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Nursery Orchids

last year

About two weeks ago I wandered into my local over priced nursery just to see what they had. I was amazed at the huge selection and variety of orchids. From oncidiums, to brassia to odonto to zygo, to paphs to phals to .... I had never seen them carry orchids like this before, just the common phals. Unfortunately they were priced from $40 on up, so I decided to pass, although the Zygos did tempt me.

Two days ago I went back again just to view them because it looked like an orchid show initially. To my surprise, over 80% of them had tags on them saying 50% off! I walked out with five different ones, but sadly, no zygos.

Today I decided to repot all of them because they were in 4" nursery pots. What a chore! They were grown in pure sphagnum moss, which was soaking wet. A lot of the roots on some were dead, whereas on others they were a combination of living and dead. It took forever to remove as much sphagnum as I could but it was a pure nighmare. I guess it's cheaper and easier to pot and grow in pure sphagnum for a bulk nursery, but I have to think that in the long run it doesn't do the plant any favors. What are your thoughts on this?

Comments (11)

  • last year
    last modified: last year

    As oft discussed, you can grow an orchid in anything, but you have to apply the right culture (and watering spagnum on a daily basis is probably the wrong culture...which is what I'd say happened).

    Good luck, but probably the 50% off was not a great deal :)

  • last year

    Thanks dbarron. I am 100% confident they will all survive and flourish. After all, they've got a great caretaker!

  • last year

    No humility Bill? Lol, well even if they do, they may take an additional year recovering from the sphagnum savagery. Good luck!
    I have no problem growing young orchids in sphagnum, but I don't prefer it. If you don't understand the plants, over-watering (like the average worker in a nursery) is gonna happen.

  • last year

    My assessment of the situation would be that some commercial grower someplace found out just in the nick of time that he had made a serious mistake in trying to grow this mixed bag of plants and unloaded them on the first buyer he could find. The buyer tried to make a quick profit on his purchase, but realizing he did not know how to grow most of this varied bunch of plants he marked them down quickly to cut his losses. In my years of growing orchids I tried to learn how to grow some of the more difficult species, but spent much time reading and talking to growers who could grow the species in question before I invested in a plant or two. But then, I was a poor sailor who could not afford large plant investments, and did not want to tamper with the environment inside my tiny little greenhouse where the plants I did know how to grow were struggling already to survive. Those learning experiences were invaluable, and I would not trade them for anything. Use them well, Bill M.


  • last year

    Congrats, Bill! Sounds like a good shopping trip.

    You know the saying, 'you can grow orchids in a shoe.'

    I use sphag mixed with bark because I don't water as often as I should. If growing indoors or a greenhouse with supplemental heat, it will dry out the media quickly unless humidity is supplied.

    I've let nursery plants sit in sphag until I have time to repot (usually Spring), but I do try to loosen it to improve airflow.

    I'm sure your plants will be fine and flourish under your care. I love bargains, especially with orchids!


  • last year

    As I've previously posted, I had the best learning experiences with very small (seedling or mericlones), because they react so quickly to poor conditions, thus training me what not to do :)

    In most cases, you aren't rewarded as positively when you do something good, funny that?

    But yeah, I'm trying (this winter) to rescue a dratted Howeara Lava Burst. I grew it neglectfully for some years at a previous house. I tried to baby a new one here at this house and nearly lost it.. I'm trying to coax it into producing more roots so I can get it out of sphagnum. I guess this is a case of a mature plant that I almost let slip away because I wasn't sure what I was seeing and it was far gone before I knew.

    Orchid, always a learning experience, but that's why I love them.

  • last year

    BIll, I HATE sgahnum after loosing just about every orchid I own in it. It does me nor my plants any good. I find it stays too wet only after a few months and turns roots to moosh.

    It hold bacteria and salts. Once rot starts on any of the rots, it spreads fast left in it and unfortunately, many places use it as a fast sell and many unsuspecting people don't realize one should get rid of the stuff once they bring their orchids home before issues crop up and take care of the issues already happening in the pots.

    You also have to date and keep up with the re pots in it. Let a year or two go by and forget, and see what happens.

    If you like to leave your orchids outside in summer, forget using it.

    If you change environments all the time like I do, forget using it.

    If you plan on changing into a different mix, the roots have a tough time to adjust because they are so use to it.

    I do and still find that especially the pseudobulbs orchids, regenerate new root even after the entire root mass should be lost, into a much better mix, and even into a fresh sphagnum moss.

    I am just glad after years of growing orchids I found this out.

    3NOw I clean all or most of my orchids of the stull and find better holding water capacity things and mixes that dry out quickly most in organic.

    I also grow many hydro phonically which so far has been a gift from God.

    I use in my mixes, lava rock, perlite, bar chips, many sizes, pumice, charcoal, hydro ton and other inorganic but bark ingredients.

    So glad you got such a huge deal. Come spring, those plants will grow tons of great roots for you.

    You are a wonderful grower in my opinion.


  • last year
    last modified: last year

    OK Dbarron - I'm looking them up! They're in Illinois and I'm in PA so I'm not too sure about shipping during this cold, but we'll see. I may get the "I gotta have it bug". It seems to bite me a lot!

    Edit - I looked them up but can't find pricing anywhere on their site. Hmmmm....

    Edit Edit - BTW - the plants were all repoted and so far they're doing well.

  • last year
    last modified: last year

    The pricing gets updated as you select a size to buy. Pricing certainly there ;)

    Yeah, I hadn't planned on placing any order till March anywhere. But someone posted a photo of a dendrobium cuthbersonii x sulawesi and stated that it truly didn't need to spend nighttimes in the fridge to survive. I always envied cuthbersonii, but killed them due to issues with handling even normal household heat.

    And since shipping costs are so high, I had to order more than one (right?) to spread the shipping costs. Found a paph 'Super Cute' that was truly super cute (mini).

    They shipped a bonus species hybrid which was interesting (and unexpected), but as my collection is modest (27 orchids I believe as of today), welcome. Reminds me of maudiea types.

    Yes, for me, it's 2 day ship even if sent Ground class (which they did), as Missourri is all that is in between us.

  • last year

    Just a quick update - Every orchid I purchased at 50% off is doing incredible! They all have strong roots, multiple new bulbs forming, one has bloomed, and another is throwing up a spike! Attached is a picture of the Miltoniopsis that just opened. It now has three blooms open with two more getting ready.

    These plants sit in an outdoor GH where the daytime temps reach the high 90's. I built an automatic misting system and every day they get misted for ten minutes at 10:45 am. This really builds up the humidity for a few hours. I also have a cheap fan which oscillates, throwing a breeze on most everything. The door is always open, so the night temps drop to the mid 50's. I can't do anything about the high daytime temps (there's shading on the polycarbonate, and a 50% shade cloth over the GH as well). The misting help somewhat, but not a lot.

    Everything gets watered manually by me, with rainwater, once every 2-3 days. Plants dry out quick in this environment and so far the root growth looks impressive. They are also fed every other week, soon to be every week come June.

    I'm now trying to rescus an Angraecum Vitichii that a woman gave me. She said she's had it for several years and it hasn't do anything. It's a fairly large plant too. I removed all the old soil (medium), repotted it into a new bark, sphagnum, leca, charcoal, pearlite mix. Soaked it well, and placed it into the GH. Hopefully after a month or so, I'll begin to see some growth. We'll see.

    Stay well all....