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using cork bark chips for phalaenopsis

This is a discussion on using cork bark chips for phalaenopsis within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; I just repotted a phal that was potted in sphagnum moss. It has very few ...

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  1. #1
    SusanLee is offline Member
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    Default using cork bark chips for phalaenopsis

    I just repotted a phal that was potted in sphagnum moss. It has very few roots but appears healthy. I potted it in cork bark chips and my concern is humidity. Should I add some media (like sphagnum moss) that will help retain moisture for humidity? It is currently potted in a plastic "mesh" pot inserted in a slightly larger plastic pot. This pot sits in a tray of water (the interior pot is not in the water) Any advice or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    ksriramkumar is online now Senior Member
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    in my opinion, you would need to look at your relative humidity and frequency of watering to decide to add moss. if your relative humidity is >50% (all seasons) and a compulsive waterer , you would not need moss. Other members would chime in

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    Chris in Hamilton's Avatar
    Chris in Hamilton is offline Senior Member
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    I'm experimenting a bit with cork bark chips. I don't think humidity will be too much of a problem as long as you don't forget to water. Using mesh from an onion bag to hold the chips in place when watering. Figure if they float around then the roots will never attach. How are you keeping yours in the pot?

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    SusanLee is offline Member
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    well I potted it up a couple of days ago. and when I water I just run the water through the pot. The cork chips don't seem to move much so hopefully it'll be OK

    ---------- Post Merged at 09:34 PM ----------

    all of my orchids have their own little trays with water to improve the humidity, making sure that the bottom of the pots are just above the water (not sitting in water). Plus I have larger trays of water placed in amongst them. I've noticed that the wilted leaves on several of the orchids have regained their sturdiness since I started doing that. I was really surprised at what a difference it made. The humidity so far has been 50 or above. We're heading into the hottest summer months here in Washington State so keeping the humidity at that level might be problematic but we'll see what happens. The aerial roots get misted at least once a day

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    raybark is online now Senior Member
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    I have used virgin cork oak bark slabs for mounting, and they do hold water, so that really shouldn't be much of an issue, and the mesh pot in the plastic pot is a great way to grow!

    A caveat about cork chips: About 30 years ago, cork chips became all the rage as a potting medium. It was uniformly graded, easy to work with, and held water well, while still allowing plenty of air flow over the roots system. Then, after a few months, it would turn into a root-suffocating, slimy mess, seemingly overnight.

    That was ground, processed cork, so I don't know if that applies to virgin cork bark chips, but forewarned is forearmed!

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    SusanLee is offline Member
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    wow! that's scary. I will for sure be keeping an eye on that orchid (sometimes I think I need more eyes for my orchids!). And its good to know that cork does hold some water. Thank you

    Tell me, tho, when you say "virgin" cork bark chips vs ground processed cork: what is the difference? and how does one know if the cork is virgin or processed? and is processed ground cork smaller in size than the virgin cork?

    hope that isn't too many questions. All the package says is "medium cork chips".

    Thanks again

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    I have Cattleyas that have been potted in whole wine corks (the ground composite kind) for 3 or more years without breaking down into slime or anything else. It is something I have never witnessed in fact. I'm guessing the breakdown problem must have been fixed(?). Wine corks are my preferred medium for Cattleyas that have fussy roots.

    You can tell the difference between whole vs. ground cork by looking at some corks from less expensive wines, assuming they are not corked with plastic. The cheaper corks will be mostly ground cork, with the end that touches the wine capped with whole cork. Other corks are solid whole cork throughout - they have more of a structure that runs through the cork. Google 'wine corks' and look at the images - you will see.
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    SusanLee is offline Member
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    Thanks Catt. The cork I'm using is chunky, not ground up like wine bottle corks. So its doubtful that its processed/ground.

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    Keep in mind that "as a mount" and "in a pot" are two, totally different environments.

    My speculation is that the microorganisms that populate the potting medium can break down the lignin easier than it can in other, denser barks. Kept drier, and their population growth is inhibited a bit, but kept moist in a pot, they can go wild.

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    Quote Originally Posted by raybark View Post
    Keep in mind that "as a mount" and "in a pot" are two, totally different environments.

    My speculation is that the microorganisms that populate the potting medium can break down the lignin easier than it can in other, denser barks. Kept drier, and their population growth is inhibited a bit, but kept moist in a pot, they can go wild.
    I agree, kept some chunks of cork bark in a pot filled with water for a few months. They were very slimy and mushy when I took them out.

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