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WATER CULTURE

by

Rod Venger

Venger's Orchids

1220 Pando Ave.

Colorado Springs, CO. 80906

(719) 576-7686

http://vengers.com/culture/water.htm

 

"Water culture is something we've been experimenting with since Nov. '95. The idea is simple. Culturing orchids in no media except for water. The water is present all the time. For those wanting to experiment with this method of orchid culture, we're presenting a few guidelines to help you.

 

Container

 

The container we prefer most is glass though we've even used Rubbermaid containers with as good a success as with glass. The container needs to be deep enough to accommodate a large root system and the rim of the container should support the bottom leaves of the plant if possible. For pseudobulbous plants, a stake can be tied to the plant which will support it in the container.

 

Starting Out

 

Once you've selected which plants you want to grow and the containers you want to grow them in, consider these basics:

 

(1) Always use tepid water when initially filling or replacing the water in your containers. 'Tepid' has no discernable temperature. It will feel neither warm nor cold.

 

(2) Fertilizer strength and type should be the same as for potted plants. We keep fertilizer in the water at all times.

 

(3) Water changes should be done weekly with daily additions if needed. Do not allow the water level to drop below the top of the roots for any length of time. So long as the water level is correct, there is virtually no risk of bacterial or fungal infections. Do not remove the algae growth from either the roots or the inside of the container. It's our feeling that it assists with gas exchange within what is basically a stagnant body of water. At the end of each week just dump the water and replace.

 

(4) Temperature and light is exactly the same for water cultured plants as it would be if the plants were potted. In other words, follow the same cultural guidelines for the hybrid or species you're growing. Bear in mind that the water will quickly reach room temperature. A cold room will stunt the growth of the plant. A hot room will also stunt the growth of the plant. 65-85 degrees should be the outside ranges of the room with the max in the 80-85 degree range for intermediate growing orchids.

 

(5) 'Repotting' is basically not needed until the root system has so overwhelmed the container that getting the plant out of the container would cause damage doing so. The roots in these containers will not rot and only rarely die so expect to see more roots than you're used to seeing.

 

(6) Miscellaneous thoughts: We have yet to have a plant die in our experiments. Some plants do seem easier than others though. Phrags especially seem fond of the method, while phals, though growing nicely, seem somewhat slower than pot culture. Cattleyas, catasetums, dendrobiums, mormodes, oncidiums, paphs, zygos ALL do well. Bear in mind that plants just won't be suitable for this method if they need a rest period. Give it a try, have fun, and be sure and let us know how things work out! If you have any specific questions, feel free to e-mail me." <venger@vengers.com>

 
 

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