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Your preferred growing medium

This is a discussion on Your preferred growing medium within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I've been using coarse bark with sphag for my Phals, which works well for me. ...

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  1. #11
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    Carolla is offline Senior Member
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    I've been using coarse bark with sphag for my Phals, which works well for me. I adjust for the pot they are in and can get them on the same watering schedule. However, now I am branching out into new and interesting experiments and thinking I'm going to try some S/H for some of them. I've got a variety of sizes and am doing a lot of micromanaging - this is ok when I am home, as I have more like 20 orchids than 200. However, there is always the risk that I'll miss a little one that needs more water than the rest and my Oncidium/Odontoglossums need something other than I have for them atm, I think they could do a lot better with more even moisture. I've got some I can experiment with - noid's I got starts from family members and can easily replace if it goes bad.

    There's a lot of observation and experimentation involved!

  2. #12
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    What is the type of medium that are small curly like flat chips? Found that inside my new sediera japonica pot when it arrived and red lava rock. When the blooms die off I want to repot it in a tree fern pot, in that orchiata mix stuff. And what is S/H? Lol and I'm right there with ya Carolla, I only have 9 orchids lol
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  3. #13
    Anteater is offline Senior Member
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    When I recently went through and repotted everything, I used a mixture of coconut husk chunks, perlite, and charcoal. I previously had everything in fir bark, but decided to go with something that has more moisture retention/even moisture release and that would last longer (because I hate repotting). The bark aggravated me because the first three or four months after potting, the media would be dry, then the next few months the media was perfect, and then it was a steady decline as the bark rotted and compacted. I don't care for repotting, so I was also looking for something that lasted longer. I repotted my orchids far after they should have been, so I had quite a few with root problems. The only types of orchids that I have that I would consider keeping in bark are my zygopetalums and the cymbidium. They weren't bothered a bit by the saturated bark. Both had stunning root systems. The cymbidium took me hours to clean up the roots. I may go back to bark with them, depending on how they do in the next six months or so. I think they will both be okay with my new mix though. I have also added a layer of sphagnum moss to the top of the mixtures of some of my orchids, especially the moths.

    However, it probably doesn't matter much what mix I use with my orchids, because I doubt you have the same conditions as I do. I just checked the NOAA website for Elko, and it said there was 8% humidity. The air conditioning is also on during the day. So, if I lived in Indonesia, or Florida or something, my orchid habits would most likely quickly kill my collection.

    I've been watering just under once a week lately. I usually just spray the top of the mix rather than soaking them unless I'm fertilizing, depending on how much everything weighs when I water. I'm worried about how much moisture the media is holding deeper in the pots, especially with the ones in larger pots.

    So far, the dendrobiums absolutely love this mix. I had a couple sickly looking ones (shriveled canes), and they plumped up almost immediately after repotting (a week). I have one giant dendrobium that I should have repotted a long time ago, but couldn't find a proper pot to keep it from tipping over without wall support, so I just repotted that one the other day. It ended up in a ten inch clay pot with one drain hole in the bottom. Definitely not my choice of pots, but all the old canes were falling over, so I used it. On this one, I put a lot of perlite and charcoal in, and less coconut husk. Maybe a third of each. We'll see how that one goes.

    The Moth orchids also like this so far.

    I am uneasy about the Oncidium types, and if I have problems, I will probably go through them and increase the perlite and charcoal ratio to coconut husk.

    Not sure on Cattleya types, but would probably do the same as the Oncidiums.

    I have one Vanda that hates me, and I don't think it much matters what I put it in, because it is still going to hate me.

    I have one slipper that likes it so far. It really dries out between waterings, but if that is what it likes, then okay...

    So anyway, there is a bunch of useless information that probably doesn't apply to you. LOL.

    I read some comments on a poll here about what orchids people have trouble growing. There are people in tropical type areas that can't grow the types of orchids that I grow. I was amazed that some of the people that have beautiful pictures of vandas, cattleyas, and whatever else exotic couldn't grow Phals, Oncidiums, and Dendrobiums. I figured that if I could grow them, then certainly these people could. They probably think the same about me if I told them about my idiot Vanda that will probably never bloom.

    Anyway, I think your potting media needs to reflect your growing conditions, because there are people here from all over the world that may use something that would decimate your collection unless you were in their climate. Unless you know people that grow orchids in your area, you'll just have to use your best judgement and trial and error. Hopefully not too much error...

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anteater View Post
    When I recently went through and repotted everything, I used a mixture of coconut husk chunks, perlite, and charcoal. I previously had everything in fir bark, but decided to go with something that has more moisture retention/even moisture release and that would last longer (because I hate repotting). The bark aggravated me because the first three or four months after potting, the media would be dry, then the next few months the media was perfect, and then it was a steady decline as the bark rotted and compacted. I don't care for repotting, so I was also looking for something that lasted longer. I repotted my orchids far after they should have been, so I had quite a few with root problems. The only types of orchids that I have that I would consider keeping in bark are my zygopetalums and the cymbidium. They weren't bothered a bit by the saturated bark. Both had stunning root systems. The cymbidium took me hours to clean up the roots. I may go back to bark with them, depending on how they do in the next six months or so. I think they will both be okay with my new mix though. I have also added a layer of sphagnum moss to the top of the mixtures of some of my orchids, especially the moths.

    However, it probably doesn't matter much what mix I use with my orchids, because I doubt you have the same conditions as I do. I just checked the NOAA website for Elko, and it said there was 8% humidity. The air conditioning is also on during the day. So, if I lived in Indonesia, or Florida or something, my orchid habits would most likely quickly kill my collection.

    I've been watering just under once a week lately. I usually just spray the top of the mix rather than soaking them unless I'm fertilizing, depending on how much everything weighs when I water. I'm worried about how much moisture the media is holding deeper in the pots, especially with the ones in larger pots.

    So far, the dendrobiums absolutely love this mix. I had a couple sickly looking ones (shriveled canes), and they plumped up almost immediately after repotting (a week). I have one giant dendrobium that I should have repotted a long time ago, but couldn't find a proper pot to keep it from tipping over without wall support, so I just repotted that one the other day. It ended up in a ten inch clay pot with one drain hole in the bottom. Definitely not my choice of pots, but all the old canes were falling over, so I used it. On this one, I put a lot of perlite and charcoal in, and less coconut husk. Maybe a third of each. We'll see how that one goes.

    The Moth orchids also like this so far.

    I am uneasy about the Oncidium types, and if I have problems, I will probably go through them and increase the perlite and charcoal ratio to coconut husk.

    Not sure on Cattleya types, but would probably do the same as the Oncidiums.

    I have one Vanda that hates me, and I don't think it much matters what I put it in, because it is still going to hate me.

    I have one slipper that likes it so far. It really dries out between waterings, but if that is what it likes, then okay...

    So anyway, there is a bunch of useless information that probably doesn't apply to you. LOL.

    I read some comments on a poll here about what orchids people have trouble growing. There are people in tropical type areas that can't grow the types of orchids that I grow. I was amazed that some of the people that have beautiful pictures of vandas, cattleyas, and whatever else exotic couldn't grow Phals, Oncidiums, and Dendrobiums. I figured that if I could grow them, then certainly these people could. They probably think the same about me if I told them about my idiot Vanda that will probably never bloom.

    Anyway, I think your potting media needs to reflect your growing conditions, because there are people here from all over the world that may use something that would decimate your collection unless you were in their climate. Unless you know people that grow orchids in your area, you'll just have to use your best judgement and trial and error. Hopefully not too much error...

    I wanted to get a dendrobium... The ones with thicker canes are pretty drought tolerant correct? There's so many different shaped dens, I really like them
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  5. #15
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    I don't know if they are drought tolerant. Others here would know better. I have six different dendrobiums and they all seem to like water well enough, so I would say they don't like drying out. I have both types, and they both seem to like the same conditions. The nobiles might like water a bit more that the hard canes. However, I have read on here several times that dendrobiums have a resting season or something where you are supposed to let them dry out more. Mine don't rest. LOL

    Actually, they may be drought tolerant now that I think of it. My wife bought one at a grocery store that I didn't care for much, so I didn't put it with the rest of the orchids for quite some time. I usually keep new orchids away from my collection for a few weeks to make sure that they don't have anything funky in them that will transfer to my others. I kept that new one she bought in quarantine for a few months. (Just wanted to make sure, you know. LOL) She threw it in the windowsill and didn't keep up on watering it, so between the bouts of direct sunlight and dehydration, it was pretty shriveled. Or maybe it was just the barrage of comments I was making about it that caused it to wither. LOL

    Anyway, I had repotted just about all of my orchids, and the ugly one on the windowsill wouldn't die, so I gave up, repotted it, and threw it in with the others. It sprouted a couple new keikis almost immediately. There is actually a third one, but it just started and didn't do anything after that.

    Maybe it will grow on me after a while. So far I like the roots...guess that's a start.

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  6. #16
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    Oh, and I forgot to add that if you get one, make sure that you don't get one of the giant ones if space is an issue. The last one I purchased is a monster, and I didn't realize it when i bought it. I don't know how tall the canes will get, but each new cane seems to add about four to six inches over the last, and the last one that came up has to be at least three feet tall. It was kind of difficult to keep upright in a 6" clay pot. LOL

    I probably would have bought it anyway even if I knew how tall it gets.

  7. #17
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    Re drought tolerant dendrobiums, there is no exact indication of their tolerance to drought based upon the physical appearance of their pseudobulbs. A hard fat cane does not indicate that it is drought tolerant - on the contrary most hard cane types with fat pseudobulbs originate from regions with high rainfall and no dry season, while most soft canes with slim pendulous canes come the monsoon regions of Asia that have a distinct,dry cooler winter from Dec to Feb, thus more drought tolerant. Having said that there are always the exceptions e.g Den chrysotoxum, Den densiflorum, Den thyrsiflorum with hard stout p-bulbs that are drought tolerant, while Den crocatum,Den linguella and even Den anosmum with slim pendent p-bulbs occur in non drought areas of the tropics (thus would qualify for non-drought tolerant but are not). The best way to tell whether they are drought tolerant is to find out from which regions they originate.

    As for tall Dendrobiums, Den lasianthera from Papua New Guinea which can reach 6 feet or more is hard to beat and for long,slim pendant types I would give my vote to Den linguella, which too measures more than 6 feet.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by catttan View Post
    Re drought tolerant dendrobiums, there is no exact indication of their tolerance to drought based upon the physical appearance of their pseudobulbs. A hard fat cane does not indicate that it is drought tolerant - on the contrary most hard cane types with fat pseudobulbs originate from regions with high rainfall and no dry season, while most soft canes with slim pendulous canes come the monsoon regions of Asia that have a distinct,dry cooler winter from Dec to Feb, thus more drought tolerant. Having said that there are always the exceptions e.g Den chrysotoxum, Den densiflorum, Den thyrsiflorum with hard stout p-bulbs that are drought tolerant, while Den crocatum,Den linguella and even Den anosmum with slim pendent p-bulbs occur in non drought areas of the tropics (thus would qualify for non-drought tolerant but are not). The best way to tell whether they are drought tolerant is to find out from which regions they originate.

    As for tall Dendrobiums, Den lasianthera from Papua New Guinea which can reach 6 feet or more is hard to beat and for long,slim pendant types I would give my vote to Den linguella, which too measures more than 6 feet.
    Wow! Truly amazing information thanks so much for sharing!
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