Semi-hydroponics for growing orchids uses containers designed with a reservoir which maintains the water level, with a medium consisting of only clay pebbles. These pebbles have an excellent capillary absorption ability which allows them to draw the water from the reservoir and distribute it evenly to the entire root structure.
We fill the reservoir (simply pour in the top) with 1/4 strength fertilized water, approximately once per week. This gives the plant all the water and nutrients it needs at consistent levels. Watering is no longer a mystery, and is simple and time-efficient.
Comparison to traditional growing medium
There are many successful mediums for growing orchids. A bark mix or sphagnum moss is traditional, and all have their advantages and disadvantages. Any medium which will compact or break down over time will need to be replaced or refreshed. With clay, there is never a need to disturb your plant with annual repotting. When the plant needs more room to grow, simply pop it out of the container and give it a larger one. Most of the root structure will stay intact, then more pebbles are added in the new space.
Watering in traditional methods can be tricky as well. In nature, many orchids are epiphytes or lithophytes (growing in trees or on rocks). Orchids love water! – but they don’t like to stay wet or soggy for long periods. The medium you choose needs to stay coarse and fresh, allowing the roots to breathe.
The clay medium works with the water reservoir in our containers to create an ideal watering schedule. The reservoir is filled once per week, and the pebbles soak it up as needed and distribute it to the roots fairly evenly. We use 1/4 strength orchid fertilizer with every watering.
Every orchid enthusiast has a unique environment that you must work with to provide the best growth for your plants. We have had wonderful success in using semi-hydroponics for nearly all popular orchid genre.
Each orchid is unique in its adaptation to this system. We have grown thousands of varieties from seedlings, and converted almost as many when they were already mature plants grown in another medium. Within a few months, the plants adjust and growth is often quite rapid!
We are always available to help in deciding if semi-hydroponics is ideal for your orchids, or how to adapt it successfully into your environment. Contact us anytime with further questions.