Sally, I see you use Hydroton for a good number of your plants and I am offering the chance for you to expound on this, as I know a bit from the hoya forum, but not much more.
Hydroton and Caucidiforms
Hi, I use semi hydroponics on all of my 85 plants and have for, at least, the last 8 years. I am terrible on keeping records. I buy all my supplies from Firstrays.com I would go there and it is all explained. I have had great success with it and a lot less rotting.
Thanks little things, That is where I get all my supplies. Ray actually invented this system for orchids and I adapted it to the cactus and caudiciforms. I don't even have any orchids anymore.
Did better with the other plants.
Sally I know you don't live where you can keep these plants outside but you do put them out for the summer, correct? I am wondering how the few plants I keep out all year (some cold tolerent cacti) would do in this system. If the pot has holes at about an inch from the bottom can they be over watered in any real sense? I have a couple small agave I might try this on. One more thing that I am still working out is how do they look in those plastic pots. I know thats just cosmetic but part of my garden's appearance is based on some nice decorative pots with some of these plants in them.
I have them all outside in the summer. The roots are above the reservoir so it isn't a problem unless the roots grow into the water which is what has happened. They seem happy as clams.
I have thought about the cosmetics. That is why I was so surprised when I went to the Cactus and Succulent Society meeting yesterday and won First Prize. I thought the judges would not like the pot. I was amazed. I am sure the plastic pots could be put into pots for decorative purposes but I have never bothered. I may enter some of my plants in the Philadelphia Flower Show next spring and then I would probably have to temporarily transfer them into regular pots or put the plastic into a more decorative pot.
It's almost a question of which do I value, an interesting plant or how that plant and pot decorate my yard. The answer I think is both have value. Some plants I grow because I love that plant others are more part of an overall picture. Your plants are very nice to look at, regardless of the pots.
I understand what you are saying and I would love both worlds, but I guess I enjoy the plants more, too. I guess i also like the success. I am great at killing plants, otherwise. I just could never get into the scientific approach. I just do the same thing for all of them and hope they live. They seem too, for me, in this culture. I guess that makes me lazy! lol
Sally, you mention about the orchids in s/h and yours not doing as well as the caudiciforms. Was it about how the orchids grew in the s/h or didn't they flower well or what? I ask because I only have one orchid and I was thinking of trying it in s/h.
I think it is the fact that they really like humidity and it is dry as a bone in my house was a big factor. Plus, my real love has always been the caudiciforms and succulents. Ray from Firstrays developed the s/h for the orchids so I wouldn't be afraid of trying it if I was you. He has a discussion group at his site that is mostly about the orchids. I didn't really play around with the orchids for that long to figure it out to be honest. I am actually a pretty lazy gardener and don't like to have to think too much. lol. The caudiciforms and succulents have been so easy. I also tried the s/h with african violets and had great success with them. I was just getting too many plants to be honest.
Thanks for the info Sally. It is extremely dry here too, especially in the winter ... I mean like less than 5% humidity and that's why I just have one small phal that I couldn't resist the price of last winter.
What do you recommend as far as pot size to start with? Should I start smaller and work up to the 6" or 8" or can I put smaller plants in bigger pots in hopes of them growing into them?
I try to match the pot to the size of the plant. It depends how big the Phal. is. That's a good question. I would shoot that question to Ray with the size of the plant and size of the roots. He is really good with the orchids.
I fertilize each time I water. That is an important point Podster as there are no nutrients as in soil. I fertilize at 1/2 strength each time I water. In the winter, maybe a little less.
I use a fertilizer I bought from Rays plus I will switch up with some African Violet food I had left over. As you can see, I am not very scientific. This method has been very forgiving for me!
Sally, I've been following the discussion on Fat Plants and here, do you think it would be better to switch plants over in the early spring, as they start to grow, or do it now, as they're going dormant?
Also, I think you have some Bursera, I love the Bursera and Commiphora, how do you think they would do in s/h?
I too, am a terrible over-waterer. Have lost a lot of plants that way!
actually, I believe this is different than hydrotron but I don't remember the difference. I think Ray talks about it on his site.
Interesting discussion, haven't been on DG recently as Night School just started so I can really get a job. And I freaked out being a student again, doing homework, reading, and so on.
In the middle of summer here, I water the heck out of my plants, daily, and I have not lost one to it, well not the mesembs, which I now do not have. Mostly epis, which are now in the garage with 8 hours of 4 tubes of 4' fluorescents 2 cool/2warm. Along with other dormant plants that don't need the light: Raphionacme and some Pelars. This is a new thing brought to me by the Epiforums.com folks. Some advocate cool rooms and sunny windows, but some say they do fine in a dark cool garage with blooms. I was going to do the dark thing, but I chickened out, and added the lights for 8 hours of "day".
Right now, I am pretty busy and this set up has lightened the load for me, as I have a load of plants getting weekly water, some getting none, and some getting fertilizer! Quite the mess of life, and one Massonia that I wonder if I killed it earlier this year.
Money is tight right now, but will loosen when I get any job and I will start the conversion to S/H. I also like the idea of one soil for all my plants as I have epis on coir and orchid bark, and pelars on potting soil with extra pumice. I love simplicity, but I gotta keep costs in check as we barely make each month.
LT: I did read the page you suggested before I wrote what I did earlier.
do these Hydrotons or whatever come any smaller? I have heard some judges object to their large, bulky and somewhat non-ornamental size and shape (compared to a nice, 'more natural-looking' small grain granite or other similar top dressing). I like this idea and would like to try it, too, but the look of the 'boulders' around small plants is a bit weird (have seen larger plants in these and the size is more appropriate). Can they be crushed somewhat and have the same effect?
Yes, they do, go to the link LT suggested I read and check the FAQ, or the main site, and see what sizes are available for plants. And this thread does not refer to Hydroton, which is a different product, although similar.
Ray does not use hydroton per say. It is similar but a different product. He explains it on his site. I don't really know and have only used his product. I personally ran into more rot problems using the smaller stone except for seedings. I have used it on some smaller plants as top dressing for anchoring the plant better until it got bigger. I am no expert and I am not careful in watering my plants. I treat them all the same (except the lithops).
You do get 2 sizes here and should get them there, Palmbob. I did my first conversions and I am now sitting back to see. I really hope this works well for me, because it can make massive differences in terms of holiday care, rain, etc.etc.
Me tooo! Its the potential that does get me going. I have french hydrogro solutions (3 types) vegetation, blooming and minerals, which I can adjust as the plants grow and for the season. LOTS of fun for me...new dimensions!
I do love trying new things. The s/h was a wonderful surprise as to how well it worked.
I'm excited and a little scared to try this, but I can't wait!
Analog Dog, good luck with school, and with finding a job!
I just can't get away from thinking plants need soil. I am going to try a few and compare.
Thanks LSC, there's a lot of brain work and sometimes not. Yikes!
I went back to school as an adult, did both regular university and a tech school- I liked it very much for the most part, because the teachers were more like peers and willing to help more I showed the appropriate level of interest in the class. I guess maybe as a kid I was always afraid of my teachers and afraid to raise my hand or have them repeat anything I didn't understand.
I signed up for the s/h emails, I can't wait to try it! As I move plants around the greenhouse, I'm sizing them all up to see how they would do in s/h. Also told Ray he should reward Sally in some way for bringing him lots of new business!
THANK YOU Lakesidecallas!! lol. I hope Ray does reward me. Just kidding. It is just fun trying different things and I am glad to help. Hopefully, everyone will have the success that I have had. Even Ray doesn't know anything about the Cactus/Succulents/Caudiciforms. Just an experiment I decided to try. I really think you could grow just about anything in the s/h though. Seriously though, thank you for putting in the good word.
I commented on my order that I was doing it because of your recommendation on a gardening web site.
SallyD, I found a local resource for S/H supplies and I think I'll head over there tomorrow. Can't wait to repot some of my succulents. Are the S/H "pebbles" heavy?
No they Primeagra is not heavy. They are quite light but are somehow able to 'lock' to keep the plants in the pot.
Primeagra is what you use?
We live in a tiny town but I found out there is a hydroponics shop here too!