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Old 08-06-2011, 11:07 AM
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New experiment

I've been on the path of getting rid of organic media for a while now. I no longer use bark on anything. For the orchids that like to dry quickly, I use Leca in traditional potting method. But for those that like to stay moist a little longer, I've been using CHC. While those plants in the CHC are doing well, I'm still not completely pleased by it.

So while browsing through a Hoya forum I came across another product. This product is clay chips that are used for athletic fields to improve drainage. It comes in different grades, I got the biggest size. And I have a distributor locally that carries the product, got a bag of it yesterday.

Since Hoyas basically have the same growing requirements as orchids, I decided to try this product on my orchids that like to be kept moist.

Bulbos are first. I have a few that are growing rampantly, so they are going to get a trim next week, and I'll pot them up in the new stuff. I'll line the baskets with spag, fill in with this product and hopefully, watch them thrive.
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Old 08-06-2011, 11:13 AM
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sounds very cool, be sure to include picks
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Old 08-06-2011, 11:25 AM
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Renee can you take a pic of the clay chips so I can get an idea of the size? I use a very small clay chip for some that want more moisture. It is a product they use for pond plants in ornamental ponds.

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Old 08-06-2011, 11:28 AM
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I'd be interested in seeing this also. Is there a name to what you bought? I've gotten just about all my catt alliance into either hydroton or lava rock, but really would like to find something for the orchids that need a bit more moisture retentive medium.
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Old 08-06-2011, 12:17 PM
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I am very interested in this. Please post pictures of the plants in this new clay media. You sure got my attentIon. What is the name of this clay stuff and where can I buy it?
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Old 08-06-2011, 12:56 PM
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Is this the turface? I'd be interested in seeing a pic of the large size also.

Isn't there some by-product from it that's also suppose to be good for the plants? Calcium or something? Or am I remembering incorrectly?
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Old 08-06-2011, 01:20 PM
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Yes it is the Turface. I got the MVP grade, which is the largest grade the distributor had. But by largest grade, the pieces are still tiny, but not so small as sand or powderish.

I've got to take some pics tomorrow (Hoyas blooming), I'll snap a shot of this as well. I'm also planning on using this in a small pot, and the Hydroton in a small pot, weighing them, wetting them, weighing them and then seeing how long each takes to dry out, to get an idea of how well this will retain water.

Kat, not sure if there is any side benefits. As I'm always struggling with lack of Ca around here, this would be nice if it did.
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Old 08-06-2011, 01:51 PM
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I've seen turface for sale on repotme.com for potting media. I have never tried it or looked into it. Can't wait to see how it works for you, maybe I'll give it a shot in the future
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Old 08-06-2011, 02:11 PM
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In terms of water retention, or just generally, what is the practical difference between clay balls (leca) and clay chips?
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Old 08-06-2011, 02:13 PM
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You can also find it on ebay. Definitely an interesting idea. I'm thinking maybe a combination of this with small lava rock or hydroton. i am very intrigued by the idea, but will wait until I'm back from vacation to ponder this more. And maybe you'll have some additional info on how your experiment is going by then also.
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Old 08-06-2011, 03:37 PM
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E-jag, my thinking is since they are not regular balls, but small chips they will pack more, which will be a decrease in air space, and hopefully an increase in water retention. And there is probably some differences in the way they are manufactured, different raws, different process etc. I'm not sure how or if that will have an effect.

I'll still use the Hydroton for the ones that like to dry quickly - this would be for the ones that like to be moist.
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Old 08-06-2011, 03:39 PM
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Synda - why pay for shipping from Ebay, if it has a distributor here by me, in the middle of nowhere (we don't even have a Dicks Sporting Goods store!!!), I'm sure you have a distributor close by you.
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Old 08-06-2011, 03:41 PM
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Renee, that's really interesting!

I used something similar to Turface when I planted my cypripediums in the garden this past spring. Looks a bit like gravel. It never crossed my mind to use it in pots!
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Old 08-06-2011, 03:42 PM
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Renee thanks for the idea...this could be great for seedlings if I ever try deflasking again.

Small stalite might be another medium for you to look into. It is irregular and gray in color. The smallest size is a bit bigger than the MVP size turface. I look forward to seeing pics of the turface once you have potted an orchid in it.

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Old 08-06-2011, 06:13 PM
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Quote:
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Synda - why pay for shipping from Ebay, if it has a distributor here by me, in the middle of nowhere (we don't even have a Dicks Sporting Goods store!!!), I'm sure you have a distributor close by you.
One of the first things I did after you started this thread. Most of the distributors in Illinois are in the southern or western parts of the state. There was one about a 30 minute drive, so will give them a call to see if they have it. I think I would be afraid to use it alone as you mentioned due to how it might pack and not provide enough air to the roots. I look forward to seeing how your results come out.
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Old 08-07-2011, 05:30 AM
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Very interesting .
@ synda for rcb's Bulbos it might work ok more packed since they like to basically sit in a puddle of water. But for phals, Catts or Dens meybe mixed with something to make it more airy like Leca or stallite (spelling) that Shann is talking about.
@koski. What's the product your using in the cryp beds ?? Getting some in the near future... ( I may need advice on them later . )
@ rcb sounds interesting this is a good thread glad you posted your experiment.
Good luck with this
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Old 08-07-2011, 08:07 AM
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If it is turface then go to your local big box store and look in the pond section. This product is used to plant pond plants in ornamental ponds. I also used it as the inert ingredient when making bonsai soil.

Don't tell anyone but my first few orchids were planted in bonsai soil which consisted of pine bark fines and turface and they grew great.

Renee I can't wait for the results you get with it. I've got a couple of small catts I'm experimenting with to see how they do in straight turface.

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Old 08-07-2011, 10:45 AM
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Just curious, Brooke. If your first few grew great in that mix, why did you change, and to what? I'm still experimenting with media to find what works best with me and my tendency to overwater.

I will be watching this thread closely, as well.
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Old 08-07-2011, 11:55 AM
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Brigitte I was only dabbling in orchids. I wasn't going to become an addict I had too many other plants in my life. I wasn't going to buy anything *orchidy* just to pot up a couple of different 'chids.

I used the pine bark fines and turface for bonsai, I knew how to water it to keep them moist but not soggy so I used it. If you know how a media dries you can grow them in just about anything by adjusting the water.

Thankfully I'm not an addict but I did give up my bonsai, quit hybridizing hosta and daylilies and maybe built a g/h to keep my non-addicting orchids in. I discovered it is much easier to garden standing up but I'm not an orchid addict.

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Old 08-07-2011, 11:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orchids4me View Post
@koski. What's the product your using in the cryp beds ?? Getting some in the near future... ( I may need advice on them later . )
Emmaye
Emmaye, I used an Espoma product called Soil Perfector along with play sand. Does it get cold enough in your area to grow cyps outdoors?
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Old 08-07-2011, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
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but I'm not an orchid addict.
This should be the Orchid Geeks motto!
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Old 08-07-2011, 02:14 PM
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Yes, bonsai enthusiasts have been using Turface for many years as a component for thier soils, it's especially good with evergreen trees, it does hold some moisture but when it dries, its bone dry. As Brooke mentioned you have to know your medium to be able to water correctly. The soil perfector product is esentially Stalite. I would sooner use straight stalite than Truface for orchids, even seedlings. I did experiment with small particle diatomaceous earth also, but didn't like the results using it straight either.
I guess any of these products should do an okay job depending on your climate and your watering habits. (I'm still trying to get my watering down, and I don't help myself much using so many different kinds of media while I look for 'what's right!)
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Old 08-07-2011, 03:30 PM
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Interesting thread but you lost me at "CHC" !!! What is that ?

Chryss
ps Not to change the topic but Koshki, those are GORGEOUS siamese ! Looke like a blue & seal point ? My last one was a blue lynx point !
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Old 08-07-2011, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
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Interesting thread but you lost me at "CHC" !!! What is that ?

Chryss
Hi Chryss! CHC is coconut husk chips. As far as I'm concerned they rock! They kind of look like the fir bark, but for me they work a little better. I have heard that they don't break down as quickly as the bark, which is a plus also.
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Old 08-07-2011, 07:27 PM
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Quote:
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Not to change the topic but Koshki, those are GORGEOUS siamese ! Looke like a blue & seal point ? My last one was a blue lynx point !
Thanks! You're close, they're Burmese. The one on the left is "Red" and the one on the right is half "Chocolate" and half...now what was it, "lilac"?, no it was something else but I can't remember it now. Anyway, I think cat color names are goofy.

The one on the left (Otis) is the color of lightly toasted white bread. The one on the right (Ziggy) is just darn cute and a real character.

End of hijack, back to the topic!
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Old 09-07-2011, 06:10 PM
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I thought I'd give an update since it's been about a month now.

I put three bulbo cuttings in shallow plastic round pots (5 inch diameter) a couple p'nuts in the middle, filled with the turface, then spag on top.

These take about three days in my conditions this time of year to dry out, while straight Hydroton takes about a day. So that part was a success.

A side benefit was the weight, this stuff is relatively heavy which was nice this past weekend as the edge of TS Lee moved through here, and quite a few of my plants went for a fly. But the ones filled with Turface stayed put.

As for the Bulbos themselves, two of the three are putting out new roots, and the roots seem happy enough growing down into it.

I'll watch these through the winter, and if all looks good, covert the other Bulbos to this.

I've also put quite a few of my moister liking Hoyas into it, they have really responded well. And potted up 50+ cuttings of Hoyas yesterday into this as well. To see if they root well in it.

Looking back over the thread, I never did get a picture of this stuff, I'll do so one of these days.
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:35 AM
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Update time. Still growing well.

And I jumped the gun, this week I converted a few of my bigger Bulbos into it. Now that they are inside, and I can't just hose them all down to water, this potting stuff really spreads out the waterings.

Negative - it seems to hold salts a little more than other medias, so when I water, I make sure to flush really really well. But nbd.
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Old 10-28-2011, 01:36 PM
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Can you post a picture of one of the pots?
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Old 10-28-2011, 03:10 PM
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yes'm.

This is one of the original ones I tried. It's ambrosia and was watered this morning. You can see a water line in it, even though it's got drainage holes in the bottom, it still holds water for a little while.

023.jpg

And this one was moved over a couple days ago, it was watered yesterday, still pretty wet, but water line is gone.

024.jpg


Here is a bigger pot, I moved the spag back a little to show the Turface. Again moved over this week. And yes, that is a take-out Chinese food container being used as the pot. I really like them for the Bulbos.

025.jpg


Basically, the ones that haven't been moved over yet take about two days in between waterings this time of year. The ones that have been moved over are taking 4 - 6 days in between waterings. Making it much easier on me since they are inside now and I can't just hit them all with the hose.

I even am trying some of the Latouria Dens in it, they like the same conditions as many of my Hoyas, and the Hoyas are just going nuts in this stuff. But too soon to tell if it will work for the Latourias.

And again, the best thing is a local distributor for me!!! No shipping charges.
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Old 10-28-2011, 05:02 PM
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Thanks for the pictures. Now I noticed in the first picture the container has holes along the sides. Are they for drainage or for some added air? I did not notice them in the other containers so just wondering.
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:08 PM
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Synda, they are theoretically for additional airflow. But I was doing a few this week, and stabbed myself, and then got lazy. So the newer ones only got bottom holes.

I really don't think its going to make much of a difference.
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:42 AM
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Update time again.

Bulbos in this stuff still doing well.

I uprooted one of the Latouria Dens this morning as I wanted to see what was going on in there. Well, lots of root growth with beautiful active root tips.

So, the experiment continues, but I think for the next batch I'm going to mix some perlite in and see how that does.
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Old 12-13-2011, 01:30 PM
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Renee, what Latouria Dens do you have in this medium? I didn't think they would do well in such moist conditions.
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Old 12-13-2011, 01:54 PM
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Fishmom, I've found my Latourias do much better in moist conditions, as long as airflow is not compromised. Also, I let them dry out somewhat in between my waterings in winter, when its colder. But if you look up the natural habits' average rainfall for many of them, it's pretty constant year round.

The ones I'm experimenting on are:

shiraishii
finisterreae (the one I checked this morning)
macrophyllum

and as soon as my polysema's 3 new leads start putting out roots, it is going to go into it.

Macrophyllum I've had a difficult time with over the two years I've had it. But now, it seems to have really settled in and is growing bonkers.

I still have a couple Latourias in LECA, and they pretty much need watered every day, which is time consuming in the wintertime.

The ones in the Turface, I only need to water maybe twice a week now.

Ultimately my goal is to be completely free of organic potting media, except for spag. Between the LECA and the Turface, and using different pots, I can accomodate cultural conditions from pretty much dry extremely quickly, to those that will stay moist if needed and all points in between.

Edit - I want to add, though I don't think I'd use the Turface for the Latourias once they get above a 4 - 5 inch pot size. At that point, I'd switch them to LECA. At least that is my thoughts right now.
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Old 03-17-2012, 04:27 PM
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Well, it has been a few more months.

I've been mixing the Turface with perlite lately, mostly because I have got a huge huge bag of Perlite in the garage and may as well use it.

Bulbos still going just fine. I dug one up the other day, root growth is beautiful.

The Latouria Dens actually seem to be doing better in the Turface than the CHC I had them in before. I can see root growth through the pots and its lovely. They also seem to be responding to the more evenly moistness of it.

They have all gone outside today, so now I'll have to keep an eye on them as best I can (not home much anymore) to make sure the roots are still good when we get the summer rains.
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Old 03-18-2012, 07:16 AM
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Thanks for the update - it sounds like they love the Turface.

Do your kids help take care of your 'chids when you travel?

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Old 03-18-2012, 07:46 AM
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Brooke, well help may not be the right word

I'm paying my youngest weekly to do my watering. As he is only 12 it is the only source of income he can get.

When I moved them all out yesterday, I spent pretty much the whole day organizing them according to watering and light needs. Today I'll color code the benchs, and I have a whiteboard that will list what days the benches get watered. And then the days I'm home I'll go through them looking for ones that need moved around.

I also asked if a flower opens if he could take a pic and text it to me. He rolled his eyes at me and started muttering about his weird mom on that one.

When I lived in Charlotte and traveled all the time, I did this with my oldest, and it worked out pretty good. Although he is a little more caring and observant than my youngest is.
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:03 AM
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Maybe the $$$$$$ will make him more observant!

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Old 03-18-2012, 08:06 AM
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Renee, I took a gander at thie thread for the first time to see what it is about, sounds like a good alternative, what is the cost I know long term probably cheaper because it won't break down I'll have to see if I can find some so that I can try it with my project plants
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:14 AM
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Brooke, that was the idea, I told him if he kills any, he owes me money for that week. lol

Bret, I think a bag of it was $10 - $15, it is used for athletic fields. The bag was a nice size, and especially mixing it with perlite, I think it has to be less expensive than bark or CHC. When I get your package boxed up (sorry didn't yet), I'll try to remember to send you some, and you can see if you like it.

Again the whole point of this is to go almost completely inorganic for my potting mixes. And S/H just didn't seem to work for me with the orchids. Again, I don't think I will use it for large pots, for those, Hydroton or Lava rock is my first choice. But for the small ones, or shallow ones (like the Bulbos) is looks good.

I was worried about salt build up, but that doesn't seem like a major issue so far.
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:35 AM
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Sounds fantastic, going through the thread it did sound like a good way to go for some plants. Right now what few I have are in the standard orchid mix that has perlite and charcoal with the bark. I have my Enc. and a Bulbo. in it, not a very big collection for a chid fanatic I know, and a mounted Phal. Is it true that Bulbos don't like to have their roots messed with otherwise I might put her in it as well. It's OK about the package, life interferes sometimes with our plans. Although I will say I have pot and mix ready for when you are.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:20 PM
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Today while doing my weekly inspection, I took a good look at the plants potted in the Turface/perlite mix. It's been about a year now, and I've pretty much decided this is my mix for those plants that want a more even moistness.

This summer, it literally rained every day for almost two months. And the plants are still happily growing in the mix. I know there is no way they ever dried out during those rains, but no rot at all.

And the Latouria Dens seem to even be happier in it than previous mixes. The amount of growth I've had this summer is just amazing. I've even moved a Gongora and a Coelogyne into it. They seem to be doing just fine.

The Hoyas that prefer a more even moistness also have grown like crazy in it too.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:42 PM
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Hi Renee

When I first heard "clay product" I was unsure how this material would behave, but when I read it was calcined (baked or "fired") that suggested to me that it would be stable.

Glad to hear your experiment has worked out well!

I am curious - how is it weight-wise? Is this light, like a LECA material?

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 09-23-2012, 04:18 AM
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That's interesting, Renee. I use something similar to grow Cypripedium guttatum, C. yatabenum, and C. macranthum. This is the first time I'm trying pot culture of Cyps. with mostly inorganic media, and I've thought that the mix would be pretty difficult (not impossible) for epiphytes. It has good drainage, but I felt that it doesn't have enough air space.

Turface isn't available around here, so I substitute it with CarQuest UltraSorb 100% Diatomaceous Earth (Item # 8826) from Moltan Sorbent Technologies, $16 for 25lb. NAPA also carries similar items. I had to get rid of dusty stuff and small crushed grains (same for Turface). I mix it with perlite, pumice and hydroton.

I'm not allowed to link to the article about Cyp culture in this types of mix, but you can google with the following keywords if you are interested.

Camiel de Jong "how to raise in vitro propagated Cypripedium seedlings to fully established hardy plants for the garden"
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Old 09-23-2012, 09:23 AM
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I haven't compared the densities of the Turface vs the LECA (although I would suspect they are close), but since the Turface has significantly less air space, when filled the pot does weigh much more. As I mentioned the pots didn't go anywhere during a mild TS.

The Bulbos and Latouria Dens are epiphytes, and I haven't seen any problems at all without the huge air space between particles. I don't screen the Turface, just use it as is. I haven't tried any true terrestrials, I don't grow them, but 2 Cym seedlings I bought last spring is also in this mix. The largest pot size I have used with this is an 8 inch - for one of my larger Hoyas.
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Old 09-23-2012, 10:13 AM
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naoki, I love that you are getting orchid supplies at Carquest and NAPA!

Necessity is the mother of invention!
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Old 09-28-2012, 04:17 PM
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Renee,
Cooincidently, a guy at my OS brought in a paph spiceranium to our last meeting to show off the results of his using calcined clay and perlite as his medium. He told me that before he switched to this stuff, he had been ready to give up on orchids.

The paph was huge and had 8 or 9 buds on it. He also brought a small division that fell off when he repotted it, and it was blooming very nicely.

So between his experience and then seeing yours again, I'm convinced to try it. I've got a couple big Latourias that need repotting, so I think I'll start with them.

What type of pots do you use? He uses net pots and seemed to prefer them.

Unfortunately it's after baseball season here, and I'm having trouble finding anyone with a bag in stock. The nearest John Deere Landscaping store manager said he'd bring in a pallet of 40 bags if I could find buyers for them. They'd be probably under $20 for a 50# bag. Any MOS or SE Michigan lurkers who would like to go in with me, please PM me. I have a couple other folks who'd like to try this as well.

Thanks for reporting on this Renee!
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  #48 (permalink)  
Old 09-28-2012, 04:31 PM
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Katherine, is that calcined clay + perlite alone for the paphs, or mixed with other materials?

Thanks
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Old 09-28-2012, 04:38 PM
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I think he used just the two ingredients, and for some reason I want to say he put mostly perlite on the bottom of the pot, but I'm not really sure. It was a very short conversation, so I didn't get all the details. I don't know his last name, or I would try to email him to find out.
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:35 AM
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Katherine check at a big box store in the pond supplies section. My Lowes carries it there and it is used to plant pond plants in the pond baskets.

You can also order it from Roberts Orchid Supplies in any amount you want.

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Old 09-29-2012, 07:02 AM
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Katherine,

I use regular clear pots. I'm not sure how the Turface would work with net pots, so he may be using a different product. The turface would fall out of the slits in a net pot. Maybe he lines it with spag?

Also, remember my air flow is so high where I live so even regular pots dry out quickly.

If you want to just try a pot or two pm me, I just got a new bag of it and I'll ship you some. It is always in stock here, as it is always baseball season down here
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:20 AM
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So I was doing some repotting yesterday, and had to take a picture of this. It is a Bulbo I got just about a year ago, and when I brought it home last year, I discovered it really didn't have any roots. So I put it in one of my chinese take out trays with Turface. And some peanuts that I used to stabilize the plant. Well over the last year it did grow a bit, so yesterday as I was repotting into it's big boy pot, this is what I found. Remember the Turface never really dries out at all.

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Old 11-17-2012, 07:26 AM
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WOW!!!
That fantastic!!!
Where do you get your tuface (did i spell that right??)
I've seen it at repotme but is there a different way to get it A store/garden center or hardware place?
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:13 AM
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Em, I get it at a distributor for athletic fields. But if you go on the Turface website, they have a link where you type in your city and it shows distibutors nearby. I now mix it with perlite, pretty much because I have a huge huge bag of perlite, so I figured why not use it.

It costs me about $15 for a 50 lb bag.
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