Fernando Rivadavia

Help with Pinguicula setup

217 posts in this topic

Hello to all,

During my recent travels in Mexico I realized that even in the wet season most Pinguicula species grow surprisingly dry (See my postcards 15-20 at: http://www.pinguicula.org/pages/pages_prin...%20field%20trip ).

This led me to think that Mexican Pinguicula would be the perfect low-maintenance plants for cultivation – especially for someone like me who spends more time on the road traveling for work than at home.

So after many years of mostly studying CPs in the wild but not cultivating any (or having just the occasional odd specimens at home), I am seriously considering putting together a Mexican Pinguicula wall, similar to Juerg Steiger's famous setup. For those of you who don't know it, check out:

http://www.pinguicula.org/pages/culture/JSteiger.htm

This is his simplified scheme:

Ping_setup.jpg

Does anyone else have this sort of setup? If water is dripping from the top, would the top racks be much wetter than the bottom levels? I wonder if this would allow me to grow wetter-loving species like P.moranensis near the top and drier species like P.agnata (or maybe even the likes of P.lignicola) near the bottom? Or maybe even experiment with species, placing them at different heights on the panel until I find which humidity level they like. And what would be the best options for watering from the top? Just poke regular holes through a pipe filled with water? Or maybe having several IV drips, which would allow me to regulate the flow of water. Any other ideas?

I’m also considering a water-from-the-bottom system, placing the Pinguicula panel sitting in a long tray with water. This would mean that the wetter-loving species would be near the bottom and drier ones near the top. The only problem is: what sort of absorbing material could I use on the panels in order to absorb water from the tray and how far would it travel up?

And what about soil? What are currently the most commonly used soils for Pinguicula? Is it still perlite/vermiculite?

Thanks to all,

Fernando Rivadavia

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Or you could just use a pot. ;)

-Ben

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Hey Ben,

Hahaha! Funny, but.. my little terrace is too small for a bunch of pots. And how would I get on & off my hammock?? ;) Plus a Ping WALL is much nicer than a bunch of pots, just look at Juerg's pics! :)

Best Wishes,

Fernando Rivadavia

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Hi Fernando,

Growing Pinguicula ? What a strange idea :lol:

I used to grow some Temperate Pinguicula on these dripping wall

drippingwalls2(LR).jpg

after having seen J.Steiger's wall in his home.

The tomato's greenhouse was these to keep enough air wetness around the plants.

The systeme of laths are perfect for the plants but you need to let some open areas to let the excess water going on the next laths and so on.

The media :

The media used is also very important : too light, the water will make it floating and going down. Perlite is a need to avoid for this reason. I can recommand a mix of calcareous media (I use supermarket cat litter), gravel (volcanic rock, could be pumice but not possible to find in France), and sand with vermiculite.

Maybe in Brazil you have access to rock wool and then could grow your plants in hydroponics (Laurent did it in Australia and had impressive results). He can tell you how to do it and I think, that will be easier for you.

The control of water is also very important : too much and the plants will

be removed from the soil. I used to do 1/4h of dripping each 2 hours. Aquarium pump are perfet for this use and a time home controler.

THe other problem is the seeds : the plants will set seeds and remove it everywhere. That was why J. Steiger cut every flowers stalk as soon as the flowers died.

UV was a big problem for temperate Pinguicula and that was the reason I stopped growing that way. Steiger is using UV lights in its greenhouse but it was too expensive for me.

As stated, the best will be to grow as hydroponics on rock wool : and use water with nutrients.

The following shop show in english all datas : http://www.hydroasis.com and may be in Brazil also.

rockwool-html.jpg.

You can do the dripping wall as weel

hydroponics.jpg

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Intresting setups - never seen ones like these before.

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Fernando

Hi. Long time no...

You can't use a tray system for a plant wall! The water will never climb high enough to be effective at the middle or top! You can use a tray to make the bottom wettest and then use that for the wetter loving species but you'll still need a drip system.

The problem with digging your own oles in the tube is that each hole will be a unique size. That'll effect the way the water drips. Big holes will take priority and so the wall below smaller holes will get less water. Dripper units are very cheap and will usually have regulators (taps) so allow you a bit more control - better but they're fiddly so it'll never be perfect! This allows you to try to give amore even spread of water. However, it'll mean you'll need all water to be filtered as drippers clog up easily.

Usually (some smart alec will tell me it isn't true), the holes furthest from the supply feed least water so one whole side is always drier than the other.

In theory, if the wall is in fact a set of shelves, then you can even out the moisture level in each shelf by lining bottom of each shelf with some plant water matting. This may increase dampness of the medium - I've never tried it (I did say "in theory"). If it does keep medium too wet, you can do same with less wetting by changing amount of mat used, in effect using a thin strip of mat as a horizontal wick.

Paul

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Hey Eric,

Thanks for helping out! I hadn't thought of the problem in using soil that floats, that would really be a major pain-in-the-a** if water is coming from the top! So perlite floats? And what about vermiculite? I never used these back when I used to grow plants.

I have heard of rock wool. I'm not sure I can get it here, but how could this be used in a wall system like Juerg's? The pic you sent apparently shows long pipes of a hybdroponic system. I have to admit though that it doesn't look half as nice as Juerg's wall... ;-) I'll wait for Laurent's input on this.

In Juerg's original drawing, he did show open areas between the shelves to let water through. So the shelves looked something like this:

___ ___ ___ ___ __

_ ___ ___ ___ ___

Stray seed would of course be a problem as well as possible native pollinators making all sorts of hybrids, but this is easier to deal with as you said (snip-snip).

But why do you say UV light would be a problem? I'm thinking that you're considering a greenhouse type setup, where the plastic/glass blocks sunlight, right? Because my city, Sao Paulo, is right on the Tropic of Capricorn, I was thinking of growing Mexican Pings outdoors without any cooling/heating. My terrace does not get any direct sunlight and is relatively cool. Do you think the eternal lack of direct sunlight would be a problem?

Best Wishes,

Fernando Rivadavia

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Hello Paul,

Thanks for your input! I agree that the water-from-the-bottom idea would bump into this problem of being too dry near the middle & top (depending on the height of course). But maybe if I use some porous material (like clay -- as in clay pots) and make a sandwich with sphagnum in the middle to draw up the water...

Look at the figure I included above. Imagine the back side is a plastic non-porous material while the front side is a clay tablet. I could fill the middle with sphagnum to draw up water. The "shelves" with Pings could maybe be super-glued onto the clay tablet (unless anyone has a better idea!!). I could even water from the top occasionally (to imitate a wet season), directly into the middle layer of sphagnum (that is, considering that the humidity would be passed from the sphagnum through the clay and to the soil the Pings are sitting in).

If not clay (maybe too heavy), then maybe a plate of fern or coconut fiber. That might be easier to obtain here. Andreas F. suggested I sprinkle such an organic plate with a calcareous powder to make it alkaline. Anybody else have suggestions of other porous materials that could be used?

I'm considering water-from-the-bottom simply because it would be easy to fill trays with water and not have to worry about unclogging or regulating drip system. Plus, it would be easier to move this setup around the terrace when cleaning, etc. (and maybe even get a little bit of direct sunlight).

The water-from-the-top idea complicates things exactly because I would have the sorts of irrigation problems you describe. Plus, I don't have a water tap in my terrace, so I would have to set up some sort of water reservoir at the top of the Ping wall. And hanging large volumes of water on a wall is not only cubersome but probably not very aesthetic (which is another important factor for me, in case anybody hasn't noticed... ;) ).

Thanks,

Fernando Rivadavia

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In such a setup I think it would be better to use a mix of sand, grit and gravel of different grades, rather than perlite or vermiculite.

It definitely doesn't float! :lol:

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just a thought.but is it feasible to have the setup of slats as shown but have small reservoirs or bottles or trays with wicks feeding say,3 or 4 slats each but placed on the side top middle and bottom ? maybe it wouldnt work but i thought it might rid the problem of certain areas of the slats getting to wet or dry.??

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That might help. But I'm actually hoping to get an unevenness of humidity from top to bottom (or bottom to top) so I can grow species with different humidity requirements.

Thanks, Fernando Rivadavia

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hi fernando,i think the setup is a great idea but is it because of space you need to grow different species so close to each other? why not just have the same setup for each species but a smaller number of slats? so you can control conditions for each without affecting the others

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OK - so if we assume water has to be from bottom, you definately do need a good wick. My guess is sphagnum would be best. I've tried using water mat before and it's no good when vertical. My guess is that clay will not help as it doesn't have enough capillary attraction to hoist water up the height of a small clay pot, let alone a "wall".

I can't remember what it's called, but as a medium you could think of using that hard sponge that florists use to stick plants in. It's usually green or grey (one's the type that holds water and the other rejects water). This has the benefit of helping attract water from any direction. You could literally build a wall out of a chunk and simply poke holes in it whereever you wanted to grow a plant. Lean it back slightly against a vertical wick of sphagnum (as a sheet). It's all guesswork - never tried it!

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I can't remember what it's called, but as a medium you could think of using that hard sponge that florists use to stick plants in. It's usually green or grey (one's the type that holds water and the other rejects water). This has the benefit of helping attract water from any direction. You could literally build a wall out of a chunk and simply poke holes in it whereever you wanted to grow a plant. Lean it back slightly against a vertical wick of sphagnum (as a sheet). It's all guesswork - never tried it!

It is called, "Oasis" floral foam.

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Hey Paul,

That sounds like a great idea! Anybody ever tried growing Pings on this? I wonder if it's alcaline or acidic? I could carve long horizontal grooves in substitution for the shelves in the previous model!

The only problem is that I'm not sure how much water it can draw (how high). Maybe that would depend on the thickness... I have a feeling that if placed in a tray, it would probably suck up all the water really fast and evaporate too quickly (thus maybe not good when I'm away from home for over a week).

As for the idea of having a few panels for species with different humidity needs, I was considering that too.

Thinking better about the water-from-the-bottom sandwich idea I mentioned above, with sphagnum in the middle, I thought of something... Why not have both panels made of an impermeable material like plastic (instead of one side made of clay)? I could carve horizontal holes along on side exposing the sphagnum sandwiched in the middle. These horizontal grooves I could fill with a shallow layer of Ping soil (whatever that will be), which would be kept humid because of it's contact with the sphagnum. I wonder if this would be best kept erect or leaning on the wall?

See scheme below...

Ping_setup_2.jpg

Either way, the above idea could also be a pure block of floral foam or even the foam sandwiched between 2 impermeable plates to keep evaporation to a minimum.

What are your opinions???

Best Wishes,

Fernando Rivadavia

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specific hydrophilic foam for floral will be perfect also.

You can also do as drawn with the top plate replaced by a garden grid that will let you put the plants in the square of the grid

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Hey Eric,

Interesting idea... But how would I keep the Ping soil from escaping? The plants would have to grow directly on the Sphagnum.

Thanks,

Fernando Rivadavia

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I have also thought of creating a sloping tiered shelf to grow some Pinguicula on, but have not done so yet.

By providing some plants of various Mexican species and hybrids to a local nursery (where I am friends with the owners), I have observed as they care for them in their greenhouse and water them with well water from their own well (very hard water, high in calcium). They also water, year-round enough to keep the plants moist between daily waterings. Plants kept in these conditions are thriving and only receive natural light, with much shading. In these conditions the foliage remains a uniform green color, even on plants that usually develop much color in stronger light. Seasonally they bloom profusely.

Combined with my observations of this atypical environment and my own experiences growing many of the Mexican Pinguicula species in my own artificial light conditions. I don't really know of any that require dryer conditions, as you mention. Natural environments are not always the optimal environment. Sometimes artificial cultural conditions can reduce environmental stresses, rather than increase them. Just because plants have adapted to naturally harsh conditions does not necessarily mean those conditions are better for them or essential for good growth.

If you feel the need to have different moisture levels on each shelf, an easy way to accomplish this is to use a sump, a pump, a timer, and 1/4 inch soaker hoses, with a manifold going to each shelf, with an adjustable valve for the soaker line on each level. The individual valves can control how much water is delivered to each level. The excess water can drain back into the sump through any kind of gravity filter you might prefer, such as a multi-layer sand/gravel filter. Or the sump can simply be used as a source for fresh, unused water, and the used water can be drained away elsewhere.

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Hey Joseph!

Thanks for your reply! Actually, the main reason whydryness ever became an "issue" here is simply because I realized that they CAN grow very dry in the wild -- which means they are the perfect plants for a constant traveller like me.

Not having grown much else other than P.moranensis & P.esseriana (~15 years ago), I was under the impression that some species need drier conditions in cultivation or else they'll rot. Is this not true?

Best Wishes,

Fernando Rivadavia

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In Australia, in Helmut Kibellis's greenhouse devoted to Mexican Pinguicula, he had a lot of brown heart death desease among its plants due to tray methods WITH high temprature even with a shadow on the roof of the greenhouse.

Laurent Legendre that was close to him told him to use 2 times per day (one in the early morning, the other by night) some sprinkler to wet the plants.

After doing it, he never had brown heart desease in his greenhouse.

That another way of growing pinguicula as automatic for worldwide travellers :wink:

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I have been growing all of my Mexican species and hybrids, very wet, for more than 6 years now. I rarely have a case of rot. I have an anti-nematode strategy; I use high levels of fluorescent light, fertilize with dried, powdered, insects, and use all-mineral media.

How I cultivate Mexican Pinguicula

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Hey Joseph!

Thanks for your input, I enjoyed reading how you grow Pings. It seems I had it all wrong!! :):) So you CAN keep Mexican Pings wet year-round? Or did I misunderstand you? You can actually keep species like P.heterophylla, P.acuminata, P.rotundiflora, P.immaculata, P.conzattii, P.cyclosecta, P.laueana, P.esseriana, P.gypsicola, & P.orchidioides WET all year long??

Please, somebody tell me Joseph is crazy! :)

I was impressed by your soil mix and powdered-insect theory! Too bad probably none of these soils exist around here...

Thanks, Fernando Rivadavia

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Hey Joseph!

Thanks for your input, I enjoyed reading how you grow Pings. It seems I had it all wrong!! :):) So you CAN keep Mexican Pings wet year-round? Or did I misunderstand you? You can actually keep species like P.heterophylla, P.acuminata, P.rotundiflora, P.immaculata, P.conzattii, P.cyclosecta, P.laueana, P.esseriana, P.gypsicola, & P.orchidioides WET all year long??

Please, somebody tell me Joseph is crazy! :)

I was impressed by your soil mix and powdered-insect theory! Too bad probably none of these soils exist around here...

Thanks, Fernando Rivadavia

Instead of Schultz aquatic plant soil, you should see if there is a granular cat litter product available of 100% mineral composition, without additives, preferrably fired so the granules do not readily crumble once the material is wetted. I have used such a product, in place of the aquatic plant soil, without problems.

I know my techniques may seem improbable to most growers of Mexican Pinguicula, who use traditional methods. However, it is true - ask Barry Rice, he visited here last month to see for himself. One comment he had was that he wished he had seen my collection and growing conditions 9 months earlier, before he had finished his book. He is scheduled to return to spend more time observing and photographing near the end of this month.

Of your list of species which may not appreciate being WET year-round, I am growing the following: P. medusina, P. rotundiflora, P. cyclosecta, P. laueana, P. esseriana, and P. gypsicola. Some of the others I am also growing are: P. macrophylla, P. debbertiana, P. jaumavensis, and P. hemiepiphytica.

After hearing epbb tell of success controlling "brown heart" disease using overhead watering, I think I shall tinker with adding that to my technique. Hypothesis being the leaf secretions may have a beneficial effect on the root environment of the plants. I do try to wash some of the applied powdered insects down into the crown of the plant, perhaps that effort already accomplishes this purpose as well.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

In describing my own growing techniques, I am not, in any way, attempting to imply that other techniques are invalid, I have no doubts that other growers are able to keep these plants growing well, under quite different conditions than my own. I am simply describing the conditions that have worked best for me.

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Hello Joseph,

Of your list of species which may not appreciate being WET year-round, I am growing the following: P. medusina, P. rotundiflora, P. cyclosecta, P. laueana, P. esseriana, and P. gypsicola. Some of the others I am also growing are: P. macrophylla, P. debbertiana, P. jaumavensis, and P. hemiepiphytica.

I don't understand. Do you grow these species wet year-round or not?? If not, what do you do in the dry season?

Take care,

Fernando Rivadavia

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