Hydrotron in Jacksonville

Hydrotron is available again, and in the Jacksonville area!

Yesterday I intended to replace my Hydration substitute, Plant!t,  from a local supplier. Plant!t, as I discovered several years ago after Hydrotron was no longer available, has a significantly higher water retention capacity than Hydrotron.

Anyway, to continue, on a whim, I checked a couple of the listings for hydroponic supplies in the Jacksonville area, and was pleasantly surprised when I found Urban Gardens of Jacksonville, just off Edgewood Avenue carried Hydrotron in 50L bags for $33.95.

Upon arriving, I found Urban Gardens to be in a small, but packed, warehouse. Local orchid growers will find them of interest not only for Hydrotron, but large bags of Perlite, and net-pots as well. The good news is also that we no longer have to make the trip to the Orlando area for these supplies!

You can find Urban Gardens at: http://www.ugjax.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ugjax.

Their local address is 1185 Talbot Avenue, Jacksonville, FL
Google Maps at: https://www.google.com/maps/@30.3076691,-81.7146685,3a,53.1y,27.21h,84.26t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s-JMwtw723ybfkao8gNcxkw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Resources Discussed at the August 2015 Jacksonville Orchid Society General Meeting

At last night’s General Meeting of the Jacksonville Orchid Society, our “Panel of Experts” covered a broad range of topics. References for newcommers featured prominently. Following are several links that I’ve found useful.

http://www.orchidspecies.com – “Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia” – This is my first stop when I’m looking for online information about a particular orchid species.

http://orchids.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page – “ORCHIDS WIKI” – This is often my second choice for orchid information online and often fills in gaps that aren’t addressed by orchidspecies.com.

http://cattleya.wikidot.com – “Cattleya Source Wiki” – I recently came across this source, so only time will tell whether I continue to use it, but it has proven useful so far.

http://www.kew.org – The website of the “Royal Botanical Gardens” is rapidly becoming one of my favorite resources. While it covers flora in general, it also does a wonderful job describing orchids. Take a look – you’ll be pleasantly surprised. As an example, I sold a Dendrobium aphyllum keiki last night at the General Meeting. Searching kew.org yields http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/dendrobium-aphyllum. Take a look and you’ll see that not only is the origin of plant well described, but for our interests – its care and culture are well described as well.

http://www.hydroponicsgc.com – Grower’s Choice and Hydroponics store in north Jacksonville. Located in two Jacksonville locations (http://www.hydroponicsgc.com/locations.html), it’s easily accessed and sells both “Hydrotron” and “Plant It” in 50L and 45L (and smaller) bags at reasonable prices. Both products are small fired clay spheres with Plant It retaining moisture 3 times as long as Hydrotron (see “Replacing Hydrotron” in the January 2014 edition of the JOS “The Bulletin” – http://www.jaxorchidsociety.org/PDF/2014-01.pdf).
Don’t forget to search Google as well. It will often yield clues and information that other sites don’t provide.

Media Considerations – Hydrotron is Dead! Long Live…?

Since the summer of 2013 and earlier, the use of “Lava Rock” as an orchid medium has been actively discussed in the orchid community in general, and among members of both the Jacksonville Orchid Society (JOS) and Saint Augustine Orchid Society (SAOS).

My interest is a result of searching for a Hydrotron replacement after closure of the company that made the product for 27 years. In doing so, I’ve found two easily available replacements, Lava Rock and PlantiT, both of which I’m evaluating. There are other replacements available as well, but these can be found in the local area with Lava Rock being clearly the cheapest.

At this time, I’ve only heard of one person using PlantiT, which is available in Jacksonville at Grower’s Choice (http://www.hydroponicsgc.com). While I don’t yet have enough data, my initial assessment is that PlantiT, although smooth in configuration like Hydrotron, is far more water retentive than Hydrotron or Aliflor. In my own adhoc testing (decidely non-scientific) PlantiT appears to remain wet 2-3 times longer than a comparable quantity of Hydrotron. PlantiT is also far more dusty than Hydrotron out of the bag and should probably be washed before use. Unfortunately, while using PlantIt, I’ve already lost one orchid (a Cattelaya type) to rotted roots. Moreover, when examining the media I noted it was exceedingly wet, although the plant had been watered two days previously.

Regarding Lava Rock, Cortney Hackney and others report good results and I can make the same report as well.  In my case, both Dendrobia and Cattleya appear to do well with robust root growth under my growing conditions.  Successful use of Lava Rock with orchids is reported elsewhere on the Internet as well.  Tom of the Angraecums website (http://www.angraecums.blogspot.com/2013/08/lava-rock-as-potting-medium-pros-cons.html and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tkangraecums) reports generally good results with Lava Rock, but also notes that in larger pots (8 inches and larger) the center may be too water retentive.

At the moment, it appears Lava Rock has the nod as a replacement for Hydrotron in many of my applications. How about yours?