Doping for orchids?
In orchid books you can read again and again that organic components are often said to have a good effect on the growth of orchids. One inevitably thinks of the conditions of orchids in their natural habitat. There they live mainly on composted leaves, dust and other organic waste products from nature.
When cultivating plants under unnatural conditions (greenhouse, windowsill), the plant can no longer produce enough of its own defenses due to the resulting energy deficit (lack of photosynthesis). All power is needed for growth and reproduction. This means that diseases and vermin can no longer be effectively repelled by the plant.
In today's plant breeding, the excessive use of artificial fertilizers and chemical pesticides creates an environment in which predominantly decomposing microorganisms settle, which then often lead to rot and other diseases - and then to pests.
In both commercial and private horticulture, the current approval situation for plant protection products is slowly leading to a rethink or switch to natural healing methods in plant breeding.
Preventive plant protection is becoming increasingly important according to the motto: Prevention is better than cure!
Toxic substances never have a positive effect on the plants, let alone on the gardener.
There are now a variety of plant strengtheners on the market. Scientifically proven findings are often missing - on the other hand, there are positive experiences from various users.
Examples of plant strengtheners are:
Plant extracts, algae extracts, compost or humus (humic acid), rock flour, fermentation products, etc.
By activating certain metabolic processes, the ingredients can increase the resistance of the treated plants to pathogenic microorganisms and animal pests through induced resistance, or substances are stored in the cell walls (e.g. silicic acid) that make it difficult for fungal hyphae or insects to penetrate.
Tonics are distinguished:
on an organic basis (plant extracts, algae preparations, essential oils, animal origin)
inorganic agents (rock flour and the like)
Fermentation Products (Organic Matter + Fungi, Bacteria or Microorganisms)
With larger stocks of plants, it can make sense to produce your own tonics, the ingredients are fresh and you save money. However, the production is associated with a little effort. Almost all tonics have a fertilizing function at the same time. It should be noted that any over-fertilization (even with organic means) means a weakening of the plants.
The best plant strengthener is compost/humus. To produce it, take e.g. 500g mature compost (3 years) or worm castings and dissolve it in 10 l of lukewarm rainwater. The whole thing is allowed to stand for 24 hours and the whole thing is stirred vigorously again and again. Then pour through a fine net or cloth and immediately spray or pour onto the orchids in a ratio of 1:3-5, depending on the conductivity of the compost extract. The conductance and pH value of the irrigation water should be taken into account.
Compost teas have the same positive effects. These teas have triggered a real hype in recent years, especially in the organic cultivation of fruit and vegetables. It would go beyond the scope here to show all the recipes for making compost teas. A search on the Internet is therefore always worthwhile.
The application of compost extracts should be repeated every four weeks. The ingredients work against fungal infections and in the long term also against insects. Compost made from wine pomace has proven to be particularly good.
In the meantime, humus products based on humic acid or fulvic acid are also available as ready-made preparations.
Algae extracts have a similar effect, namely antifungal properties. These contain an unbelievable wealth of trace elements, amino acids, growth auxins, sugars, organic acids. In particular, the amino acids as the building blocks of life in connection with the trace elements and minerals have this positive effect and also fertilize the plant.
Good plant manure, which many plant lovers produce for their garden themselves, has a similar broad spectrum of effects. Plant manure almost always smells strongly. For this reason, they are rarely used in orchid culture today. Why should you possibly still bring putrefaction bacteria from the plant manure into your orchid culture?
Occasionally, orchids are also fertilized with guano or cow dung manure - but the many organic active ingredients are also opposed to the unpleasant smell here.
Another way of extracting ingredients from plants is through fermentation.
It is well known that sauerkraut, for example, has a much higher nutritional value than white cabbage.
Wine and beer are also subjected to a fermentation process. In Asia, orchids are still sprayed with beer as a foliar fertilizer.
During fermentation, bacteria, yeasts or microorganisms are added to the starting material, which convert the organic matter into plant-available substances at temperatures of approx. 30 °C with exclusion of air.
The microorganisms produce metabolic products such as antibiotics, hormones, growth substances, vitamins, enzymes (ferments), antioxidants, etc., which can also be absorbed by plants.
In nature, these processes usually take place in the soil. There, organic matter is destroyed by microorganisms and the like. converted to humus and thus to plant-available food.
In the hobby area, many organic materials can also be fermented through the use of Effective Microorganisms (EM).
Further information can be found on the website: www.emiko.de.
As a finished product of the fermentation, the agent VITANAL can be mentioned here, which is obtained from fermented press residues of wheat germs.
With the Waldleben preparation, plant residues from wheat, winter rye, corn and beet macerate are also subjected to careful fermentation by bacteria / enzymes.
The KANNE BROTTRUNK is much cheaper and available in almost every drugstore discounter. Here, specially baked wholemeal bread is fermented using lactic acid bacteria.
All fermented agents mentioned here have one thing in common, an extremely low pH value (around 3.5)!!!
After adding such agents to the irrigation water, the pH value and the conductivity should therefore always be measured.
Finally, the use of rock dust should be mentioned. The finest possible rock dust is dusted onto the damp plants with a powder sprayer or dissolved in water and sprayed onto the orchids.
The fine particles stick together the sensory organs of the harmful insects, which then look for other host plants. The leaves treated with rock powder become harder (silica is stored) and fungi have a harder time penetrating the leaves (alkaline coating).
The disadvantage of this treatment - the plants look unsightly.
For those who find it too tedious to produce these products themselves, there is a wide range of organic or biological products available today. Here are some preparations:
liquid plant extracts from various manufacturers
liquid algae extracts from various manufacturers
Amino acids: Aminosol, Siapton, conifer balsam (Neudorff)
Humic acid: LiqHumus, Fulvital
roots2 (mixture of all previously mentioned means)
Fermented products: Vitanal, forest life, pot of bread drink, beer
Biplantol (Homeopathic Remedy)
The preparations mentioned here are not magical, but they are capable of promoting orchid culture !!!
However, they can in no way replace careful fertilization.
The use of synthetically produced growth substances is sometimes seen critically in plant breeding.
The growth substances required for plant growth are usually produced by plants themselves. If these active or growth substances are supplied to the plant from outside, the excess energy could be used for growth or crop protection.
In nature, such active ingredients are constantly available to plants through the breakdown of organic matter.
Most of the organic active ingredients have been analyzed and synthetically "recreated".
However, the problem with using these “artificial” active ingredients is the correct dosage.
Growth substances are in particular auxins, gibbellerins and phytokinins
The drug "Superthrive" also falls into this active ingredient range - although the composition has actually been "secret" since the end of the 1940s, it is assumed that it consists of the growth substances NAA, triacontanol and various vitamins.