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early 02-11-2020 01:04 PM

well water ph, filtering. fertilizers
 
I have a dozen phals, and flushed 8 non-bloomers with well water that has a ph greater than 8. I want to fertilize today and plan to use bottled drinking water that has a ph lower than 7. Is it possible to lower the well water with citric acid to lower it to 6.5 to 7+ and not harm my phals? will 3 or more flushes weekly with well water that alkaline harm the phals? I have all of them in clear plastic and I pore off all the water. They are all in S/H and so far the roots seem fine. Leaves are green and firm so none seem sick. I will wait for a reply on the PH I need to use next week.

second question--I have used both 30-10-10 and 20-20-20. In general, which one or a different balance is better for all phals, which seem to be doing well. And which balance is better for the 4 bloomers I have and do non-bloomers need a different balance?

---------- Post added at 12:04 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:59 AM ----------

forgot to say, I flushed yesterday all my phals and poured off the well water, so I can fertilize today (weakly)

Roberta 02-11-2020 02:28 PM

My tap water isn't quite as bad as your well water, but not wonderful... pH of about 7.8 (mostly due to calcium bicarbonate) I fertilize with a 2-gallon pump sprayer, and I added vinegar to the "mix" to get the pH down to about 6.5, then used 20-20-20. Citric acid would work, but might be hard to control in small volumes. Vinegar does the same thing, just easier (I found that a tablespoon per gallon did what I needed). Phals are not particularly fussy. I don't know if the extra nitrogen in the 30-10-10 is enough to inhibit blooming or if there is some other factor. Personally, I'd go for the balanced formula, others a lot more knowledgeable than I am may suggest otherwise.

Ray 02-11-2020 02:32 PM

Yes, you can safely lower the pH with citric acid. I prefer a range of 5.5-6.5.

The best way to water plants in semi-hydroponics is to fill the pots rapidly with a very dilute fertilizer and let it drain, without emptying the reservoir. That flushes, saturates the medium, and refreshes the chemistry of the reservoir in one step.

Either fertilizer is fine. If you follow my recommended technique and water 2x/week, use 1/8 teaspoon of the 30-10-10 per gallon, or 1/4 teaspoon of the 20-20-20 per gallon. (the former is a little light, the latter a little strong)

early 02-11-2020 02:53 PM

Roberta and Ray: You two are the best. I have learned so much. Another small question for Ray about semi hydro. A few of my orchids seem healthy but I don't see the roots on the sides of my pots..all 3 to 4 inches. Is it safe to put repot them in another the same size just to check out the roots?
And for both of you and others that own phals, I have two new leaves, one on a rescue and the other older plant is still blooming. Both of the new leaves have a reddish tent Is that healthy? The plants seem health other wise. Most of my non blooming are rescues that I bought that way. a few had only two or three flowers, and were not great when I bought them last year. The Dtps I previously wrote about seem better in my warmer location and the severly misshapen leaf is turning yellow and will in a month or two drop like some of my other non bloomer minis. The misshapen one is called Big Red Robe, and when I looked for it, it has beautiful flowers in different indexes.

Roberta 02-11-2020 02:59 PM

If new leaves have a reddish tint, the plants are probably at the upper end of the amount of light that they tolerate (think "sun tan") Those that have red/purple flowers naturally will have more of the red pigment lurking, and that's probably the case. You could possibly back off the light on those a bit but they should be fine - and the light just improves their odds of blooming.

Ray 02-12-2020 07:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by early (Post 911609)
Roberta and Ray: You two are the best. I have learned so much. Another small question for Ray about semi hydro. A few of my orchids seem healthy but I don't see the roots on the sides of my pots..all 3 to 4 inches. Is it safe to put repot them in another the same size just to check out the roots?

Unless you are sloppy and break a lot of roots, the issue for plants with repotting is a change in the root environment. S/H to S/H is no change at all.

Go for it!

Brian1212 02-12-2020 02:04 PM

hi early - a lot of the questions have been answered. I use hydroponic ph down which costs a couple of dollars - otherwise i would use aquarium ph down, vinegar as last resort.

as to whether watering with a ph of 8 would make a difference - yes it certainly would. You want to aim for a range of 6.0 at which point all nutrients are readily absorbed by the plant - at ph of 8.0 which is 20 x 0.1 higher a lot of nutrients are locked out and the plant cannot absorb them. The effects would not be noticed for several months so you might think everything is fine till a few months down the line you will notice deficiencies, try to feed more nutrients, burn your plants because the excess nutrients can't be absorbed and scratch your head. So don't go down that route, try to stick with a ph of 6.0.

I know ph meters are expensive and the cheap amazon meters very inaccurate (seriously don't bother getting a cheap one, you might look at the readings and think everytihng is fine till few months down the road you will be scratching your head). If you cannot afford a decent ph meter then use the paper testing strips but again there are differnces in those, some measure in 1.0 increments which is useless others do 0.1 increments

Getting the ph right for me is far more important than feeding. My plants can go months without beeing fed at times - they only need feeding when they are actively growing and even then very very little but if I get the ph wrong then the plant cannot aborb some nutrients at all which are always present in rain water even without adding any feed and the plants will suffer.

camille1585 02-12-2020 02:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brian1212 (Post 911660)
hi early - a lot of the questions have been answered. I use hydroponic ph down which costs a couple of dollars - otherwise i would use aquarium ph down, vinegar as last resort.

Why do you consider vinegar as a last resort?

Brian1212 02-12-2020 02:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by camille1585 (Post 911664)
Why do you consider vinegar as a last resort?

hi camille, i suppose the citric acid would be my last resort although I would never use it because it would degrade so not sure that counts as last resort which is why I say vinegar is my last resort as I have never used it for the same reason although I am sure it lasts far longer.

I believe in using the best for the purpose and as I pointed out ph down is amongst the cheapest items a hydroponic shop sells it just would not make sense to use anything else as it has been scientifically tested to be the safest for plants. Vinegar is a kitchen cleaner that is a good alternative and costs half as much I suppose. I have no bad experience using vinegar if that is what you are asking.

camille1585 02-13-2020 04:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brian1212 (Post 911665)
hi camille, i suppose the citric acid would be my last resort although I would never use it because it would degrade so not sure that counts as last resort which is why I say vinegar is my last resort as I have never used it for the same reason although I am sure it lasts far longer.

I believe in using the best for the purpose and as I pointed out ph down is amongst the cheapest items a hydroponic shop sells it just would not make sense to use anything else as it has been scientifically tested to be the safest for plants. Vinegar is a kitchen cleaner that is a good alternative and costs half as much I suppose. I have no bad experience using vinegar if that is what you are asking.

I was curious about it because I only recently started adjusting my pH with vinegar, simply because I had it on hand. So if you had told me it had negative effects on the plants, I would have completely freaked out. About a year ago I started using a pure water formula of MSU type fertiliser with my tap water, after the maker/vendor of it told me my water was soft enough and low enough in TDS to use it and didn't seem concerned about the pH (8). A year on, my impression is that my plants are not doing as well as they did with my previous fertiliser. So I bought an aquarium water pH test kit since it's affordable and relatively accurate. Tapwater is at 8 as my water report indicates, and 7.5 with fertiliser. I could get it down to 6-6,5 by adding only 0,7ml/L of vinegar.

I'm still wondering if this is the best decision, and if it isn't better to go back to my old 20-20-20 fertilizer. But seeing how much of the MSU stuff I have left, it seems so wasteful to throw it out.


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