The Orchid Forum, for the UK and Europe (previously known as The UK Orchid Forum) • View topic - How I grow phrags
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 Post subject: How I grow phrags
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:38 pm 
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Starting to put down roots here
Starting to put down roots here

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Hi,

It all started about eight years ago with a single plant of Mem.Dick Clements off eBay.
It grew slowly and flowered occasionally but didn’t really fly for a good couple of years.
My culture was obviously not great. I was growing indoors on windowsills and watering with rain water plus the occasional feed with miraclegro.
This is the plant today. Six growths with five flower stems just starting to develop.
Image03CD2B91-B120-42E1-8963-028625F32F40 by john quaife, on Flickr

Still grow indoors but have learnt a bit in the intervening years about culture!
So the number one culture tip for phrags is rain water. For me this is a must.
The salt pen shows the conductivity of my rain water reads about 30. The hard tap water is 300.

The first big improvement for me was using rain mix feed. I add a single small scoop to every watering year round. This takes the conductivity up from 30 to 120. Still a lot less than the 300 of tap water.
This produced an immediate jump in growth of all the phrags. The plant sit in trays of this feed all the time. The water is usually about 1cm deep.I rarely flush through as the feed is at such a low rate it is probably not needed. Phrags are supposed to be heavy feeders so why can they do well at these low feed rates? It may be because the roots have access to all the feed in all the pots and tray. If one plants feeds more heavily then feed will percolate in to replace that lost close to this plants roots.
So the available feed for each plant is quite a bit even though it is present at a low concentration.
The next improvement was an accident when I was trying new potting mediums. I try to keep to inorganic mixes.
Growstones are new on the market and have an alkaline pH. They are in effect expanded glass.Only useful to add as part of a mix. It killed roots when I tried it at 100%.
However a few stones in the water in the tray improved growth and greened up a couple of the plants. It may bring extra calcium or silica or magnesium. So now all plants have it in every tray.

Image26E14E8C-0EC6-46FB-8DDA-B9EA37226C28 by john quaife, on Flickr

These are a mature Don Wimber and Suzanne Decker and have grown using these methods for several years. The plants go outside onto the patio for the summer where they receive full sun with no protection from early afternoon. They take it in their strides. The rest of the year they sit in a west facing window in a tray of water.

ImageC2D8FAE0-666C-4E47-A542-C2E3B81D5BD7 by john quaife, on Flickr

These two big plant sit on a trolley and I have added a couple of T5 lights underneath so I can grow on the second shelf. This has several seedlings doing really well.
The last improvement was to add a top dressing of moss to the pots. It started off with the seedlings but the results were so good that it has now been extended to all plants. Root growth is obviously better and also top growth. Quite why is not clear. It could be due to improved humidity or something in the moss that interacts with the plants. After all most phrags grow in and amongst moss in the wild.

This is a seedling showing nice root growth.

Image25803039-552D-4BA4-9011-54564D588BCA by john quaife, on Flickr

Anyway that will do for now.

Regards

David



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 Post subject: Re: How I grow phrags
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:54 pm 
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Well thanks for that David. This is a type of orchid that I have trouble growing well. Any tips are gratefully received.

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 Post subject: Re: How I grow phrags
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:18 pm 
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Thanks for that info David. It has given me more confidence that I am actually doing right by my couple of phrags.
More by luck than experience I think, my regime is almost identical now to yours. I use even more moss (100% at the top of the pot, gradually lessening in amount until it is just clay pellets, limestone chips and a little bark at the bottom). The biggest change I made was weakening the concentration of feed just as you outline, plus sticking them outdoors all summer. My Grande has gone in 12months from a single spike to two mature ones with developing spikes and two new growths.
Thanks for sharing your ideas. Your plants speak for themselves.
Chris


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 Post subject: Re: How I grow phrags
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:39 am 
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Starting to put down roots here
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Hi redtwist,
Great to hear I am not the only one growing this way.
I am really surprised that such an easy method of growing phrags yields such results.
It pretty much turns them into house plants.
All they need a a windowsill and to sit in a reservoir of water. So easy.
The photo of the seedling with the roots growing over the moss- this was it when it arrived from the USA via Germany. It had dried out and lost all but two leaves. This was in May this year.

Image8B411589-74BD-4625-AF87-CC74808124F0 by john quaife, on Flickr

So even when seedlings arrive beaten up they can recover in a matter of months!

Regards,

David


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 Post subject: Re: How I grow phrags
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:41 pm 
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Wow. That is a great improvement in a short time. Great rescue.
I do think the right water and plenty of it is the key for these guys. I noticed even when mine were outside they grew fastest when the weather was at its worst. The more they got battered by rain the more they liked it!
Chris


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 Post subject: Re: How I grow phrags
PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:40 pm 
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Agreed.
Mine were fine outside all summer in the 30 degree heat of June and the rain of later summer.
The only problem was a bit of mechanical damage due to wind. I'll find somewhere slightly more sheltered next year.
Some plants were inundated by a rain storm for three days and suffered no ill effects. Water to the top of the pots!

I do think that what we are doing is imitating nature with this growing regime.
The plants in the wild will be growing in drainage seeps with very low salt water always available.
In addition they nearly always grow in company with mosses.
A very good grower of paphs in the US tells me that she top dresses all her plants for the same reason.
She has several AOS awards.
Mimicking nature has got to be a good idea!

Regards,

David


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 Post subject: Re: How I grow phrags
PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:15 pm 
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Thanks David, I have been really interested in your set up, as it is similar to my own. I really like your use of spaghnum moss, and I will be using it in the future. I use a pure expanded clay medium, in a semi hydroponics set up for my of my plants, and all of my phrags. Once roots establish, it works really well but a major problem is getting new growths to root, because the top medium layer is often dry. I think using your moss top layer will really help with this. I don't use rainwater, I live in wales and the tapwater here is okay. I do regularly flush the pots, at least every 2 weeks. However I haven't measured ppm, and I will do this in the future.

The growstones are new to me! I am really interested in them as maybe I can replace my hydroton with these, or maybe make mixes of both.

Once again, thanks for the post David, I really appreciate you taking the time to share I am learning a lot.


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 Post subject: Re: How I grow phrags
PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:58 pm 
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Starting to put down roots here
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Tom,

Glad to hear of another forum member using a similar technique. You will definitely find that the phrags will root well into any new moss top layer.
Be careful with 100% growstones. They are quite basic and this can affect rooting!

Image47ACEDEC-3149-4E8E-8C7E-D83F6A27FAA7 by john quaife, on Flickr

These are all of this years seedlings from Orchids Limited in the USA. All are growing well apart from the seedling in the bottom right. It’s a bit pale. Jerry at OL tells me that this grex has a tendency when young to suffer from this and the potting mix need to be more alkaline. I’ve added growstones to the mix and hope things will turn round.
I hope some will flower next year.
Regards,

David


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 Post subject: Re: How I grow phrags
PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:51 pm 
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Hi David. I suppose I grow mine in the same but different way. I use a slow release fertilizer just twice per year so the plants, like yours, always have a little feed available. My plants go outside from ..say.. May to September and the amount of rain they get , especially up North ... is very beneficial to the roots. I don't ever stand mine in water but I do flush very regularly in the winter months with RO water and once per month with calcium nitrate at a tds reading of no more than 180ppm. At the moment I have a 4n Grande .. the flowers are about twice as big as the ordinary Grande, of which I have a further four in flower. A Fritz Schomberg is just about to end it's flowering after 3 months and a Phrag giganteum x caudatum is in spike. Your Phrags look in magnificent shape so I suppose feed very little and often, give plenty of light with good air movement, but above all good water quality is the one thing which is absolutely neccessary. Thanks for your interesting thread.
Ed.


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