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Mounting Questions

Posted by velamina 7 (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 6, 10 at 10:34

I'm starting to mount some orchids, and I'm sure this comes as no surprise to some of you, a sure sign of addiction since I almost swore I wouldn't be doing this :)

I came across a website this morning which had photos of orchids mounted on pieces of bark, but the roots seemed to be "swaddled" in what looks like a bed of coconut fiber? The strands looked much thinner than spanish moss and more golden. It was secured with twine wrapped around a few times. You really only see the plant coming out from above and a couple of roots.

I thought these looked attractive, but looking at this brought a few questions:

a) Is it safe to say that these orchids are mounted in such a way that it's like they are potted? Would you water these as frequently as you would any other mounted orchid?

b) I could see the benefits of mounting this way in a really dry environment (like mine), but at the same time I wonder that the roots are really not getting enough air and light.

c) I learned that roots can still rot, even when plants are mounted, so I wonder if this is good culture.

d) I would like to know what material they are swaddling with since it's just a guess that it looks like coconut fiber.

Sorry for the long post, I wish I could post pictures. Tia!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Mounting Questions

From your description it sounds like string type coco (coir) fiber.

It is safe, will hold the moisture slightly longer than bare root mount. Don't worry about the roots getting air and light since in a pot they don't get much of either unless transparent with holes or clay.

As the proud owner of two deceased mounted plants the demise was caused by watering in the winter. Both the Den and Catt needed to be kept very dry during the cold months. I have cheap help :>) and now mark the plants with hot pink tape to keep that helper from touching them - problem solved.

My only suggestion is to try a couple and see how they do for you. They are more work growing them inside.

Brooke


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RE: Mounting Questions

The idea grew on me to start mounting because of the empty wall space that I have right by the window. I had intentions of putting shelves there for more potted plants, but mounted orchids on that well makes sense.

Brooke, I'm pretty sure now that what I see in the pictures is definitely coco (coir) fiber as you mentioned. But I questioned why this grower was mounting this way. I'm thinking to add more moisture? Because it is very much, more like a potted plant.

I thought that if I'm going to the trouble of mounting I would want roots in the air for the added benefit. I looked at this website (forum) again which looks like it could be eastern european (cold possibly). Also in one of the photos I noticed the grower is an apartment dweller.

I'm wondering if I should use what I saw as an example of how I should be mounting my orchids. But I am going to be worried about root rot this way, just like potted plants.

Hopefully the coco coir fiber provides more air to the roots. Would every couple of days be a good standard guess for water frequency you think?


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RE: Mounting Questions

Brooke, I forgot to ask you about the plants that you lost, were they mounted this way as well? You mentioned about the help haha, I'll have to remember the pink tape if I ever have to go away for a while, but I wasn't sure if they were just being overwatered or if they were mounted the same way. Thanks.


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RE: Mounting Questions

My C. aclandiae and Den. laviefolium? both need a dry winter. One was mounted on tree fern and the other on cork. They died because the roots were cold and damp.

The coir fiber does not hold water very well. I don't know if you can ever truly saturate it. I do use the fiber for some things, but not on mounts. I also can't picture how the orchid is mounted. I use the fiber on a large Den living in a vanda basket but the basket hangs down. I stuff the fiber around the roots to help hold moisture in the summer. I have two small vanda types in net pots with the fiber surrounding the roots in the pot.

I can't tell you how often you need to water. You will need to determine that in your environment.

Brooke


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RE: Mounting Questions

I have been doing more and more mounting with less and less sphagnum. For Catts I am currently using almost none to give the roots a chance to grab the cork bark.

This gives the roots a chance to dry before night. Not much of an issue in summer but gets more important in winter. As Jack says, cold and wet is a bad combination for any orchid.


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RE: Mounting Questions

Hi Richard, I think I might have confused the issue when I mentioned "cold". I'm an apartment dweller so I'll have lots of heat during the winter and I'll have to open a few windows for circulation, but not enough to make the place cool or cold (it can get hot in here). I will also be using a fan for circulation, probably all day on days when it may be too cold to crack open a window, and everyday for part of the day to keep mold at bay. It will be my first time here with orchids so I'll have to see how temperatures hold. I'll be getting a thermometer to monitor.

I'm posting the link for you and Brooke to better illustrate. I wanted to go along with not putting anything around the roots, but when I saw these pictures I asked myself why the grower was mounting in this manner. I think this forum is russian - I'm probably stating the obvious but, initially I didn't recognize the language.

I imagine they are using this coco coir to let the mounts hold some more moisture but not enough to saturate the roots for a long period of time. It's my first time seeing mounts like this so I'm wondering if this is something I should be doing as well. For dry conditions such as mine I'll probably have to water daily as for regular mounts but that's just a guess.

Beautiful photo.

http://ruorchids.ru/fora/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=470


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RE: Mounting Questions

Almost all my angraecoids are mounted like this. It seems that this method of mounting is particularly popular with angraecoids - Botanica does it with all of theirs, and I know several growers in N. America and Europe who also use this tecnique. As brooke mentioned, the coir mainly offers a way to bind the plant to the mount although there is slight moisture benefits. I think it's good for plants that enjoy a significant drying out between waterings - however, I have no experience growing mounted orchids out in the open, so I have no recommendations on what might work best in those conditions.


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RE: Mounting Questions

1.I don't like coconut based materials for a number of reasons but chiefly because it contains a large amount of taurine, which is toxic to many plants. Very few orchids in nature grow on coconut palms. I have never had a plant that thrived in coir.
2.A mounted plant will only suffer from lack of light if the mount is placed in too shady a position. Mounted plants drain extremely quickly so you will not get rotting problems. On the contrary it is more likely they will be too dry, so if they are not exposed to the elements you will need to water frequently.
3. A much better material for "wrapping the roots" is sphagnum moss. It will keep the roots wet for several hours after watering and does not contain any toxins.

Good luck - Ian.


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RE: Mounting Questions

Ian - the only references I found online in regards to taurine and orchids are from your posts on GW. Did a primary literature search on taurine and coconut, as well as taurine and plant metabolism, and I couldn't find much. Taurine in plants is mainly found in seaweed and some bacteria, but there is no mention of taurine in coconut products. I'd like to get the source of information that the plant nutritionist you talk to consulted.

I've grown things in coconut for about 5 years now and haven't had any problems at all...I wonder if your problem could be simple sodium chloride (aka salt)?


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RE: Mounting Questions

The downside of mounting is maintenance, if you go away for a while you need to leave simple care instructions. Doesn't matter all that much, i suppose, if you only have a few orchids, but at point/collection size X multiple care routines become a pain.

At a species society meeting one of the growers with a large collection told me that wherever possible he was going back to pots.

Of course. there are some that must be grown on a mount, one example being Cattleya aclandiae mentioned by Brooke in a post above. It is on a bare cork mount and i'm not going to fiddle with it.

Back to maintenance, most of my Tolumnia Hybrid collection is in cut down tiny pots with a coarse free draining mixture, a few are on tree-fern slabs, no difference in watering and no difference in flowering that i can see, but an expert arrived with a scapel to do the operation when my best plant outgrew the mount and had to be divided.

As far as Coconut chunks go, the jury is out, seems to work fine for some Genera, not so good for others.


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RE: Mounting Questions

Calvin, how frequently do you water your plants that are mounted this way? We are set up differently I think, as I don't have an orchidarium, but I'm just trying to gather some information. Thanks for mentioning Botanica; it helps to know a reputable source. You barely see a hint in some of the pictures, but I'll be ordering next month from them.

Ian this seems to be an acceptable method with some growers, but I think it must be related more to either very dry indoor conditions or maybe some species that require more moisture as Calvin says. The only thing that I can do right now is use examples from other experienced growers that have similar conditions to my own so that I can at least provide the best growing conditions. I will do some research on the taurine of course before I try this now that you mention it, but did you have a chance to look at the photos from the site that I posted? Sphagnum of course is a consideration, but I really wanted to explore this other method before I start mounting some time next week.

Art I won't have a huge collection like most here but I will be able to own more plants if I mount them because of space considerations, possibly up to 60 if I mount and about 30 if I don't. This will definitely keep me busier no doubt.

It is for the reason that you mentioned that I decided to start doing this; Brassavolas look much better mounted and it was the B. acaulis that turned me. I will be starting with B. acaulis, martiana and cuculatta. Most of my phals are potted and are already taking up most of my window space, so almost anything else that I get now (except for phals) will be mounted.


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RE: Questions

I just looked at the photos again and noticed sphagnum underneath the roots in most of the mounts. I'm wondering if the purpose of the coco coir is to keep humidity in place around the roots, but to draw out excess moisture from the sphagnum. It probably wouldn't hurt to ask someone at Botanica. To be continued...


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RE: Mounting Questions

I've stayed out of this as I'm prejudiced but will weigh in now. Most epiphytes and lithophytes grow on something by obtaining support from the object they are growing on and little else. Shoving them in a pot and covering their roots with bark or coconut is not how they really like it.

Twice a year I give talks at our shows and have an orchid, BLC Sea Urchin, which I always use as an example. It is growing in an old tennis shoe, nothing else. It's been there for about 7 years and has many new leads, a vigorous root system and is usually in bloom as that cross seems to bloom all the time. If it will grow that well in an old shoe, no moss, bark, coconut or anything else, your orchid will grow anywhere, I tell the people. When choosing your mount consider what you like, what strikes your fancy, the orchid could care less. Provided it gets food, water and reasonable temperatures and light, what it holds on to is of no importance.

I mount them on branches, cork bark, baskets, empty pots, empty plastic baskets and anything else I find useful. If the roots are large, like most Cattleyas and Dendrobiums I give them no moss. If the roots are fine like Oncidiums etc I place the plant against the mount and then cover the roots with sphagnum moss before I tie it all down. I never replace the moss, 2 to 3 years from now when the moss has deteriorated the plant should be totally on it's own and not need it anymore.

I just received a number of nice Catt hybrids from Kawamoto yesterday. I took them out of their pots, removed all growing media and then shoved them back in their own pots, bare-root. I add a few 1 1/2" to 2" rocks to give stability. The plant is now essentially mounted even though it's in a pot. The existing roots which are used to live in bark usually don't like it very much but the new roots go wild. Eventually the plant will leave the pot with roots and/or plant material spilling over the edge. I may hang it up at that point but I never give it a larger pot. Roots all over the place is a sign of a healthy plant.

If I get a small plant, let's say in a 2 1/2" square, I will leave it there until it wants a larger pot and then put it in an empty 4" square. When it's ready to graduate from there. It goes in an empty 6" round and there it stays never moving up beyond that. These plants are also mounted by definition as their roots are holding on to something and are not covered by anything. This 'Pot in a Pot in a Pot' method is commonly used by Santa Barbara Orchid Estates.

I water them every day except as it gets cool and foggy then I slow down. If I go away for 3 to 4 days I make no arrangement for watering, if longer than that I do get someone to water them. This is my preferred way of growing, with exception of Bulbos, Cymbidiums and the Cloud forest plants nearly 100% of plants are growing like that. Cymbidiums are in rock, the Bulbos and Masdies, Dracs and Pleuros are in moss. I only have a few Phalies and Paphs, they grow in a variety of things.

Looking after a large collection which grows like that becomes a joy rather than a chore. No repotting, ever, can't overwater them, 5 days of rain doesn't seem to bother them. If I come home late in the day, no problem watering then, just an effortless way to grow them. Watering them daily during the hot season is the only problem, not for me as I'm retired, but even when I was working full bore 10 years ago, it only took 10 minutes every morning to hose them off.

Once a plant is fully rooted and established which may take as long as 2 years, it blooms as well as any potted plant. I got a row of 'Best of Section' plaques on my fireplace mantle obtained for mounted plants. For show purpose I may stick the plant in a large pot and then decorated it with Spanish Moss, maybe add some rock for stability, it's a little difficult to display a mounted plant otherwise.

My preferred way, I would highly recommend it. This is how the plants grow in nature, they vote for this also.

Nick


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RE: Mounting Questions

Nick, thanks for sharing that, I always enjoy reading about growers' methods and experiences. In my environment (and the level I am at atm) I'm comfortable with the mixture of tree fern fiber and sphagnum for potting, and my plants seem happy enough for now. I think apartment living has a lot to do with the methods I'll be using but things have a way of evolving quickly for me so we'll see where I am at this time next year.

Right now I'm not growing with an orchidarium (or greenhouse), and my dry environment is a cause for concern for mounted plants. From what I understand even watering these daily might not be enough (constant misting, etc.). If this method is a way of providing more humidity to the immediate surrounding area of the plant then it's probably something I should look into.

I remember reading somewhere someone describing themselves as a "helicopter grower" I think that was the expression. It was the first time I saw that and I was quickly amused. Nick I did the bare root method with one of my plants and could not stop hovering. I may try it again after I'm more comfortable with growing.


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RE: Mounting Questions

"Helicopter Parent", I will have to remember this :)


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RE: Mounting Questions

I know plenty of 'helicopter moms' but never have heard the term applied to orchids. A friend of mine who lives down the street would be a helicopter grower. He frets about the minutest details yet fails to produce outstanding plants. If he left for more than 24 hours he would ask me to water and leave detailed instructions on several watering regimes. He would phone me on a cold morning and ask how cold it got during the night and the duration of the chill. I finally got so fed up with this nonsense that I politely asked him to get some one else for the watering duties.

We are still friends but he has never asked me to water again. Good.

Nick


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RE: Mounting Questions

If I had you to take care of my orchids I would be ecstatic, just as long as you don't bare root them all while I'm gone; but I'll be remembering things like "ultra pink sticky tape" and leaving lengthy lists behind when I have to depend on others that would rather have fake flower arrangements on their window sills :o

I did my homework today and I spoke to 2 very reliable sources at Botanica. I had a very pleasant and informative conversation and what I took away was the following:

Sphagnum underneath the roots: Andy's method (and others)
Wrapping the roots on top with coco fiber: Botanica's (and others)

Both are done to improve moisture around the root area but the person I spoke to at Botanica claims to have better results with his methods in his own environment: better results in the sense of less root rot.

After I explained my growing conditions he suggested I might want to add sphagnum underneath as well. That was before I mentioned what I had observed with the photos from the above said grower.

So it looks like I will start mounting in this manner; I gather I may have some with the sphag underneath and some without to experiment. I'm not sure about the toxins yet but I'll be looking into this as well before I do anything.

I'll start mounting next week and keep you posted. I'm starting with manzanita burl and branches. I tried looking for a source for grapewood but I don't know how popular it is for mounting and couldn't find a source.

Thanks you all for your input; I'm learning much from all of you. I wish though that someone in the crowd spoke russian, but I thnk I got my questions answered :)


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RE: Mounting Questions

I just received my burls of manzanita, sandblasted and unfinished. Should I be treating this wood before I mount or am I good to go. I'm not sure if I should be placing this in the oven for a few hours just as standard procedure. If so, what temperature and how many hours? The wood is from manzanita.com. Thanks!


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RE: Mounting Questions

I don't treat it. If a wood boring creature is in the wood, small wood grains will eventually fall from the mount. Then either treat it or throw it out. This has happened to me in less than 1% of wild collected manzanita. Nearly all of my Manzanita is from burn areas, so were treated by fire sometimes in the recent past, it is illegal to cut live Manzanita in California and they slap you with a substantial fine if you are caught.

Brand new Manzanita has beautiful maroon bark however that is very temporary, within a year it turns black.

Nick


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RE: Mounting Questions

Thanks Nick, I'm more than happy to skip the extra step. I start my project tonight.


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RE: Mounting Questions

The wood that needs treating is wood that has been in salt water.


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RE: Mounting Questions

Velamina, the fiber that you see in the photo is the long fiber from the coconut husk. Normally it has a lot of powdery stuff attached to it but when treated by rubbing together all the 'powder' or grains fall out and you get just these long fibers (incidentally, this is what is used to make coir rope). The advantage with using this is that it absorbs moisture and remains moist for some time but at the same time the net-like structure makes sure that plenty of air can circulate through it.
I grow a lot of my orchids mounted on coconut palms and they do beautifully. The only problem I've ever had with these is when the heavy coconut leaves fall on them and damage them. I don't use the husk for planting orchids though it is used widely in commercial orchid nurseries in India. Mainly because we have a lot of termites in our area and they just love coconut husk.

I normally tie my orchids on to the tree with natural banana fiber or sometimes (rarely) with plain jute strings. They are good enough to ensure contact between the roots and tree surface till the plant has established itself and then disintegrates / decomposes, leaving the orchid looking like it was naturally growing like that.
I also use the fibrous mesh found at the base of the coconut leaves to hold big orchid plants in place.


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RE: Mounting Questions

Sunita, like you I used green twine that I purchased from an orchid supply shop, but only after I made an attempt with fishing line. Perhaps the one that I bought was too thin, but I had a lot of trouble with it and these were my first mounts. Also working with the chunks of manzanita burl was not easy for my first attempts and something with a flatter surface might have been easier.

I think the correct term is "coco fiber" as Brooke mentioned above (without the coir though, for some reason mentioning coir caused some confusion when ordering). I used this method which function you so accurately described (Thank you!) and was happy with the final product.

Brooke, agreed inside mounts are a pain! My limit for mounts will be much sooner than what I thought.

I've been watering every 2 days and I'm not sure if I should increase the frequency. I have some issues with my Brassavola martiana, but I had a problem with one of the leaves upon its arrival, so I'm not sure if I will be undressing this one very soon. The root system was plentiful and looked healthy when I mounted it.

Richard I was wondering if the wood that you speak of is driftwood more specifically. There were other woods that I considered using but the manzanita was much more accessible.


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RE: Mounting Questions

I often wonder why people trash about debating the merits of different materials to tie a plant to it's mount. I also never use fishing line, usually use whatever I happen to have lying around, green training wire, telephone wire etc. None of it makes a difference, as if you mounted and grew the plant properly, within a year the plant should be firmly attached to whatever you mounted it on and the wires or ropes, or whatever, should come off.

To me a properly mounted plant should have no visible ties to hold it to the mount, it's roots should do that to give a natural look. Since it is unlikely that the plant will bloom and go to a show or meeting in the first year, I am not shy to use highly visible, ugly ties as long as they are strong, knowing full well that it's all coming off within a year.

Nick


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RE: Mounting Questions

Nick, I agree with you.

I also use "fruit or onion mesh bags" to encompass a plant onto its mount. As new roots begin to form, it's easy to add extra sphagnum to cover the mesh.

--Stitz--


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RE: Mounting Questions

Some Masdies, Dracs or Pleuros get mounted on cork bark and the pad of Sphagnum Moss stays. If I want the tie to be there for a while, I'll drill 4 holes in the bark, the corner of a square.. The share should be much smaller than the anticipated moss pad. Then I thread 1 wire through the 4 holes making 2 large loops. The plant goes against the bark, then the moss, all under the 2 loops. When everything is in place, I tighten the wire and tie it in the back of the mount. It buries itself in the pad of moss and, if everything is in proportion, becomes invisible.

Some of these cloud forest plants, which are kept moist all the time, can't be bothered to make an extensive root system as water comes so easy to them. I have had sizable Draculas with minimal root systems blooming and growing actively. This type of plant will not attach itself to it's mount with any force and some permanent ties are necessary. This is a place for fishing line or the loops of wire I like.

Nick


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RE: Mounting Questions

On Oct 7, velamina wrote:
"I won't have a huge collection like most here but I will be able to own more plants if I mount them because of space considerations, possibly up to 60 if I mount and about 30 if I don't. This will definitely keep me busier no doubt."

I used to think exactly like that. I blew by 30, then 60 then 120 and on and on 'til I ran out of time and space. SPACE! Somewhere around 100+ works for me at this moment in my life.

--Stitz--


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RE: Mounting Questions

Nick, highly visible ties don't seem to bother me either. I've forgotten they are there, but they are also barely visible since I also worked with the coco fiber.

My apartment is already very warm and dry. I'm not entirely sure yet that the outer coco fiber covering is completely unnecessary since I am watering every 2 days instead of every day in my conditions; only time will tell, but if I have to increase my watering anyway, coco fiber is coming off!

I recently placed an order with Andy and the subject of mounting came up. He mentioned that when using moss underneath he uses the "green" moss because it saturates less, so less risk of rot.

I don't think I will be able to grow cloud forest plants, but I will keep your advice in mind in case I decide to experiment with a couple. I have one potted masdevallia that has just finished blooming, not one of the prettiest or exotic looking, but a "cute" plant.

Stitz, I'm not close to reaching my 30 yet and have to slow down cause of the holidays. But space IS quite the determining factor here with me. I'm not sure exactly where my limit is with the mounted plants yet; next summer I should have a pretty good idea.

Stitz this is off topic but I was wondering if you wouldn't mind posting the orchid wiz info on Dendroium laevifolium; she is showing lots of health and growth since I got her over the summer but I need to make sure that I am doing right by her to bloom; it's possible she may be getting too much light. I'd also like to know more specifics about watering and when I can expect to see hints of blooms. Tia.


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RE: Mounting Questions

velamina, Den laevifolium requires ~ 2000-3000 fc light according to Charles Baker, the source of cultural info for this species in OrchidWiz. IMO, his estimates tend to be on the low end. I doubt if you will find anyone who thinks that Baker is excessive in his guesstimates on light requirements.

Water heavily except during winter months. The species still averages around 4.5-6 inches per month during winter, per Baker.

Baker notes that the average HIGH temps throughout the year range from 70-72F; average lows range from 56-58F.

Where are you located? USDA Zone 7 cuts a long, narrow swath across North America stretching from near the Mexican border to near NYC! :)

--Stitz--


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Den laevifolium blooms

Den laevifolium blooms primarily during June-July in North America, per a graph available on OrchidWiz.


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RE: Mounting Questions

Lighting and average growth is on target, but required temperature is much lower than I thought.

How do I interpret "water heavily"? I repotted her immediately upon arrival in the NYBG chc blend in a 2.5" aircone pot. I have alternated between watering once and twice a week since I assumed these needed more water but it would be helpful to know how much is considered enough.

She looks very good, putting out new bulbs, leaves and roots, only thing is leaves are tinged with red. She's fitting snug in the pot but if you think it would be helpful to provide a photo I'll start a new thread.

Btw I'm just a few miles north of NYC, zone 7. TYVM for the info!

Sorry to get off track, I'm still not sure if it's just a quick question. I'm looking forward to seeing this one bloom.


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RE: Mounting Questions

You can interpret water heavily to mean that the minimum monthly average amount in the "wild" is 4.4 inches in February and the amount increases to 16.7 inches in September!

Will you "mount" this plant? If so, you should water it heavily!! How much is enough? Whether your plant is in a pot or on a mount, that determination is for you to decide. I don't grow Dendrobiums for several reasons.

GOOD LUCK!!

--Stitz--


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RE: Mounting Questions

I will own only a couple of petite dens. These are not my favorite types but I still like some of them.

If all is well I should maybe see some progress late summer and will continue with my watering schedule since she has a happiness aura. I will look for a cooler place for her also.

No plans for mounting this one, she is fine where she is, but she would probably look great on a mount. Thanks again!


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RE: Mounting Questions

Why is she a she? Probably really a 'HeShe' as both parts are on the plants. Should be very popular in San Francisco.

Nick


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RE: Mounting Questions

I have a bellina named after my favorite football player, but other than that my orchids all have girly names.

(Hmmm, I wonder what Steven Jackson thinks being named after a miniature orchid!)


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RE: Mounting Questions

from Wikipedia,
orchid - The name comes from the Greek "órkhis", literally meaning "testicle",

(Hmmm, I wonder what Steven Jackson thinks being named after a miniature orchid!)

substitute the word "testicle" after miniature....what do you think that Steven Jackson is thinking about, now?

--Stitz--


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RE: Mounting Questions

Ahhaha, funny how one word can change an entire meaning.

An orchid, yes, he might like that much better, all 236 pounds of him.


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