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Packing Peanuts in orchid pots for air circulation

This is a discussion on Packing Peanuts in orchid pots for air circulation within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; I keep seeing articles, YouTube videos, and books that discuss using packing peanuts in the ...

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  1. #1
    LilSatchmo's Avatar
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    Default Packing Peanuts in orchid pots for air circulation

    I keep seeing articles, YouTube videos, and books that discuss using packing peanuts in the bottom of pots to allow better air movement and faster drying of the mix. I recently repotted a good number of orchids... none of which were phalenopsis (which most of the videos and articles seem to point to with regards to peanut use). My question, is the use of peanuts good for ALL repotting endeavors, or is it elective, depending on the situation?

    Most all of my newer orchids were repotted into clay pots and include species such as encyclia, brassavola and dendrobium. If I was unable to find a suitable sized orchid pot (the typical 3" or 6" pre-molded three-side-hole-style found in most big box stores) I used standard clay pots and then, using a masonry bit and my hand drill, added a few holes to the sides near the bottom to allow better air movement. Basically, reproducing what you would buy in the store, but in a standard slightly taller pot, instead of the squattier orchid, or azalea pots.

    I've also adapted my general mix to an equal parts bark/lava rock/charloal mix. Occasionally pearlite is in there too, but not always. This mix also seems to air out quickly, especially in the terra cotta pots. So in a situation such as this would there be a benefit for including peanuts to the repotting procedure? That is, considering a combo of the mix and the clay pots that I talked about above.

    P.S. The Neofenetia is in bloom... ahh, the gardenia-like fragrance in the evenings is wonderful!

  2. #2
    espranch is offline Senior Member
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    Kreg, for what it's worth...I started using lava rock for drainage a while back. Mainly because it remains intact, unlike the foam pellets, plus it gives weight to the clear plastic pots which I am now using. Betty

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    I would caution you against deep clay pots for most orchids. Some paphs and phrags do well in deep pots, but usually the medium in those type pots will not dry evenly because of its depth-that is why orchid pots are usually shorter (azalea like) pots.

    Regarding your question on packing peanuts and potting orchids: I highly recommend putting in the packing peanuts as I have found over the years as the medium breaks down, the packing peanuts will keep the roots from rotting because they still get air. With lava rock (which I also use), as bark mixes break down, they tend to fill in to the rock and compact. So, in answer to your question - totally based on my growing in a greenhouse where I water twice a week in warm months and once a week in cooler months- (and don't repot as often as I should) - I say yes, always use packing peanuts in the bottom of the pot when using a bark mix. JMHO

    Cheers,
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    Whereas I, like Betty, have gotten away from packing peanuts and instead add hydroton (or occasionally lava rock) and large grade horticultural charcoal. I also like to use wine corks in my mixes.

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    espranch is offline Senior Member
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    Exactly, Paul. I no longer use bark...I use the round clay balls or pellets. My orchids seem to like this arrangement much better! And, of course, I can see what the roots are doing by just looking at the clear plastic containers...This makes everything easy! And I like easy...Betty :-)
    Quote Originally Posted by pavel View Post
    Whereas I, like Betty, have gotten away from packing peanuts and instead add hydroton (or occasionally lava rock) and large grade horticultural charcoal. I also like to use wine corks in my mixes.

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    Dear Kreg,
    I would use peanuts in your mix if I were you...I recently transferred almost everything out of clay pots to aircone pots simply because even drying out of the mix, especially in the standard deeper clay pots had become an issue for me. I keep my greenhouse at about 65%rh and 76f.
    The clay pots breathe very well...up to a point...but the root ball in the center will not dry out enough for most everything I'm growing. I, too, have drilled holes in pots with my trusty masonry bits, slashed clay pots with a table mounted tile saw and a skilsaw with a masonry blade...you name it, looking for the magic answer. There really is no magic bullet. The closest thing I've come up with is using a very fast draining mix of bark, charcoal, prime agra pellets (a semi hydro potting media) and some sponge rock. It is working well for me now. I've had so much root rot over the past two years I had to get pretty inventive and this is what I came up with. You are in a high humidity area and will need all the help you can get.
    I'm attaching a pic of a slashed clay pot I was using...I've got a pile of them now and about the only thing I'm using them for are cymbidiums grown on a patio.
    Best of luck to you and please let us know how it goes! Remo!
    Name:  IMG_1336 [640x480].JPG
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  7. #7
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    Thanks again to everyone for all the advice. You guys are great!! Since most of the pots had just been replanted yesterday or over the last couple of days from last weekend's show purchases, I went ahead and repotted again today before they settled in. To say the least, I'm getting lots of practice with repotting, and probably stressing the plants in the process, but hopefully this will help in the long run.

    Now I'm all potted up in the lava/charcoal/bark mix, this time with peanuts in the bottom. Hardest part was finding styrofoam peanuts on a Sunday. I won't go into much detail about my obsessive hunting trip but it untimately involved visiting a local recycle bin for a freshly dropped box of peanuts. Seems all the local big box stores and shipping centers in my neighborhood no longer carry them.... only the biodegradable ones! The one place I could find was, of course, closed on Sunday! I saw them inthe window... so close, yet so far... LOL

    Betty, my paphs and one of my B nodosas are in clear plastic pots. You are absolutely right in the fact that it is easy to see what goes on in there. Can you IM me where you get yours? I like them but am not sure where to get more. One good thing about the one's I do have is they fit exactly into a terra cotta pot but can be easily removed for inspection. These came with some big box store purchased plants but I've not seen this pot-in-a-pot setup available to the general public, at least not in the local stores here.

    Remo, what you described have been my last few days... drilling, trying different hole locations and different sized masonry bits. I did not use a masonry blade on the skil saw (good thing for me, and my neighbors, the skil saw is at my Mom's place 3 hours away!) If this current system doesn't work I think my next step will involve going more into the hydro-type medias like hydroton and stalite. My upstairs window, even with the AC running, maintains a fairly constant 55% rh.

    Bruce, after your comments I started looking at all the pots and one thing I now notice on the standard clay pots is the walls appear thicker, at least to me, compared to say an azalea or chid pot of the same diameter. Maybe its just the specific manufacturer whose pots I'm looking at, but there is a difference. This is especially noticable when trying to drill through them. (Again, lots of practice over the last few days) This coupled with the height, as you mentioned, could definatley aid in not allowing the media to dry evenly. I left my smaller plants in their standard (now with drilled bases) clay pots, but they're thin walled. However, I elected to not repot a couple of the medium sized plants as the wall thickness, even with additional vent holes, may not allow the media to dry properly through the center. Its not worth the risk. I'll find some other way as these plants get bigger and require larger pots. Maybe by then I'll be out of this apartment and into a home where a small greenhouse can be established.

    Pavel, I love wine and should start saving the corks! Does the residue from the wine cause problems when used as a medium?

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    espranch is offline Senior Member
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    Kreg, clear plastic containers ( of ANY size ) are as close as your local grocery store. In fact, i have been known to look inside of the re-cycle bin right inside the front door...! I take them home, and turn on my small torch. I heat up a long thin piece of metal, and make slits on four sides. Then, I make several holes in the bottom. WAL-LA.....new pots. Cheap & easy...Betty :-)

  9. #9
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    Betty, I totally forgot about the thread you started about the clear containers!! Jeese... my mind?!

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    espranch is offline Senior Member
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    Kreg, How's about turning on your P.M. ( private messages )...It's safer than giving someone you don't know your e-mail to I.M. you. Thanks, Betty :-)

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