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Orchid mediums (General info and your comments welcome!)

This is a discussion on Orchid mediums (General info and your comments welcome!) within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Well, since the orchid medium question gets asked all the time, I'd thought I'd start ...

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  1. #1
    MikeWA's Avatar
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    Default Orchid mediums (General info and your comments welcome!)

    Well, since the orchid medium question gets asked all the time, I'd thought I'd start a thread for it. (Just potted plants)

    First let me say that there is no medium that is THE answer. First of all, it depends on your watering schedule. Some mediums have more air movement (larger spaces between chunks) and others are more tightly packed. Everyones conditions are not the same and what will work well with one person in a high humidity area might not work well for another in say...Colorado.

    Organic
    Bark(mixed with charcoal and perlite and even pumice)
    Good side is it can be cheap. If you water heavily then you need to repot yearly in most cases.

    Sphagnum
    Good for moisture loving plants but does seem to hold salts more and needs to be repotted annually. (make sure you do not pack the pot too tight)

    Diatomite(A water retaining rock)
    Holds moisture well and is supposed to give off silica which plants like but I don't know if anyone has proven if the plants can absorb this type.
    Mostly used in a mix with other material but some cases it is used by itself

    Osmunda fiber
    breaks down fast with heavy watering. Usually mixed with other mediums to give good aeration. Not good with soft water as I heard it can react badly.

    Then we have everything else (Not organic)

    S/H This describes the technique of growing called Semi-hydroponic. The material can be anything but it refers to a product called LECA (Light Expanded Clay Aggregate)
    Does not break down, can be used over and over. It can retain salts so it does need to be flushed out with clean water. Some plants do Not like it and potting times are crucial for many genera. The PH is Neutral and fertiilizer needs to be given on a more consistent basis.


    OK, It's late and I know I missed alot so I am just getting this started. For those that grow in these mediums and others I did not mention, please add your experiences. Whether you agree or disagree. What works and does not for your growing set up.

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    Hey Pokie - nice choice for a topic. It's early here, so I can only think of a couple things right now.

    Sphag - I don't use this much, but when I do I check the stuff often - maybe every 6 months. It doesn't break down after that short of a period of time, but it does seem to pack down even if it started out fluffy. Just my experience - maybe I water too hard.

    Osmunda vs. tree fern - I know there's a difference, but can't remember. I grow a few things potted with chuncks of tree fern and love it. I was going to ask the question of why this stuff doesn't seem to break down? Mine looks perfect yet even after a 1 1/2 years.

    Lava Rock - I might just post another picture of something growing in this. So far, so good.

    I know one person who is moving a lot of Laelias to pots of 1 inch granite pieces. You know Yoshi? I could see why this might be better than lava rock since it wouldn't absorb salts. It would be a lot heavier though.

    It's funny how some people absolutely hate certain mixes and others love the same ones. It really does depend on your conditions, how often you repot, watering habits, etc. For instance, most people seem to hate, hate, hate Schultz's Orchid mix. I don't mind the stuff at all. In fact, before I got rid of almost all my phals that's what I used for them and they grew really well and had great roots. All those little pieces of rock in the stuff works for me.

    Need coffee now. It's 5 am.

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    hmmmm MikeyWhat about CHC?
    CHC: organic, coconut fiber husks....shoot...what does the chc stand for anyway? oh..right coconut husk chips...duh...anyway, retains water, doesn't break down as quickly as sphag., but must be washed repeatedly because it retains the high levels of salts from processing. Helps third world countries....Can be mixed with other stuff or used by itself.

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    Geez! Only two responses? C'mon people!

    I do have a few plants in granite chunks. Got plants gifted to me from SBOE and they have a lot of plants in the stuff.

    You can pretty much grow orchids on/in anything.

    CHC. I have never used the stuff. I don't want to take the chance of it having salts and I don't want to spend the time or water washing it. I hear it works well.

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    I've actually gotten plants potted in chopped up rubber tires--the nylon layers do the moisture retaining. Forget about picking the stuff off the roots when you go to repot though--you'll break every single one of them.

    I use a ton of CHC--mostly the fine and medium grades. Crystal Company out of St. Louis is a good source; they sell it by the compressed bale and it's "prewashed" in fresh water, not salt. I still go through three or four soak / rinse cycles though, just to be sure, especially for seedlings that can be ultra-sensitive to not only the salt but the tannins.

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    Why do people ignore my questions?








    I'm going to go away for a very, very, very long time. Then you'll be sorry you did that.



    ..sniff..

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    sponge rock or large size perlite....inorganic. Kind of interesting stuff....I have used it straight in s/h and it stays sopping wet. Mixed results there, but some of my plants love it, including the mysterious Den. shuho...More often mixed with other media...Major problem: it is a known carcinogin and it smashes easily...it is the powder you have to watch from inhaling and that's why I handle it wet...Frankly, I don't think it is worth the risk when there's a lot of other stuff out there that does the same thing. Too bad I bought a HUGE sack of it....

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    Kevin, I would assume an internet search on the difference would give you more info than me. I don't use osmunda fiber but I thought it was tiny chunks of tree fern.

    Poor lil skittles, don't leave

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    Quote Originally Posted by TundraKev
    Why do people ignore my questions?








    I'm going to go away for a very, very, very long time. Then you'll be sorry you did that.







    ..sniff..







    LOL!!

    Maybe because these people don't use tree fern, but I do. In fact its my favorite growing media. And yes, you are right it doesn't seem to breakdown so I tend to re use them after soaking and rinsing them a few times. The only downside I know is that they are expensive .

    Because of the high price of tree fern, I am using bark and coconut shell chips(not coco husks) for the first time . Some of my Catts have already adopted to pure bark quite nicely, and some of my Phals are now happy with the coco chips/tree fern mix. The only thing I know about coco shell is that it does not breakdown easily, it could take years, if ever, to breakdown. It dries up quickly so its good for those who tends to overwater their plants. Downside? I guess it also absorb and retain salts.

    Oh, I also have a couple of Catts that are growing in large chunks of charcoal.

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    Question?

    Did somebody ask a question? Oh I see. Somebody *snuck in* a question, there in the middle of the middle of their post.

    Oh, and it's Kevin!

    Osmunda and tree fern? Imagine it doesn't break down quickly because of all the air space between the strands: it can't stay soggy for long unless you keep it soaked. Osmunda is just fern roots chopped up. Tree fern is trunks and roots shredded and left loose, or glued together. Both are fernage, dried out. Have never grown with either--too expensive, given the other things around that work just as well.

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