Growing plants in vinegar could help them survive drought

It sounds—and sort of looks—like something out of a middle school science experiment, but according to a study done at RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan, a new and simple way to increase a plant’s drought tolerance is to grow it in vinegar……

Acetate-mediated novel survival strategy against drought in plants

Ghost Orchid Flasks (Dendrophylax lindenii)

I decided it was time to try something more challenging. So I ordered a couple of flasks of Ghost Orchids ( Dendrophylax lindeii ) on eBay.

The flasks arrived in a few days, everything looks wonderful.

I did have to break the flasks to remove the plants, not a big deal, wrap the flask in a towel and use a hammer.

After removing the orchids, I dropped them into a container of water with fertilizer and rooting hormone while I gently untangled them and removed the agar.

So far so good.

They are currently dispersed across 4 terrariums, worm castings on the bottom, sphagnum moss, then mulch, orchids are resting on the mulch.

For now I’ll keep the light levels low. The largest trick is to keep the humidity close to 100% and keep mold and fungus from killing the seedlings.

I use a light dose of fertilizer with rooting hormone to water my orchids, these included.

I’ve lost two of the ghost orchids to fungus, I’ve dispersed a few that didn’t look good into the carnivorous terrariums.

About a half dozen have grown their baby leaves, these two leaves are temporary and will fall off once the plants get settled.

Sept 12, 14
I admit to slaughtering most of the ghost orchids, of the half dozen to a dozen remaining most are showing new growth. They are in a large southwest facing window, in a not tightly sealed terrarium and I’m spraying them with water in the morning and evening.

Oct 6, 2014
These are tough, every time they start doing well, they start doing poorly a week later. I moved them from the southwest window to a spot under a bright LED which doesn’t get as hot in the afternoon. We’ll see how that goes?

Feb 2015
I killed all but one of the Ghost Orchids. The surviving one is floating on a piece of bark in a fish tank under an extremely bright light. So far it seems to be surviving.

Newly unflasked Dendrobiums

New try. After slaughtering the first two batches of dendrobiums I deflasked I decided to try another. This time the newly deflasked plants are being placed in an Aerogarden seed tray. It’s only been a day but so far so good.

Today (Aug 13, 2014) my order of Dendrobium Moschatum from eBay arrived. These were grown in a flask, unflasked by grower prior to shipping.

Much like cuttings started in water these will grow new roots to replace the ones they grew in the flask. For now they’ll stay in a terrarium to keep the humidity up. As they grow new roots and leaves I’ll start leaving the cover off eventually planting them up in pots.

I tried putting them worm castings and sphagnum moss in the terrarium and inserting the plants. They are so fragile now that wasn’t really working. I removed them and took each plant, made a ball of moss around the roots and inserted that into the terrarium.

I’m told newly unflasked plants do better when they are kept near their siblings? I don’t know, maybe so. These are closely planted in two terrariums sorted by plant size.

The terrariums have worm castings and sphagnum moss, they’ll be weakly fertilized with rooting hormone added as the terrariums need more water.

The biggest trick is to keep up the humidity but not let molds or fungus attack the new seedlings.

Aug 15th, leaving the cover off the terrariums for a while, the seedlings still look good, so I’ll start to harden them off.

Aug 26th, I’ve started leaving them outside in a mostly shaded area. So far I haven’t lost any plants. The stems are thickening up a little, no new leaves yet.

Sept 13th, all the orchids are still alive. They are not much, if any, taller, but the stems are noticeably thicker.

Oct 6, 2014 The seedlings are struggling and I’m not sure why. They are receiving bright morning sun, there’s a fluorescent lamp nearby, the cover is off the terrarium. The other newly un-flasked orchids in the container next to them are doing great.

Feb 2015. I killed all of these. Unflasking plants into pots is more challenging than I thought it would be.

But I have a new batch, they are in an AeroGrow garden, semi-hydroponic setup.

First Rays, semi-hydroponics for orchids

Nature’s Way Resources

I’ve heard John talk about soil, everything you ever wanted to know about soil he knows and if you get a chance to hear one of his talks don’t miss it.

Nature’s Way sells composts, soils, and every thing you could want for your garden and as of this season plants.

Today is the first chance I had to wander up and check out his nursery. It’s at 1488 and 45, on the east side of 45. 1488 is much easier than 45 if you’re coming from The Woodlands.

If you are looking for shrubs or roses it’s the best and largest collection I’ve seen in any of the local nurseries. While they also have a selection of perennials and annuals, it’s the shrubs and roses that make it worth the trip.

I’ve not run across a better source of information on soil and organic plant growing than the company website.

Blue is for leaves, red is for flowers

The tip of the leaf of a plant senses blue light and signals the plant to grow in the direction of the blue light.

The red glow of a sunset is what signals the plant when it is time to bloom. A plant kept in a dark closet can be signaled to flower with just a short flash of red light.

Plants use both blue and red light to feed themselves but slightly favor red.

Plants appear mostly green because they are reflecting most of the green light that hits them, it doesn’t get used by the plant.

If your plant is not growing well, try adding more blue light. If you’re not getting flowers try more red light.

Is Imprelis herbicide killing your trees?

The NYTimes is reporting that several tree deaths are being linked to the use of the new herbicide Imprelis.

Imprelis uses pyrimidine carboxylic acid (trade name Aptexor )
A recently approved herbicide called Imprelis, widely used by landscapers because it was thought to be environmentally friendly, has emerged as the leading suspect in the deaths of thousands of Norway spruce, eastern white pine and other trees on lawns and golf courses across the country.

Manufactured by DuPont and approved for sale last October by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Imprelis is used for killing broadleaf weeds like dandelion and clover and is sold to lawn care professionals only. Reports of dying trees started surfacing around Memorial Day, prompting an inquiry by DuPont scientists.

Read more at the NYTimes Story on Imprelis

There have been several reports from both outside and within the state of Michigan of herbicide injury on Norway spruce and white pine following application of the turfgrass herbicide Imprelis (a.i. aminocyclopyrachlor). Damaged trees have symptoms consistent with growth regulator type herbicides. Injury includes curling and twisting of new growth. Pictures and comments of damage observed in Indiana can be viewed at Purdue Extension’s Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory website.

Read more at the Michigan State Extension Office

DuPont is looking into this and recommends that you do not use Imprelis near spruces or white pines for now.

How much fertilizer do transplants need?

In hot humid climates nitrogen is always in short supply. If you, like me, also use pine mark or other mulches that break down rapidly there is even less nitrogen in the soil.

The plants you bring home to your landscape come from a well fed environment. To help them adjust keep up the fertilizer levels for the first six months. Two years later your plants will be stronger and healthier.

If you just use nitrogen as we often do down here the new plants may develop potassium and magnesium deficiencies. So be sure to use a good all around fertilizer.

The roots of container-grown ornamental plants primarily are concentrated within the original container substrate root ball during the establishment period following transplanting into the landscape. Plants growing in container substrates containing pine bark or peatmoss have higher nitrogen (N) requirements than in most landscape soils due to microbial immobilization of N by these organic components. However, use of high-N fertilizers, such as those used in container production of ornamentals, can cause imbalances with potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg) when used on palms in sandy landscape soils. Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) and chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘President’) that had been growing in containers were transplanted into a landscape soil to determine if high N fertilization during the establishment period could accelerate the rate of establishment without exacerbating K and Mg deficiencies. Although plants of both species had the darkest green color and largest size when continuously fertilized with high N fertilizer, this treatment did induce Mg deficiency in both species. Plant size and color for both species were highly correlated with cumulative N application rates, but also with initial N application rates, suggesting that high N fertilization during the first 6 months affected plant quality at 12 and 24 months after planting, even if high N fertilization was discontinued. However, continued use of a moderate N landscape palm maintenance fertilizer ultimately produced areca palm plants as good as those receiving high N during the establishment period.

Effects of Fertilization on the Growth and Quality of Container-grown Areca Palm and Chinese Hibiscus during Establishment in the Landscape