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Potting Medium

This is a discussion on Potting Medium within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I'm not sure if this question belongs here or in "General Orchid Culture", but I've ...

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  1. #1
    Bikerdoc5968 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Potting Medium

    I'm not sure if this question belongs here or in "General Orchid Culture", but I've read many growers both commercial and hobbiest are using coconut husk chips. I'd like to know other people's take on this material. I live in SE Michigan and am having a problem finding a local vendor for these chips...they aren't especially expensive but once you add heafty shipping costs, they become a pricey item. Thanks for any advise....

  2. #2
    Brutal_Dreamer's Avatar
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    Hi, I moved the question to General Orchid Culture. We use coconut husk chips with our orchid mix. I like it because it holds water well and we get the large chunks so that it takes up space in the pot but leaves lots of air room. This stuff does break down and you will have to repot eventually, but it is worth it. If you do use it, be sure to soak it to remove the salts. Many times the coconut chips we get have been washed in seawater and contain salts that must be removed before we can use it in our potting mix.

    Cheers,
    BD

  3. #3
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    Wow, I never even thought that the coconut might have salts in it- thanks for the advice!!

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    I wash and wash the stuff in a ritual cleansing because of the salt situation. But you never really know when it's enough. LOL. Haven't had any problems using it though. When I first tried it I had the idea that it was going to be like bark, and that isn't true. It definitely holds water longer than bark, which is good for my arid conditions. For me it is a middle ground between bark and sphag, and I do mix it with sphag for lots of plants. I use the smaller pieces because I grow in a dry area with no greenhouse, and I need to retain a bit of water in my mix.

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    The trick with using Coconut husk it the preuse treatmeny,as it has an extremely high salt content the will not wash or leatch out with tap water.So a salt replace process has to be used.

    The treatment that I give is ,

    Soak in tap water for 24 hours
    drain and refill with water and add 1 large handfull of Epson salts
    soak for 24 hours and drain
    (optional,but best. refill with water and add a hand full of Calcium Nitrate.Soak for 24 hours and drain)
    refill with clean water again and soak for 24 hours,drain and dry out.

    Its now ready to use

    I find it great and am now moving my hole growing over to it.Only having to fert once per week with the overhead misting bringing the fert back to the surface for the plants use.

  6. #6
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    I like coconut husks for my phrags and some of the paphs too -- if I have any on hand. I have tried the large chunks, but I like the medium sized better. I guess it just depends on your watering style etc. There are vendors who sell "pre-washed" coconut husks as well as unwashed.

    PM me if you are still looking for a source for coconut husks. I have one I like that is pretty reasonable for smaller quantities.

  7. #7
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    [quote=orchid-man;69890]The trick with using Coconut husk it the preuse treatmeny,as it has an extremely high salt content the will not wash or leatch out with tap water.So a salt replace process has to be used.

    The treatment that I give is ,

    Soak in tap water for 24 hours
    drain and refill with water and add 1 large handfull of Epson salts
    soak for 24 hours and drain
    (optional,but best. refill with water and add a hand full of Calcium Nitrate.Soak for 24 hours and drain)
    refill with clean water again and soak for 24 hours,drain and dry out.

    quote]

    Cool, Murray!

    I've always done hot water soaks [using boiling-hot water] which should leach just about any minerals out] but I find your method rather ingenius as it is a way of "loading" the chips with some useful minerals!

    Biker, if you arent' in dire straits, the best way to go is to attend an orchid show. Some shows will have venders there with chips on hand for sale. [For instance, at the Lansing show there are always bags available.] You could also contact a vender who you know will be in attendence at said show and request that they bring you a bag. Then you avoid shipping charges. If you need it more immediately, pm me. I think I know of a vender here in MI that might have some.

  8. #8
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    I added some coconut husks to the medium I used for Phals and Paphs (seemed logical to me) and they seem to be doing okay so far. I certainly will be trying orchid-man's Epsom salt method next time I'm pre-soaking.

  9. #9
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    the reason the process I mention above is done is due to the fact that coconut has a very strong affinity to Sodium and Potassium.These 2 chemicals bond to the coconut and leaching with water alone will not get rid of them it also has a deficiency in the magnesium and calcium.
    The magnesium and calcium mentioned above have a stronger bond with the coconut and will replace the sodium and potassium.The above process can be shortened by 24 hours by combining the calcium nitrate in with the Epsom salts,BUT do not mix the two together,dissolve the calcium nitrate before its added.Reason,the calcium and magnesium have a strong affinity and will bond.

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