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You’ve undoubtedly seen the abbreviations S/H and Semi-Hydro searching through Orchid forum posts, not at all knowing what this means.
S/H and Semi-Hydro are simply an abbreviation for Semi-Hydroponics, a growing media that is non-organic or simply growing plants and vegetables without soil.
S/H is not a true hydroponic ebb and flow system, thus it is referred to as ‘semi’ or partially hydroponic.
The most widely-used media for S/H is expanded clay aggregate pebbles or rocks, where clay is actually heated to 2,190 °F (1,200 °C) until they take on the shape of popped popcorn. This process basically forms thousands of tiny bubbles creating a honeycomb form inside each clay pebble, which allows absorption of moisture and provides a wicking action when used in the appropriate “pot”.
This media is also known as LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate), Hydroton, Sponge Rock and Hydroponic Grow Rocks. Other media people use for S/H are Coco Coir Croutons, Course Perlite, Growstone, HydroBalls, anything that is porous enough to hold and wick water.
Orchids (or any plant) in S/H are planted normally in a plastic container with 2 holes approximately one inch (no lower) from the base of the container to act as a reservoir. Special drill bits allow these 2 holes to be drilled in glass and ceramic pots as well for more attractive containers. I got a little 'hole happy' playing with my new Step Drill Bit, and drilled 3 holes, which works just fine. Brand is Milwaukee and drills through plastic like hot butter without cracking the plastic. Do you see any cracks in the plastic?
Before using, the clay media is thoroughly washed to remove all dust and debris, and then soaked, at a bare minimum for 2 hours, preferably overnight in a diluted solution of plant food and even a rooting hormone such as K-L-N or SUPERthrive to help reduce the stress of repotting and to encourage the growth of new healthy roots.
How to Pot Orchids in S/H Semi-Hydroponics
When potting, place soaked pellets in ‘pot’ and fill to right above the 2 holes. Then hold your Orchid above the container as you would when repotting in a bark mix or other media. Start adding the clay pebbles and keep tapping the pot so the pebbles fill in all the gaps. Be sure to cover as much of the plant as possible. The clay pebbles act as wick, continually drawing up moisture to the roots and constantly creating a humid environment, without drowning the roots.
How to Water an Orchid in S/H Semi-Hydroponics
Once planted, water your Orchid in the sink using the liquid leftover from soaking the clay pebbles to the “fill line”, the 2 holes. Afterwards, place Orchid’s container in a saucer to catch excess water while returning your Orchid to its growing spot. When water level gets close to the bottom, water your Orchid slightly to fill the reservoir using a weak solution of Orchid food. You don’t even have to go to the sink for this. Once a month, flush your Orchid under the sink water to remove built-up salts from fertilizer.
Category: Orchid Media
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