Converting your existing orchids to a semi-hydroponic growing system is a simple process. Your plant will go through a short phase (up to 4 months) where the old roots will rot away while it grows new roots adapting to the clay media. The best time for conversion is after your plant has finished flowering, as it may abort the blooms as it adapts to its new environment.
You will need three basic things to get started – a pot suited for semi-hydroponics, growing media, and fertilizer. We offer everything you will need for this system on our Supplies page. If you are using your own custom pot, make sure it has drainage holes approximately one inch from the bottom to allow for a water reservoir. Free draining containers can be used with the clay pebbles as well, but without a reservoir, watering would need to be increased to several times per week.
Any standard orchid fertilizer is sufficient in providing extra nutrients for your plants. I recommend using 1/4 strength of the suggested dosage during each and every watering. We suggest and use the MSU formula, available in Rain/RO water, or for Well/Tap water.
1. Prepare the Media
The ceramic media should be thoroughly rinsed to remove any dust. For best results, soak in fertilized water for a day, or overnight, to allow it to absorb as much water as possible before potting.
2. Remove the Old Potting Media
Soak the roots of your plant for several hours to allow them to loosen. Carefully remove it from the pot and pull away the old mixture until only the plant and roots remain.
Choose a pot that is slightly larger than the root system. Position the plant in the pot so that the existing roots reach the water reservoir at the bottom, without causing stress to the roots or the plant. Holding the plant in place, begin filling with the new media until it is level with, or just above, the bottom of the leaves. Gently shake and work the pot to distribute the rocks throughout the root system, adding more if necessary after settling.
Once it is potted, water until the reservoir is filled with your fertilized mixture. Over time, your plant will shed its old roots and grow new ones suited for this growing system. During this phase, don’t be alarmed if you notice some setbacks.
4. Continued Care of your Plant
Most orchids prefer a bright shady spot in your home, with standard room temperatures. Our translucent pots allow you to easily see when the water reservoir is depleted, and simply add more water until it is filled. Under typical conditions, this should be once every 5-8 days.
Once your plant has fully adapted to this system, maintenance is only necessary when the plant simply becomes too large for the pot. The clay media will not rot or break down over time, and repotting will not cause stress to the plant. Gently loosen the plant from the old container and place into a larger one. The roots hold the rock in place, and simply fill around the edges with additional media. Click here for more information on increasing pot size.
My motto has always been: “Don’t be a slave to your orchids, just enjoy them.” Orchids are the perfect houseplant, with blooms that add beauty to any room year after year, and conceivably living forever! With this system, it’s easy to successfully grow orchids with minimal care.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me for more information.