GT Orchid Focus GROW directions for use and FAQ's

Lucky, lucky orchids. Congratulations on choosing GT Orchid Focus. Originally formulated for the world-renowned Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. Home of the annual Kew Orchid Festival, which people travel from around the world to attend at the Princess of Wales Conservatory. 

But back to your new fertiliser. Coming up below are the full directions for use for GT Orchid Focus GROW. You'll see hoyas also mentioned in this guide, and will often see orchid fertiliser recommended in general by hoya hobbyists. Why hoya also? Because GT Orchid Focus is not just for orchids. It's also popular for other flowering plants with similar nutritional requirements to orchids. That includes the highly-addictive hoya, fuzzy african violets, calcium-loving peperomia, as well as flowering outdoor beauties including roses, azaleas, rhododendron, camellia and magnolia

GT Orchid Focus Grow directions for use

Choose your dilution rate to match your plant's needs...

Weak strength / light feeders: 

Dilute 5mls GT per 1 litre water* 

Normal strength / general maintenance: 

Dilute 7.5 (1 teaspoon) per 1 litre water.

Strong / heavy feeders / fast growers: 

Dilute 10mls (2 teaspoons) per 1 litre water.

*GT is already formulated for the 'weekly weakly' method. The advice you'll often see on forums and Facebook groups to dilute your fertiliser for use on orchids and hoya (as many are light feeders), does not apply when you choose GT and dilute at the light feeders rate. No need to dilute further. Just follow the directions. With no urea and no chlorides (more about both coming up), there isn't the same risk of fertiliser burn as other fertilisers.


How often should you use GT Orchid Focus?

To avoid irreversible deficiencies in immobile nutrients (such as calcium), it's recommended to fertilise with GT Orchid Focus every time you water. If you water more than once a week, add GT Orchid Focus to one watering per week.

GT is formulated for the 'weakly weekly' method, which doesn't literally mean you should use it once a week (although that is often recommended for orchids), just that you should fertilise with GT every time you water. There's more about the weakly weekly method here to read later.


Can GT Orchid Focus be used as a foliar spray?

Yes. Both Orchid Focus Grow and Bloom are formulated for, and make excellent foliar feeds. However foliar feeding is best used to supplement rather than replace root feeding. If using GT Orchid in conjunction with root feeding, the dilute rate is 3mls GT per 1 litre water. However if alternating between foliar and root feeding, not combining the two at the same time, use the light feeder dilution rate of 5mls GT per 1 litre water.


Which species are heavy feeders?

Most orchids and hoyas we keep in the hobby are epiphytic, requiring light but frequent feeding. The popular 'weakly weekly' method calls for a weak dilution every time you water. It's difficult to generalise because your own conditions and the rate and phase of growth of the individual plant differs, however there are some species considered to be heavier feeders than others.

In orchids, this includes Cymbidiums, Lycastes, softcane Dendrobiums and Zygopetalums. Like orchids, most hoya in general are not heavy feeders. Some growers list varieties such as polyneura and amicabilis as heavier feeders. Thinner-leafed hoya in general, requiring more frequent watering, and retaining less stored water (and nutrients), than thicker-leafed hoya, tend to be somewhat heavier feeders also. If in doubt, always start with the light feeder dose. 


When should you shift from Bloom to Grow?


Shift to GROW after flowering has finished for the season. If you don't know your plant's usual cycle from the grower or last season's growth, stay on GRWO until first sight of a spike or peduncle, or new buds on existing spurs, then shift to BLOOM. It's best to know your plant's cycle and shift to bloom before the first spike or buds appear. 


Why is a different fertiliser needed for flowering vs foliage?


Orchids and hoyas need the same 12 essential minerals, but the amounts required change depending on what stage of lifecycle they are in. The biggest nutritional variation is between mineral requirements during the vegetative phase (when growing foliage), versus the reproductive state (when flowering). 

Without all 12 essential minerals available, in the right amounts, at the right time, orchids and hoya may not bloom at all, or may produce fewer buds and flowers. Buds can also fall without flowering (bud blast), and flowers have a shorter life. 

During the vegetative phase, mineral requirements are not the same as the reproductive phase, requiring the shift from a grow to a bloom formula.

One key difference between Grow and Bloom is the nitrogen level, with foliage more dependant on higher nitrogen levels to keep up with the nutritional needs of growing leaves (the vegetative phase). It's easy to obsess over their flowers, but ignore the vegetative phase at your peril.

In fact, it's the care you give (including what you feed), when an orchid or hoya is NOT flowering, that can be the key to unlock successful flowering next season

The biggest secret to more orchid flowers, is more leaves
. Poor leaf growth, or a small or unhealthy root system, can stunt or even stop flowering from happening at all. Fertiliser plays a huge role in supporting a big, healthy root system and growing big, healthy leaves. More and bigger leaves means more surface area for photosynthesis. Think of their leaves like solar panels. With bigger solar panels and more of them, plants can create more energy to fuel flowering. And boy does flowering take a LOT of energy. 

Some, like Phalaenopsis, need to put on new leaves each year (during the vegetative phase), to promote blooming again each year (during the reproductive phase). Others like Dendrobium and Cattleya need to grow a new pseudobulb in the vegetative phase, as the source of next year's blooms.   


What makes GT Orchid Focus different from other fertilisers?


#1 Calcium

GT is a single-part, complete formula - including calcium - and provides the higher calcium levels required by orchids. No further supplementation is required to boost calcium levels when using GT. No guesswork needed to avoid over-dosing with calcium either, as too much can be as harmful as not enough.

Truly a complete orchid formula, which also makes GT suitable for others that share similar calcium requirements, such as hoya and peperomia. This is as big deal in the world of fertilisers, as it is for your plants (more about calcium coming up below).  

#2 Formulated specifically for orchids

GT provides only what orchids need, and nothing they don't. Also making it ideal for plants that share similar nutritional requirements to orchids, with hoya being top of the list. Unlike fertilisers that are also formulated for crops and vegetables, you won't find any extra minerals added for other plants, that orchids don't need. For example, there's no added sodium, beneficial for some C4 plants like celery, but phytotoxic for orchids and hoya, reaching toxic levels even in small amounts. 

#3 Includes all 12 essential nutrients 

There are 12 essential nutrients orchids require. Other, non-essential minerals are avoided, such as cobalt, nickel and sodium. These are added to some fertilisers to benefit to other plants, such as cereal crops and legumes, but are known phytotoxins, potentially harmful to orchids and hoya, even in small amounts.

#4 Free of urea

Urea is the most common nitrogen source in most fertilisers, but you won't find urea in GT. There's a reason most orchid fertilisers are urea-free. Urea is harder for orchids to convert into life-giving nitrogen, making it more likely to build up in the soil. As well as an increased risk of a nitrogen deficiency, un-used urea increases the potential of fertiliser burn, scorching roots and leaves. GT uses orchid-friendly (and hoya-friendly), nitrates for the nitrogen source instead.


#5 No chlorides

Potassium chloride is widely used as the potassium source in fertilisers, however is also the highest salt index of all common fertiliser ingredients. High salt index fertilisers are most definitely not good for orchids or hoya. High salt index ingredients result in the highest potential for increasing salts to toxic levels, which can scorch and eventually kill. Although avoiding chlorides benefits all orchids, this is especially important for the more salt-sensitive genera, such as thinner-leaf varieties. GT is free of chlorides, with no sodium chloride or potassium chloride. 

#6 Chelated minerals

[pronounced 'key-lay-ted']

The 5 essential metal minerals orchids and hoyas require are iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc and copper. In order for plants to use these metals, they need to be in a water-soluble form, called ions. 
The problem with ions is they easily react with oxygen and other ions, forming solids that plants can't use.  

Just having all 5 in your fertiliser does not mean your plants will get them. Which is where chelation comes in. The word 'chelate' comes from Greek for 'claw' which gives you an idea of how chelation works. Chelates are organic molecules. By chelating the metal minerals in GT, the organic molecules hold on to those metal ions, protecting them from reacting to oxygen or other ions. Once chelated, metal nutrients are kept unlocked and available for orchids (and hoya), to use. All metal minerals in GT are chelated.


How much calcium is in GT?

Unfortunately for calcium lovers like orchids (hoya and peperomia are on this list also), most fertilisers don't include calcium at all. However the few that do, only provide low levels and are two-part formulas.

GT is different. Calcium levels in GT Orchid GROW vary from 67ppm at the light feeders / weak dilution rate, to 101ppm at the general maintenance level, up to 134ppm for heavy feeders. The closest fertiliser available that we could find, doesn't actually come close when compared to GT, with an average of only 20ppm calcium diluted at their general maintenance dose. Don't stop at calcium being listed in the ingredients on the label. It isn't enough. Check how much calcium your orchids actually receive. It pays to check the label and compare (your orchids will thank you for it!).


Where can I buy GT Orchid in New Zealand?

From me here at Love That Leaf :) Shop GT Orchid Focus GROW here >


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