Some Help with Phrag. besseae

Discussion in 'Orchidaceae (orchids)' started by oberfeldwebel, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. oberfeldwebel

    oberfeldwebel Active Member

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    Dallas, TX USA Zone 8C
    Not quite a year ago I bought this orchid; wanting to branch into alittle more temperate (not so tropical) genera, it did alright until this spring I set it outside to take advantage of the rain and mild temperatures. Before I had a chance to bring it inside some bug decided to chew a line through most of he new growth. I'm not sure if that particular portion of the plant will over come that but I see a new bud at the base of last year's growth. I feel it's probably safer indoors so that's where I'm keeping it from now on.
    Does anyone have any advice for this species's culture. It didn't do much until I set it outside so obviously my indoor culture was lacking. I'm going to try distilled water rather than tap. I currently have it potted in coarse sphagnum. I've read that Phrag. besseae likes to STAY wet so that's how I've been keeping it. So sign of rot but here again....I fear poor or misguided culture may be hindering progress. I'd really like to see this plant bloom....
     
  2. PsyGuy10

    PsyGuy10 Member

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    Ober, Phrags are easy if you have room to keep them (they're big bruisers) as for the temps phrags should never go below 55F for more then a short duration, they bloom better in cooler temps but too cold and they'll slow down growth and get spotting on the leaves. bessae is also a water hog so you're right on track for the watering routine! i have my Phrag Giganteum in a clay pot with a mixture of fine/medium bark & lava rock so it'll dry out pretty quickly in hot weather which is why i have it in a tray of water so it stays moist all the time. if you decide to use clay pots (it's up to you) you'll have to water more often... but the roots will be stronger (for some weird reason lol) remember that phrags along with paphs hate dissolved minerals in their pots, so flush them regularly (by watering them as you do normally and then an hour later flush them with a volume of water equal to twice the size of the pot)
    and use 1/4 strength fertilizer weekly. Phrags like bright light: i keep mine in cattleya level and it seems happy.
    one thing to remember... phrags are SO VERY SLOOOOOW when they start a new growth... but then it's like omg it's grown over night!
    Good luck! and let me know if you have any more questions :-)
     
  3. oberfeldwebel

    oberfeldwebel Active Member

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    Thank you THANK YOU... I was beginning to think no one was going to respond. You've given me some hope with the "slow to start growing" bit. I can see three tiny buds for new growth at the base of the stems but they don't seem to be doing a whole lot. According to what you said I just need to be patient.

    It doesn't get very humid here so I'll probably stick to plastic on the pot. The lack of humidity is why I pretty much try to keep the medium wet but I may take your advice and mix some fine cypress mulch in the next time I re-pot. I've found cypress mulch is the best 'bark' for holding onto moisture and not floating away with waterings.

    I just had done with it and bought a Reverse Osmosis unit so the dissolved minerals are non-issue now.

    Cattleya light you say: No wonder it did so well on the balcony. Early this spring we got a decent amount of rain and humidity and cool (for Texas) temperatures, but that balcony gets probably 4-5 hours of direct morning sun. Unfortunately it's too hot out there it now. I've got an unshaded west facing window that gets about 6 hours or so of direct I already tilt the mini-blinds for an anthurium I keep there. Do you think that will suffice? Thanks again for all the advice. I've seen photos of these guys healthy and in bloom and they look very nice. I'm looking forward to this one becoming a specimen...
     
  4. arcticshaun

    arcticshaun Active Member

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    I haven't had much luck yet with my Phrag hybrid (not enough light). I think your on the fight track with RO water. I've upped the light on my P. Chuck Acker and it's starting to respond with 2 new growths. Even under the lights I find it hard to keep this orchid damp but I do keep large fans for air movement. When you bloom P. besseae all your efforts will have been worthwhile - it's a stunning orchid species.

    Shaun
     
  5. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    RO or rainwater are best, and definitely LOTS AND LOTS OF IT. These are water-loving orchids, and whenever I miss a day mine get all droopy and sad. I have a large collection of Phrags, but then again I'm blessed with high humidity so I don't have to baby them as much as you will. Mine grow in bark, and when I'm lucky enough to find them wild, they're on the sides of trees.

    However, as Shaun points out, it's well worth the effort when they bloom.
     

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  6. oberfeldwebel

    oberfeldwebel Active Member

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    No doubt, Shaun, thanks... I think I saw it in a pic somewhere online. I had never seen a 'slipper orchid' with that color and at that intensity. Needless to say I did some reading on it and managed to find one (on Ebay of all places). It was in pretty sad shape but it definitely looks like it's coming around. I now see three new buds swelling; two on the new stem that was eaten and one on the old one. Concerning moisture: The climate's fairy dry here compared to Canada or Equador so this may work better for me and be overkill for you but it's an idea. 1) I potted this guy in nothing but coarse sphagnum. Holds moisture really well without sacrificing aeration. 2) I'm using a cheap white sneaker shoelace to wick water into that medium. The pot's sitting in a plastic cup with the wick dangling in the water below. (never fear, there's air in there as well, i don't fill it very full). I flush it with water in the morning and then mist when i get home from work: by then the surface has begun to dry. I've got a ceiling fan going in that room all the time for air movement...

    lorax!! Equador!! - I'm jealous! You're in orchid wonderland down there... Phrags "growing up the sides of trees" **scratches chin** very interesting. Yet another case for adding alittle bark to my sphagnum. Thanks for mentioning that... all the pictures I'd seen suggested a purely terrestrial nature. I'm gonna hold off of course until the end of this growing season at least. I don't want to interrupt or shock the plant, it's been through enough... I want all three of those buds to become strong new growths... Lovely pic too, thanks for sharing.

    Gasps! Telipogon!! if only I could grow THAT here....that my favorite genus.... yeah Masdevallias are awesome I've got a M. peristeria in bloom and a M. infracta in bud....can't hardly wait fora couple of my others to come into season...
     

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    Last edited: Jul 5, 2009

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