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  #1  
Old 07-29-2019, 04:41 AM
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camille1585 camille1585 is offline
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Default Need help, going on a long vacation with no plant sitter

I know that there are countless threads on this topic, but have some more specific questions, namely, how make sure my Neofinetia collection and lone Catasetum survive this, as this is their first long solo vacation.

Iíll be going on vacation for three weeks, as of next weekend. Normally with careful planning, my orchids survive this when I canít find a plant sitter (which is the case this year). I move them to the coolest room in the apartment, draw the curtains, water them well, and leave a bit of water in their saucers. Not ideal and the plants get rather dehydrated by the time I get back, but my collection being mostly Phals, they bounce back easily.

My 2 biggest concerns are my Catasetum and Neos. This year my Cat produced 2 growths, and is just far too large to bring with me. I was thinking of buying an irrigation cone which is fed by a tube going to a container of water. (like this one, but with a larger water reserve! Irrigation cone example) Is this good enough to ensure the plant gets enough water? Itís such a water hog at this time of year...

Second issue is my Neos. They are all potted in traditional sphagnum mounds, which even indoors, dry out within 2 days, maybe 3 if the weather is crummy. How well would they tolerate the following ~17 days without any water? Option 2 is to move them to the basement, which is much cooler than my apartment (maybe 20-24C vs 26-30C) but has no light other than a tiny window near the ceiling. Other than that, Iím not sure what I can do with them...
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Old 07-29-2019, 07:41 AM
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I question the irrigation cone's ability to work well with a non-soil potting medium...

I know some folks have had success with large trays (or even thin sheets of plastic) containing thick carpet. Saturate the carpet and set the plants directly on it. If there is a decent contact area (even stuffing a cotton string "wick" into the medium from the bottom might be enough) there will be sufficient moisture transfer without saturation.
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Old 07-29-2019, 08:43 AM
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For very treasured orchids, and for cases where there's no plant-sitter to help out ....... I go down the path of automated battery-backup micro-drip solenoid valve-controlled watering. This involves getting best quality programmable timer gear, and best quality piping and best quality connectors ----- that's to avoid issues like springing a leak, or burst connectors, and other reliability issues. After carefully routing the little tubes to a limited number of pots, and making sure that the little tubes are properly anchored ..... very properly anchored, then lots of testing will be involved prior to holiday time. The timer can be set to turn on the watering system for just the right amount of time on whichever day or time is needed - enough to keep media moist. The important thing is reliability.

Last edited by SouthPark; 07-29-2019 at 08:48 AM..
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Old 07-29-2019, 09:07 AM
Swimmingorchids Swimmingorchids is offline
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Those cones work well in coco coir and will work well in anything that absorbs moisture. Ray might have a point about the bark but they should still work.

Basically what I would aim for is that atleast 1 root is touching the cone. If this is the case, then the plant will be able to absorb all the water it needs. (through one root - others will act like air roots and should also survive)

Tray might work but it would have to be more of a deep container with shelf insert as the water would just evaporate in 3 weeks otherwise.

I would go with the cones

Another option is just sticking them in a dark cupboard for 3 weeks. 3 weeks is the max I would deprive a plant from light but they bounce back fine from it and drink vey little water in that time - ie no watering needed...

Last edited by Swimmingorchids; 07-29-2019 at 09:11 AM..
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Old 07-29-2019, 09:16 AM
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Have you considered asking someone to board the plants for you, while you are away?
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Old 07-29-2019, 10:08 AM
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The Catasetum is potted in pure sphagnum, which wicks water rather well and is why I had the idea for the cone.

As much as I would love to set up some watering system for it and other orchids, other than the fact that I'm out of time to do that, my boyfriend will not want something like that running indoors while we are away, in case of water or electrical related problems.
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Old 07-29-2019, 10:37 AM
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The watering cone thing might work with sphag...

Other than that, I'd suggest watering them heavily a couple times before you leave - right away and just before you go - them placing them in a cooler, subdued-light area as you already considered, and find a way to keep the RH up. Even grouping them together and supporting a poly film "painters drop cloth" over them can help.
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Old 07-30-2019, 06:59 AM
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Whatever you decide to do, I only recommend you to test it on the previous weeks before going on the trip. That way, if you detect a deficiency, you can fix it before leaving.

That said, I believe the watering cone might work, but test first.

For next year, specially with Catasetums, I suggest you consider the option of moving them to a self watering pot, as it is a very easy transition for these plants because of their dormancy period.

I have mine in self-watering, and I can leave for about a month with no regrets.
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Old 07-30-2019, 07:21 AM
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I would get a basin or storage container, get a load of sphagnum and get it really wet, stick the pots in it and leave in the coolest shadiest position. I did this when I lived in Texas in the summer and they survived for two weeks in the summer with outside temps in the 90s and no aircon running.
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Old 07-30-2019, 02:08 PM
fooferdoggie fooferdoggie is offline
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Need help, going on a long vacation with no plant sitter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthPark View Post
For very treasured orchids, and for cases where there's no plant-sitter to help out ....... I go down the path of automated battery-backup micro-drip solenoid valve-controlled watering. This involves getting best quality programmable timer gear, and best quality piping and best quality connectors ----- that's to avoid issues like springing a leak, or burst connectors, and other reliability issues. After carefully routing the little tubes to a limited number of pots, and making sure that the little tubes are properly anchored ..... very properly anchored, then lots of testing will be involved prior to holiday time. The timer can be set to turn on the watering system for just the right amount of time on whichever day or time is needed - enough to keep media moist. The important thing is reliability.
they have pre made drip setups now. https://www.amazon.com/Claber-8053-4...ateway&sr=8-43
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