The Orchid Forum, for the UK and Europe (previously known as The UK Orchid Forum) • View topic - Cat Litter update
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 Post subject: Cat Litter update
PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 11:39 pm 
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I live in: United Kingdom (Wales)
My nearest city or region is: Cardiff
It's been two years since I potted some of my Phals in Cat Litter.

At first, they seemed to do really well, but one problem I've had is guaging when to water. Too soon and the roots start to rot. Too long in between and the roots get dessicated. The Cat litter seems to actively dry them out if it gets too dry!

In comparison with the Phals left in Bark, the cat litter subjects seem to have fewer leaves, and have produced fewer flowers too.

Because of this, I have now repotted them in a mixture of coconut bark and fibre from Ray Creek Orchids.

Some of the Orchids had really good root systems, despite only having a few leaves and a poor show of flowers, but I'm hoping that the new substrate will prevent the plants losing leaves because of extreme dryness It seems easier to judge the weight of the pot now and know when watering is needed :)

It's probably not the fault of the cat litter, most likely it's my inability to tell the best time for watering the cat litter pots. I find it easier to judge the bark pots.

I still have the same cat litter in my aquariums, and everytyhing is doing well there :D

Just thought I'd put my experiences, so anyone considering using Cat Litter has more info to make the decision.

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 Post subject: Re: Cat Litter update
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:56 am 
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What brands of cat litter can you use? Its the little red clay granules you use isn't it? I know Tesco used to do an own brand, but I'm not sure they do it any more.


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 Post subject: Re: Cat Litter update
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:10 pm 
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Interesting you say that the plants have good root systems in cat litter. I would have thought that being quite fine and very absorbent the substrate would have settled very quickly then compacted with each watering thus suffocating the roots because of lack of air coupled with no ability for the substrate to dry out.
I have heard of people growing in grit, but of course that is not absorbent and would allow good drainage. Some people grow in pure seramis which is a sort of halfway house being a bit absorbent but also allows drainage and air, therefore dries between watering.
An interesting experiment.
Richard


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 Post subject: Re: Cat Litter update
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:26 pm 
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I plunge the pots into warmish water, and the granules of cat litter start to shift upwards. No compacting as far as I could tell.

I have read of people leaviing the pots in an inch of water, but I wouldn't be happy doing this. Wales normally isn't warm enough to risk it.

The cat litter was bought from Tesco. Premium lightweight. I don't know which one it is now. It's non-clumping , if that helps ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Cat Litter update
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:32 pm 
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Hi Polly, If using coconut husk look to repot after 18 months, so date your labels when you repotted and then check the mixture and roots after this time. I say 18 months because I had some lose their roots in husk after I left them up to 24 months, lesson learn't, so check early so save any possible damage. Hopefully by this time the roots have done really well and want potting on anyway, that is the aim.

You may have a different experience than me but hopefully worth noting!

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 Post subject: Re: Cat Litter update
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:06 pm 
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Thanks for the advice Keith :D

Just catching up on the forum after a very busy 6 months.

I'll keep an eye on the roots and remember about potting on, will get supplies at the Orchid Fest in Sept - along with probably some more orchids :D

So far the orchids are looking great, most have re-flowered over the winter and some still in flower and all have new growth.

I find they don't need such a long soak in coconut husk, it rewets much more quickly.


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Polly

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 Post subject: Re: Cat Litter update
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:32 pm 
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Hi Polly! Yes will be in Wales again. I am gradually turning from husk to my own small grade bark with coarse perlite. Going to try some in bark and extra large perlite or sponge rock for some!
Regards

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