Your favorite mix for watering loving Phrags?
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Old 11-14-2018, 04:04 PM
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bethmarie bethmarie is offline
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Your favorite mix for watering loving Phrags? Female
Default Your favorite mix for watering loving Phrags?

I have Phrags in need of new medium and I'd like to hear what other growers prefer for water-loving species and hybrids. Most of mine are in medium bark mixes currently, and it takes very frequent waterings to keep them happy. I'm trying to make them at least marginally lower maintenance with a more water-retaining mix.

If you love your Phrag medium recipe and want to share,
I can't wait to hear it!

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Old 11-14-2018, 05:08 PM
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Ray Ray is offline
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Your favorite mix for watering loving Phrags? Male

Not a potting medium, but a whole growing technique: Semi-Hydroponics!
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Old 11-15-2018, 07:52 AM
MrHappyRotter MrHappyRotter is offline
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Your favorite mix for watering loving Phrags? Male

Traditionally speaking, mini cube rockwool based mixes have been my go to potting mix for Paphs and Phrags. However, my potting mix criteria is that I use the least expensive "quality" ingredients I can find, so I have plants potted in a variety of mixes.

For plants in small pots (let's say less than 6 inches), I use 60% - 80% rockwool, then mix in a variety of inert components (again, whatever's on hand and cheap) like charcoal, large grade perlite, leca, volcanic rock, etc. Additionally, I'll add a few minor components that are probably worthless, but I like to think are helpful, such as crushed eggshells, oyster shell, and/or a bit of sphagnum.

For plants in larger pots, I cut back on the rockwool, using maybe 20% - 30%, and compensate with high quality bark or other larger grade materials like volcanic rock chunks. There are lots of growers, including commercial growers, who use 100% rockwool for all of their phrags with success, but I feel a bit more comfortable with some added ingredients, and it works well with my growing techniques.

For growing, I place the pots into saucers and make sure to keep a bit of water in the saucers at all times. I usually water twice a week (sometimes more) and flush the pots once or twice a month.

One good thing about rockwool is cost. Because it is so light weight when dry, it is usually one of the the least expensive ingredients once you include shipping costs. Locally, I've found that Fifth Season hydroponic shop also has reasonable prices on it (they've got giant bags of leca for a good price as well), so you might want to check them out.

One downside to rockwool is that it needs to be prepared by rinsing and soaking before use. This usually means soaking it in pure water (rain, RO, etc) with something acidic (lemon juice, citric acid) a couple times and testing it until the pH is reasonable. I just prep a batch ahead of time and keep it in a bucket so that it's ready to use when I need it.

I'll also mention that a couple years ago I got a bad batch of rockwool that for some reason an abnormally large number of plants refused to grow in. I treated and tested (pH & EC) before using it, but for whatever reason, some plants wouldn't grow any roots or only developed poor roots. Not sure why, and it's only happened that one time. However, in response, I've been looking into other potting mixes, basically hedging my bets. Over the years I've had this same phenomenon with other potting media (fir bark, coconut husk chunks, leca), so that's an issue you have to consider with most media and isn't exclusive to rockwool.

As for semi-hydro and phrags, I've found more traditional growing techniques work better for my growing conditions and care routine. However, semi-hydro does work and is something you might want to consider. The main hurdle for switching to semi-hydro is that the initial transition can be finicky and time consuming. A lot of the smaller Phrags seem reluctant to grow roots into the standard sized leca, so it requires lots of misting and frequent top watering. One thing that can help here is to leave extra space between the top of the potting mix and the rim of the pot to create a slightly more humid microclimate for new roots (and live moss) to develop in. Make sure that the reservoir never runs out of water since even a brief stint of drying out can result in extensive root damage in Phrags because there's very little moisture retention with leca. Also, like rockwool, you'll need to rinse, soak, and prepare the leca before using it.
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Old 11-15-2018, 08:27 AM
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Connie Star Connie Star is offline
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Your favorite mix for watering loving Phrags?

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I think you will find it difficult to get away from frequent watering with phrags, depending on the species/hybrid as some of them grow naturally in very wet conditions and some are lithophytic. I think you have to look up the species or what species are in the hybrid to figure it out. I never tried phrags in semi-hydro, but that might be your best option, but keep the solution very weak fertilizer wise.

I live in Costa Rica for part of the year and I visited a place that specialized in the study of species orchids. They had a hotel in front of which was a long row slopping downhill of Phrag longifolium basically planted in muck. The secret was it was a very wet area and there was a slow but steady flow of water down the slope. I've never seen so many phrags in bloom at one time. It was in April.

I should mention that I gave up on phrags living in New England and where I live here in Costa Rica it's too dry for them. I have a friend who babysits my orchids when I'm not here so I can't have anything too demanding for her to deal with.
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Old 11-28-2018, 02:19 PM
WeirdGuySeattle WeirdGuySeattle is offline
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Your favorite mix for watering loving Phrags?

I personally grow in just a bark / NZ sphagnum mix. I keep them in a tray sometimes with water, but I change out that water at least a couple times a week.

Sometimes I let them sit in no water, but they never really go dry - but that is for winter time.. They seem to do pretty well as long as I change the media every year / every other year.
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