Will My Semi-Hydro Orchids Grow Just As Well As Those In Traditional Media?
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  #11  
Old 11-21-2019, 01:55 PM
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Back in early 1982, my job changed and I began traveling in the US & Canada 6-7 days a week. It is quite difficult taking care of plants when you're not there, and automated watering with traditional media is hit-and-miss. 3.5 years and an average of 13 flights per week later I was transferred to corporate HQ and my job changed again, requiring several 3- to 4-week trips per year to Central and South America, Japan & China, with Australia or Europe thrown in periodically.

There was an AOS Buletin article about sprouting cymbidium back-bulbs in perlite with a standing reservoir that got me to thinking about modifying the technique for regular culture. After several experiments, my current setup of LECA in a converted plastic container came to be.

Besides sharing the results of a lot of experimentation and know-how, my two biggest contributions to the culture technique were the pot design and the name, which I coined as an attempt to differentiate it from active hydroponic techniques. That was abut 30 years ago, and since then I have had to continually fight the claims by some that S/H is "the best", or "only" way to grow, and that "it won't work for [this particular] plant".

Folks seem to forget that the rest of your cultural parameters and how well they fit with the S/H environment to meet the needs of the plant are far more significant than the S/H setup, itself. Most of the naysayers fall into that category, have never actually tried it at all, or show themselves to be less knowledgeable than they think by equating it with water culture.

The fact that others put out YouTube videos or explain the process differently is out of my control. I have tried to fight it, but what can one man do?
So true. For my conditions it's the cat's meow for keeping Cattleya, but a total dog for Phalaenopsis. The increased evaporation cools the root zone, which with my marginal temperatures has killed almost all of my Phalaenopsis. I pulled my P. amabilis out of s/h and put it into full water culture where it's recovering pretty well. I suspect the thermal mass of the water helps keep the roots warm enough.
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  #12  
Old 11-21-2019, 04:04 PM
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So true. For my conditions it's the cat's meow for keeping Cattleya, but a total dog for Phalaenopsis. The increased evaporation cools the root zone, which with my marginal temperatures has killed almost all of my Phalaenopsis. I pulled my P. amabilis out of s/h and put it into full water culture where it's recovering pretty well. I suspect the thermal mass of the water helps keep the roots warm enough.
Rod Venger, of the former Venger's Orchids of Colorado Springs, invented "full water culture" and one of his "learnings" was the need to keep the water at about 70°F.
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  #13  
Old 11-21-2019, 04:22 PM
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Rod Venger, of the former Venger's Orchids of Colorado Springs, invented "full water culture" and one of his "learnings" was the need to keep the water at about 70°F.
And so dependent on one's temps, doing the "Phal on a seedling mat" appears to allow the S/H method to do its thing in a similar fashion.

For me... I'm with Subrosa. I don't grow Phals well in S/H. And I have two seedling heat mats, but refuse to use that electricity over the long run for a Phal. Fairly sure our growing inside temps are likely similar. Then again, I'm not a big grower of Phals. The ones given for me to "rescue" or given as "orchid gifts" are usually mounted or experimented with.

And agree with Subrosa, I believe OrchidKing is likely getting water culture and traditional S/H confused. My "expensive" orchids are all in S/H, and survive well. Yes, very much longer than a couple of years.
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  #14  
Old 11-22-2019, 08:03 AM
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Seems I did get confused and have never paid too much attention to the name as I rarely do but basically proving my point that the name is confusing. I will stick to wicking semi hydro.

There are people that call full water culture semi hydro too which doesn't help but I love the wicking semi hydro method.
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  #15  
Old 11-22-2019, 08:17 AM
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I have my "pure" phals in sphagnum in air-cone pots and they do quite well. The only "near phal" in S/H is Vandopirea Little One back crossed with Sedirea japonica, but sincce the parents have been reclassified as phals...

All my slippers are in S/H.
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  #16  
Old 11-22-2019, 08:41 AM
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Thank you all so so much for your personal experience and thoughts on growing orchids the semi hydro way! I really enjoy all your replies.

Ray, that was super interesting to hear about your “origin story” for the semi hydro method It has definitely helped a lot of us grow orchids. I agree with you, the best growing method is the one that works for you/your environment. No one method is the end-all for everyone.

Thought I’d share the orchids that have been doing really well since I transitioned them to semi hydro (leca with a reservoir just to make sure I am getting the method properties right). Usually I tell people such as my mom, who is really confused by it all, I grow my orchids in balls of clay that resemble coco puffs 😆

For the record, my orchids never grew roots as fat and long they do in semi hydro. Might be hard to tell from the pics but each one has new roots growing almost constantly! I’m actually getting concerned where I will find bigger clear pots soon lol! A good “problem” to have tho eh? 😝
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Last edited by Edew; 11-22-2019 at 08:56 AM..
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Old 11-22-2019, 01:04 PM
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The pots don't have to be clear. They simply need to be solid-bottomed plastic. I suppose stainless steel might work, as does glass, but $$$!

With semi-hydro plants, you can water on a fixed schedule, so once you settle on that, you don't need to see what's happening in the pot, just water.
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  #18  
Old 11-22-2019, 02:23 PM
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Seems I did get confused and have never paid too much attention to the name as I rarely do but basically proving my point that the name is confusing. I will stick to wicking semi hydro.

There are people that call full water culture semi hydro too which doesn't help but I love the wicking semi hydro method.
Paying attention is always a good thing.
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  #19  
Old 12-04-2019, 04:11 PM
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The pots don't have to be clear. They simply need to be solid-bottomed plastic. I suppose stainless steel might work, as does glass, but $$$!

With semi-hydro plants, you can water on a fixed schedule, so once you settle on that, you don't need to see what's happening in the pot, just water.
True, I’ve been afraid of not being able to see the roots. So maybe glass will do the trick. Plus it looks nice too. I also want to avoid more plastic if possible. Hence why I used coffee cups as pots rather than tossing in the bin. Reduce, reuse, recycle

But I do think you have a good point for the big orchids: the Dendrobium spectabile will need a massive plastic pot one day, oh well. Maybe I can find a bucket at a yard sale ha!

I do love how semi hydro (at least in my environment) allows for a much longer gap between waterings. Huge bonus, woo!
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Old 12-04-2019, 04:39 PM
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True, I’ve been afraid of not being able to see the roots. So maybe glass will do the trick. Plus it looks nice too. I also want to avoid more plastic if possible. Hence why I used coffee cups as pots rather than tossing in the bin. Reduce, reuse, recycle

But I do think you have a good point for the big orchids: the Dendrobium spectabile will need a massive plastic pot one day, oh well. Maybe I can find a bucket at a yard sale ha!

I do love how semi hydro (at least in my environment) allows for a much longer gap between waterings. Huge bonus, woo!
Are you familiar with the process of drilling glass? It can be a bit tricky, more so the thinner it gets.
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