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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've been reiterating this a lot lately, so maybe it would be useful as a thread. This is what I do, and it works well for me, but of course YMMV. This is geared toward plants, specifically epiphytic orchids, and not frogs (standard caveat of "I don't keep frogs"). It's also adjusted from my actual schedule, since I live in a desert and I'm trying to give broadly applicable advice. You can do this using a standard MistKing setup, with the built-in MistKing timer:
  • Daily: 5-15 seconds just after lights on, 5-15 seconds around lunch time, 5-15 seconds an hour or two before lights out
  • Tuesdays and Fridays: Wait a minute after lunch time burst, then 30-90 seconds depending on your needs.
  • Saturdays: Hand mist as needed - newly introduced plants tend to need a little extra water as their root systems get established. I also fertilize everything that is actively growing by hand on Saturdays.

Why the brief bursts throughout the day?
Well, if you have a reasonable amount of ventilation in your tank, the humidity will drop constantly as the air mixes with the less humid air in your home. Brief bursts of mist serve to keep humidity up. You might want to do these anywhere from once a day to five times a day depending on your ambient humidity, but generally keep it during the day, when the lights will help dry the plants off and nothing will stagnate.

Why the longer "rainstorms"?
1. Many epiphytes come mounted on dead LFS (long fiber sphagnum) and we often use LFS around their roots to retain more moisture. However, LFS is pretty hydrophobic once it is dry. I find that orchids mounted in the higher reaches of the tank tend to dry out, so in order to overcome the hydrophobic properties of the sphagnum, I give them a 15 second burst to prime them and let the water soak in a little, and then a long enough rain that the sphagnum should be fully hydrated again by the end.
2. Most orchids want their roots to be thoroughly saturated and then given a chance to dry out. In standard greenhouse orchid keeping practices, it is recommended to water mounted orchids thoroughly 2-3 times per week, depending on the orchid. You can turn on your misting system and watch your orchid's roots to see how long it takes to thoroughly soak them - the roots will turn slowly from white to green as they become saturated. In my experience, this takes at least 30 seconds, and many orchids will want this amount of water a few times a week but not daily.

Some orchids like to spend most of their time with their roots dry in a relatively high humidity environment, so I have my Sophronitis cernua right near the lights with no LFS around it. It dries out within a few hours of the longer rainstorms and mostly stays dry the rest of the week, and seems to be very happy with this. My Schoenorchis fragrans, which also wants to be bright and dry, is up high in my tank on a pad of sphagnum so it has a little more moisture retention than the Sophronitis.

For the pleurothallids that want to be constantly moist, I place them in wetter spots in the tank and/or use more sphagnum. Near the bottom of the tank, where the humidity is highest, my LFS doesn't dry out and become hydrophobic. I have also found that live moss is a good indicator that a spot is wet enough for these orchids. Most of them still like to be lightly moist at all times with an occasional good soaking, so the burst/rainstorm technique seems to work well for them too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oh also: start with fewer/shorter bursts and increase as needed. For most plants, you will have more indicators and more time to correct too little water than you will to correct too much water.

If you have one of the plants where this rule doesn't hold true, hopefully you know it. I didn't know it about Asplenium holophlebium and I've had to slowly coax it back from the brink.
 
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