Re: growing epiphytes

Paul Temple (
Wed, 18 May 94 10:59:07 +0100

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I know this is a late response (and, embarrasingly, I always seem to
answer mails only to find similar answers when I read the rest of my mail) but ...

Ref Barry's mail 3 May 1994

>Also, after reading an article in the AOS bulletin, I'm currently trying
>out a another approach for species needing cool, moist environments. I
>took a small clay pot that has no drainage hole, covered the outside with
>fresh spaghnum (I have a large bog nearby), and filled it with water. The
>water slowly seeps through the clay, keeping the sphagnum moist and the
>surrounding air cool via evaporation. On this you can mount whatever is

Last time I replied there was a then "current" discussion about whether
or not Pings like to be kept wet.

OK, I keep mine wet but the truth is, someone who is "expert" with a
particular plant can break ALL the rules and get away with it while
beginners can not. So, in case my success with keeping Pings wet was a
reflection of some expertise I might have, I decided to experiment with
keeping them drier. The trouble was, since I use an automated bench
watering system, how do I stand the pots in water but keep the soil
damp, not wet?

Brainwave. (Now, in case you were wondering, you'll see the connection
to Barry's mail!). I went out and bought some clay plant saucers
(unglazed), which of course have no visible holes in them. I then
placed these in the water trays and stood my Ping pots in them.

| |
| POT |
| - - - - - - | | | | - - - - - - Water level - - |
| |__|______|__|Clay Saucer |
|__________________________________________Water Tray____|

As you can see, this is the exact reverse of Barry's mail, allowing
water to seep IN to the saucer but so slowly that it only moistens the
Ping, not soaking it. It works really well so far and even at !00
degrees F, the system has worked.

I've even tried turning the saucer upside down and the aucer stays
damp, so a plant pot standing on it might capture some of this water if
the plant pot is also made of clay (I use plastic pots to reduce algae
growth). This might be worth trying with something like Drosophyllum
which detests wetness but dies if dry (stupid plant - designed to fail!).

Alternatively, though I haven't been able to source any unglazed clay
plant pots without holes, if you can find them, I guess you could
dispense with the need for the saucer. Just plant the Ping in the pot,
stand the pot in water. Let the water seep in through the porous clay.

(Sorry if the picture corrupts - I've not sent diagrams before._)