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Orchid Potting mix

This is a discussion on Orchid Potting mix within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I notice that almost every orchid I purchase is in a different mix. If a ...

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  1. #1
    Dulcinea's Avatar
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    Default Orchid Potting mix

    I notice that almost every orchid I purchase is in a different mix. If a mix is well draining, well aerated and of a neutral ph isn't that good enough?

  2. #2
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    Not necessarily. The medium is usually pretty well spent by the time you buy your orchid. and it also depends on your environment, A person in Florida has different needs that someone in Michigan, etc. If you grow in a greenhouse your needs are different that a person growing on a windowsill.
    i purchased a dendrobium that was growing in spag. moss, that is the worst medium for a Den.
    Check the AOS for good culture info

  3. #3
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    Thanks Katherine!

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    I agree with Katherine.

    While it is possible to grow an orchid in pretty much anything - or nothing - what is best for the combination of the plant's needs, your growing conditions, and your watering habits is a very specific thing, so what you're seeing is what's best for the original grower's situation.

    Some people experiment to find a medium they really like - Orchiata bark is becoiming more and more popular - and adjust their watering habits to match the needs of the idividual plants.

    Others take the same base medium ingredient and modify it through the addition of moss, charcoal, perlite and the like, to change the water retention and drying rates, tailoring it to the plant.

    Because I am basically working two full-time jobs these days (my orchid business and as a purchasing manager for a global chemical company - that contract expires in about 6 months, fortunately) I have no free time to "mess around" and have taken a somewhat different approach, using a very broad range of cultural techniques and media so that I can water everything simultaneously via an automated overhead deluge system. I have plants mounted on cork bark, on EcoWeb, and morre recently, AquaMat. I have plants in baskets of nothing, LECA, Orchiata Bark, & EcoWeb cubes. I have traditionally-potted plants in LECA, EcoWeb cubes, Orchiata Bark, Sphagnum, and (again more recently), I'm experimenting with an AquaMat/EcoWeb composite. And, of course, I have many plants in semi-hydroponic culture.

    The bottom line is that when ANY single plant needs water, I can safely water all of them without fear of waterlogging anything.

  5. #5
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    Both Ray and Katherine are spot on.

    When I started growing, I bought the potting mixes from garden centers that had the name of my orchid on the bag. This worked for a while, then I noticed that it did not meet my ecosystem/environment. I would find myself saying, "I sure wish this mix had more bark" or "this mix needs more spag moss and less lava rock". So I eventually started making my own potting mix that is differentiated to the type of orchid it is intended for.

  6. #6
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    Thanks Ray. I've been growing orchids for 15 years and also volunteered in the orchid greenhouse at our local botanic garden. All orchids were in bark and/or sphagnum. That's what I've always used but now I'm noticing what look like clay pebbles, volcanic rock, charcoal etc. and have no idea in what direction to go. I, too, would like to be able to water most everything at the same time. I realize some plants like to be watered more often and keep those in a different area. I'm in Michigan and move every orchid outside to a "summer orchid house" for the summer but the rest of the year theft are under lights and glass in a "semi greenhouse"

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    Thanks Chris.

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    Dulcinea, you might want to do a Google search for "Semi-Hydroponics". It's certainly not the "be all, end all" for orchid culture, but if you can get your plants established, it certainly eliminates the watering issue.

  9. #9
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    Thanks Ray. I'll research it right away. It may be the answer...

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