Lighting for Phrag
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Old 07-12-2018, 06:50 AM
MisterGuy MisterGuy is offline

Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 76
Lighting for Phrag
Default Lighting for Phrag

Impulse bought my first Phrag (Rosy Charm) from a member sale this week because it was a great size for the cost and may even get its first flower spike this year!

That was Monday, and I have been researching all week. I was told I couldn't over water it (probably) with my usual methods, and I've got it in a vase that is giving it just barely wet feet at the bottom. When he sold it to me, the newest leafs were a bright lime green, and through the week they've darkened to a hunter green matching the other four leaves, which brings me to lighting requirements.

My "orchid corner" is pretty new and I'm not positive it's got sufficient lighting for all the varieties. The shelf the Phrag is under has a single T5/HO at 12 to 15 inches from the crown. The videos on YouTube of the wild Phrags made it seem like they actually are kind happy getting bleached out by small portions of direct morning light and that they should be closer to the lime green all over.

Did I understand that correctly, and should I put it on risers to be more like 4 to 5 inches from the light?

Monday, as purchased:

Seems a bit darker in only four days to me, so more light right?

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Old 07-12-2018, 09:06 AM
MrHappyRotter MrHappyRotter is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Zone: 7b
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 1,196
Lighting for Phrag Male

Phrag. Rosey Charm is 50% schlimii, 25% besseae, and 25% sargentianum.

In my experience, both P. schlimii and P. besseae do better in shadier conditions than the predominantly green/earth tone flowered species, and will tolerate a lot less light (while still blooming). So, given the heavy dominance of those two species in the background of P. Rosey Charm I would expect it to at least be shade tolerant.

On many Phrags, the new leaves start out lighter green and then as they age & mature, they darken up. I suspect that may be what's going on there. From the photos and just from the photos, I don't see anything concerning, I think the plant looks healthy and happy. Of course, it takes time to truly appreciate and observe whether the plants are getting appropriate amounts of light, and week usually isn't enough to time make a judgement on that. I wouldn't put it on risers yet. I'd give the plant six months to a year or so and observe. If it's growing well but not blooming, then consider giving it more light.

As far as the lighting levels go, it's hard to tell from the photos if the plant(s) are getting the correct amount of light. I would say, if they get natural light on top of the fluorescent lighting, then you're very likely giving them plenty. I don't grow a lot of Cattleya alliance plants nor nobile-type Dendrobiums, but I would expect those to need more light than your Phrag.

For reference, I used to grow and bloom my Phrags under T12 fluoros, then T8 fluoros, and now T8 replacement LEDs. I keep most of them within 6 - 12 inches of the bulbs, some closer, some further. Now that I've switched to T8 replacement LEDs I'm finding I have to move them a bit further from the bulbs because some of them are showing signs of getting too much light and I want to see darker leaves.

As for the watering, I agree that it would be hard to over water a hybrid like this. You could water it 4 times a day and it would be fine. The things to consider are that Phrags don't like stale, stagnant water, so make sure to empty out the vase at least a couple of times a week if not daily, and don't let the water level get too high. Also, Phrags can be sensitive to water quality. Although I've grown them with tap water in the past, I can say with confidence that they do much better with rain or reverse osmosis water. Finally, even though many/most Phrag species and hybrids (other than the long petalled caudatum-types) are generally okay with sitting water, individual clones sometimes are not. So, you should observe the plant and if you see signs of rot (ex: translucent sections at the base of the leaves, brown/dark spots, oozing) then you need to remove those leaves and cut back on watering (sitting in water would be a big no-no at that point). For those Phrags that have issues with water like that, I water them the way I water my Paphs, which is generally about 2 - 3 times a week in summer, and 1 - 2 times a week in winter depending on conditions.
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Old 07-12-2018, 09:22 AM
MisterGuy MisterGuy is offline

Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 76
Lighting for Phrag

Not delving into a huge scientific debate about PAR vs lumens and all that, mathematically, the Phrags should be getting a widely distributed 1k footcandles from the daylight balanced t5HO, while the Catts are closer and in the 2k to 3k. The Dens and one mounted Cat is under four t5s and should be in the 3k to 4k range of usable light. There's SOME indirect illumination from a west facing window, but with the gloomy midday weather we've been having it's hard to tell how much they really get.

Sooo, months to find out if it's good enough. And me someone who green seeds Zinnias because 20 days is too long to wait....
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