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  #1  
Old 03-24-2019, 03:39 AM
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Mochaboy Mochaboy is offline
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Default My Ghost Orchid Project

Edit 4/11/2019
Of course, 2 weeks into this process, I stumble upon UoF's research paper on their propagation and cultural techniques. If you're serious about trying to grow this orchid, you owe it to yourself to read their research paper.

You can find a copy of it HERE.

---

I'm finally taking the plunge and going all in on this 3rd and probably final attempt. I'd actually attempted this twice before and both times ended in failure but for different reasons.

Attempt #1 never made it out of the flask, as mold took the entire collection before I could finish building v1 of the ghost orchid enclosure.

Attempt #2 - I managed to keep them alive for about 5 months, when the habitat was over run by spider mites that hitch hiked in on a taeniophyllum obtusum and killed everything in the tank. (though to be fair, in trying to kill the mites, I miiiiight have done a few things I shouldn't have that probably didn't help the seedlings either)

Attempt #3 - I took a loooooong break to read up as much as I possibly could specifically on the ghost orchid, and the science behind orchids in general and have made quite a few equipment investments that addressed some glaring issues in my current routine. I drew up some designs and have about 10-12 individual sub systems that I need to build in order to make this work the way I think it needs to work.

So with that said, I'm building a semi automated enclosure for a newly acquired collection of flasked ghost orchid seedlings obtained from SpringWater Orchids in Florida (they're on ebay if you're interested).

Here's what I have worked out so far:

For humidity and heat, I picked up an Inkbird humidity and heat controller . I'll be plugging in a small humidifier that I will hook up to a distribution bulkhead inside the tank. This will help me keep the internal humidity at or nearly 85% perpetually.

I also purchased a 110v 500w PTC heating element that I'll be encasing in a small block of concrete to create something like a mini mass heater for those cold winter months when the orchid room goes down to 65. This should be a little more efficient than just using those ceramic heating elements that you see in reptile habitats.

For air handling, I'll have internal fans circulating air but I also have a plan to install a UV sterilizer either inside the tank, or inline with the air system. I haven't worked out the specifics for that yet, but that should help with keeping pathogens inside the tank to a minimum. Mold is going to be an issue, and while I'm happy to shoot everything with Physan, I'd just as soon avoid it.

For watering, I'm building a custom setup based on a 125psi water pump and misting nozzles (basically a mist king but for only $25 worth of parts).

For lights, I haven't settled on the exact configuration yet, but I'll end up somewhere in the 30W-50W range utilizing full spectrum COBs. The 50W module I have now puts out about 6,000 FC at 24" at 40v, but it also hits about 200F in 18 seconds, so that's not exactly safe to use right now. I'm waiting on a variable led power supply/driver along with some aluminum heatsinks that I'll tinker with to see what I can do to get the right output at a reasonable height. If these turn out to be too powerful, I can fabricate a lower power setup using either a collection of 3W-5W cobs or just 3 10W cobs. So this part's TBA.

For building the tank - this whole project is just for 1 plant so I'm not overdoing the size of the tank. I'm starting with a 20 gallon tank, and if I build the environmental systems right, I can lift and shift the components to a larger tank if we ever get to that.

For mounting - I'm not doing anything fancy, no coir foam backgrounds or anything like that...this is a purpose built tank for 1 goal in mind. I will be using some hickory bark that I acquired a few years back, but I have enough seedlings that I'll be able to experiment with a few different mounting options.

For feeding, I'll be using a custom mix of different recipes I've found, but the plan is to try MSU for a while, and maybe this special mix that contains nutrient supplements...but for right now I'm going to try to keep it to 150ppm per feeding and then gauge how the seedlings respond.

The last big thing I'm doing with the tank, and this is just more for the cool factor, is that I'm going to be injecting CO2 directly into the tank. I think the aim for now will be to maintain internal co2 levels of around 2,000-3,000ppm. I want to do everything I can to supercharge the growing environment at least while they're getting established. At least from the journals I've read, that should increase their growth rate by 20-30%. Worst comes to worst, I ditch the CO2 and build a kegerator instead, so win-win...

Anyway - the equipment is still arriving in dribs and drabs. The seedlings arrived today, so the pressure's on to get something in place and soon.

My project for today was to install a smaller RO system inside the grow room that's going to be hooked up to a 5 gallon pail with a float valve. I also hacked a 5v portable shower head to act as a powered watering can, so that should be fun.

I'll be taking pictures along the way, I just wanted to get my thoughts down now while they were still fresh in my head. Oh and if it wasn't clear before, I'm not sure if any of this is even going to work, and while I'm sure there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge, I'm equally sure that you fine folks will help me fill in the missing details as we go through this adventure together

More to come soon.

Last edited by Mochaboy; 04-11-2019 at 05:32 PM..
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  #2  
Old 03-24-2019, 10:42 AM
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"Flask" of Ghost Orchid seedlings from springwater orchids.
http://www.orchidboard.com/community...1&d=1553438381

quick shot of one of our phals in bloom currently
http://www.orchidboard.com/community...1&d=1553438381
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  #3  
Old 03-24-2019, 12:39 PM
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One thing you may be doing wrong is the air movement.

Dendophylax lindenii grows where it is hot, humid, and dead still. I have not tried to grow one of those, but the other leafless orchids I have grown did well in the same environment.
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  #4  
Old 03-24-2019, 12:46 PM
Kilmiquix Kilmiquix is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
One thing you may be doing wrong is the air movement.

Dendophylax lindenii grows where it is hot, humid, and dead still. I have not tried to grow one of those, but the other leafless orchids I have grown did well in the same environment.
I may not know much, but I can say that Ray is correct. I have walked the Fakahatchee Strand, and when you get out to where the ghost orchids would be growing, there is no air movement. Humid and stagnant. It is beautiful but miserable (for a human).
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Old 03-24-2019, 12:59 PM
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Mochaboy Mochaboy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
One thing you may be doing wrong is the air movement.

Dendophylax lindenii grows where it is hot, humid, and dead still. I have not tried to grow one of those, but the other leafless orchids I have grown did well in the same environment.
First off - so very honored to have you chiming in on the thread. I've read every article on your website and your insights have fixed a lot of mistakes I've made over the years, so thank you for your contributions to the community.

The air flow I mentioned - and I may not explain this well, isn't the same type of airflow that you might see inside a grow room with a box fan blowing over the orchids. It's more of an air exchanger that I'll be running through some sort of a purification system, similar to the way a convection system would work. So it won't be blowing over the orchids per se, but there will be some air movement. My sense is, anything I can do to kill pathogens in the chamber is a good thing, and I'm willing to risk a little air movement to make that happen.

My earlier failures included some 100% stagnant conditions and in every case, I couldn't keep the mold at bay without some form of air handling.

And as I mentioned earlier, I'm not sure if this is 100% necessary at this stage, but I want to give it a shot just to see if it addresses the mold issues I've experienced in the past.

I just got the RO system installed and the buckets are filling up nicely. I'll probably start working on the tank later tonight along with the humidification system...nothing too crazy, just some pvc pipe with holes drilled in the tubing. Paired with the Humidistat, that will give me my perpetual 85% humidity.

Pictured in the attachment is a 50GPD AquaticLife Ro Buddy with the Ion cartridge. That's hooked into a 5 gallon Home Depot bucket with the optional float valve kit also available from AquaticLife. That's all hooked into a T valve spliced in line to the toilet water pipe (sink pipe was all kinds of pain to splice so I opted for the easier installation since I suck at plumbing.

The last thing in that photo is a lithium powered water shower head. That will allow me to pump water directly from the RO reservoir while I'm watering my orchids. I'll be able to mix up batches of fertilized reservoirs and water the orchids in place in their trays. That should save me quite some time from the madness of moving orchids to the sink and back.

I have soaked groupings of orchids deep tubs before, I but I recently lost a couple of oncidiums and miltoniopsis to fusarium, so I'm a little gunshy about having them take shared soaks hence the madness with the battery powered shower head

More to come soon.
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Last edited by Mochaboy; 03-24-2019 at 01:07 PM..
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  #6  
Old 03-24-2019, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilmiquix View Post
I may not know much, but I can say that Ray is correct. I have walked the Fakahatchee Strand, and when you get out to where the ghost orchids would be growing, there is no air movement. Humid and stagnant. It is beautiful but miserable (for a human).
I'm jealous that you've had that opportunity...some day I may have the resources to take that walk myself. Thanks for the note about the air quality.

A lot of this is going to be an experiment so I'll have plenty of time to test different tank configurations. I actually still have the original v1 tank, so what I may do is separate a few of the babies off in to that one and monitor its progress under stagnant air conditions.
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Old 03-24-2019, 04:19 PM
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Lexan top is cut. Humidifier dispersion tube is installed. Corrugated bilge pump tubing picked from home depot and is used to connect the humidifier to the tank. It only took 30’seconds to bring it up to 80% humidity so we’re looking at a pretty efficient duty cycle.

The humidistat is due in Tuesday so that will be the next big check in point. In the meantime I have to clean and sterilize the tank then start working on my LED lights.
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  #8  
Old 03-24-2019, 04:21 PM
Kilmiquix Kilmiquix is offline
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Since we live in SoFlo, we go to Fakahatchee a couple of times a year. It really is beautiful. I've not seen the ghost orchid out there, but my hubby has. The group his was with was on a tour with the park biologist, and they were really protective of the location and gps and stuff, so he has not been able to take me out it.

There are lots if other awesome orchids and stuff out there though. I highly recommend it if you can swing it.
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Old 03-24-2019, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mochaboy View Post
My earlier failures included some 100% stagnant conditions and in every case, I couldn't keep the mold at bay without some form of air handling.
Try some Concentric Ag Garden Solution - the beneficial microbes are excellent at pathogen control, and will give you better ex-flask survival rate besides.
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  #10  
Old 03-24-2019, 09:11 PM
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Quote:
Try some Concentric Ag Garden Solution - the beneficial microbes are excellent at pathogen control, and will give you better ex-flask survival rate besides.
Didn't know this was even a thing - I'll definitely give it a shot. What's the typical dosing interval, once a month, as needed, every watering?
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