Written by our friends at Bio Leaf Plant Nutrients in New Zealand
Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting Selwyn Hatrick in Rotorua. One of Selwyn’s passions is growing paphiopedilum orchids.
I first met Selwyn at the Tauranga Orchid Show in September 2017. He mentioned that he has been growing his Paphs in Fernwood Tree Fern Fibre and was impressed with both the root development and growth response of his orchids since transplanting them into tree fern fibre.
The images above show young Paphiopedilum plants 6 months after they were transplanted into tree fern fibre. Note the exceptional root & leaf growth.
Our conversation naturally migrated to orchid nutrition and the importance of feeding your orchids with a fertiliser that has a wide array of nutrients. It was at this point I introduced Selwyn to Dyna-Gro Nutrient Solutions. I explained to him that Dyna-Gro is a single part liquid nutrient that all 16 essential nutrients required to support plant growth and health. Dyna-Gro Nutrient Solution formulations also include calcium. Most liquid fertilisers are incomplete as they contain only a hand full of nutrients and no calcium. Plants require from 1 to 3 times more calcium than phosphorus.
For more information about the importance of Calcium in plant nutrition
Selwyn left the show armed with a few bottles of Dyna-Gro and a few weeks later contacted me to say that he had done his research on Dyna-Gro and had started using it on his orchids.
Not long after this, we visited Selwyn to observe his operation and understand how he grows his orchids in tree fern fibre. If I remember correctly at this stage Selwyn had been using Dyna-Gro for two or three weeks and it was too early to determine if his orchids had responded to Dyna-Gro.
Six months later we visited Selwyn again and the difference in the growth and health of his orchids is phenomenal.
We took a few orchids out of the pot to examine the roots. No surprises at all, exceptionally healthy root development and no signs of root deterioration (rotting). We all know that heathy roots are the foundation for healthy top growth (leaf and flower development).
The images below show the exceptional root growth.
- As far as he is concerned using Dyna-Gro Nutrient Solutions and Fernwood Tree Fern Fibre is the perfect combination for growing paphiopedilum orchids.
- Fernwood Tree Fern Fibre is the best substrate he has used for growing Paphs.
- The plant vigour, leaf colour and health of his orchids has improved significantly since he started using Dyna-Gro Nutrient Solutions. Instead of using many different products to feed his orchids, he now uses one product, Dyna-Gro.
- Many of his paphiopedilums are producing new growth before the flower spike terminates. For some paphiopedilums, the new growth starts before the flower spike initiates.
- Selwyn expects the tree fern fibre to last more than 3 years. This means that repotting his orchids has become a whole lot easier because all he needs to do is gently remove the orchid from the pot, place it in a bigger pot and fill the gap with tree fern fibre. There is no need to strip the rotting media from the roots and remove the dead roots. This will result in minimal transplant shock for the orchid.
- Selwyn has completed growth trials with orchids growing in bark only, a mix of 50% bark and 50% tree fern fibre and 100% tree fern. The paphiopedilum orchids growing in 100% tree fern fibre had the best growth response and the orchids grown in bark only had the worst growth response.
- Selwyn is feeding his paphiopedilums at a dilution rate of 1ml Dyna-Gro to 2.5 litres water. Orchids growing in tree fern fibre require less nitrogen than orchids growing in bark based potting mixes.
An important aspect when using tree fern fibre is to manage how often you water your orchids. Tree fern fibre stays moist/damp much longer than traditional orchid potting media. Therefore, it is important to extend the watering interval and to only water tree fern when it is showing signs of drying.
If you water too frequently you may experience rot due to the tree fern fibre being too moist for your orchid roots.
In Auckland where I live, during the summer months, I am watering every 4/5 days and I will extend this to 4-6 week interval for winter.
Hopefully the above will inspire you to start using Tree Fern Fibre and Dyna Nutrient Solutions for some of your orchids.