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Whetting Agent

Posted by orchidnick z9Ca (orchidnick@yahoo.com) on
Mon, Mar 21, 11 at 12:04

A very experience grower visited me the other day and recommended 2 changes to my growing technique. One was the use of MSU fertilizer to the RO water. No brainer, I knew it for a long time, just too lazy to switch, I ordered a bag today. The other recommendation was the use of a whetting agent. We pulled a large Pescatore growing in Sphagnum moss apart and sure enough the middle of it was dry. I thought I was watering it sufficiently but was in fact not. Aqua-Gro at 50 to 110ppm added to the fertilizer was recommended.

MSU has been discussed to the Ying-Yang, any comments on the use of a whetting agent?

Nick


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Whetting Agent

Nick,
You are looking for a "wetting agent", not a whetting agent.

from online encyclopedia brittanica:
wetting agent, also called surfactant, chemical substance that increases the spreading and penetrating properties of a liquid by lowering its surface tension�that is, the tendency of its molecules to adhere to each other. See detergent; surfactant.

Dish detergent is an effective wetting agent. Another "solution" is to not allow your Bollea plant media (Sphagnum moss) to totally dry out in the first place.

--Stitz--

Here is a link that might be useful: wetting agent


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RE: Whetting Agent

Ditto what Stitz says about dish detergent. It's also used with insecticides and fungicides as a spreader-sticker, both indoors and in the garden, and on it's own in water as an insecticide.


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RE: Whetting Agent

So the hydroponic grower types are just wasting their money on products like Auqa-gro when ordinary dish detergent would do the same? This is a very reputable species grower who suggested it, claiming amongst other things it's different from the insecticidal soap.

In the pharmaceutical world, if a person with an ailment gets an over the counter recommendations and a prescription for an expensive non generic drug, they will always choose the expensive one as it must be better even though both have been shown to do the same thing.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

I discussed the merits of the wetting agent with the grower. She uses it all the time, believes it adds an extra plus to the whole picture. Does not use insecticidal soap as it contains other agents which are uncalled for. MSU fertilizer with RO water is the desired chemical combination and nothing else is added.

Apparently Ivory Soap was used for the same purpose in the past but Aqua-Gro is specifically formulated for plants and may have subtly advantage over the soap. Like many things it is not necessary but in the opinion of one grower who gets excellent results with species it just adds another little plus to the whole picture.

Aqua-Gro recommends dosage of 50 to 100ppm but she uses less, adds it to the liquid fertilizer until slight foaming is noted. Probably no biggie either way but won't do any harm, I'm going to try it along with the MSU for my species only.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

A wetting agent is used on dry material, why you would use it with fertilizer?

For your future use, a drop of Dawn used in the container you soak your dehydrated sphag in will break the tension and permit the sphag to absorb the water faster.

Why don't you grow your Pescatorea sitting in a container of water? It sure beats the heck out of trying to water it enough.

I believe Orchid126's point was you can make your own insecticidal soap with dish detergent.

We use either one fungicide or herbicide (outside) and only one type of spreader sticker can be used. For the rest of it, Dawn it is.

I have a tendency to want to save any money I can so opt for Dawn and generic medicine.

Brooke


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wetting agent

"So the hydroponic grower types are just wasting their money on products like Auqa-gro when ordinary dish detergent would do the same?"

Nick, You are the cheepest ... in the valley. You go to Tijuana for your auto and dental care. Suddenly, you want to spend beaucoup buckaroo$ for detergent?

Wake up, man!

Ivory is no longer useful. The formula changed years ago. Many people use DAWN; I use AJAX.

It's important to take care of your Pescatorea/Bollea.

GOOD LUCK!

--Stitz--


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RE: Whetting Agent

OK, no one is using a wetting agent and all of you think this is crazy. Well no one I know is using one around here either and I never heard of it before until one of the best growers in California told me she uses it routinely and a couple of other people who grow exceptional plants also use it.

I have seen her astonishing plants in real life and all over the Orchid Digest and the AOS magazine. Thanks for your input, I'm going to try it for a year and see how it feels.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

A little touchy?

Sometimes when you ask a question you will not always get the answer you want or expect.

Brooke


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RE: Whetting Agent

Maybe a little touchy at myself. It does not make sense to me either, no one I have mentioned it to locally seems to be in favor It's simply following the practice of someone whose growing skills I have a high level of appreciation.

I was not looking for confirmation which I don't need and I'm not recommending it. I just wanted to know if anyone out there uses it which does not seem to be the case.

Case closed for me, I'll give it a try. Only problem is that at the same time I'm switching to MSU so if the vigor of plant growth improves I won't be able to separate the two changes.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

You might consider using it only on several select plants or a portion of the plants rather than the whole collection. This would give you something to compare it to, even with the MSU in play.

Who knows? Perhaps a few months down the line you might be trying to convince all of us of it's wonderful properties. Best of luck.


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RE: Whetting Agent

Most of us have some king of fertilizing apparatus. I mix up 2 gallons which is then parceled out over 3 to 4 weeks as I water. One would add a squirt to that, no selective watering possible.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

You could spray the squirt in the last quart, and always use that last quart on a certain section of plants.


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RE: Whetting Agent

Oh my gosh you guys are so funny. The people I work with think we are all such "plant people" aka nerds;sitting devoting so much time to the subject of making water wetter,all for watering plants.LOL

Nick you know I'm not a spectacular grower by any means (had a kingianum for four years and just now getting it to bloom for the first time), but I don't think it's a crazy idea at all. I think it's great, I add "just a kiss" of detergent to my rain water pretty often. I grow phals in sphag and clear pots so I can see sometimes when the water isn't going where I want it to.I regularly run a quart worth of water through a pot,and if that isn't getting the growing medium wet the right way then out comes the soap. It most definitely doesn't hurt anything. In reality I throw lots of unconventional crap at my plants, espom salts, soap, beer. I was just discussing with my darling husband what brand of crappy beer I should buy for the orchids; I wanted to see if he had a opinion about sugar content, but we don't ever drink crappy beer so he really had no idea.

Anyway, getting back to the soap issue. We have a lot of people in our society with backgrounds in science so this topic has been brought up at our meetings. Go for it but I don't think you need to spend the big bucks.
ginnibug;)


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RE: Whetting Agent

Thanks Ginnibug, at least someone does not think I'm crazy. I just learned Dale Borders uses it. You can see his photos all over the internet orchids species site. I'm going to see Andy Phillips over the weekend in San Diego and I'll see what he thinks of it.

Orchid 126, my proportioner does not allow me to do that. Here is what I use:

www.ezfloinjection.com
model #2030HB 3 Gallon cap

I mix up 3 gallons of fairly high concentrate, adjust the outflow until my ppm is between 150 and 200 and then I'm set for up to a month. When the ppm starts to drop I mix up another batch.

I'll just do Aqua-Flo for a while and then make it a permanent fixture or discard it if there is no significant change. The switch to MSU complicates things.

On the subject of beer, I also add it periodically good source of Vit B complex. I think Super Thrive is a hype, I give them beer instead, except in the summer when it's really hot, then I'll drink it myself instead. They also get Epsom salt, for no other reason that a couple of commercial growers I know use it with every watering. These guys only care about the bottom line, if they are willing to spend the money it probably gives them better plants.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

Nick, IMO if a successful grower in your area, one whose results you wish you had, suggests a technique it is probably a good idea to seriously consider it.

As for a "whetting agent", I have never needed any help with whetting my appetite for orchids.

Richard


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RE: Whetting Agent

I have been an avid orchid grower for more than 30 years, at one time having over 4000 assorted genera orchids in my back yard. I do not use spreader sticker with fertilizer application, but with fungicides (except alliette) and insecticides, I have always used ivory, or more recently dawn detergent as a wetting agent. For thrip management, especially on vandas, I use just dawn (2 Tbsp/gallon water) and thoroughly wet plant, running down into leaf axils, at weekly intervals x three. This I learnd to do from Dr. Martin Motes, world known hybridizer of vanda alliance, and auther of several books on orchid culture.


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RE: Whetting Agent

I always use a spreader sticker when I attack insects. This grower feels that these agents have compounds that she does not want introduced on a daily basis therefore she uses a wetting agent specifically designed for application with fertilizer. I talked to Tom Perlite from Golden Gate Orchids who does not use it. He said he had considered it but never got around to it. He says that he knows of several good growers using it in his area.

It appears that the vast majority of people do not use a wetting agent for fertilization. The person recommending it to me is absolutely obsessive about the very best orchid care and she produces astonishing plants. She simply feels that anything that is beneficial should be used, the cumulative effect produces the best grown plants possible.

It also depends very much what you are growing. I would never give my Cybidiums, the catt hybrids, the Au Dendrobiums etc this type of attention. This is reserved for the cloud forest plants and other species which I keep and water separate from all the others. The others get tap water with 20-10-20, period. Seems to be good enough. I hope to get a chance to talk to Andy this morning. Will report his comment.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

Nick - yes, report back from Andy. Sitting here in MN, I envy your ability to go to his place.

If an obsessive, super successful grower uses a wetting agent in liquid fertilizer, it sounds more than worth serious consideration. In a year, you'll know for sure it's the wetting agent... or the MSU. :)

It may not be feasible/worth it for you to start using MSU for some plants, MSU & Aqua-Gro for a 2nd group, & Dawn w/ your current fertilizer for a 3rd group, each w/ the same species in them.

Did the Aqua-Gro woman say exactly what was in Dawn that she didn't like? If she's honing in on the details, she may be on to something about dish detergent, and you don't want to use it at all.

I have the luxury of soaking my orchids, so the sphag's wet all the way through, then pouring fertilizer from a watering can onto the top of the media. If Aqua-Gro makes a significant difference for her, I'll check it out.

Soaking bark, I put a drop or so of Dawn in the water, as advised by a commercial grower.

The insecticide mix is water, Dawn, canola oil, and rubbing alcohol, although I may be combining 2 recipes. Regardless, Dawn's in both as a wetting agent.

Good discussion about some of the finer points.


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RE: Whetting Agent

Andy (actually Harry, his brother, Andy is in Philadelphia)categorically stated that they don't use it. James Rose from Cal Orchids says he uses it periodically, depends which side of the bed he gets out of, Ecuagenra had the most interesting comment.

They said they never use it, paying close attention to their watering instead. The only use he sees is if you allow Sphagnum moss to dry out, it would help get it wet again. I am guilty of that occasionally. If I fail to water my species every day, the ones mounted on a small clump of moss and the ones in a small pot with moss may be totally dry. If I visit my son in northern California, I have allowed them to go without water for up to 3 days, same problem. He thinks it would be an insurance policy against that problem, sees little use for it otherwise.

I think I will phone the manufacturer of Aqua -Grow and see if they give me the goods on it's advantage over Dawn.

Now on to bigger and better things. I scored a Dend dearii and a Dend papillo (the clone with the huge flower) from Andy and have a promise of a piece of Pleuro cyanea. They had a great P cyanea (http://www.orchidspecies.com/orphotdir/pleurcyanea.jpg) at the show, each blooming leaf with a cluster of 5 to 7 flowers. It's the only one they have, claim it is rare. They plan to use it for one more show and then break it up. They won't sell the pieces until at least one new leaf emerges, then the pieces will sell for $120 each. Even at that ridiculous price, get a number, the line is forming, that plant will never make it on their web page.

San Diego was a great show.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

The great Andy's Orchid organization made a mistake and I'm thrilled. I bought a Pleuro adeleae form them today. While Harry and I were discussing the wetting issue, we selected the stronger of 2 plants they had sitting in a corner of their cage.

When I got home, I unpacked, logged in and placed the new plants in their proper location. To my surprise the P adeleae was not what it seemed. The tag, which neither Harry nor I looked at as we both assumed the 2 plants were adeleaes, reads P titan (orange form). I have the yellow form (http://www.orchidspecies.com/orphotdir/pleurothatitan.jpg) which is in gorgeous bloom right now and had no idea there even exists an orange form. Yahoo! I can get a P adeleae anytime, he lists it on his web page. The good and unusual stuff never makes it on his web page.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

Congratulations on your finds.

So maybe Dawn isn't either/or but if... the sphag gets too dry and needs it.

Thanks for the good info.


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RE: Whetting Agent

This ends my research into this product. Talked to the current manufacturer of Aqua-Gro who has no idea how it relates to orchids. Their customers are agricultural types who buy it 45 gallons at a time and spend a lot of money on it. It improves their watering, increases plant growth and seedling survival. Since their concern is the bottom line it must be beneficial, otherwise they would not spend the money, it is not cheap.

I asked him how it was superior to a kitchen surfactant like Dawn or Ivory. He said it has the same surfactant quality without the soap, insecticidal soaps also contain fatty acids and other chemicals that Aqua-Gro does not have. He was quite honest about his lack of knowledge on whether it is superior to Dawn when growing orchids, as he stated earlier on, their customers are large scale agricultural growers who also have the option to use Dawn but opt for the Aqua-Gro at 10 times the price..

The person who recommends it is a perfectionist and specializes in cool growing cloud forest plants. If you ever tried growing Dend cuthbersonii (same idea), Lepanthes and these types you'll know that these are sensitive and will croak if you look at them sideways. That being the case I can see where she will only use the best possible product for these finicky plants.

Certainly not anything I would waste money on if I'm watering Cymbidiums, Cattleyas, Encyclias etc but I think I will give it a try, only for my cold greenhouse plants. The MSU also just arrived so this week will see the change.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

Nick, I applaud your research. Your inquisitive nature coupled with your experience is valuable.

I tried MSU for ~ 3 yrs. I purchased multiple samples. It is nothing special. In fact, it became a PITA. The product was often not homogenous. As a home grower, this became a major issue.

If I mixed vats of solution, homogeneity of the solute wouldn't matter as much however, my collection is numbered ~100+ orchids and ~10 bromeliads. I measure my solutions in mere gallons.

FWIW, I now use GrowMore 20-10-20, non-urea. It works for me along with a few doses of MiracleGro Tomato fert once the temps are really warm!

Think about tomatoes. They need fert which acts FAST and which produce FLOWERS in order to produce fruit. The only prob w/MiracleGro Tomato fert - it is expensive.

My best orchid friend learned about the MiracleGro Tomato fert through me. She thinks that it's the BEST advice that I ever gave her! That was several years ago....and she still stands by it.

--Stitz--


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RE: Whetting Agent

Thanks, Stitz, I do get exited over new ideas. Even though while I'm willing to drive to Mexico to save on a root canal and crown, at the same time I'm ready to blow all kinds of money on the orchids.

It's the madness within, at least I don't turn into a where-wolf when the moon is full.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

Our speaker last night was Arthur Pinkers who has grown orchids for 40 years, is an AOS judge, has a degree in chemistry and biology who gave us a good talk on intergeneric Oncidiums. During the conversation over supper, he related that he has used a wetting agent for many years as he feels it is beneficial to the plants. He also avoids the soaps because of the fatty acids and uses a silicon based surfactant called 'Easy Wet #20' which a local agriculture place sells for $10 per gallon. That's a far cry from the $90 I paid for a gallon of Aqua-Gro.

Something to consider when I need the next batch. I mix up a concentrate of fertilizer which is metered out slowly over approximately 3 to 4 weeks. To this I added 10cc of the Aqua-Gro which causes the water to be slightly foamy. He also relates that he uses very little with every watering,just enough to notice slight foaming. At this rate my gallon will last me a long time.

Now I feel better, I'm not alone, there is other intelligent life in the Universe. I have been asking people and he is the first one I ran across who uses it, the vast majority of growers obviously see no need for it.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

Got some more input. The growers around San Francisco seem to like it. Marnie Turkel, Leathers, Meyers, Hill use it, Perlite and Hamilton do not. One benefit keeps coming up in conversations about it which is that once sphagnum moss is allowed to even partially dry out, it is much easier to rehydrate with the wetting agent.

Seems that the cold growers who use SM a lot seem to favor it, growers down in SOCAL less so. There is an inexpensive version which is silicon based at $25/gallon. They all seem to prefer the more expensive Aqua-Grow which also seems to be preferred by the agricultural types around Oxnard. No one has been able to give me a reason why the Aqua-Grow is better, all reject the Ivory soap because of the fatty acids in soap.

My plants are doing well however it will be impossible top tell whether the surfactant is responsible as other factors are being tweaked for the benefit of the plants.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

Our speaker tonight was George Hatfield, the head AOS judge for the entire southern pacific region. He also runs Hatfield orchids in Oxnard, the premium Cymbidium place in SOCAL. He uses a wetting agent and recommends it. I think overall at this point, the balance amongst successful growers I have interviewed seems to be in favor of it.

I'm still the only one using it in my society, several members of the species society I also belong to use it, most members of that society also do not use it. I'm sold on the concept at this point, the only issue still being debated in my mind is the quality of the product.

Hatfield uses the cheaper silicon based product, most people up north use the more expensive Aqua-Gro. No one has given me a rational explanation why they use the particular product they do. All of them reject the Ivory Soap concept.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

I'm glad you are checking to see who does and doesn't use a wetting agent each time they water their plants. I have yet to understand the why of it. You need to get one of your friends to write an article for Orchids magazine and explain why he uses it and the benefits he gets from it.

I agree, I wouldn't use Ivory Soap every time I water my orchids either. Most people only use it for special needs like fungicide applications and thankfully that chore doesn't happen very often.

Brooke


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RE: Whetting Agent

The huge commercial agriculture growers use it for their seedling plants because of better water penetration which gives them improved growth with less H2O use. From up north I hear that they feel it allows quicker and better penetration and re-wetting sphagnum moss. In a perfect world SM would never be allowed to dry out but in reality, if I skip 1 day of watering, plants in small net pots growing in SM seem pretty dry even in as short a time as 48 hours. Getting it wet again takes time which apparently is shortened and enhanced by the surfactant.

Hatfield, the Cymbidium grower, alluded that he feels it allows better penetration of plants in both bark and coconut which have gotten too dry in hot SOCAL weather. It seems then that they use it as insurance for less than optimal watering which we all are guilty of at times.

When watering is done by an automated system which never misses a beat, there is probably no need for it. When imperfect humans. like myself, water by hand, it may be cheap insurance.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

As another imperfect human I don't think I want to add silicone each time I water because some of my masdie family are watered every day or every other day. They are so picky with additives even tap water and too much fertilizer doesn't make them happy. Could this be the reason Marnie Turkel doesn't use it?

I use LECA for many things, would the silicone fill the pores in it so it doesn't hold some moisture?

Brooke


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RE: Whetting Agent

I really don't know the answer to your question but the cold growers with their Masdies, Dracs, Pleuros etc all use the expensive Aqua-Gro. These are also growers who use a lot of spahgnum moss. The people down here in SOCAL seem to prefer the cheaper silicon based product. I am using Aqua-Grow for the greenhouse species and the silicon based cheaper stuff for everything else outside in the backyard.

Mostly I follow the lead of growers I respect, cannot answer your detailed question.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

Silicon will not clog up your LECA. Furthermore, silicon is the most abundant element in the earth's crust, and is taken up by many plants. While not an essential nutrient for most plants, it has been shown to provide several benefits like pest, disease, and drought resistance. I oftentimes use a product by Dyna-Gro called Pro-TeKt which provides silicon and potassium. It does have a slippery feel when handled, so the silica must act as a surfactant, though I've never specifically used it as a wetting agent. If you have a need for a wetting agent, I don't see any reason to avoid the cheaper silicon based version, but I don't know what all is in them.


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RE: Whetting Agent

Nick you are confusing me, I thought Marnie Turkel was considered the Queen of Cool growers?

Penfold I know the Dyna-Gro product, I used it a couple of times years ago when I grew outside. If my memory cell remembers correctly, I thought I was to use it once a month?

If sphag becomes too dry it is easy to rehydrate - water it, wait 15 minutes and water it again. The initial watering will get it slightly damp, once it is damp, it absorbs water fairly fast.

Brooke


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RE: Whetting Agent

What's confusing you Brooke? You made the case with your description of the conscious effort it takes to rehydrate SM. If you water by hand, unless you can claim 100% perfection, you may inadvertently allow a small plant in moss get too dry. As you stated, it takes a purposeful effort to get it wet again. When watering a collection of 5,000 plants as Marnie does, if you are not even aware of the problem, that may not happen. In a perfect world or with a closely watched small to medium sized collection, this should never happen but in real life it does. I have lost plants who sat in the shadow of a larger plant and were bypassed during watering. Makes one feel very foolish and angry but it is possible.

A gallon of Aqua-Gro lasts Marnie 2 years as only a small amount is added. As she says, if it saves one or 2 plants a year it pays for itself. But even without that, she simply strives for the optimum of everything and this simply is one small part of the puzzle. It does no harm and may do some good.

What I find interesting is that the last 3 speakers who gave us culture sessions telling the members to do this or that for optimum growth never mentioned the fact that they use a wetting agent. I learned about it from Marnie, the first of the 3 speakers I'm talking about, in a private conversation. I have asked each speaker since then during Q and A after the session and twice in a row the answer was "Yes". I wonder why they don't include it in their general recommendations without having to be prompted?

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

ROTFLMAO - Who has a small to medium sized collection?

I'm trying to figure out what other advantages does it have besides making sure everything gets wet when I am the one with the nozzle in my hand, doing the watering.

My rain water is stored in two big inside containers and to add something, be it a wetting agent or fertilizer would mean I would have to run the tanks empty before refilling to get the portion measures correct.

I need something besides it helps to wet things before I would attempt it. I need another advantage to improve my orchids before I add something to a routine that isn't broken and has been successful - surely that makes sense.

Brooke


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RE: Whetting Agent

You are absolutely correct. If it works, don't fix it.

I add 'stuff' as I use the water. My RO water is stored in 2 x 50 gallon containers without any additives which are supplemented as needed. Several situations lead to less than optimum watering for me. I frequently visit my family out of town turning over the watering chores to someone who usually, but not always, does a good job. Occasionally I have to leave home very early and simply will skip a day of watering. The outside waterer also only comes every second day. That should represent no problem for 98% of the plants except for small ones in a net pot in SM which do get dry in 48 hours.

My biggest concern was the down side of this. I could not identify a negative aspect of the wetting agent and since it may possibly help under certain specific situations I added it to my routine.

If one is totally content with the adequacy of one's watering there is no need for it. I think of it as cheap insurance.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

The only negative aspect I can think of is the additional $ spent. If I were to spend $25 on every possible 'trick' I've heard to grow better 'kids, I would not have any money left to be able to purchase more 'kids.

If you have so many orchids you can't keep track of them when watering then maybe IMO, but my 80+ plant collection can be handled without assuming I'll not water correctly or miss one entirely. And if I do, as Brooke states it can be corrected easily enough via a double watering.

Also, $25 across a very large collection may make sense, but you aren't saving hundreds/thousands of orchids either, possibly 1 or 2 that may have been forgotten and bitten the bullet (but then $25 is the cost a a single 'kid many times).

Interesting discussion and I agree, the larger the collection, the more the whetting agent may be beneficial and/or cost effective.

Bob


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RE: Whetting Agent

I agree with what you are saying, Bob, I did give you 3 different scenarios where additional help may be of benefit.

1) I miss a hidden plant. One should be able to avoid that but it does happen.
2) Circumstances force me to miss a watering day. A small plant in a net pot in SM will dry out in 48 hours.
3) I leave town and less than perfect watering takes place every second day.

As was stated numerous times, If adequate watering is taking place, there is no need for this. For the 3 reasons stated above that may not always be the case in my situation. $100.00 spread over 2 years seems money well spent. What is a bigger expense is the MSU fertilizer I've switched to. At over $60 a 20lbs bag, this is going to add up real fast. Most species growers who use RO water seem to recommend it, you'll get no argument from me on that one, just moans and groans.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

Nick,

Different folks, different strokes. Personally, I'm currently too busy to deal with too fussy of an orchid. Maybe once I retire and have more free time daily, I'll give some of those fickle buggers a try. For me, it either gets watered on the weekend (Sat AM, every plant is watered and checked), on the weekend and once during the week (Wed mornings) and/or misted daily at 6AM, with the occassional missed day/week. If they can't fit into that regimen, they usually get themselves "Kev'ed". Thankfully, after 9 years and hundreds of dead orchids, I've learned my lessons about what I am able to grow using that regimen in my conditions.

I've been using MSU for RO for about 2 years now, seems to help IMO and thankfully not too $$$ for a small collection.

Bob


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RE: Whetting Agent

Unintended benefit: From the amount of foam I can accurately predict the ppm.

I use a 2 1/2 gallon fertilizer dispenser which gets charged and then releases the chemical at a steady rate. One charge of MSU fertilizer and a tablespoon of wetting agent last me approx 3 weeks. One quirk is that the unit puts out extra love for the first minute or two of use. When I start watering the ppm is 600 to 800 for a minute or so, I therefore water the Bulbos first and then when it settles down and discharges at around 200ppm for the rest of the watering cycle I water everything else. I don;t really need a ppm meter for that, just doing the Bulos first is good enough.

At the end of the charge, the ppm abruptly drops off as the fertilizer is used up. One day 200, the next day 20. When the time approached, I used to measure the ppm every day until the drop occurred and then recharge the unit. similar to checking basal body temp to detect ovulation. Don't need to do this anymore as the wetting agent's foam tells me the ppm. After using it for 3 month plus, I can equate the amount of foam to the ppm of the water. Foam one day, no foam the next day means it's time for a recharge, no measuring necessary. The foam is so minute that for ordinary watering it is not noticed. When soaking the surface of a large pot and the water flow is directed at one spot for a few seconds, only then is it apparent.

So far, so good, the results are good. Can the wetting agent take the credit? No idea, but it obviously does no harm.

Nick


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RE: Whetting Agent

Nick, does the wetting agent add any significant TDS? Also, earlier in the thread you mentioned you were using both Aqua-Gro and the cheaper silicon based product. Have you noticed any difference between them? My current source of bark is extremely difficult to wet and I'm considering trying one of these products, or even just some Dawn soap.


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RE: Whetting Agent

I use 'Aqua-Grow-L' ($95/gallon) with the species in the green houses and 'Easy Wet #20' ($10/gallon) for the outside plants, the Cymbidiums, Catt hybrids, Au Dends etc. The Aqua-Grow goes at the rate of a tablespoon every three weeks so will last a long time. I doubt it adds significantly to the TDS. The other goes at the rate of a tablespoon per day but is dirt cheap.

Both orchid growers I talked to and agricultural growers (hearsay) seem to shy away from the soaps. The Easy Wet #20 is so cheap that I think is a no-brainer.

For me the big leap of faith was to spring for the expensive one, I just followed the advice of good growers without a true understanding of the difference.

Nick


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