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Orchid Baskets (Wooden slat baskets)

This is a discussion on Orchid Baskets (Wooden slat baskets) within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hi I don't see anyone mention using charcoal as part of their potting medium. WHY?? ...

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  1. #1
    Doug McConnell is offline Junior Member
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    Default Orchid Baskets (Wooden slat baskets)

    Hi I don't see anyone mention using charcoal as part of their potting medium. WHY?? I have used washed charcoal and in addition all my plants hang in " FLAME BURNT " wooden slat baskets and I have been doing this from 1982 or so. The charcoal is mixed with either fir bark stone, or coconut shell/husks. Interested to see if this is done anywhere besides South Africa.

  2. #2
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    panam is offline Senior Member
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    Hi, Doug!

    Here in the US, charcoal is a common addition to other medium in "orchid mixes" that are available at stores or on the web. We do, indeed, often use this.

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    We use charcoal in our orchid mixes in our greenhouse, Douglas. We never pot anything in pure charcoal, but my cattleyas, paphs, oncidiums, dendrobiums, bulbos, phrags, etc... are all potted in a mix that contains charcoal chunks. The only orchid we grow that does not have charcoal in its 'mix' are our vandas. They are potted mostly in large pieces of lava rock and some have large redwood bark chunks in their mix as well.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    Doug McConnell is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks for your replies to my question regarding charcoal guys, much appreciated. Charcoal definately has its advantages as well as the burnt (lightly) baskets as the roots tend to grow through the basket but always seem to attach themselves to the burnt sections. Best regards, keep up the great forum.

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    Very interesting about the burnt baskets Doug. I too use charcoal in my mix of fir bark and perlite and some clay pellets or styrofoam in some cases.

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    In Malaysia charcoal is still the preferred medium for all our orchids. As almost all our orchids are grown outdoors 24/7 and due to the high rainfall of over 100 inches a year, charcoal is ideal being slow to break down and retains just enough water. Coconut husk tends to hold water for too long and bark breaks down too fast. Unfortunately the price of charcoal has increased 5 fold from a few a years ago due to the scarcity of wood.Nowadays rubberwood from replanted rubber estates is used for charcoal instead of the traditional mangrove wood (to save the mangrove swamps). However,this charcoal is inferior to the old type.

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    Doug, Do you burn your own baskets? If so, I'm assuming you just pass them through a flame and then they are ready. Or, is there something else you need to do after burning and before use? This sounds really interesting to me.

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    Doug McConnell is offline Junior Member
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    Default Reply to Bird regarding burning of orchid baskets

    Quote Originally Posted by bird View Post
    Doug, Do you burn your own baskets? If so, I'm assuming you just pass them through a flame and then they are ready. Or, is there something else you need to do after burning and before use? This sounds really interesting to me.
    Hi Bird, firstly I use Oregan Pine for my baskets. These are threaded in the corners wirth stainless steel wire. I then flame burn my baskets with a gas torch till all the soft grain burns away, therafter I hose the basket clean and they are then ready to use. I find using stainless steel wire allows the basket to remain in shape for many years. The cross slats at the bottom can be secured using an electric glue gun. Sometimes I rinse the basket, or rather dip it in a dilution of jeyes fluid and water. 1 teaspoon Jeyes to 5 litre water. White ants don't like Jeyes fluid.

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    Hardwood charcoal is added in various ratios to potting mixes here in Costa Rica and some growers have gone to using pure washed charcoal in graded sizes to suit the orchid's root preference. On many of my trips into the jungles of Central America and the Amazon basin, I have seen various orchids growing very well on the charred barks of dead and living trees. These burned surfaces are the result of lightning and forest fires, though many also unfortunately are the result of slash & burn practices by local inhabitants. I suspect that some orchids prefer the purity of charcoal surfaces and in some cases, they appear not to survive long without it.

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