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(Much) More on Superthrive

  • Subject: (Much) More on Superthrive
  • From: "Jay Vannini" <interbnk@terra.com.gt>
  • Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 23:58:01 -0500 (CDT)

Several comments on this rather vexing stuff:

This product has been touted "a viva voz" by the orchid and carnivorous
plant communities for years - I do use it (somewhat shamefacedly, I will
admit - it's kinda like a rabbit's foot in smelly liquid form) because it
DOES SEEM to improve plant growth, although I do suspect that the better
grades of kelp juice are probably much closer to being a "real" plant tonic.

I had already been over this with Dewey off-list, but to repeat myself - I
agree that the ingredients are no big secret, and wud add that I suspect
that beyond B1 and indolebutyric acid (IBA), I believe that it also contains
trace amounts of giberillic acid (GA3) in it. Anyone who has played with
auxins and giberrilins knows that quite miniscule amounts can produce
visible results (often quite quickly) in SOME plants at CERTAIN stages of
development. It is fairly common lore amongst orchid growers that excessive
use of Superthrive will generate crippled blooms and floral chimeras. For a
lark, I treated a large, healthy Cattleya hybrid (repotted in 1999) with 5-6
drops x gallon of water on and off throughout the second half of 2000 and
the first part of this year, while another division of the same plant got
none. During April of this year both pieces of the original plant flowered,
and the Superthrived division had more than half of its flowers deformed
(columns fused to labellums, peloric petals, no column, no petals, etc.).
The untreated piece flowered quite normally. This is the first time that
I've actually "experimented" with this stuff, but it is not the first time
I've had floral abnormalities surface following injudicious applications of
this snake oil to orchids. These results do not jive with the counterclaims
by some skeptics that it produces NO effect on plants.

In contrast, Robert Cantley of Borneo Exotics, a big Nepenthes grower in Sri
Lanka has done controlled experiments on relatively large numbers of TC and
seed-generated Neppy plantlets with Superthrive over there and has concluded
that it's manufacturer's claims are more or less pure hooey. His results are
posted on the BE website and are worth a peek.

Lester - I wouldn't bet the ranch on it, but I'd also swear that I've seen
Vitamin B1 solutions marketed by mainstream ag-chem folks (Ortho?) to
mitigate transplant shock, so thiamine (?) might be really useful for root

In closing, I s'pose one needs to evaluate the opposing camps claims, try
it, and then make your own determination after a year or so. My own shakily
held belief is is that it's great juice to soak small bare-root plants in
(10-20 drops/gl. for an hour or so) prior to transplanting but, then again,
I also routinely dust roots with Rootone (IBA + fungicide + "talc"), so I
MAY just be wasting dough by using it.


Still confused? Good! Me, too!

Cheerio -

Jay P.

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