Hydroton or clay pellets toxic to phals?
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Hydroton or clay pellets toxic to phals?
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Old 10-30-2019, 03:22 PM
CJ21 CJ21 is offline
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Hydroton or clay pellets toxic to phals?
Default Hydroton or clay pellets toxic to phals?

All right- I'm no newbie to orchids, I've grown for 37 years. But- I've had two phals in semi-hydro, using Hydroton clay prill, or maybe it's a similar brand, I don't know; they don't come with a name label once repackaged.

I've put two phals into this stuff, and both stopped growing roots, and eventually starting slowly losing leaves, and died.

I have no problems growing phals in a glass of water + nutrients. I have no problems growing in bark, etc. Just these clay pebbles, and I'm wondering if they're toxic to roots. Roots just don't grow in this stuff.

I'm now trying what I hope is a different brand, but if anyone has any insights, I'm wide open. Thanks!
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Old 10-30-2019, 04:34 PM
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Ray Ray is online now
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Hydroton or clay pellets toxic to phals? Male

If properly fired during manufacturing (most are), the LECA pellets should be chemically inert. It's basically nothing more than a clay flower pot in pellet form.

I suspect your problem lies elsewhere...

If you did not properly prepare the pellets, they might have been loaded with manufacturing residues (often complex sodium salts left behind from the binders used to form the raw pellets), that could render them to be temporarily toxic. I usually soak them in plain water for at least 24 hours.

As roots grow, they optimize themselves to function well in that environment. When you change a plant from one environment to another, the root system - now not optimal for its environment - will start to fail and must be replaced by new roots that are optimized for that environment. That's why it's a good idea to move a plant to S/H culture just as new roots are emerging from its base.

Even with a well-established plant, if your growing conditions are too cool, or favor rapid evaporation of the water from the pellets, the evaporative cooling might push the root zone temperature entirely too low for the plants. Phals are hot growers that tolerate moderate temperatures, but not cold, wet roots.

Another issue some folks have - your info didn't tell me enough to know - but if a root comes in contact with a dry LECA pellet, it can desiccate the growing tip, stopping its growth.
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Last edited by Ray; 10-30-2019 at 04:37 PM..
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Old 11-12-2019, 05:36 PM
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I have once again in the process of converting to LECA. I like the concept noting I am one to overwater and LECA is one that needs more water than the medium store bought etc.

My question is ... I grow outdoors, clay pots due to the winds knocking over plastic posts, using clay saucers. When watering which is usually once a day summer months and daily misting less winter months...is it fair to say I can use the saucer as a reservoir?? I have been doing though I am judging myself. Fear of not getting the pebbles moist again if allowed to dry out.

Appreciate any info!

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