Epsom salts

poseniteDecember 22, 2011

I was wondering if anyone here uses Epsom salts as fertilizer for your orchids. If so how much and how often do you use it. Also do you mix it with your fertilizer or apply it by itself? I have been having good luck with most of my plants but cannot seem to get my Lady Slippers to bloom. I have 2 Phrags.and 2Paphs. Any help would be appreciated.

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I have 2 types of plants, the backyard ones who get watered with tap water and the GH plants who get RO and special care. For the outside ones I add a handful of Epsom salts to a 80 gallon mix once a week. 2 major Cymbidium growers in our area do this, I just follow their lead. I have been doing it for many years so have no way of knowing if it makes a difference, some people definitely think so.

I would be careful when changing the routine for Phrags, Paphs also but less so. I'm sure it has no influence on the blooming pattern of your Paphs.


    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 9:34PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

Unless you're seeing signs of a Mg deficiency (chlorosis in old leaves), I doubt that Mg is the problem.

Also, if you're going to add epsom salt to correct a Mg deficiency, then ideally it should be added in small amounts every time you water. Using a large amount to make up for infrequent use can upset the Ca:Mg ratio creating an antagonistic Ca deficiency. I say this because oftentimes you'll hear suggestions like adding epsom salt at a Tbs per gallon, which is way too much. I would try something like 1/4 tsp per gallon, which is probably very close to Nick's usage.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 11:42PM
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Thank you both for your help. I probably should have made a separate post about the Lady Slippers. I don't think they have a defiency, I just must be doing something wrong. I'm about ready to throw in the towel.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2011 at 9:39AM
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Paphs can take a long time to bloom. 10 to 15 years for some of the larger showy ones is not unusual.


    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 2:04AM
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Agreed with penfold. You'll find Mg deficiency more in situations where you are pushing your upper light limits for the plants. In those cases many of the leaves will start to yellow out a bit. Not burn, but turn an icky green-yellow. Thats the only time I've really found ES to be of any use (and boy do they work!). Other than this most ferts should have sufficient Mg to not worry about supplementals like ES.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 7:33AM
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I do use Epsom salts just a couple of times a year. However, I think it would depend on what type of fertilizer you are consistently using. If you use Michigan state I wouldn't worry about it. I use Cal Mag alternately off and on but am not very scientific in my approach. I also use a bloom booster on my Paph's when they reach a point where they are producing new plants on the side to get the old plant to bloom. If I was using regular fertilizer I would give all my orchids a dose of 1/4 teaspoon Epsom salt per gallon every 3 months. I find dolomite lime added to my Paph mix or sprinkled on top of the mix can have an effect on bloom production. Also sometimes cooler temps can cause them to bloom. Look up each Paph on the web. Jay Pfal's orchid encyclopedia web site is amazing. If they grow on the sides of limestones cliffs or on rocks add a little bit of lime. Again, I am not real scientific about the amount. I just add a little dolomite to the top of the mix 2-3 times a year. Also you can find out if they need cooler temperatures. Good luck. Happy New Year!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 7:41PM
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Always listen to whatever Lowell says,he is a superior grower...and a good friend.

I use Epsom Salts also not on a weekly basis, maybe on a monthly basis. The Michigan State guy had said to one of our local growers that he always thought E.S. was very beneficial, even while using the Mich. St. product.gb

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 12:25PM
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Thank you all for your help. The maddening part of my lady slipper problem is that Three of my plants did bloom for me several years ago, so I must be doing something wrong since then. I use Dyna Gro fert. 1/4 tsp per gal.and rainwater occasionally. I'm wondering if I may have them in too large of pots. The plants are very healthy looking.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 8:44PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Which Dyna Gro formulation are you using?
Do you fertilize with each watering at that 1/4 strength dose?


    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 10:38PM
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westoh Z6

Change in light the last couple of years? Are the leaves dark green or light green looking? The first thing I always suspect when a plant isn't blooming is a lack of light...

FWIW: I add ES to my fert mix about 2 or 3 times a year, usually in the fall. I do a tablespoon per 2.5 gals of mix.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 7:15AM
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I am using DynaGro 7-9-5. I water with this for 2 or 3 weeks and then I use rainwater. The instructions say to use 1/4to 1/2 tsp. per gal. I don't think there is a problem with the lighting. I have 1 in an east window
and the others in a south window to the side. It may be the fert. I used to use Peter's 20-20-20 but when I was unable to find that anymore I went online and read that Dyna Gro is good. What do you think?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 3:39PM
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westoh Z6

IMO, fert is fert and not a whole lot of difference as long as it is for 'kids, I do use MSU though.

DynaGrow has a bloom booster, maybe try that for a few weeks. I believe an earlier poster stated that they used B/B when new shoots started, to get the mature growths to bloom.

That said, I grow several paphs (@20) and don't use a bloom booster and have pretty good luck blooming 'em.

Set them outside next summer with morning light.... You'll be amazed next fall/winter.

What type (species/hybrids) of paph/phrags are these? Depending on the type, the paphs may need extra calcium/oyster shell/egg shell/???...

Good luck,


    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 4:01PM
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These are the only tags I can find Paph. Pacific Magic ' Black Lagoon X Paph. Red Horizon ' red Zest'. Paph. Delenati'Easy Does It' Paph. Delenati 'Destiny' , and Prag. Fox Valley Fireball (Barbara Le An X Rosalie Dixler ' Fox Valley') I did put my LS outside last summer. However my lath house only gets the afternoon sun, but all my kids seem to love it. Thanks so much for all the help. I'm going to keep trying. Joyce

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 9:22PM
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westoh Z6


I'm familiar with the last two and I'm guessing the first is some sort of vini-color (dark red) paph. I don't beleive either paphs are the calcium 'loving' types so that should not be an issue.

How many growths? Getting new growths regularly?

I know the Phrag likes lots of pure water, I actually have a LeAnn x longifolium(sp?) in bloom now (very pretty pinkish flowers) and also a delantii in spike currently (nanner, nanner ;-) ), hoping to see blooms in the next week or so on the delantii.

The shaded afternoon light would be good, but I again go back to light or more accurately a lack of light. Where's Howard when we need him (for those forum old timers...)


    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 6:49AM
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