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  #1  
Old 05-16-2020, 11:38 PM
Orchid grower Orchid grower is offline
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How can I improve my Phalaenopsis care?  PH adjusting? Supplement suggestions?
Default How can I improve my Phalaenopsis care? PH adjusting? Supplement suggestions?

Hello everyone!

I am trying to take my orchid care to the next level and looking for suggestions.

Currently I fertilize weekly weekly with two different fertilizers (Growmore's 20-10-20 urea free and sometimes 20-20-20), and occasionally with a seaweed plant supplement.

All of my phals bloomed this past year and I was really satisfied with the results but now I want to elevate my care. For example a couple of my phals have really skinny root growth, and another phals bottom leaves are yellowing (I think it's from a deficiency). Overall I would say my phals are healthy but I want to help them become even stronger and give a bigger bloom display next year (flower count ranged from 4-8 per plant this year).

This past week I started using a PH meter and I am going to start PH adjusting as needed. I have read the PH should range from 5.5-6.5. Does anyone have any experience or success with PH adjusting?

I have some *Calmag* lying around and I am wondering if I should start incorporating that into my routine??

Amazon started stocking Superthrive recently and I am wondering if that's something I should pick up and start using?

Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated!!! Thank you!
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  #2  
Old 05-17-2020, 12:22 AM
hypostatic hypostatic is offline
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How can I improve my Phalaenopsis care?  PH adjusting? Supplement suggestions? Male
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"I want to take it to.... THE NEXT LEVEL!!!" *explosion noises*

Post some pics! A pic is worth a thousand words!

Personally, I saw a huge improvement in my cultivation once I started using high quality substrates and purer water (ie distilled or reverse osmosis).
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  #3  
Old 05-17-2020, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Orchid grower View Post
Currently I fertilize weekly weekly with two different fertilizers (Growmore's 20-10-20 urea free and sometimes 20-20-20), and occasionally with a seaweed plant supplement.
Define “weakly”. Tsp/gal or ml/L. For weekly feeding, I would recommend between 1/3 and 1/2 ml/L. There really is no need to change formulas, especially when yours are so similar.

Quote:
a couple of my phals have really skinny root growth, and another phals bottom leaves are yellowing (I think it's from a deficiency).
Water is the true driving force for growth. If you are allowing the plant to stay dry for a while between waterings, it is possible that’s the reason for both of those observations. Thin roots might be genetic, but a sparse root system could mean a deficiency in the conditions. I doubt you’re dealing with a nutrient deficiency.

Of course, In order to increase the watering, your potting medium might have to be changed to prevent suffocating the roots.

Quote:
This past week I started using a PH meter and I am going to start PH adjusting as needed. I have read the PH should range from 5.5-6.5. Does anyone have any experience or success with PH adjusting?
That may not be necessary. What’s the pH of your plain water? And with the fertilizer?

The pH in the pot Is far more important than what you pour on it. Water the plant thoroughly with your normal irrigation solution. Wait 30 minutes, then trickle about 50 ml of pure water (distilled or RO) over the surface, collecting the drainage. Test the pH of that.

Quote:
I have some *Calmag* lying around and I am wondering if I should start incorporating that into my routine??
Do you even need that? What is your water supply? Is it hard or soft? There might be plenty of calcium and magnesium in the water to start with, and adding more will not help.

Quote:
Amazon started stocking Superthrive recently and I am wondering if that's something I should pick up and start using?
Superthrive can be good, but also degrades rapidly in the bottle, so what you buy might end up being chemically inert by the time you get it. Look up C&C Orchids in Hamilton ON (Facebook) and get some KelpMax. It is far superior and much more shelf-stable.
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  #4  
Old 05-17-2020, 07:10 PM
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Thanks for your reply! You've given me a lot to think about and a few things to look into..
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Old 05-18-2020, 03:11 AM
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Nutrional needs of orchids are rather low, so unless you need to fix some known issues (not enough calcium/magnesium in your water), improving your feeding regime with lead to marginal improvements compared to changes in general culture.

One important factor is water quality. You'd be amazed by the difference it can make to switch to a purer water source if your water happens to be high in TDS or too hard.

As Ray suggested, more frequent watering will also stimulate better root growth (and better growth overall), particularily if you've been erring on the side of underwatering. I stopped adding sphag to my bark mix a few years ago and instead increased my watering frequency. The difference in root growth and overall plant health has been quite noticeable.

How are your growing conditions, can anything be improved there? Do your temperatures stay in optimal range, even in the winter? Enough though Phals don't have high light requirements, low bloom count could be an indication that they're in not a bright enough spot. Being in Canada, low light in the winter months could be an issue, and supplemental light in that period could be considered. I'm not saying that you have a problem with these factors, but when trying to improve your culture it's good to assess your overall growing conditions to identify limiting factors.
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:59 PM
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Thank you to everyone for the replies so far. I have some more info I wanted to share and get your thoughts.

My TDS meter is saying the water that comes out of my tap is about 15 PPM. PH is about 6-6.8 for my tap water.

I watered my orchids with a liquid seaweed additive today at a little under 1tablesoon into a 1.5L can. Bottle recommends 5ml into 1L of water. I am not accurate with my measuring and it's probably slightly different everytime I refill the can..

When adding the liquid seaweed additive the PH went down to around 5 and I used something called "PH Up" to get it around 5.7-5.9. I water by soaking my orchids in a larger pot. When I measured the PH of the soak it was lower around 5.2-5.5.

Now I am confused on this next part about the PPM. When I measured it with the seaweed additive it was very high, ranging from 150-300 PPM. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong..? PH and TDS are very new to me.

I have yet to properly check the PH and PPM with my regular fertilizer. However when I use my regular fertilizer I am very sparse with it because I'm scared of any root burn. What I actually do is water the orchids with tap water first so the roots get wet and then I soak and water with my fertilizer mix. My fertilizer is a powder mix form - I dont have exact measurements but I will get a teaspoon and maybe fill up 1/3 (probably less) and mix it into 1.5L of water. This is what I consider weakly weekly. The bottle recommends 1 teaspoon per gallon every 10 days or two weeks.


My growing conditions are good I think.. all of my orchids bloomed for the first time this year and they have been in their current location close to 1 year now. They are in a room with big windows and I would say they get a lot of light. In the winter the coldest it would get in that room was about 14°c.. in the summer it can get very very warm. They grew crazy amounts of roots last summer and some are starting up again now. I monitor my orchids closely and none of them have had any root loss except for 1 this past year (and I think that was because the pot i had it in wasnt properly drying out in the center). This orchid still has a good amount of healthy roots.

However I do think the cold temps affected some of my orchids bloom count. It also made the spiking process really long. For example one of my phal orchids spiked on october 14th but didnt open its first flower until Feb 24th. I think it was the case for most but this is the only one I have documented. Is that longer than usual?

With all that in mind I am wondering what you think? Really appreciate all of the help!

Last edited by Orchid grower; 05-18-2020 at 11:27 PM..
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Old 05-19-2020, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchid grower View Post
My TDS meter is saying the water that comes out of my tap is about 15 PPM. PH is about 6-6.8 for my tap water.
That's very pure water, so you definitely should use a fertilizer containing Ca and Mg, or a supplement with your current fertilizer. (One caveat is that TDS meters are notoriously inaccurate. Read this.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchid grower View Post
I watered my orchids with a liquid seaweed additive today at a little under 1tablesoon into a 1.5L can. Bottle recommends 5ml into 1L of water. I am not accurate with my measuring and it's probably slightly different everytime I refill the can..
Precision is not particularly important, but you probably should do better than that...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchid grower View Post
When adding the liquid seaweed additive the PH went down to around 5 and I used something called "PH Up" to get it around 5.7-5.9. I water by soaking my orchids in a larger pot. When I measured the PH of the soak it was lower around 5.2-5.5.
Because your tap water is so pure, it has little, to no buffering capacity, so almost anything added will affect the pH. Before making more adjustments, do the pour-though test for pH I mentioned in my last reply:
  1. Water the plant thoroughly with your normal irrigation solution.
  2. Wait 30 minutes
  3. trickle about 50 ml of pure water (distilled or RO - even your plain tapwater is probably pure enough) over the surface, collecting the drainage.
  4. Test the pH of that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchid grower View Post
Now I am confused on this next part about the PPM. When I measured it with the seaweed additive it was very high, ranging from 150-300 PPM. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong..? PH and TDS are very new to me.
Again, urging you to read the TDS Meter article I pointed you to earlier, don't be too concerned about that absolute value.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchid grower View Post
I have yet to properly check the PH and PPM with my regular fertilizer. However when I use my regular fertilizer I am very sparse with it because I'm scared of any root burn. What I actually do is water the orchids with tap water first so the roots get wet and then I soak and water with my fertilizer mix. My fertilizer is a powder mix form - I dont have exact measurements but I will get a teaspoon and maybe fill up 1/3 (probably less) and mix it into 1.5L of water. This is what I consider weakly weekly. The bottle recommends 1 teaspoon per gallon every 10 days or two weeks.
This is where you need to be pretty precise.

Most orchids do well when a fertilizer concentration of about 75-125 ppm Nitrogen is applied weekly. Your TDS meter cannot tell you that, but a good way to estimate is like this:

6 divided the the %N on the fertilizer label gives you the teaspoons per gallon for 75 ppm N, and 10/%N is for 125. (For metric measurements, giving the results in ml/L, the numerators are 6.9 and 9.2.)

So for your 20% N fertilizers - 6/20=0.3 and 10/20=0.5, so just pick something in between. (Metric, 6.9/20=0.345, and 9.2/20=0.46, so I'd recommend 0.4ml/L)
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Old 05-22-2020, 01:47 PM
Orchid grower Orchid grower is offline
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Thanks for the helpful info Ray!! You rock!!

I had one more question but the calcium/magnesium. Right now I have both a seaweed fertilizer and a bottle of CalMag. The verified analysis for the seaweed fertilizer says it has some calcium and magnesium so I am wondering if you think this seaweed fertilizer would be sufficient in providing calcium and magnesium or if i need to start using the bottle of Calmag..

Here is the verified analysis for the seaweed fertilizer:

VERIFIED ANALYSIS
NITROGEN 1900 ppm 0.19%
PHOSPHORUS 9.6 ppm 0.00096%
POTASSIUM 314 ppm 0.0314%
CALCIUM 420 ppm 0.042%
BORON 5.3 ppm 0.00053%
IRON 4.3 ppm 0.00042%
MAGNESSIUM 1360 ppm 0.136%


Thank you so much for your help and great advice! Your website is awesome Ray!!!
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:05 PM
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If you use that product - and I would recommend that you apply it diluted at 1:20 - you will not need a cal-mag suplement.
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Old 05-24-2020, 10:02 PM
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If you use that product - and I would recommend that you apply it diluted at 1:20 - you will not need a cal-mag suplement.
Thank you! That is the recommended dose as well!
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