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  #21  
Old 12-02-2008, 09:48 AM
violacea violacea is offline
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Originally Posted by BlakeeBoo View Post
Urea is a type of nitrogen but i don't know why some think it is bad for orchids. I think it is just a myth that has woven into orchid society through years of personal preferences getting mixed with actually orchid culture fact.

I may be wrong though so don't be to mean when correcting me.
No, BlakeeBoo, you are not wrong. In Singapore where I am, there is a gardening book put forth by one of our Botanic Garden pioneers called Eric Holttum. He advocates using urine, a very valuable fertiliser which is full of urea, diluted 37 times and left to rot for a day. They throw this on all the orchids which bloom well and grow well with the treatment. Of course it stinks then, but you can always hose it off after the plant has drunk in the urea. When very dilute, there is no smell.

Hope this doesn't sound gross for those not used to the idea. It isn't done too often nowadays, though.
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  #22  
Old 12-02-2008, 10:16 AM
violacea violacea is offline
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Originally Posted by RoyalOrchids View Post
Oh, and some beers (stouts mostly) are bottled or canned with NO2, but most are carbonated. All "real" or natural beers are just bottle conditioned and are carbonated by continued yeast metabolism. I'm no orchid expert - but I know my beer!
The magazine put forth by our local Orchid Society once ran an article by a medical doctor whose hobby was growing orchids. It was on "beering" his orchids. He takes everyone's leftover beer after a party and dilutes it, maybe ten times. And then splashes this over his orchids. I remember the phrase, "Orchids love beer!" he stated.

So I tried it, but only once. Orchids are so slow growing I didn't detect any positive response! What I'm saying is go ahead and try it if you want.

The difference between a delicate orchid trying to survive and those hardy ones in our gardens that grow like weeds and are near indestructable is that the delicate hothouse orchid might die with the beer on them.

Well, that's my two cents worth.
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  #23  
Old 12-02-2008, 10:19 AM
Royal Royal is offline
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Originally Posted by violacea View Post
No, BlakeeBoo, you are not wrong. In Singapore where I am, there is a gardening book put forth by one of our Botanic Garden pioneers called Eric Holttum. He advocates using urine, a very valuable fertiliser which is full of urea, diluted 37 times and left to rot for a day. They throw this on all the orchids which bloom well and grow well with the treatment. Of course it stinks then, but you can always hose it off after the plant has drunk in the urea. When very dilute, there is no smell.

Hope this doesn't sound gross for those not used to the idea. It isn't done too often nowadays, though.
OK, besides the grossness I have a few comments.

First, urine does contain urea, but not only urea. Animals excrete different compounds depending on the length and structure of the "loop of Henley", a feature of the kidneys. We have them, birds have them, cats and dogs have them. But our excretions are much different than that of birds and cats. Concentrations of N, urea, and uric acid differ greatly from genus to genus, and person to person (and day to day, hour to hour). Bottom line, human urine has nitrogen in many forms - but at an unknown concentration that can vary greatly.

Second, You say it sits and "rots" for a day. How much urea is being converted into available nitrogen in that time frame? I don't see how we could tell.

So, he starts with a questionable solution of unknown concentration then dilutes, it 37 times? Why not 38 or 36? It seems like a very specific yet arbitrary number.

PLEASE don't take this the wrong way! I'm not trying to be a smarty-pants. I'm just a skeptic. Forgive me!
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  #24  
Old 12-02-2008, 10:50 AM
violacea violacea is offline
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Default Using urea naturally!

Yes, Royal. I don't think you are trying to be smarty pants but appreciate what you said. All that has to be considered too.

Just be reminded we are dealing with hardy plants in the early days of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and in the 90-degree-F heat, the compounds in the urine will rot. I have often wondered about the 37 times myself, put forth in the book "Gardening in the Lowlands of Malaya" - a very old book. It is about as scientific as letting leaves rot and putting this under the orchids (vandas, spathoglottis and arachnis, mostly) for compost. Just empirical fact. In those days, hardly anyone comes out of University to take on a horticultural job.

Holttum goes on to create the compost with urine too. One layer leaves, splash with urine, add more veggie material, splash with urine, add burnt wood ash. He's long dead so we cannot ask him. But the topic at hand is what fertiliser can you use without buying the stuff but make it yourself. So we go back to pioneer days.

Incidentally, my Filipina maid tried using urine on the orchids diluted as I suggested and the plants perked up and bloomed, dendrobiums mostly, so there must be something good and right in the recipe!

Be cautioned that we have hardy orchids. I don't want somebody's precious phalaenopses dying on account of taking up my ideas.

For phalaenopses, I have learned to use diluted Gaviota 63 to make leaves. This is a foliar feeder so I squirt the back of the leaves. I get this off the crown for fear of crown rot. When the plant looks healthily growing, I switch to Gaviota 67. Again at the back of the leaves. This is higher in potassium so it stimulates spikes. The spikes appear in the rainy season when the temperature is much cooler.

Somehow, there isn't any other fertiliser here to equal Gaviota so I am wondering what do you all use on your orchids. Or should this be another thread?

For organic feeding, there are brown pasty liquids derived from animal blood that we dilute and water the roots. Dendrobiums seem to go crazy with delight in this medium and throw out multi-spikes.
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  #25  
Old 12-02-2008, 11:36 AM
Royal Royal is offline
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Originally Posted by violacea View Post
Be cautioned that we have hardy orchids. I don't want somebody's precious phalaenopses dying on account of taking up my ideas.
This is the exception I spoke of in my earlier post. If an orchid is grown in soil or compost, the urea persists and has time to make that "step" and convert to available N. A Phal or any epiphyte grown in free-draining media or on a mount will only be able to use available N because the fertilizer doesn't persist as long.

I do know one reason why your orchids look great -- YOU LIVE IN SINGAPORE!!!
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  #26  
Old 12-02-2008, 03:10 PM
BlakeeBoo BlakeeBoo is offline
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Thank you all for your input.
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  #27  
Old 12-02-2008, 10:37 PM
Jonna Jonna is offline
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This brings up a question I've been wondering about. When you say fertilizer derived from Urea, is this the same as NO2 or is it Nitrate? I may have my terms wrong but I'm coming from a pond background where the fish poop is changed by bacteria to first Nitrite, Nitrite 2 and then Nitrate which plants then use. Is the desired result to have Nitrate available to the orchids?

There are some Australians mainly who are doing semi-hydroponic growing of food crops and fish (which they call aquaponics) using the same theories that ponders use to keep ornamental fish and plants in balance. Here's a link to their site.

I know from experience that many plants grow exceedingly well bare root in pond water, processing the Nitrates produced by bacteria from the fish waste into strong growth. I am interested in incorporating this into my new fascination with orchids and keep looking to see if others have done the same. At the least, using the water from a cycled pond or aquarium should be beneficial in watering the orchids.
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  #28  
Old 12-03-2008, 10:46 AM
violacea violacea is offline
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Originally Posted by RoyalOrchids View Post
I do know one reason why your orchids look great -- YOU LIVE IN SINGAPORE!!!
I read that and had a guilty giggle.
Royal, my orchids are struggling to survive. Maybe it is my personality what is so perverse -- the orchids that grow well here are what I am indifferent to. I ignore oncidiums and neglect my dendrobiums. They bloom now and then despite my inattention.

But the orchids I grieve over are my phalaenopses and cattleyas (and all their intergeneric crosses). Let's face it, these are actually subtropical or temperate plants. I cannot get cool nights where I live - min night temp 25 C. Some nights fall to 23 C and I get excited thinking, "My orchids must be happy tonight!"

Sure enough, they throw out spikes soon, and then the hot dry days come, and my house has the wrong microclimate for them, and the stalks are short and the buds are few. Whites seem to do better. And any of the dark pinks, probably due to doritis parentage, since doritis (esmeralda?) can withstand more sun and heat.

Then all those evil weevils come to eat them up. I have snails and red mite. I refuse to use insecticide but try tea-tree oil without knowing the concentrations to use.

There is a supplier of phalaenopses here and going to their farm is like reaching orchid heaven! But the "farm" is a very large room, airconditioned, and with huge fans blowing air sideways into the room. Must cost the earth to upkeep them, so they are sold to us at higher prices. They buy compots and then grow them in separate pots until they bloom.

Dendrobes should do well, if you give them constant love and affection which was what my (late) father-in-law did with his orchids. And the commercial dendrobium growers (run by my husband's girl cousin and her husband) have acres under netting and overhead mist sprayers that come on four times a day!

They are all from three clones. Hardy. Good substance, good arrangement, etc everything a good orchid should be. And there are only three plain colours -- which they sell as Multico White, Multico Red and Multico Yellow. So many of them so that I find them deadly dull. Princess Diana ordered Multico White from their farm for her wedding bouquet. Ho-hum...

The farm is sold off to a friend now, so I don't have access to it. Or rather, what incentive have I to go there and not be recognised and welcomed?

The best orchids I have seen are grown by a girl with terminal cancer. She spent all her last days with them, watering, fertilising, spraying on bug killers. They were so fat and green and perfect without holes or a single flower out of place.

There are a lot of orchids that I miss seeing around here because they are passe. Long time ago since I saw species, and early crosses. No Vanda coerulea, Arachnis hookeriana, scented arachnis flos-aeris and the magnificent grammatophyllum speciosum - the tiger orchid. Lots of leaves and takes ages to flower. These can never be commercially grown and so are of no use to the modern money-minded orchid growers. Very sad.

Hence I love this topic -- trying to grow orchids without commercial fertiliser. BlakeeBoo, if you ever succeed, sell me some. The media I use is charcoal and brick but I stick some cubes of asplenium nidus root into the pot. Where did I get these? I have a humongous bird's nest fern growing in my garden and the roots are literally there for the picking. This can absorb whatever urea there is to release the nitrogen.

Okay, you all tell me about your orchids. What are you growing?

Last edited by violacea; 12-03-2008 at 10:51 AM..
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  #29  
Old 12-03-2008, 11:09 AM
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camille1585 camille1585 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonna View Post
This brings up a question I've been wondering about. When you say fertilizer derived from Urea, is this the same as NO2 or is it Nitrate? I may have my terms wrong but I'm coming from a pond background where the fish poop is changed by bacteria to first Nitrite, Nitrite 2 and then Nitrate which plants then use. Is the desired result to have Nitrate available to the orchids?
Fish ponds or soil, the nitrogen degradation process is the same. I found as interesting website about the different forms.
Nitrogen in the soil

Urea is degraded into ammonium then to nitrites then too nitrates. The speed of the process depends on the amount of the correct bacteria that are found in the soil/medium. Ammonium can be absorbed by plants.

In France there is a very popular (to the point that most gardeners worship it) homemade fertilizer for garden plants mainly, since it is really rich. Ever heard of nettle 'tea'? It's high in nitrogen and packed with minerals and trace elements. We ferment a kilo of leaves in 10L of rain water, put it in a shady corner of the garden, and let it rot a few weeks (stinks like sh*t!). Then it is filtered. For fertilizing a 5% dilution is used, and at higher concentrations (10-15%) it is a very good natural insecticide to spray on plants. When I water my tomato plants with it, they grow like crazy, and are luciously healthy. I wonder if the orchids would get the same 'high'? I'm thinking of trying a 2-3% dilution on my cymbidium next growing season.

We also make a 'tea' by boiling horsetails(?- Equisetum in latin) in water. Once cool we spray it on plants to cure rot and fungus. It worked so well when my impatiens plants had botrytis.
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  #30  
Old 12-03-2008, 02:12 PM
BlakeeBoo BlakeeBoo is offline
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Right now I only grow Phalaenopsis and Dendrobium, but I just ordered a flask of 1084 Brassia caudata. I am looking to grow my collection.
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