Rhynchostylis gigantea
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Old 08-05-2018, 03:44 PM
Fairorchids's Avatar
Fairorchids Fairorchids is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Zone: 6a
Location: Maplewood, NJ
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Rhynchostylis gigantea Male
Default Rhynchostylis gigantea

This species absolutely HATES having it's roots disturbed.

Under my conditions = in a greenhouse, watering once a week in winter, twice a week spring, summer & fall, they grow very well in an octagonal Vanda basket packed with a spaghnum/bark mix (3:1 ratio). However, no matter how carefully I pluck out old mix and re-pack with fresh, most of the plants seem to go into suspended animation for 6-12 months each time I repot.

Following loss of my collection due to a bad freeze, I purchased 6 new Rhy giganteas in various colors back in March. They arrived in the small 4" square baskets common in Asia, with no mix whatsoever. With my watering schedule, I can't grow them that way.

Rhy gigantea has thick fleshy leaves (like many succulents), so it is one of the very few orchids that should dry out between waterings. When you consider this, and their intolerance of repotting, I decided to try a new approach.

First, with sharp scissors I cut away as much of the 4" baskets as possible, without disturbing the roots. One plant had so many roots, that I could not cut away any part of the basket.

Then I placed each plant in a 6" octagonal Vanda basket, and filled the basket with large size LECA (Aliflor) nuggets. This material provides the plants something to hold onto, holds moisture for 24-36 hours after watering, and never breaks down, so I should not have to repot these again.

3 plants continued their growth uninterrupted. The other 3 sulked a bit initially, looking a bit desiccated (especially one of the two coeruleas), but as of this week, I can see fresh root tips and new leaf growth on all 6.

I will try to remember to report back on this experiment in another 12 months or so.

In the meantime, I also brought in 30 seedlings (plug size) = 2" to 3" across. Since 'babies' are much less tolerant of drying out, I put these into 3" net pots, with pure spaghnum, packed fairly loose.

They will probably stay in that for 18-24 months. Then, as they outgrow the small net pot, they will graduate into 6" baskets with LECA (without removing them from the 3" net pot).
Kim (Fair Orchids)

Founder of SPCOP (Society to Prevention of Cruelty to Orchid People), with the goal of barring the taxonomists from tinkering with established genera!

I am neither a 'lumper' nor a 'splitter', but I refuse to re-write millions of labels.
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Old 08-05-2018, 03:58 PM
Dollythehun's Avatar
Dollythehun Dollythehun is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2016
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Rhynchostylis gigantea Female

Kim, I adore these but, they are SO frustrating. Grrr! Mine grow slower than a snail. I have one in moss and clay, one in moss in a basket and one with nothing but basket. The one in nothing grows best but is losing some leaves while growing roots and a new leaf. Please keep us posted on how you method works!
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basket, mix, months, net, roots

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