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Nervous about moss

This is a discussion on Nervous about moss within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; sorry everyone! one more thing. What is the differences between the mosses ie: NZ; Australian; ...

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  1. #11
    Bumblebee is offline Senior Member
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    sorry everyone! one more thing. What is the differences between the mosses ie: NZ; Australian; Chilean; etc. I know the one I use here is "alive", all others imported have to go through a system to cleanse and get rid of bugs. They then turn out to be very dry apparently.

  2. #12
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    well bumblebee, it all depends on your humidity level, and what you are growing. like all orchid issues, your location, light, humidity etc need to suit the environment the particular orchid needs. orchids that like to go dry, no moss! orchids that like to stay damp, use moss! but watering is key, and whether you pack tightly or not depends on the amount of moisture you want to retain. mostly you want to figure out what will work in your weather, so whatever will keep the moss damp, without it being soggy. like i said before, the moss should be like a sponge that has been wrung out. wet it, squeeze it... it is still wet, and will hold much moisture, but not be sloppy wet and dripping. then find a way to keep it mostly in that state by adjusting your watering schedule and amount of water. for me, this changes by season. right now i water once a week, but as it warms, it will be at least twice a week. i have experimented over some time to find what works for me, and i find that phals like straight moss, but oncidiums need a mix to be happy, otherwise their roots were rotting on me. also, people use moss for seedlings because they could dry out way too easily, and the moss keeps wet longer than other mixes. same thing with 'sphag and bag' technique for sickly plants. once you have no roots, or few roots on an affected plant, the best way to nurture those roots to regrow is to set the rootless plant on a wad of damp moss and put it in a closed plastic bag, so it does not dry out.

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    Thank you coeruleo, that is very informative. I think you are right. I'll just have to see what goes for my "lot"! It's the last of the summer here and I have found I have needed to water more. Interesting info regarding rootless plants. You mean I can get an orchid, say a phal, to re root using the method you described? Wow! Thanks

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    you sure can. i've bought a few over the years that were listed as 'bare root' but more correctly were 'rootless' when they arrived. i've also had the misfortune of killing off the roots of a few plants over the years, and sphag-n-bag saved them all so far. if the stem and leaves are clinging to life, they will try to grow new roots, it takes a while, and the plant will suffer, but it will come back. i've also accidentally broken a vanda type plant's stem, and taken the top half and set it in a pot with moss, and it came back. now i have 2 of that vanda! it nearly died, but it did survive.

  5. #15
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    I use sphagnum because it is very dry here. I mix it with the orchid bark medium. I water by sitting them in the sink for a while every couple of weeks and letting them dry thoroughly in between. This works for my Phals, most of which are good sized plants. What I see is that your conditions, the size of your plants and the type of pot all make quite a difference as to what medium you use and you can use a variety of mediums and change how you water to adjust for it. Mainly Phals don't like to stay wet, they will rot easily, so be sure your set up lets them dry thoroughly between watering. I adjust the medium and the potting for each of my plants depending on the species and the size in hopes of getting them all on the same watering schedule. Some of my little plants do require a lot more care though and sit where I can see them every day to check on how they are.

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    Ed and Coeruleo have explained it well, but I'd like to add the following:

    With ANY potting medium, ensuring that the plants get plenty of water, while avoiding suffocating the roots, is the essential consideration, and it's the water held in the spaces within the medium that's the key. It also involves how well the medium reacts to your growing conditions and watering habits.

    Moss absorbs really well, and wicks that water quickly and evenly. Left loose and open, with lots of air space, and it's probably the best medium out there. Pack it tighter, and the void spaces become smaller, alowing surface tension to hold the water in those voids. In a strongly driven environment, like a commercial greenhouse, it will dry pretty rapidly, so growers tend to compress the moss specifically to get it to hold water longer. In a home or even many hobby greenhouse environments, the evaporation rate is slower, and you run the risk of suffocating the roots. That's one of the potential pitfalls of sphagnum - over time, and acclerated by watering from the top - the moss will compress, reducing the size of the voids, leading to slower drying and root suffocation.

    To answer the "what are the differences" question, there are a lot of different species of sphagnum moss, and they grow with different physical characteristics. Orchid growers tend to focus on the length of the strands, and the "fluffiness" of the side growths off of those stands, with longer and fluffier being considered to be the preferred direction.

    Some NZ species are at the top of both criteria. The stuff out of Chile is not quite as fluffy, but is still pretty good, and there are even some farms in Peru cultivating the NZ species.

  7. #17
    Bumblebee is offline Senior Member
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    Thank you coeruleo. I'll try this. Does the whole plant have to be in the bag or just the roots? Sorry, but just want to learn!

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    Thank you Carolla. I'm learning more and more from you guys. i much appreciate it!

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    Thank you Raybark. That's very interesting infor about the different mosses. I didn't know!! I have taken note of what you say about the compaction used by commercial growers and it now makes sence to me. Thank you!

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