10 Mistakes A Beginner Makes

By Dave G. (Strepbystrep) on May 30, 2014

1. Buying a strep! We all know it's like eating a Lay's potato chip, you can't only have one!

10 Mistakes A Beginner Makes

1. Buying a strep! We all know it's like eating a Lay's potato chip, you can't only have one!

2. Growing AV's. Once you have seen how fast a streps grows and blooms, you understand why AV growers refer to them as "weeds." They grow like one!

3. Refer to reason #2. You wonder why you ever grew AV's in the 1st place!

Now that we got the less serious mistakes covered, let's go onto some more common mistakes beginners tend to make.

4. Watering. The most critical factor in growing streps. Though they are related to the AV, in general streps like their soil a little lighter than an AV. I suggest 60% perlite to 40% peat. You may alter this ratio once you get to know your conditions better but start here. It will give your strep the best chance to grow successfully.

Soil conditions which are too wet is ideal for rust (a orange looking fungus) and crown rot to occur. Always let plants dry slightly between waterings. Not sure? Stick your finger into the mix about 1/2-1". It feels damp do not water, if it feels dry, water thoroughly. You can use a sharpened pencil as well. Use the same principle as above. Damp pencil - no, dry-yes.

Water once every month with water only making sure it flows freely through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Then place them on several folded pieces of paper towels to finish draining. This reduces the amount of salts that build up in the soil which over time will kill your plant.

5. Temperature. 65-75 degrees is ideal. Streps will tolerate lower temps, however, growth will tend to slow at 60 degrees. Streps will also tolerate temps above 75 degrees but will tend to sulk above 80 degrees. Above 85 degrees for a prolonged period of time can/will prove fatal.

The key here, especially when plants are grown in the upper ranges is a night differential of around 10 degrees lower than day temps. This gives your plant a chance to replenish and rejuvenate. Think about it, if you are constantly stressed, are you going to preform your best without decline? The same goes for your plants.

6. Grooming. Keeping your plant properly groomed will reduce the odds of fungus or pests from gaining a foothold on your plant.

Always remove spent flowers. By doing this you channel the energy of the plant to produce growth and more flowers. Also, pests love to hide and feed on spent blooms before moving to healthier parts of the plant. Botrytis (gray mold) tends to develop on declining or decaying flowers and spreads easily. Best prevention is to remove flowers past their prime.

7. Repotting. As critical as watering is to success, a close 2nd is potting of your strep. Repotting your strep every 5-6 months will ensure a healthy and happy plant.

When you receive your strep plant from whatever source, resist the urge to repot for at least 2 weeks. I recommend isolation from other plants in case there are pests. You don't want to spread a problem!

Give the plant a chance to adjust to your growing conditions. Many times plants come from different parts of the country or a greenhouse and the environment will be totally different.

When you go to repot there are 2 things to remember. 1st, do not over pot! Unless the plant is extremely large, move up 1 pot size. Example, plant is in a 2" pot. You would in most cases put the plant into a 3" pot. You should seldom use a pot that is larger than 4”.

2nd, never pot the crown deeper than in it's existing pot. In fact, keep the crown slightly above the soil line. This allows air to circulate around the crown and reduces greatly the chance of crown rot.

8. Fertilizer. I would put this as 3rd on the list of critical errors. Many beginners have grown AV's previously before growing streps. They have been taught a blossom booster is a excellent way to increase bloom. While this will work for the African Violet, it is a DEATH SENTENCE to a strep.

Why, you may ask? Phosphorous, the middle number (ex.10-50-10) is poisonous to streps in a large concentration over time. Use a balanced fertilizer (20-20-20) or something similar. Many growers use a urea free fertilizer made by Better-Gro. Better-Gro for orchids comes in a green label and the ratio is 20:13:14. Personally, I use this fertilizer with great success.

The key to fertilizing streps while keeping leaf tip dieback down is to feed weakly, weekly. Streps are heavy feeders but like weak amounts of fertilizer more often. For the beginner, start with 1/4 strength to manufacturer directions 1x per week. It is far wiser to give less than more. The plant has a much better chance of success and the build-up of fertilizer salts will take longer to occur over time. If you forget to fertilize one week like I do, no big deal. These plants are forgiving!

9. So now your addicted. What next? Feed the addiction! There is no cure or turning back, so you might as well enjoy the high. There are much more expensive, destructive and frankly less rewarding addictions out there.

10. Welcome to the world of streps! You are now a member of a movement that is growing daily. Once you have gotten your feet wet and some experience, you will graduate to the next level of strep growing, an ENABLER! This is the highest calling, and one to be proud of. You are carrying the torch to help others come to know and enjoy these wonderful plants. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, GREAT JOB!

 

Dave

Related articles:
Beginner, culture, strep, watering

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Thankyou gardengus Jun 29, 2014 2:13 PM 6
Streps Audrey May 31, 2014 10:43 AM 4

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