Wet vs. Dry Growing Phragmipedium Species

Unlike the moisture sensitive Paphs, which will quickly succumb to root rot if the medium is subjected to any prolonged period of wetness, many Phrags thrive on abundant water. During the wettest part of the year, Phrags such as longifolium, pearcei, and sargentianum survive for days or longer completely submerged in flood water.

It is exactly this water tollerance that makes Phrags perfect for quasi-hydroponic culture, although my method does not provide a growing medium anywhere near as wet as I have described above. It does, however, provide constant moisture and access to water, which helps many orchids reach their full growing potential.

Not all Phrags are terrestrial, however, and not all of them are water tollerant. The species listed in the "Dryer" section below are not well suited to quasi-hydroponic culture.

I provide the following list as a quick reference for those of you who decide to try my system of growing, or who are just curious about how much you should water your Phrags. This list is not definitive, and will be updated as new information becomes available. Keep in mind that the Phrags in the "wetter" category do not all tollerate water equally well ! When time allows, I will attempt to subdivide the "Wetter Growing" group into "wet" and a "quite wet" subgroups. I do believe that they are all well suited to quasi-hydro culture as it has been described on this website, but experimentation may be required for watering times for different species.

And now, the LISTS:

Dryer Growing:
Phrag caudatum
Phrag exstaminodium
Phrag lindenii
Phrag wallisii
Phrag warscewiczianum
Wetter Growing:
Phrag besseae
Phrag boissierianum
Phrag caricinum
Phrag christiansenianum ?
Phrag czerwiakowianum
Phrag d'alessandroi
Phrag dariense ?
Phrag ecuadorense
Phrag fischeri
Phrag hartwegii
Phrag hincksianum ?
Phrag hirtzii
Phrag kaieteurum
Phrag klotzschianum
Phrag kovachii
Phrag lindleyanum
Phrag longifolium
Phrag pearcei
Phrag reticulatum
Phrag richteri
Phrag roezlii ?
Phrag sargentianum
Phrag schlimii
Phrag vittatum
As mentioned above, this list is a work in progress. The "Wetter" species that are RED and followed by a "?" are unverified at this point, but an assumption has been made according to the phylogeny of the species, or hints and clues from reliable sources.

For example, Phrag longifolium is well known to be water tollerant, but I haven't found any information about Phrag dariense. But since dariense has long been considered a variety of longifolium, I am currently making the rash assumption that they grow under similar conditions. If any of you can verify the placement of a RED species in its category with a citation or substantial personal experience, please let me know.

Treatment of Hybrids

As a general rule, hybrids in which the parents both within the "wetter" category can also be grown in quasi-hydro. The major difficulty is with the long petaled hybrids, since many have Phrag caudatum or a similar "dryer" growing species in their lineage. There doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rule for these. Some of them do quite well in quasi-hydro, like my Phrag Chuck Acker, which as a wallisii as a pollen parent.

On the other hand, my Phrag Demetria x besseae did quite poorly (indeed, it is struggling for life at this moment), even though it is 3/4 "water loving" (the besseae and the sargentianum in the Demetria). Further testing will be necessary, but it does appear that the hybrid will be more likely to thrive in QH if the pod parent was in the "wetter" category.

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