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Working With Compots


In principal and in practice, getting Orchids from compots into individual pots is generally simple, with just a few materials needed. Below you'll find information on how we deal with the task. Having "busted" thousands of compots, we use what we feel is an efficient system that minimizes shock and maximizes survival of young seedlings. Materials needed
The compots to be potted out. Obviously you want to work with only one species or hybrid at a time. Pots for the plants to go into, sterilized if used previously. You'll have to judge the size needed. Usually the pots will be 2.25, 2.5 or 3.0 inches. Regardless of the size of the plant, use the smallest pot the roots will fit into properly. Potting media. If using a bark based media, I'd suggest soaking overnight and rinsing well just before use. A dishpan, volume about 1.5 gallons. Physan-20 or RD-20 *** Superthrive *** Eye dropper. *** Optional and desirable, but not an absolute necessity. We feel the use of these products cut our losses due to initial shock. It's use by you is assumed in the instructions below. Butter Knife. Running water. How it's done
Water the compot(s) to be broken, even if you watered the day before. Let stand for 30 minutes. Add 1 gallon of tepid water to the dishpan. Tepid means it has no discernable temperature. It should feel neither warm nor cold. To the water, add 10 drops each of Physan and Superthrive. Mix. Pick up a compot, remove the tag and toss the tag into the dishpan. With the side of one thumb, press gently but firmly on the plants in the compot working your way all the way around the pot. With luck, this will have loosened the contents of the pot. If so, keep working at it until the plants and media can be removed in one mass. If it won't loosen, use the butter knife to crack the pot, assuming it's clay. Rap the pot with the heavy end of the knife until you have a crack from top to bottom. Repeat two more times at various places around the pot. Pull the pot apart and discard the pieces. Under running tepid water, upend the mass and wash out the media, using your thumbs to help. Remove as much media as possible taking care not to damage the roots with your thumbs. Using your thumbs, start to gently straighten the roots that are usually growing sideways around the inside of the pot. While you're doing that, try and work your thumbs towards the center of the mass, doing as little damage to the roots as possible. (Watering the pots and allowing to sit should have made the roots pliable enough to keep the roots from breaking) That done, identify individual plants at the edge of the mass and gently pull away. Note here that "individual plants" may have one growth, or may have two or three. You have to identify these so as not to destroy plants. Water acts as a lubricant, so do this under the running water. If you become "stuck" try a different spot, or even gently split the mass to get at the center plants. You'll find that once one comes loose, others around it are easier to work with. Be patient, wiggle gently, as try and use as little brute force as possible. The more overgrown a compot is, the more problems you're going to have. As each plantlet comes loose from the mass, place it into the dishpan with the water/superthrive/physan. When finished, allow the plants to sit in the dishpan for 15-20 minutes. Pot up, removing any dead roots as you go, and you're finished! You may want to set aside the smallest of the plants for re-compotting. We re-compot any plants that are obviously too small even for our smallest pots. For the hobbyist, this is a good way to accumulate material for trades! You'll undoubtedly reuse the same dishpan for other compots. Do not use the same water. Instead, dump the water out, fill to the rim with clean water and add 1/4 cup of bleach. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, dump and keep rinsing until you can no longer smell the bleach. Do this after each use. For aftercare, our protocol calls for allowing the seedlings to sit for 2-4 weeks in lighting conditions approximately 1/2 normal for all bright growing Orchids. This would be the Catts, Oncids, Dens, etc. Lower light plants such as Phals and Paphs, etc, can go into their normal conditions.
Copyright Venger's Orchids. May be published or redisplayed with permission only.

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