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  #1  
Old 04-05-2022, 03:21 PM
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Eric Goo of Phoenix Orchids: Growing Phalaenopsis Male
Default Eric Goo of Phoenix Orchids: Growing Phalaenopsis

Eric and Mary Goo just retired from Phalaenopsis breeding. For years they have been breeding incredible Phals with colors in the red-yellow-orange range, and have received many AOS awards. One of their plants was awarded at our 2022 Show. Eric has written many articles for our society's newsletter over the years, but these unfortunately aren't available on our Web site.

Their business is Phoenix Orchids. You can go to their Web site to see photos of their plants. They sold their last seedlings at last weekend's Desert Valley Orchid Society Annual Show. They still have available propagations of awarded plants, or award-quality plants.

I had a chance to speak with Eric about how he grows these Phals. I also read through all the articles he's published in our newsletter. I listened carefully. Any mistakes below are from my misunderstanding what Eric said or wrote; he has studied growing Phals, and read a lot of research.

Eric is an AOS Judge and past Regional Director for the International Phalaenopsis Alliance. He has registered 116 Phal. hybrids [as of 2021 - more now]. 56 of these have received a total of 92 awards, including 37 AMs [as of 2021 - more now]. He personally has received 151 quality awards [as of 2021 - more now] including 1 FCC, 55 AMs and 95 HCCs. He has also received 10 AQs, 4 CCEs, 8 CCMs and 1 JC. In addition, in 2021 Eric received the extremely prestigious American Orchid Society Medal for Excellence in Hybridizing.

The red-yellow-orange Phals may produce perennial spikes that may flower in season for many years. Large older plants will have many spikes and be in flower for more than half the year. Whereas many ancestor species may produce flowers sequentially, one at a time, large older plants of these hybrids may have multiply-branched spikes with dozens of flowers open at once. The majority are very nicely fragrant.

Eric grows his award-winning Phals in a greenhouse in his back yard. He makes several points before speaking:
- Phoenix, Arizona is in a desert, which creates an unusual growing environment, so what works for him may not work for you. Every growing area is unique and every person is unique. To be a successful grower you need to find out what works for you and then do it consistently.
- Keen observation and prompt action is the key. If you notice that a plant doesn’t look quite right, take a good look at it, figure out what what’s happening and fix it right away. Do not wait until a plant (or part of the collection) is dying before you take action. Once a plant suffers a significant setback, it can take a long time to recover if it lives.
- When you experiment try things on just a few plants, not your entire collection.
- He considers the minimum duration for an experiment of potting medium is 12 months, so you can see the effect over all four seasons.

Eric says always to be sure you have spare parts available for your equipment: a spare belt, motor and pump for the evaporative cooler, a spare heater or heater parts. Inspect and service your equipment before each season when it will be used.

Eric said low light is important for best Phal. growth and flowering. He said not to go over 1,000 foot candles / 10.7 lux or flower count and size will be decreased, and stems will be shorter than with proper light. He said there is a lot of research that supports this. Before neighboring trees shaded his greenhouse he used exterior greenhouse paint to decrease the light. Light levels are critical to good growth, so he suggests using a good light meter rather than guessing.

He likes to maintain temperatures during the year in a range from 85 to 65 degrees F, 29.4-18.3C. It just isn’t possible in the climate we have in Phoenix. The actual temperatures in his greenhouse ranges from about 91 to 58 F, 32.7-14.4C during the year. He uses a thermometer that displays both maximum and minimum temperatures so he can keep track of the extreme temperatures experienced in the greenhouse. [Note that Phoenix winter days are almost always far warmer than nights, so the low temperatures he mentioned are better tolerated here than they would be in a place where winter days are cooler. Phoenix weather keeps a greenhouse like Eric's warm on almost every day of the year, and we have only a few very cold winter days and nights. Even in winter we have plenty of light, very few cloudy days, and winter days are longer than they are farther north.]

With Eric's conditions standards and multiflorals bloom in March, yellows in April and reds in May. Flowering is triggered by lower temperatures and higher light in late Fall. To help induce flowering one can increase light to 1,200-1,300 foot candles for about a month in very late Fall. Be sure to reduce the light to 1,000 foot candles after that month or flowering will not be as good as it could be. A couple of weeks with night temperatures at 60 F / 15C also will induce flowering, but be careful the plants are warmer during the day. This is too cold a daytime temperature for Phals and predisposes to disease.

He tries to maintain humidity around 65%. It's been his experience that humidity below 50% causes stress, while humidity above 75% increases the likelihood of disease. In summer, even with an evaporative cooler running constantly, he has trouble maintaining relative humidity over 50%.

He has fans in the greenhouse to circulate air and keep it moving in an effort to reduce problems with disease. However, if you live in an air conditioned home, you may find that air movement is counterproductive due to low humidity.

He uses an evaporative cooler in warm months. He said they will tolerate higher temperatures with good humidity. He recommends keeping Phals at a minimum of 65 F / 18C at night. When greenhouse days are warm and nights cool, relative humidity rapidly reaches 100% after dark, which is too high.

Watch carefully during cool and moist times of winter for diseases, and treat immediately. Eric starts with the copper-based Phyton 27 for diseases. Be careful to adjust the pH of this before using; at acid pH in the 5-6 or lower range it releases too much copper, which can harm orchids. Many times black mold on leaves is only a surface problem, and can be wiped off with a paper towel. If it doesn't wipe off, it might be a systemic fungal problem. If old leaves have black spots but new leaves don't, he will observe rather than treat. He only uses fungicides if the problem is on new leaves as well as old.

He said research has shown Phals grow and flower best with plenty of nitrogen. He uses an MSU blend at 1 teaspoon / 5ml powder per gallon / 3.78 liters of water weekly. He said using more nitrogen can inhibit flowering, but these doses improve growth and flowering. Research has shown switching to a high-phosphate "bloom booster" fertilizer reduces flowering in Phals. The best flowering is with a balanced fertilizer at full label strength all year. The often recommended "weakly weekly" fertilizer regimen produces substandard results in Phals. Using fertilizer at full strength year round has produced the best results and he believes this is the most important aspect of fertilizing. In addition, after 30 years of experimentation, he has not found that any one brand of fertilizer produces better results than another. However, if you use reverse osmosis water or deionized water it is important to use a complete fertilizer that contains calcium and trace elements.

He grows in tightly packed Chilean sphagnum moss. [You might find reference online to his old method of potting, which he abandoned in 2012, but he thinks sphagnum works better for him. His previous method required very careful attention to the plants at all times.] In our growing conditions, the tightly packed moss tends to remain slightly moist, but dries out faster than if more loosely packed. By remaining slightly moist, it allows the plants to feed over an extended period, which improves the growth rate. Also, tightly packed moss is less likely to dry out completely, which is important under our conditions since it is hard to rewet once it becomes completely dry.

He has posted photos in our newsletter from customers who grow their Phals in semihydroponics. He says it works well for them.

Eric typically blooms Phal. seedlings in 3 inch round plastic pots. Clear pots are fairly popular, but he uses opaque pots to keep algae from growing inside the pots. Under our conditions, clear pots become nearly opaque due to the amount of algae that grows inside them. Reducing fertilizer will reduce algae, but also prevent plants from growing and flowering well.

Under our conditions, Eric waters twice a week most of the year. That is reduced to once a week for about three months in late fall and winter. He uses reverse osmosis water since our tap water is high in total dissolved solids. In hot and dry Phoenix he will use a misting wand to dampen just the top of the medium between regular waterings, so it never becomes bone dry, but it is very important the center of the pot not remain wet.

He made the point that whatever medium is used, the plants should be dry or nearly dry between watering so the roots are not suffocated. Medium at the bottom of the pot and medium at the center of the pot dries out last. This is why he prefers using low, wide pots, and the smallest pots into which the roots will fit: They dry faster. Water plants when you lift the pots and they feel light. If a plant doesn't look right, take it out of the pot and examine the roots.

He warned never to move your entire collection to a new potting mix. He said to try it on a few plants for at least an entire year, or whatever is your normal repotting period, whichever is longer. This is to see whether it works for you before moving more plants.

Eric repots all plants every year or two, when they outgrow their pots.

Eric does his own flasking. He tries to pot out from flasks in March, when plants will have a while to get established before hot summer weather, or October, when the intense summer heat has passed and the plants have a chance to get established before winter. [Note well: in Phoenix March is already warm, and from October on there are still two months of warm, bright weather. Calculate appropriately for your conditions.] He puts no more than 16 plants in a secondary flask, so they will be bigger when moved to compots, and have a better chance of surviving.

Some people say they have trouble flowering Phals. He suggests trying increased light in the fall, as mentioned above, but for most of the year don't exceed 1,000 foot candles; a two week night chilling period in the fall with nights down to about 60 F / 15C, and days much warmer; or reducing nitrogen if fertilizing more than recommended above.

Stake spikes carefully for best presentation. During judging Eric has seen great flowers miss awards because they weren't staked properly for good presentation. Spikes can rebloom, so don't cut them off unless they are dead and brown. Before shows, clean mineral spots from leaves and pots with a 50:50 dilution of lime or lemon juice. Full-strength can be used for stubborn stains.

Always be on the lookout for bugs. They spread rapidly in a warm and humid environment. Judges won't award a bug-infested plant. Eric uses Gnatrol, a preparation of BT, twice a year, for fungus gnats. When Eric uses pesticides in his greenhouse he wears a full protective suit, gloves and a respirator.
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Last edited by estación seca; 04-05-2022 at 04:17 PM..
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Old 04-05-2022, 05:36 PM
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sticky!!!!
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Old 04-07-2022, 11:14 PM
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I agree. Great info. Sticky!
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Old 04-08-2022, 08:40 AM
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Good stuff!
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Old 04-08-2022, 09:01 AM
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Thanks ES! Breaking out my light meter today and checking my phal FC's.
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Old 04-09-2022, 10:32 AM
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I spoke to him directly, face to face, at our Show. I also took information from the more recent articles he published in our society newsletter. The information from me which he did not say is above inside editorial brackets, which is how I've done things in numerous posts here.

He was very clear about fertilizer and light. He said multiple times regular light of around 1,000 foot candles produces best Phal flowering, and more light produces worse flowering. This is in line with what Alan Koch told our society.

He was extremely clear about the fall cooldown. That occurs here in Phoenix between September through November depending on the year.

Notice the section in which he said he hasn't found any difference between fertilizers, but one should use a balanced fertilizer at full recommended strength. He mentioned MSU at the same time. You may be reading older material.
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Last edited by estación seca; 04-09-2022 at 06:28 PM.. Reason: Changed words in lighting paragraph from "1,000 foot candles prevents best Phal flowering," to "around 1,000 foot candles produces best Phal flowering."
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Old 04-09-2022, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gardenguru2 View Post

I say this because I checked what Eric goo recommends, he has published an extensive care guide for Phalaenopsis and he does not use MSU, he uses a balanced feed.
Both MSU and balanced fertilizers work very similarly in terms of growing great plants with abundant blooms.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gardenguru2 View Post
I have honestly never heard that Phalaenopsis are triggered to flower a whole 7 months before they flower.

It seems very strange to me that lowering the temperatures in October would be the reason Phalaenopsis decide to flower in May.
This is pretty standard for the typical Phals that need a cool winter snap. That's been known about and manipulated for decades. Many growers will manipulate light and temperature to initiate out of season blooms, which is why you can buy blooming Phals at the grocery store all year long.
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Old 04-09-2022, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isurus79 View Post



This is pretty standard for the typical Phals that need a cool winter snap. That's been known about and manipulated for decades. Many growers will manipulate light and temperature to initiate out of season blooms, which is why you can buy blooming Phals at the grocery store all year long.
Same concept as for those Christmas Poinsettias ... Their natural time for the (very small) flowers and (dramatic) colorful bracts is more like summer. Not a big time for sales... Light and temperature are carefully controlled to get them to perform at the time when people want to buy them. If you live in a climate (mild winter) where they can grow outside and plant them, in a year or two they will revert to their normal cycle.
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Old 01-30-2023, 12:37 AM
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Eric Goo of Phoenix Orchids: Growing Phalaenopsis
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You know? with little observation and no variable control (completely scientific huh?), light might make a change in my phals. I try to give them lots of light. Couldn't hurt to give them developing spikes a little less light.

Thank you for taking the time to share all of this information.

Stan
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