliage. For some orchids
a rest period after blooming is recommended. In the
hydroculture system this is easily controlled. Either
replace the nutrient solution with plain water to
a initially lower depth, or withhold the reservoir
moisture completely and occasionally run plain water
through the medium.
To place an orchid
growing in conventional medium into a hydroplanter,
simply remove all of the old medium. The roots must
be thoroughly washed and pruned; removing any unsound
roots. The orchid is now ready to be set into the
hydroculture pot. The hydroculture system comes with
complete directions and a years supply of nutrient.
Call us anytime for cultural advice or to place an
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