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mounting your orchid

This is a discussion on mounting your orchid within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; I've poked around a little bit on the forum looking for some discussion on how ...

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  1. #1
    nabakov5's Avatar
    nabakov5 is offline Cecilia, You're Breakin' my Heart.....
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    Default mounting your orchid

    I've poked around a little bit on the forum looking for some discussion on how to mount an orchid, but I can't really find anything. Is there a thread somewhere that addresses this? I've never tried this before. I need advice on what kind of mount will work, how to secure the plant to the mount and how to make it aesthetically lovely without hurting anything. I'm planning on mounting my miniature Vanda. Here's a pic of her. Right now she's in a plastic basket (that I hate) and suspended inside a terrarium for humidity. She's very happy, but I'm dieing to get rid of that basket and mount her. any pointers would be greatly appreciated. Or, if someone can direct me to a thread that already addresses this, that would be very cool too. Thanks in advance!
    Cat
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  2. #2
    Piper's Avatar
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    Default

    Hi Cat,

    Yours are good questions. There's periodic discussion about mounting, but I don't recall any comprehensive thread on it.

    In my experience, mounted orchids are great at freeing up shelf space (you can hang them, depending on the mounts) and are aesthetically much more interesting than pots. The downside is they need much higher humidity, because there's no pot to hold the moisture in. That won't work for many windowsill growers, unless you live in a very humid environment (I don't!)

    Let's consider:

    1. What plants to mount
    2. What to use as a mount
    3. What to place around the roots
    4. How to attach the plant
    5. How mounted culture differs


    1. What plants to mount

    Mounting works best for epiphytic plants (ie, those that typically grow in trees) that can take bursts of water, but then don't mind drying out some before their next watering. It's almost impossible to overwater a mounted orchid, but it's easy to underwater one. (Dends, Epis and Catts could be mounted, to name a few.)

    Plants that enjoy more even moisture would do less well mounted. (Phals, Milts, Paphs, Phrags would not want to be mounted.)


    2. What to use as a mount

    Practically anything can be used. A rock. A hardwood branch. Driftwood. Common mounts include: tree fern slabs, cork bark, hardwood branches, and cactus skeleton.

    The orchid's roots will grow into and around whatever it's mounted on, so be careful of acidity and salt concentration within the mount itself. Note that coconut husks and driftwood can contain high concentrations of sea salt. They should be leached thoroughly until their leaching water shows very low concentration of dissolved salts.

    I tried my first mount on a slab of tree bark I got from the wood pile. That didn't work well, and I had to remount within six months, because the bark broke down over time as it absorbed all that water. Don't plan on "repotting" a mounted orchid - the roots may be too interwoven in the material. Choose something that will last for your mounts. Cork bark slabs are one of my favorites. And while I haven't worked with it, I love the look of cactus skeletons.


    3. What to place around the roots

    Most often, sphagnum moss is placed around the roots before mounting. Be sure to use real New Zealand sphag. It absorbs more water and retains moisture longer than other sphagnum mosses.

    Moss isn't always used. Some plants are mounted without any moss. That would only be recommended for very humid growing conditions, however.


    4. How to attach the plant

    Monofilament fishing line is most often used to secure plants to their mounts, because it's strong and nearly invisible. However, if you've ever tried to work with it, you'll know how tricky small knots are to tie and secure. For the items I've mounted on cork bark, I use a skewer or tiny drill bit to make a small hole through the cork. Then I'll pass the line through and knot it to itself. I then pass it over my plant's roots (packed in a nice ball of damp moss) to secure them to the mount.

    Others have suggested panty hose, strips from onion bags, and other loosely woven materials that are strong, nearly invisible when stretched, and will allow air and moisture to pass through freely. Some mount with glue guns. I've never tried it. While it cools quickly, the glue comes out very hot. I burn my fingers with it, so I can't imagine the plant would enjoy it.

    5. How mounted culture differs

    Humidity is the single biggest difference. Mounted plants don't enjoy the ambient humidity of a pot, so you have to supplement it in some way.

    Watering, different from humidity, must be more frequent. There's little or no potting material to hold moisture near the roots, so water more frequently and for longer periods, giving the roots the opportunity to get a good drink.

    Fertilizing should be weaker (so as to not burn the roots), but more frequent. Again, lacking potting media, the roots won't be able to draw any nutrients they would in a pot.

    Julie
    Last edited by Piper; June 24th, 2006 at 09:38 PM.

  3. #3
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    Julie I would agree hole heartedly with what you have said.Can I make one point
    about the mount.Do Not use a soft wood, a wood that has ben treated with a preservative or one that has a large amount of aromatic oils.

    This thread might be of use as well
    http://www.rv-orchidworks.com/orchid...ead.php?t=4485

  4. #4
    nabakov5's Avatar
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    Wow Julie, That was an impressive response. Thank you so much. It was extremely helpful. I've been shopping around for mounting products and I keep running into "treefern balls" which look interesting. However, I saw a picture of a mount on cactus skeleton and it looks really really cool. I think I'd like to try something like that with my vanda. I wonder where a girl in north carolina can run across something like that. Our cactus population is seriously lacking. I also thought that the pantyhose idea was interesting. Fishing line would be the best I suppose, but isn't there a risk of it cutting through the roots? BTW, I think it would be great to make this a sticky thread as it was so helpful to me and I'm sure everyone has something to add! Thanks again you guys!
    Cat

  5. #5
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    HI,

    Thanks Julie for the advice. I just yesterday mounted my Masdevallia rolfiana. I used something called Malasian driftwood which I bought at an aquarium store. I used silicone (yikes) to attach the plant and the sphagnum moss on the wood. I also used big thick yarn to hold it in place(im not to worried about looks for now).
    I hope I didnt poisong my plant with the clear aquarium grade silicone.

  6. #6
    orchid-man's Avatar
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    aquarium grade silicone should be safe,it is for fish and the water plants

  7. #7
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    Default

    Good Im glad. I was worried it would burn the roots cuase of all the acetate.

    Thanks!!! I'll post pics Monday or Tuesday!

  8. #8
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    You are always the best at giving detailed instructions, Julie. Thanks for the tutorial. I have to add that my vandas like a weak fertilizer solution twice a week misted on them. In the Winter and spring I mist them everyother day with the fertilizer. In the summer down here, in the heat, I hose them off twice a day.

  9. #9
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    Default

    Thanks, guys! This wasn't meant to be the definitive statement on mounting, but more an entre into the discussion.

    Murray made an interesting point on aromatic tree branches. I never considered the oils before.

    I think you're safe with tried mounts, but if you want to venture into new territory for the 'perfect' mount, be aware of the risks.

    Tindo, some really cute mini (maybe your avatar) mounted to a bonsai in a terrarium would be the be-all orchid and mount!

    PM Gin for cactus skeleton sources - she's posted previously about those. I have sources for tree fern and cork bark. (I'm thinking I read something somewhere about tree fern pH being a potential issue for orchids. I can't swear to it, but if you're considering tree fern, but sure to look into that.) Cork bark is very safe.

    Cheers,
    Julie

  10. #10
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    Default Mounting Orchids

    A post from my daughter a while ago.....

    OrchidTalk Forums > Orchid Culture > Genus Specific
    Encyclia Tampensis Mounting??
    Finally.. something I know alittle about. I love mounted orchids, they are just easier for me to take care of. You can either mount them on cork or tree fern or wood slabs. My local nursery sold me some cabbage palm pieces. I have found that these work the best for me. About a week after I mounted acouple of my orchids on it they showed new root growth towards the wood. I used zip ties to keep mine in place, only because I didnt have any fishing line or string. I placed the orchid where I wanted it to establish itself, drilled holes on either side of the plant and zip tied it in place. Now when you look at the pics, you can see dead roots (I was lazy and didnt want to disturb it any more than I already had). but the pics should give you a general idea of what I did. Im sure there are better ways of doing this, and I would love to see how other people have their orchids mounted.
    Look for pics at above link under jptg7781

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