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Old 05-26-2019, 04:53 PM
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Water with bark tea?

I was just repotting a sad looking coelogyne today and had a kind of a weird question. Has anyone tried watering their semi-hydroponic orchids with bark-soaked water? Here's my thought process on this: So, Coelogynes apparently don't like to be repotted, and so I want to do it as infrequently as possible. Thus, I decided to switch to a semi-hydroponic setup for my sad little, almost rootless orchid. I've read and seen people soaking their rootless orchids in tea because the tannins in the tea are supposed to promote root growth. Well, aren't there plenty of tannins in bark also? When it rains on an orchid growing on a tree branch in the wild, it would get washed with the bark soaked water every time. What if I boiled some water with a handful of bark in it, let it cool, strained it, and used it to water my semi-hydro orchids? Would they get the benefits of bark without the breakdown of the media? It may be a stupid idea, but I was just wondering if anyone has thoughts on this.
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Old 05-26-2019, 07:17 PM
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It is not a stupid idea, but you might get better results with a kelp-based fertilizer supplement , which will definitely spur root growth. If you read on Ray Barkalow's website about semi-hydro growing, you will find information about the benefits of kelp for plants.
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Old 05-26-2019, 08:31 PM
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Thank you. I do have a seaweed fertilizer that I've started to use on a regular basis, but I haven't seen much for results. I've read that 'Kelp Max' might be a better choice than what I have, but then I'd have to go out and buy yet another fertilizer, whereas I have plenty of bark onhand already. Haha! I thought maybe with all the orchid people out there, always tinkering with their plants, there might be someone out there who's done this and had either good, bad, or no results. I really would like to try the 'Kelp Max' though. Do you use it?
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Old 05-26-2019, 11:46 PM
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Yes, I do. But like everything with orchids, things move slowly, and it is hard to isolate results to one substance, when everything is really interconnected. I'm skeptical about bark, though. I guess there are many homemade concoctions that are sources of nutrients (I add crushed egg shells to my potting medium for a slow source of calcium) but I like the security of knowing how much of a substance I am adding at a given time. If you want to prepare a bark solution, you could test the pH to be sure it is not too acidic.
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Old 05-27-2019, 01:08 PM
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That's a good idea about the pH, and it's true, things do move slowly and it's hard to tell what is and isn't working, unless there's a dramatic and sudden change. In the case of my coelogyne flaccida, when I bought it the grower told me that they're "tough as nails" and can put up with almost any conditions, whether it's kept moist or dry, cool or warm. So I thought it would be an easy plant. I took it home and hung it in the best window I have, which is west facing, and watered it when I felt like it (sometimes approaching dry, sometimes dry). It was in moss at the time. It grew one new pseudobulb smaller than the rest, and then nothing. It just sat there for over a year and lost a couple of leaves, so I decided to repot it. I put it in lava rock after reading good things about it, and about how coelogynes don't like being repotted. Looking back, maybe I should have kept it in moss. Over the next couple years it grew two new tiny growths from the oldest pseudobulb, lost more leaves, and became more and more shriveled. Then, this year at the orchid show in St. Paul I was talking to another grower about it, and she said that coelogyne flaccida love lots of water and "they'll take as much water as you can give them". So I started watering it more, but I think the damage was already done. It can't absorb water without roots. At this point I don't have much to lose. I'm having some favorable results with semi-hydro in some of my orchids, and bark with others, so I thought I'd give SH a try with this one as a last effort. I think I'll try the seaweed as well.
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