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  #1  
Old 04-09-2013, 12:11 AM
hcastil3 hcastil3 is offline
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Ghost Orchid Advice PLEASE!!!! Anything helps .. (Dendrophylax Lindenii) Male
Default Ghost Orchid Advice PLEASE!!!! Anything helps .. (Dendrophylax Lindenii)

Forgive my grammar.


So, I have read all of the information I could get my hands on for these little guys... I have read lots of the forums, scientific journals, and so on... However, I'm still worried about them doing good. I deflasked the little ghosties last Thursday the April 4th... 2013.. So far they look happy, I used an extremely light solution of physan 20 to keep the mold away just in case, I have some in Semi hydroponic, some in wire mesh and some straight mounted on Hickory bark.. and a couple of small ones outside this little set up I have going.....

I have only been using RO water, Light solution of superthrive.. super light.. haha...... and live spanish moss.. I been keeping them moist but not wet. I keep a mesh cloth on top of the set up so it doesn't get drafts. So far their a couple that seem to be growing little green tips but Anyone have more advice for me. I looked at Alla's posting and it was very helpful, also looked at the AOS posting on them.


have them at 83 degrees and supply diffused light and artificial light if needed..


Anyone have any more Ideas?

Please ANYTHING HELPS... Let me know if I can change my set up any how..
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  #2  
Old 04-09-2013, 02:18 AM
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King_of_orchid_growing:) King_of_orchid_growing:) is offline
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The only thing I can think of that might help you out are the following:

1. High humidity year round.

Why?

They come from the swamp lands of Florida, as you know. Florida itself is a very humid place even without a swamp habitat, particularly the further south in Florida you go, (which is right around the general area where the Ghost Orchids are found). The reason for this is that Florida is surrounded by water on three sides. Then, once you factor in the humidity from the seasonal swamp, the humidity is unbearable.

This is by far one of the most important parameters in growing the Ghost Orchid, imo. If proper humidity levels are not maintained, there will be problems with growing this orchid. In fact, I'd be willing to stick my neck out and say that, getting the humidity levels right is the #1 priority next to getting the temperature range correct with Ghost Orchids.

2. The swamps where they are found are seasonal.

There is a distinct dry season during the winter. It is not always wet. Water from certain parts of the swamp forest they come from will recede seasonally.

3. They are found growing in bright shade to moderate indirect light.

4. There is very little moss to no moss on the trees they grow on.

If you've been searching through the OB, you will have found many photos of Ghost Orchids in-situ, (thanks in part to some of the members here on the OB).

5. They grow in intermediate to warm temperatures.

The majority of the times, winters are pretty mild where they come from and it does not really get all that cold.

6. They have been known to grow on tree trunks and tree branches. They are not exclusively twig epiphytes.

7. The roots should not always be kept wet. The cells to the roots will collapse if they are kept too wet.

Remember, it's the humidity that does a fair amount of the job of maintaining the orchids' hydration, it's not just the precipitation that keeps the plant from becoming desiccated.

That's all I really know. They are not easy to grow because all they really are are a bunch of roots that have the ability to photosynthesize and a very tiny bit of meristematic tissue from which the roots radiate from. If you make a mistake, it will be significant enough to cause problems. When that happens there's not much you can do about it.

Asian Ghost Orchids are similar, btw. Chiloschista spp. are a bit easier to grow, but not by much. Same goes for Taeniophyllum spp. Like I said, if you goof, there's not a whole lot you can salvage.
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Last edited by King_of_orchid_growing:); 04-09-2013 at 02:59 AM..
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  #3  
Old 04-09-2013, 10:56 AM
hcastil3 hcastil3 is offline
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Thank you so much, I hope i'm doing well then with my set up. I try to stimulate night humidity by covering the set up at night and letting the humidity build up a ton, and during the day time I Allow it to get some air from above to avoid the mold. It all helps and I've never really thought about Florida being surrounded by water on 3 sides and the swaps on top of that so that really helps a ton!!!! Thank you So much. I hope If anyone has any more experience on what to do and what not to do they will hop on in and give me more advice. BUT I think Yours summed it all up Thank you again
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Old 04-13-2013, 10:47 PM
aaronsaxton aaronsaxton is offline
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Ghost Orchid Advice PLEASE!!!! Anything helps .. (Dendrophylax Lindenii) Male
Default Correct Ghost Orchid culture

There are some things to be aware of with the Ghost Orchid.

Through devolution, it is almost a failed species. It is an example of evolution that will result in the death of the species.

The home of the Ghost Orchid in Florida is not ideal at all - it is simply the only place where currently the Ghost Orchid can almost survive. If it was ideal, there would be hundreds of thousands, but there are not because the conditions in Florida are not ideal - they are enough to keep it barely surviving.

The reason you want humidity is because unlike other orchids it does not have leafs - the leafs and roots are combined. In normal orchid culture you can wet the roots and the metabolic process of the leafs still continue, but with the Ghost Orchid, if the roots are covered with water then so are the micro-leafs you can not see, and thus you suffocate and kill the plant.

This is why there is absolutely no substitution for humidity with a Ghost Orchid.

But there must be air movement, without it, molds will build and CO2 levels will drop below the thresholds required for metabolic action and the plat will cease to metabolize and produce carbohydrates.

Having humidity and air flow is a trick but it must be done. I perform this by having an exceptionally mild breeze over the orchid in an enclosure that is stuffed full of humidity - there is no external air allowed in, but it means I must control the heat, humidity and especially the CO2 levels.

In winter in Florida, humidity drops off and this kills thousands of seedlings that we do not even really see, which is why so few make it to adulthood. The ones that survive are near water and it is not the winter's humidity that keeps these seedlings alive (because there is stuff all) - it is the wood behind the Ghost Orchid that is sucking up water thus feeding the plant that keeps them just alive enough to make it through to the humid time of the year.

Do not try to reproduce a natural environment with a Ghost Orchid because that is not ideal.You can produce a natural environment and keep one alive - but if this really worked, then 10's of thousands of orchid growers would have living adult ghosts, and what we often see is a plant that is not special, it is just within a threshold of controls that often the grower does not even understand himself - otherwise where is the giant orchid nursery with 100,000 adult Ghost Orchids?

Remember every seedling placed onto a cork board can survive, but because it is on cork the humidity can not be off even for the smallest amount of time - the people trying to grow them on cork spray them to keep humidity up, thus killing most of them. Lots of moss behind it to keep it "wet" is a substitution for humidity, and this will kill it often - the moss can actually not help, but kill the seedling instead - but you must understand WHY it kills them. If the humidity was perfect, why do you need the moss?

You don't.

Sellers put it on there because without it, the seedling would be dead in hours usually. Stuff lots of moss onto a grown ghost orchid and keep it wet...and watch it die as it's stem/roots/leafs (all the same place!) become suffocated with water attraction covering the surface of the roots preventing air exchange.

Hickory Bark helps because it retains moisture and gives growers a luxury of some moisture presence during low humidity spells. If it were on just cork, it starts to suffer IMMEDIATELY which is why cork can work for Adults as there are more roots, but with seedlings is usually a death sentence.

I use cork because I control my atmosphere - if I did not have this ability, I would remount my ghost on Bark instead giving me a margin or error.

Instead, produce an environment that will work for the Ghost Orchid and forget the natural environment.

In evolutionary terms, the Ghost Orchid is doomed, so produce an environment where it will survive. You want a summer that last for 2-3 years to get your Ghost Orchid healthy. High 80's, low 90's. Lots of CO2, air movement (that is subtle or you will dry out your ghost Orchid), plenty of light. Good amounts of fertilizer to get metabolic movement and production of carbs (ferts are ferts and not food).

Remember most Ghost Orchids bloom not because they want to, but because the plant thinks it is going to die and must produce to save itself. It can also flower when the metabolic signals, hormones and ratios of auxins etc. MAKE it flower. Ferts like bloom boosters do not make plants bloom, they alter the ratios of hormones within the cell structure which results in flowering - it is not a direct cause.

You do not have to use Flower Bloom Boosters ever on an orchid or any other plant to make it bloom. Ever. You can alter the metabolic and hormones via other methods, but this requires scientific knowledge which is hard to impart - the bloom booster is just a shortcut. In nature, I challenge anyone to find me a soiled plant that really goes through such a huge change in NPK ratios....the stuff of myths.

Any winter in Florida that would last for more than 6 months will kill virtually all Ghost Orchids. The Ghost Orchid does not know that it is winter, it just has low humidity which means it's roots die off slowly, the Carbohydrates fail to get produced within the plant forcing it to use it's own roots as a food source. The temperature goes high making the killing off even faster. This in turn results in lower Auxin production and the metabolic rate of the plant grows to a halt, in response to this the plant produces a flower spike due to a change in the metabolic process which happens to be an identical signal to the plant that it is about to die.

To make a plant flower, make it think it is dying even if it is not - it is just a signal and a mix of hormones, it does not need to be factual.

The instructions for growing Ghost Orchids generally works, but this is because it gives parameters that are sometimes not fully even understood by it's authors, thus the reason for there not being thousands of successful growers of the plant.

When funds become realistic, I will produce a Ghost Orchid nursery, but the costs to control an environment for babies with no margins of error are quite staggering if you want a 80% success ratio. Many ghost were killed in my obtainment of knowledge along with many hours of frustrated research. I am still frustrated with what I do not know.

My Ghost Orchid has a 14 month old flower spike that is producing a bud now because I kept it in a metabolic holding pattern for 14 months until I was able to give it the right signals I knew it needed for flower bud production. I still may screw it up, but with a bud already there, this is highly unlikely. You could have it grow a 10 foot flower spike if you want to - it is all about what you tell the plant via signals - none of it has to be real. Plants do not know if it is winter, spring etc. they just have hormones and metabolic processes which is why they bloom at different times - it how each plant with it's variations in makeup and physical attributes coupled with it's surroundings that makes plant do what they do.

NASA is way ahead of this - if you are going to grow food in space, on another planet where perhaps the sun rises for 12 days at a time, where there is 10,000 PPM of CO2 etc. etc. you had better understand how a plant really works.

And you my friend are taking on the grand-daddy of pain...the hardest to grow orchid anywhere and possibly the most intolerant plant anywhere to be found on Earth.

You will do yourself a great service by understanding plants and metabolic functions at a staggeringly much higher level than you would need for any other plant if you want to be a successful Ghost Orchid grower and have not just one success, but hundreds of not thousands.

Pretend you have a basement that is 55 degrees, low in humidity, no soil, no food, low in CO2 and has no light - and that is where very plant you have will grow. And now imagine you have no concept of time, you do not know if the plant needs a 48 hour day length, a 5 hour day length, 12 hours sleep or any sleep at all (most plants do not need any sleep, that is another myth) Will it be 50 degrees or 130 degrees?

Now become a God and make an environment. Listen and interpret the plants signals and make an environment based on that - not what you see around you, because around you everywhere is not an ideal environment for any species of plant or animal, it is a vicious fight for survival with the very best often dying off due to circumstance, bad luck or temporary environmental changes and many excellent species have perished.

The Ghost Orchid is DYING in Florida. The future of the beautiful thing will rest in our hands because nature has selected it for extinction.

I wish you well.

Last edited by aaronsaxton; 04-13-2013 at 11:11 PM..
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Old 04-14-2013, 12:29 AM
hcastil3 hcastil3 is offline
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Ghost Orchid Advice PLEASE!!!! Anything helps .. (Dendrophylax Lindenii) Male
Default That was the best advice i could of asked for

Thank you, I will definitely take your advice word for word and keep on researching to learn more about this species. My goal is the same as yours, I want to create a nursery of these little guys. thanks for all the advice again.

Please keep in touch and let me know of anything new you find out. I'm glad i found someone that could offer as much help as you did. thank you
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Old 04-14-2013, 12:54 AM
flhiker flhiker is offline
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That is some GREAT info on the Ghost Orchid. Aaron. I truly appreciate it. I'm listening to Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. Origin of species. he talks about the extinction of species in the vary same way you did. I feel more fortunate to have visited their last home.
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Old 04-14-2013, 10:17 AM
aaronsaxton aaronsaxton is offline
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Hello Dave,

It too look forward to seeing their home, I have never been there and wish to do so. I've also never seen a Ghost Orchid Flower either, so when that happens it will be a first for myself and my fiancee, Maria.

Having one here in WV will be a first for the state and I hope it draws some interest to have a group established here to commence a society.

We can forget how much a genius Darwin was when we forget the tools he had at the time compared to what we have today. Any man who can go to his death knowing the certain existence of a moth being to certain specifications that was never seen and be lambasted for his certainty, and to not waiver even in death only to be proven right later, is a beautiful mind.
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Old 04-14-2013, 12:51 PM
flhiker flhiker is offline
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What you have explained about this plant makes the most sense yet. I live on the same latitude line and have killed several plants.
Aaron you have a open invitation to contact me when or if you are able to make it down. I'm know of several hundred plants. I highly recommend coming in June and July to see flowers but anytime is Okay with me. Good luck with your project.
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Old 04-14-2013, 03:39 PM
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I never said to decrease humidity levels during the winter. I said the exact OPPOSITE of this. I said to keep the humidity levels up, and that this [humidity] was the most crucial parameter to successfully growing a Ghost Orchid. I told him to keep the humidity high ALL YEAR ROUND.

But, what I did mention was PRECIPITATION (which is not necessarily the same as humidity), as in rain, tapers down during the winter.

I also mentioned the whole moss thing - not to put any on the mount, and if he did, to do it very sparsely, and this is exactly what is seen in the wild.

I have also said not to water the Ghost Orchid a bunch.

I have never said this orchid was easy to grow, I've always said it was the hardest one of the leafless orchids to grow, and that leafless orchids, in general, were difficult orchids to grow.

Also, I have grown seedling orchids before, and I tend to disagree with the whole "all seedlings will survive under ideal conditions" comment. Seedlings have a high mortality rate even if they are grown under ideal conditions. That's why orchids produce hundreds to millions of seeds per seed capsule. It's a numbers game.

I also disagree that the Ghost Orchid has "de-evolved" to such a degree that it is dooming itself. Imo, it's the exact opposite, the Ghost Orchid is the master of evolution and being lazy/energy efficient - so much so that it is doomed evolutionarily speaking by becoming horribly specialized to an environment that is specifically high in humidity.

Every single orchid that I've observed has developed the whole "lazy/energy efficient" trait to some degree or another.

One good example are orchids in the genus Caladenia. They are terrestrial orchids so dependent on their age old symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi, that they have evolved by losing the trait of having lots of roots in favor of having only 2 roots. If the orchid is getting the majority of its nutrients from fungi that could essentially be as large as an entire forest, why waste energy producing roots that do the same thing on a much more limited and localized scale that the fungi does at a much more larger scale essentially for free?.

Orchids, whether you like it or not, are imo, opportunistic, "lazy"/energy efficient, plants that are concerned with energy conservation during abundance or during scarcity.

Putting it simplistically...

If an epiphytical orchid grows in an environment where precipitation is high, it will not develop a structure akin to a pseudobulb. It will essentially grow like a Vanda, or a Phalaenopsis, or a Pescatorea - all plants without pseudobulbs. The orchids don't have to. Why waste time and energy into producing a pseudobulb when there really is never a true dry season.?

However, if the environment was highly seasonal where there is a very pronounced dry season, not only will the orchid produce pseudobulbs, but it will go into dormancy. That's what plants like Mormodes, Catasetum, Cycnoches, and Clowesia are all about. Their entire stem is the pseudobulb. They drop their leaves to conserve energy, and they go dormant, because they live in areas where precipitation is extremely seasonal and when it is dry, it can get very dry. Nutrients and water are scarce during their dry seasons, hence why they need to conserve energy.

Think about it this way...

If you didn't have to do a science project that takes a lot of resources, time, planning, and patience; would you do it?

The answer is a resounding - hell no!

But if your grade depended on doing a stellar science project that keeps you from getting a failing grade, and by failing you would not be able to continue on in a path of getting you into a rewarding career in science, would you make every effort to come up with an awesome science project?

I think the answer would be, yes!

The underlying theme with orchids is conservation of energy. All of them do it in their own special way.


I'm also not so sure the "scale-like leaves" are on the Ghost Orchids roots. If they do have microscopic "scale-like leaves", they are where the meristem should be - smack in the center of the root mass.

I know for a fact that Chiloschista spp. are not 100% leafless. They do grow rudimentary leaves under dim light conditions. These leaves grow from the center of the root mass, just like any other Phalaenopsis that have the ability to go deciduous. If the Ghost Orchid do contain microscopic "scale-like leaves" they're not on the roots, they're in the center of the root mass.

I have taken a botany class before, and I have seen an orchid root in cross-section under a microscope. Granted they may have been Phalaenopsis roots, but there are no structures on an orchid's roots that suggest that it can evolutionarily produce "scale-like leaves" on the roots. Like I said, if they did have "scale-like leaves", it would be where the meristem would be, because if you actually looked at an apical meristem under a microscope, they do have structures that suggest that they can grow "scale-like leaves" from structures called leaf primordia. Or perhaps, the reality of it is, these "scale-like leaves" are the Ghost Orchid's leaf primordia.

Many epiphytical orchids have roots that are fully capable of photosynthesis - that's why they're green when they are exposed to light. Imo, Ghost Orchids have taken this pre-existing trait and took it to the extreme.
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Last edited by King_of_orchid_growing:); 04-14-2013 at 05:12 PM..
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:36 PM
flhiker flhiker is offline
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I don't think Aaron was correcting you Philip, I just think he was giving his experience and theory. I too was a little taken back with his second paragraph. And was thinking that if this wasn't the idea condition for them to grow, why are the here. and if left untouched, thrive. Man has screwed with the Glades for decades. Had it been left alone, I feel they would be tens of thousands. But with man draining and diverting the water, I feel now he is right.

---------- Post added at 03:36 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:34 PM ----------

Oh I also extend that same invitation to you.
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