An update on my orchid collection in semi-hydroponics as of August 2017

Note: In this video, I accidentally refer to No.18 as a “Bulbophyllum,” but meant to say “Zygopetalum”

Orchid Collection by Number:

1. No ID Phalaenopsis
2. Haw Yuan Gold Cattleya
3. Aloha Sparks Halloween Wilsonara
4. No ID Oncidium
5. No ID Phalaenopsis (Passed 08.13.2017)
6. Hawaiian Kapuna Paphiopedilum (Passed 08.09.2017)
7. To My Kids Dendrobium Nobile
8. Mystic Maze Banfieldara
9. Mom’s Keiki Phalaenopsis
10. Mother’s Day Phalaenopsis (Passed 08.24.2017)
11. Mendenhall Hildos Psychopsis
12. Ox Lottery Prince Phalaenopsis
13. No ID Phragmipedium
14. No ID Phalaenopsis
15. Sogo Yukidan Phalaenopsis
16. Dapper Dots Catasetum
17. Betty May Steele Carmela Ascocenda
18. Zygopetalum
19. Bulbophyllum Fascinator
20. Bulbophyllum Ambrosia
21. Pinocchio x Lowii Paphiopedilum
22. Maxillaria Tenufolia
23. Kristen’s Phalaenopsis (Passed 08.13.2017)
24. Miltonia Sunset
25. Epidendrum Green Hornet
26. Aliceara Stellar
27. Phragmipedium Memoria Maritza Rolando
28. Mini Cattleya Purple “Blue Hawaii”
29. Eulophia Petersii
30. Cypripedium Acaule
31. Oncidium Wild Willie “Pacific Bingo”
32. Clowesia Rebecca Northen “Grapefruit Pink”
33. Dendrobium Tangerinum

Products Referenced:

pH Down:


Relevant and/or Referenced Videos:

The Pseudo-Repot:

July 2017 Orchid Collection Update:

June 2017 Orchid Collection Update:

May 2017 Orchid Collection Update:


My System Explained:

Glass Pots:

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Root disease otherwise known as Pythium is a fungus that is present everywhere. Pythium is a fungi with a viral tail, so it has unique qualities in that it can stay inside of plant material. Whenever the plant gets wet, it can come out, breed, and reinfect the plant material. This is most common in recirculating water gardens.

The only way that we typically experience root disease in a drain waste garden is if we’re overwatering; otherwise we do not have problems with Pythium in drain waste gardens. In general, we are fighting Pythium when we are in a recirculating water garden.

Reservoir temperature is very important in controlling Pythium. It shouldn’t be above 65 degrees. We definitely do not want to drown our plants or we need to expose them to adequate amounts of air in the root zone so they have their own resistance to this disease.

How can we tell if we are dealing with root disease? One of the immediate ways to pay attention to this matter is to record water consumption. If we chart how much water our plants are drinking, we can start to see that our plants are drinking more and more water as they move into the peak flowering cycle. This is what we want to see: the more water our plants are drinking, the more food they’re eating, the healthier they are, the bigger the yield we are going to get.

If we notice that water consumption is slowing down, food consumption is slowing down, then we know our root zone is starting to become compromised and we have to take steps to get this under control.

In general, we would use a root disease preventative to stop us from getting to the point where we are experiencing losses in yield. However, if we have not been using a root disease control and we start to notice a reduction in water consumption and nutrient consumption, we have to take this matter very seriously and begin some series of rapid nutrient solution changes to remove the decaying root matter from the root zone. This is the substrate that the disease brings on, so we get it out of the system and generate new root growth, so we can get back on track towards achieving a maximum yield.

Working in the garden creating a healthy harvest provides you with a sense of achievement and feelings of success. When working with plants and hydroponic systems there is wide variety of products each designed with a specific purpose.

Hydro Select creates videos on all the products in the industry to create a resourced based website that allows you to see products tested and opened so you can learn and expand your gardening knowledge prior to making a purchase.

Gardening is a passion for many of our customers. We believe the escape into a garden can be a great stress reliever.

If you have video or a product you would like to have reviewed by one of our experts please contact us at

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August 2017 Orchid Collection Update: Semi-Hydroponics

About The Author


  • Alex Curtis

    I think the overuse of your antibacterial treatment is causing a tonne of the issues you have. Mould and bacteria are usually in balance with each other, when you strip away the bacteria, the mould takes on new strength. It's the same in the body, antibiotics often stimulate Candida or athletes foot or thrush etc. It's also causing issues with your roots ability to uptake water and nutrients and also shocking the orchids. Like I've said in previous comments I'd maybe use hydrogen peroxide if there's some rot issues but that's it. These things have evolved alongside bacteria and viruses and have become good at living in harmony with them. It's only when they become sick from not being able to get nutrients or overwatering etc that the problems occur. It's like in a garden, people who use pesticides really are creating a lot of problems for themselves as it kills every not just the pests. It kills the predatory creatures that eat the pest and the pest always come back with a vengeance whilst the Predator has a slow gradual return. Let nature do what it has always done. Taken care of itself 🙂

  • Alex Curtis

    A little piece of advice is if you download a light meter app on your phone. Especially for phals I find people don't give them enough light. They want around 15,000 lux. Your phone app may not be calibrated and that accurate but it will give you a good idea. One of my phals actually get maybe an hour of direct light off to the side of my window and has really nice bright green leaves. You can see it in my latest video. Worth considering for sure as obviously sunlight is the energy source for the plant to put out new growth. I have one Phal in my bathroom which actually gets direct sun but through a net curtain for a few hours a day and again it's doing really great after my mum nearly killed it with neglect

  • Linda Festing

    Love your videos! Where in Colorado are you? I'm up north by Loveland. Small world. How often are you going to fertilize with the Dyna-Gro? I just ordered some.

  • haccprof

    Hi Michael, New subscriber here and think your videos are wonderful. You may also want to consider using ProTeKT and KLN from DynaGro.

  • Christina Fabian

    For marking my plants I use Scotch tape and a Sharpie. It stays on really well but also comes off really easy and cleanly when I need it to. You could also try window clings. I really enjoye watching your channel. thank you for all the great information!

  • Lew Paul

    Sometimes new media has to go through a mold cycle, which means that it will eventually go away on its own. My understanding is that as long as the molds are just the fuzzy white mold then you should let it go through its natural mold cycle.

  • Andrew McGinnis

    HI Michael,

    I think it's more likely that the physan 20 is either directly toxic to the orchids in some way, or it kills off beneficial microbes that would have otherwise competed with pathogenic microbes. Without the beneficial microbes, maybe pathogenic microbes have an easier time attacking living tissue on the orchids?

    This^ as opposed to a situation where the beneficial microbes are necessary for the uptake of nutrients. They may have some role in nutrient uptake, but if you think about it, orchids are started in sterile nutrient rich agar (so no microbes to aid in nutrient uptake, and very little nutritional content in the orchid seeds since they are so tiny).

    Maybe you can experiment with a more targeted/narrow spectrum algaecide instead of physan 20, if such a thing exists? There is a product used in freshwater planted aquariums called Flourish Excel that provides extra carbon for plants to use, but it is also very effective at killing some types of algae. Maybe there is a way to use it with orchids in semi-hydro?

  • Renee Jolley

    LOVE that Roomba! My 'Sweepy' has been known to start up if my one hooligan cat jumps on it – he's also been know to 'escape' & proceed to clean our back deck, if I forget to set up one of the virtual walls!
    Anyway – will be interesting to see the result of the urea v. non-urea experiment. I found a container of orchid food in a cabinet & HAD to look – urea based. Considering just tossing it. Currently using MSU formula. As for the Bulbos, I have several & some are going like CRAZY & others just meh…. How about contacting Bulbo guru, Bill Thoms on them? I've adapted his 'wetter longer' on a couple of mine – one which is ready to overrun my house, but the other is a bit pauly – while it has new growth, its slow.

  • plantcrazed101

    Hey Michael! I use white electric tape and permanent markers for all my plants. Nearly water proof, also the tape is easy to peel off and re apply when repotting 😉

  • TD Moore

    I'm no expert but i have a couple of my Eplc in semi hydroponics…one i've had in semi for 3 years the other i just put it in…i've NEVER changed the media nor have i felt the desire to flush my leica beads…sure there is algae growing but it has never affected my growth in fact my plants have continued to grow in size and bloom yearly..i don't really feel the need to flush my plants since in theory when you top the plant off with water it is flushing it because it is going out of the holes in the bottom…so it is flushing..and honestly i don't think you want to completely flush it…the fertilized water you provide it are really the only nutrients the plants is getting and i've been told you should fertilize with each water to replenish the nutrients since they are getting none from the leica…my feeling is you are still very new to orchids and are still experimenting with what works best for you and in that process we all lose does take a while to figure the sweet spots within your environment which accomodate the plant best..culture..positioning …good luck with all of your orchid growing journey 🙂

  • Penny Reagan

    Hi Michael!
    I noticed it appears you have drilled your own holes in different glass containers for the semi hydroponics.  I am just on the verge of trying semi hydro and wondered if you would share how you drill these holes, how many, placement, etc.  I only have phals at present that have been thriving in full water culture.  I am considering the switch with the clay media.

  • Al C

    The phals can be a nail biting transition! Last year I tried 10 phals straight from traditional media with bad, broken roots and it was horrible. They were not growing new roots, they were kept too cool and ultimately I lost all the roots. This year, I grew their roots back in moss until they were a decent length with a nice growing tip and have put them back into semi hydro. They are flying. There are no old roots to rot, just the nice new ones. They are meandering through the LECA, attaching and growing towards the reservoir. Additionally the leaves are stranding upright – very stiff and hydrated! They are kept wet and I keep the reservoir full. I concluded from this that it is not that the orchid doesn't like S/H but old phal roots are just a bit hopeless in S/H generally and that timing is everything. I was encouraged by these and have moved my other phals that were established in bark. Once again – some are being a bit slow to convert. For these, the end point will be full semi hydro too but I think they just need a soft transition with a bit of drying until they are ready to pump out the shiny new roots. As soon as I see a flush of roots I'm going full steam ahead!

  • john mason

    Good Morning Michael!. Congrats on making the mental switch to DynaGrow and pH down. I think it's a good choice. Check the DG label for Mg content, if it doesn't have any a pinch of epsom salt per gallon, like maybe 1/8 tsp /gal will supply enough. pH down is phosphoric acid and a much more reliable pH adjuster.
    Now excuse me being critical and maybe a bit harsh. It seems that you approach growing these plants as a decorative thing. Orchids are a living thing not an architectural decoration. They live in conjunction with microbials, some good and some bad. A healthy orchid will fight off most attacks and a stressed out orchid will secumb to an attack. Monthly treatments with physan is nuking any eco system that may have developed. Repotting is a stress. Both expose the plant to a drastic change that it has to adapt to. I understand the desire to intervene when you percieve a problem but they need to be given a chance. They are alive, have an immune response and a desire to survive and given a chance they will. Intervention is sometimes needed, the trick is when to intervene and when to let it be. Panic is usually the worst option, take time, think it through before acting. As far as the mold, it is a symptom rather than the source of the problem in almost all cases. The mold may or may not be bad, often it is a transitional species and will go away on it's own and be replaced by another bacterial/fungal. If you want a treatment that is not harmful to beneficials, or at least less harmful there is always neem oil, but be warned it smells awful.
    One thing I always say about orchids is that when there is a problem look at the roots most issues are symptoms of root issues, aside from obvious things like too much sun. Some of your plants seem to have root issues, your phrag in bloom looks like it to me although I don't grow phrags, and dead roots are food for mold. Good/bad? Neither, it is just mold doing what it does, the rot on the crown of the plant may be, looks to me like, a systemic infection. Danny has cut open psudobulbs to show such infections. BTW, there are hydroponic enzyme products that decompose dead tissues, roots, although I have never used one I have heard good things about them.
    Sorry if I was harsh in my assesment

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