FAQ's - Hydroponics for Growing Orchids

How does Hydroponics for growing orchids work?

Our hydroponic system is a new and exciting way to grow orchids. Special clay pebbles replace all other media. They're clean, easy to use and never decay or decompose.
A water gauge tells you when to water - no more over watering! When you water your plants you're actually filling a reservoir at the bottom of the pot. Then, as you go about your busy life, the capillary properties of the clay pebbles (called LECA)  wicks the nutrient solution up to the plant gently and evenly. Air passes through the pebbles promoting the ideal air/water mixture for healthy roots. Learn more at Why Hydroponics?

What are LECA pebbles made of?

The term "LECA" means:
  Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate

LECA pebbles are made by heating small clay pellets to 2600F. At these temperatures the clay expands, developing tiny air spaces at the core and an extremely hard outer shell, creating a media that's ideal for growing orchids.

What's the difference between LECA pebbles and ordinary gravel?

LECA pebbles are completely different form ordinary gravel. The extreme heat used to make LECA pebbles creates the tiny air spaces at the core and a hard outer shell. This gives each pebble unique capillary properties which they use to "wick" the nutrient solution up to the plant's roots gently and evenly. No other material has these properties - including lava rock. The air spaces between the pebbles allows for air flow around the roots. Learn more at LECA pebbles.

How often should I water?

Watering varies with light, temperature, and of course the type of plant. (We provide instructions for all types of plants.) Most plants need watering once every 2-3 weeks.
With conventional potting materials, the only chance your plant has to get water only when you take the time to water it. That puts you on a demanding schedule that quickly becomes time consuming as your collection grows. And "when to water" can be a real guessing game, especially for beginners. With our system a water gauge tells you when to water and how much! What could be easier!

Won't my orchids be too wet with Hydroponics?

Your plants should not be standing in water all the time. The system needs dry out completely between waterings - allowing air flow through the root system.
Air moves between LECA pebbles as the nutrient solution is delivered to the plant. Because these pebbles are ceramic, they will never compact or decompose, preserving the air spaces (and air flow) to the roots.

What About Nutrients?

Just add nutrients to the water solution. The capillary propertires of the LECA pebbles delivers the nutrients safley and evenly to the roots. Always remember to avoid nutrients with urea as the nitrogen source. Urea is an inexpensive form of nitrogen that works well on your lawn outside but doesn't work for orchids or houseplants growing in a pot. More at: Nutrition for Orchids

What about salt buildup with this system?

Salts will not penetrate the surface of LECA pebbles. Their realtively smooth outer shell allows any salts or other impurities to be easily washed away. Throughly rinsing plants at the sink every couple of months will eliminate any salt buildup. This is another big advantage for hydroponics. The only way to eliminate salts from traditional potting mixes is replacing the old media with new.

Does Hydroponics Work for all orchids?

Any orchid that grows in a pot will benefit from hydroponics. Orchids that grow in the open air without pots, such as vanda's (called epiphites) are not suited for hydroponics however.

What size planters should I use?

I usually transplant into a pot that is one size smaller than the existing pot. Large pots hold to much water and don't dry out evenly. A good wet/dry cycle is important for healthy root growth (orchids don't like wet feet!).

Now for contradictory information (isn't that always the case with orchids?) The orchids you find most in stores are growing in 4" pots (pot size is measured by diameter of grow pot). However, these plants are usually pretty big so our 5" Starter Sets are the right size. If in doubt measure the top leaves tip to tip. If they're less than 6-7", a 4" Starter Set will work best.

Where is the best place to start with Hydroponics?

Start slow, using only healthy plants. Get aquianted with how our system works before attempting to rejuvenate sick plans. Our Hydroponic Starter Sets are where to begin. They have everything you'll need to transfer two plants. Then, after you (and your plants) are comfortable with hydroponics, move on to the rest of your collection. We're confident all your orchids will benefit from our system.

When is the best time to transplant to Hydroponics?

Orchids have three seasons; grow, bloom, rest. The best time to transplant any orchid is during the rest period after the bloom cycle has finished. So, if your orchid is blooming, wait until the flowers have faded away before transplanting. If your is not doing well and hasn't bloomed as it should - the best time to transplant to hydroponics might be tomorrow!

For more go to: FAQ's - Transplanting Orchids to Hydroponics

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