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Growing Phrags On Rock

16 years ago

I have been playing with the idea of growing a paph or phrag on a piece of stone. I know that there are many varieties that like to grow near rivers & will grow roots right into the moving water. I have a medium sized water fountain here on the balcony that I have been thinking about replacing the statue with a few rocks piled on top of one another. I would like to try growing a couple different plants on the rocks, but not sure what would be the best one to start out with. I have a Phrag. Grande 4N that need repotting (I could divide a piece or two from it for the project). Anyone think this might be a good candidate? Do you have any suggestions for paphs & phrags that might like growing like this?

P.S. The water will not be spewing out of the top. Rather, it will be more of a bubbling action that will just let the water flow down the rocks & back into the base of the pond, so water should not be splashing into the crown of the plants. I am thinking the pond pump will run 24/7. I imagine that if it ran only a couple hours a day, the roots would not grow accustomed to growing in the flowing water.

Looking forward to hearing from everyone!


Comments (18)

  • 16 years ago

    Phragmipedium Grande is a hybrid of the dryer grown Phrag caudatum and the water tolerant Phrag longifolium. Some hybrids do well in a wetter environment and some don't. In our experience, Grande hasn't benefitted by a wet environment. This hybrid rotted at the roots when grown too wet.

    There is nutrient delivery to consider. How would you feed the orchid? Nutrients will foul your bubbler.
    You may lose the orchid, but gain valuable experience
    Vanessa Varsegy

  • 16 years ago


    First off, I cannot answer your question, but your idea is intriguing! You obviously love a thoughtful experiment. So do I!

    If you have not seen it, you may be interested in the recent thread: "Growing Paphs and Phrags" on this forum. Carolyn's (cbarry) response to Patrickalan's post generally agrees with your thought that Phrag Grande might like the environment that you propose to give it (if, as Clara/VV says, it is a hybrid of Phrags caudatum and longifolium).

    If you go ahead with your interesting experiment, I hope you will kindly share your results with the forum. I love the idea of your Phrag growing happily by its own bubbling brook on Your balcony. What a pretty thought!


    Here is a link that might be useful: GW Thread: Growing Paphs and Phrags

  • 16 years ago

    I think that what you may want is for water to flow like a film across a rock face onto which a plant can somehow be mounted. That is the major hassle and so you may need to figure out how to do so with the kinds of rocks you have to work with. Also I think that you should use an established plant, not a division. Also you may want to consider first establishing an aquatic moss onto the rock face, such as Java Moss and then add on the orchid for a more nature look. Also for a natural approach some debris build up occurs as well becoming trapped on roots of other plants that may grow into the orchid's habitat. So perhaps some other type of aquatic plants that are small might be nice. Of course you will need to consider a screen on your in-take line to the pump to keep out debris. As far as fertilizing phrags can do well with minimal feeding and it can be done with a liquid feed (Miracle Gro) at a reduced concentration, i.e. 1/2 strength, and can be bled out of the system with a flush through by diverting the in-take line to drain off.
    I think P. grande will do well if the water flow is modulated so as to allow for the roots NOT to be submeerged constantly by water, perhaps by a system shut down during the day.
    Definitely take images!!

    Here is a link that might be useful: notes on habitat of one species of Phrag

  • 16 years ago

    Clara - isn't it the Phrag. Grande you couldn't get to bloom and had to ask if the growth was a bloom spike or a division?

    Phrag. Grande macrochillum 'Glenn's Pride' (awarded)


    Phrag. Sorcerer's Apprentice x Grande (both 4n)


    Phrag. Grande 'Hermanas'


    They aren't growing in a bubbling fountain but they certainly love dangling their toes in s/h environment. The containers are filled with roots and the bottom roots are in constant water.

    Ditto on the images.


  • 16 years ago

    Thanks everyone for the follow up!

    Vanessa, what kind of Phrags or paphs (that are heat tolerant) have you grown that you think would do well? Answering your question about nutrients. I would give it the same fertilizing as I do my other Paphs & Phrags. Most of these guys are not heavy feeders, so they may like having small doses of fertilizer hitting them more frequently than the plants I have potted.

    Sweetcicely, Thanks for the link to the post! I'll take a look at it later this evening. Also, I will definitely post pictures of whatever it is I end up making. I have seen photos of botanical gardens growing them on what they term "seepage walls" where they have natural or artificial rock walls with water slowly making its way down the surface. They usually have these kinds of walls around waterfalls.

    Terrestrial Man, I have been looking at making up a batch of live moss to grow on the rocks surface. I am thinking that I will have to establish it before I can get the whole thing up & running. I am planning to mount the Phrag. or Paph. the same way I mount my other orchids to rocks & walls, with good ole fashion liquid nails. I have had lots of luck with establishing plants on "Feather Stone", but have never been able to really establish moss on them (I get veins of green agley, but the moss never develops, probably too many holes in this super porous rock) I am hoping I might be able to find a nice medium sized chunk of lime stone from one of the local construction sites. If not, I am going to visit one of the local nurseries that sell landscape stones & find a small boulder with lots of nooks & texture on the surface so that the moss & orchid will have something to grab onto.
    I am thinking that I will not mount the plant in the direct path of the water. Instead I will mounted it so the roots are only a couple inches away form the stream of water so that they will have to grow a bit & attach themselves to the rock in order to reach "the good stuff". During that time I will obviously have to apply water by hand until it is able to reach.

    Brooke, Thanks for the photos & suggestions of plants! I have not looked at prices yet, but I am sure they are not cheap! Perhaps I will look for one or two of these at the upcoming Tami Ami Intl. Orchid Show.

    Thanks again to everyone! Keep the ideas & suggestion rolling in!


  • 16 years ago

    Hi, Ray,

    Way cool idea. Sounds fun, esp. because you have the fountain already.

    And one orchid, at least, grows under flowing water for part of its cycle, if not all. Of course, I don't remember the name and am not finding it. Maybe an option, if you know the orchid.

    It'll be fun to see how it goes.


  • 16 years ago

    I'm attempting to grow a paph at the bottom of a seep wall. Don't ask which kind as it was mismarked lol.
    I used a piece of formed tree fern so though it has a constant source of moisture it is not soaked nor splashed.
    It has rooted well but has not grown as it should and has not reflowered. Having a constant battle with ferns and moss overtaking the whole Thinking of moving it to a piece of lava rock as I'm sure the tree fern is breaking down. Haveen't been able to find any large pieces only the ones in bags. BTW I also have a piece of teak driftwood sticking out from the bottom that is completely covered with that velvety wild moss. Growing a cane dend .
    near the end .seems to be doing okay but not as good as the mosss lol. I made a serious mistake allowing philos and swedish ivy grow on the wall. They are tring to hog the whole area.
    Good luck with your experiment. Always fun to try neww things. gary

  • 16 years ago

    Hi Whitecat & Gary! I looked up a couple of in expensive plants on EBay & at local growers. It seems that just about all the hybrids would be happy in the situation I have in mind for it. I've been searching for what moss will do best on the rock here in our summer heat. So far its looking like the "Rock Cap Moss" (Dicranum) will be the winner. I've also found a good recipe for propagating it by making a mixture of beer, sugar, & some other stuff (which I can not remember) & spreading it on the surface.

    Gary, I have liked your idea of the seep wall from the first time we communicated back on the Bonsai forum. I've been playing with ideas, moving plants around to see where I can accommodate such a thing, & have finally found a place to make a miniature display. One quick comment about your tree fern. You said that you have only been able to find the tree fern that comes in bags right? My friends Sandy & Tom at Broward Orchid Supply have all kinds of different tree fern mounts, pots, statues, etc. They also have large pieces of cork & grape wood for mounting orchids. I know that is kind of far south for you to drive, but it might be worth an afternoon trip! Oh! I almost forgot, they are always at the orchid shows happening from Jupiter down to the keys, so if you do not feel like taking a drive, you can hold out for the next show in your area.

    Thanks for the comments! Now I have to go eradicate a colony of insect eggs I found on one of my favorite Vandas!


  • 16 years ago

    You may want to try using osmunda root instead of tree fern since osmunda ferns grow in wet to damp locations. If you do not have any available try finding a large plant at a nursery and depotting it and hopefully the root system is tight enough so that you can cut chunks off. This is one material that you can grow yourself but best in large containers to force the roots to thicken up.

    Here is a link that might be useful: osmunda source-cannot ship to pacific states or NV or AZ

  • 16 years ago

    have no trouble finding supplies except for large pieces of lava rock. Could use feather rock.Need ambition to put it all together lol. Had to reside and paint the house and the shutters are still in a pile waiting to be put back Small pond got a leak and large pond needed a complete cleaning out. Got that taken care of now to finish the house BEFORE hurricane season lol
    terrestrial man
    That might be an interesting idea though I'm a bit afraid of "hardy" ferns lol. I have such a problem with Boston fern. Sprouts and trails

  • 16 years ago

    Well I bought my stone, water pump, water basin, & moss on Saturday & put it all together on Sunday. It is a little ghetto looking right now because I have green wire wrapped around the rock to make sure that the moss is held in place. The rock is a medium sized chunk of lime stone. I went to 5 locations looking for rock, they either had none, or they had the massive boulders that were hundreds of dollars. The final place I visited had lots of small & medium sized stones, So I picked one out & haggled over the price (they had the nerve to ask $50 for a rock that they could have picked up out of a field or construction site). So I got them down to $20. I purchased moss at a pet store in the amphibian section, & a small pump from Home Depot. I had to chisel a bit of the rock away to make it stand up without wobbling. I do not have the right equipment, so I could not drill a hole for the tube, so itÂs just tied onto the stone with more green wire. I'm going to give it a month or two & then put the first plant onto the rock. I am realizing that I need to find a fairly compact growing Phrag. as the stone is not as large as I had planned on. Any ideas?


  • 16 years ago

    One thought, maybe using the mesh bags such as garlic comes in might be helpful ????
    I do not know if the moss will adhere to the limestone but it will attach to wood.
    Also check out the link below and save it in Favorites as it has info on all the species and then some.
    Another idea is to make your stones out of concrete.
    Just dig a hole in the ground to suit your size and pour in
    and let set. Once ready to use I would cure it by sitting it in a tub and soaking it with vinegar to help leach out the alkalines or just soak in water repeatedly. I would think that the water in this case would come out cloudy at first and then less so as more soakings occur (I am shooting in the dark on this as I have not done this.)
    If your soil is sandy the sand would adhere to the concrete and make it look cool!!
    Good luck.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Phrag web

  • 16 years ago

    Hey there Terrestrial! The trick with the cement sounds great! But I have one small issue. I live on the 4th floor in a condo =0(. Maybe the next time that I go home to visit the parents for a few days I can make one of the cement "rocks". I have a feeling that you are right, that the moss will not really attach itself to the rock. But what I am hoping will happen is that as it grows & spreads that the new growths will attach themselves to the rock. I was looking around on the web & found a couple sites that suggested it will grow on rock when kept moist. We will see in a few months! Thanks for the link to the Phrag. species page!


  • 16 years ago

    You might try the Expanding foam . You can make "rocks" any size shape or color you choose. My seep wall is made with it along with some real materials.. Acrylic paint will cover it and is non toxic Can even be used underwater.
    Can be dusted with peat ,sand what have you while still sticky. Check out some of the Dutch Vivarium sites
    They moved this material into an art form lol gary

  • 16 years ago

    what about the rocks that are sold for aquariums? I have seem some plastic ones which look realistic. or real ones. i have also seen (i think) petrified wood of various shapes with nooks and crannies. I am also curious about the material that chia pets are made of. i wonder if any of those are made to look like rocks.

  • 16 years ago

    The Chia pets are made of unglazed terracotta. Have seen some fantastic setups using chimney flues on other list forums. I tried it but mine was glazed so it didn't seep properly. One very impressive one from Denmark used this enclosed in a belljar.
    Lava rock works well,the red type being more pourous than the black. I haven't been able to find any large pieces
    Of couse you can always make your own via hypertufa.

  • 16 years ago

    Hi Gary & Sue!

    Sue, I did look at the pet stores, but their rocks were small, except for the saltwater fish places, then the rocks were a extremely expensive. For smaller orchids like my miniature Cattleyas or Neofenitias, those pet store rocks would be perfect!

    Gary, I have never heard of Hyptertufa before, that is really neat! My grandparents were really into ceramics when they lived in Florida, when they moved, they kind of gave it up. I am sure that they could get into something like this as a new hobby! God knows there is nothing else to do where they live!

    Gary, a side note, remember those horrible storms we had back last week around Tuesday or Wednesday? I was out doing my evening run after work & noticed there were two rather large bromeliads that had been blown out of the trees. Until now, I had not noticed wild bromeliads growing in my neighborhood! After finding these two, I am noticing that some of the very old trees have them hanging out in the very tops, who knew that Hollywood Florida had such things =0)


  • 16 years ago

    i have not heard of hypertufa either. i just did a search and found the instructions on how to make it. that really opens up a lot of possibilities.

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