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  #1  
Old 02-14-2020, 01:50 AM
DirtyCoconuts DirtyCoconuts is offline
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Default When someone says an orchid “likes to be pot bound”.....

This idea confounds me and I truly am lost to even interpret what this could possibly even try to mean

First off, pot bound, to me, describes when a terrestrial plant has put grown the size of its pot, started to root into the pot which leads to the dying of those root tips and the (often) eventual demise of the plant

Second, in nature, NO orchid grows in a pot?!? So how could one grow best in a tiny pot?

Please forgive me if this is a stupid question but I have heard it said so often and I simply don’t get it. The majority of my botanical knowledge is pretty primitively rooted as it comes from “old county” grandparents and county friends so I am sure there are holes that any academic could drive a truck through but I don’t get it so please ‘splain it to me
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  #2  
Old 02-14-2020, 02:36 AM
Diane56Victor Diane56Victor is offline
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Probably just a misguided euphemism for "the roots grow very close together"
or
"Mine was pot bound, but you should have seen the blooms"
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  #3  
Old 02-14-2020, 02:40 AM
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camille1585 camille1585 is offline
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You're right, orchids don't grow in pots in the wild, but the idea behind keeping orchids root bound is that being snug in their pots does help mimic conditions that they do like in the wild; lots of air around the roots and drying out quickly. With more roots in the pot taking up water the medium dries out fast and evenly, and the water in the pore space quickly gets replaced with air. You can get around the 'root bound requirement' in larger pots by planting in a really light and airy medium which will provide the same conditions.
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  #4  
Old 02-14-2020, 03:21 AM
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SouthPark SouthPark is offline
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DC ----- plants don't have brains or maybe feelings as such. Or at least, as far as I know heheheheh.

So when it comes to plants 'liking' something, it will be more along the lines of "observed" growing performance and health etc..... like how well it grows, or how fast or vigorously it grows etc.

So, it probably just comes down to - regardless of how the roots are arranged or grow - as long as the orchid grows well, then that's the main thing.

As for pots - we know that they have various features and functions, such as for holding together a suitable growing media, and for putting holes in for drainage, and maybe blocking sunlight (for opaque pots) to stop internal algae growth, and even putting a limit on the rate that water disappears from the media due to evaporation - depending on depth and diameter of pot and drainage hole size and numbers.

Also can keep the roots in a convenient spot where they can all get watered (or fertilised or treated) conveniently. And easy to transfer plants around when in pots or on mounts - instead of firmly latched to a tree. Probably depends on whether we want to move the orchid or not.

When I see a word such a 'likes' (eg. an orchid likes), I just take it to mean 'requires, or appears to require - as one of its various requirements for growing well -'.


Last edited by SouthPark; 02-14-2020 at 04:06 AM..
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  #5  
Old 02-14-2020, 04:20 AM
Brian1212 Brian1212 is offline
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dirty it is understandable to be confused about it cause the term doesn't make much sense like you say.

The bottom line is to avoid keeping a tiny plant in an oversized pot - that is the gist you need to take from it.

Not what the plant likes or doesn't like cause they couldn't give a hoot but if their roots don't dry out cause the pot is too big for the plants to absorb all water then the roots will be prone to rot and the plant will not like that.

This is especially true for old fashioned media like spagnum moss which needs constant monitoring and getting the moisture level right.

I like clay pebbles there is no real downside to planting a tiny plant is a big pot of clay pebbles so the term applies mainly to spagnum and bark and less so with clay pebbles since they dry out relatively fast.
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  #6  
Old 02-14-2020, 09:00 AM
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Subrosa Subrosa is offline
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Orchids in semi-hydroponic culture and those that like to constantly stay very moist definitely don't benefit from being potbound. I get the best results with Gongora by overpotting them in Sphagnum. I put a plant that would be slightly potbound in a 4" pot in a 12" basket and they grow like gangbusters.
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  #7  
Old 02-14-2020, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
First off, pot bound, to me, describes when a terrestrial plant has put grown the size of its pot, started to root into the pot
What does that mean? I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. Why would it only apply to terrestrial plants?

Pot bound means the roots of the plant have crowded the pot, mostly or entirely filling the livable space.

It can be a useful tool for keeping certain plants healthy or to provide conditions conducive to flowering. From what I understand, some plants have a hormonal response to crowding that triggers flowering. Some stop spending as much energy growing roots which frees up resources for growing leaves or flowering. In some cases, having a pot full of roots makes for healthier conditions at the root zone because it's less likely that there will be issues from over watering or water logged media, or it can help produce more defined wet-dry cycles that some types of plants prefer.

Also, keep in mind that even in nature, plants can get into situations where the roots are growing in confined spaces, so it's not like there aren't analogous situations in nature.

Quote:
Second, in nature, NO orchid grows in a pot?!? So how could one grow best in a tiny pot?
This is a common logical fallacy.

Your orchids aren't in nature, they are in cultivation. Conditions and situations are different and for the most part even the orchids we have in cultivation are different from wild orchids. Conclusions we draw from nature aren't always achievable, practical, or applicable in cultivation when they aren't viewed from a holistic apporach. In cultivation, we mostly strive to give the plants the type of care that maximizes their growth, health, and flowering in our conditions. In nature, the plants are enduring whatever they can tolerate long enough to reproduce successfully.

And truthfully, we wouldn't necessarily want cultivation to be 100% consistent with nature. In nature, life is tough. Even in the most lush areas what you're seeing is just a tiny slice of the fittest and luckiest individuals but not the vast majority of individuals that didn't make it.

There are lots of aspects of cultivation that aren't natural or don't follow natural patterns because we're trying to give each individual plant a higher chance of survival in otherwise unnatural conditions. A prime example? Think about how we propagate orchids on a commercial scale. An individual seed pod in nature may only produce a handful of seedlings that survive long enough to bloom. In nature, there aren't sterile flasks full of nutrients and hormones sitting in just the right light levels waiting for seeds to enter and germinate. However, in cultivation, if we provide said sterile flask and nutrient media, we can germinate thousands of plants and grow them to maturity reliably.
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Old 02-14-2020, 11:10 AM
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I don't think the comparison between "in the wild" and "captive" plant culture is a fallacy at all. The needs of the plant don't change because of where or how it's grown.

I also think all of the rationalizing about what a "pot bound" plant appears to "prefer" may be true statements, but are off the mark. We are ignoring another aspect that is common to domesticated and wild plants: mechanical stability.

Most plants in the wild don't grow in confined spaces...true. Their roots spread out in all directions, where they attach to the host tree, providing mechanical stability, helping maintain their niche, so they can grow and multiply. A plant that is not well-anchored is at risk of being washed out of its host by a downpour or blown out of it by wind. At that point, they will fall into a grass and leaf litter below and likely die. Not exactly what's best for carrying on the genetics.

A plant that is not established in a pot is in an equally vulnerable state, so puts its efforts into getting there, by growing roots instead of shoots and flowers. Once it is "comfortable", away it goes as we prefer.

Look at a phalaenopsis, for example. In a small pot, they produce lots of aerial roots. Put them in a much bigger pot and the roots all grow down into the medium. Mount them and the roots reach out until they make contact with the mount and attach to it.

I don't think propagation really fits into this discussion. Again, what the seed needs to germinate is identical. We have simply provided it differently and eliminated the threats to their germination, growth and survival.
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  #9  
Old 02-14-2020, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Ray View Post
I don't think propagation really fits into this discussion. Again, what the seed needs to germinate is identical. We have simply provided it differently and eliminated the threats to their germination, growth and survival.
That's the whole point Ray. It's not that the needs are significantly different, it's that how we provide it in cultivation may not be the same as how it would otherwise be in nature.

Propagation fits into this discussion as a prime example because the process is so fundamentally different than how it occurs in nature and because it highlights the logical fallacy of assuming that just because "X happens in nature" means it must be good/necessary for the plant in cultivation or conversely because "Y doesn't happen in nature" that it shouldn't be beneficial.
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Old 02-14-2020, 01:26 PM
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I guess I’m just not seeing it the same way.

I certainly agree that the needs of the seed are unchanged and that flasking just goes about it in a different way. My point was that potting a plant may be a different way to provide water and nutrition, but it does nothing about providing for stability until the plant is root-bound.

Likewise mounting, which is even closer to “natural” conditions than potting - you can wrap a whole 400-yard spool of monofilament fishing line to secure a plant to a mount, but it’s not going to grow and bloom well until it has anchored itself to it with its roots.

Flasking, on the other hand, provides 100% of the needs of the seed.
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