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This is a discussion on Paph. henryanum within the Paphiopedilum, Phragmipedium, Cypripedium IN BLOOM forums, part of the Orchid Photography category; QUOTE=Piper;50441]Qing, the most important thing about whatever potting mixture you choose, is that you know ...
QUOTE=Piper;50441]Qing, the most important thing about whatever potting mixture you choose, is that you know how to read it. That is, you know when your plant wants to be watered. I have a harder time judging bark mixes, which is why I prefer sphagnum. It does dry out more quickly and needs replacing more frequently than bark, but I'm less likely to over or under water with it.
Whoa! Where have I been???? Sphag dries out more quickly than bark mix???? Pure bark and the mix with charcoal and the white crumbly stuff? I think I have some roots to check.
Densely packed sphag is just inviting trouble, as is broken down sphag, for the same reason - the roots need air. Loosely packed is what you want. It can be problematic to secure the plant, so you often have to use stakes or rhizome clips.
Tami, my faster drying medium is probably more a function of the clay pots than the moss itself. I don't think sphag in plastic pots dries nearly as quickly. But I saw 50% more growth root and leaves on several plants after a season in clay compared with ones in plastic. That convinced me!
It never hurts to check your roots. Your own experience is the best data you can collect, because we all do things a little differently.
Oh, and thanks - the bunny is cute!
Thanks for the replies. I only have one orchid in sphag, the rest are in bark. I've been watering the smaller ones in baskets/bark and clay/bark pots every other day, and the larger clay/bark pots twice a week. The sphag pot (plastic) is only watered once a week. It seems to stay wet a lot longer, probably (at least partly) because it is indoors and most of the rest are outdoors? The pot is clear and the sphag is fairly loose; the roots a very visable and look good.
You gave me a scare there, McJulie. I thought maybe the bark was holding massive amounts of water that didn't show up on the skewers and I was overwatering. Or is that actually the case?
Good air flow will dry any plant in a hurry, particularly one mounted or potted in an open or porous material. I hate drying them out so fast, but hate rot and fungi more, so fans are usually going! Outdoors you will get faster evaporation because the air is constantly moving. That's what they want!
Bark doesn't hide water. I just have a hard time knowing when it wants to be rewatered. I can read sphag much better - but watering is more frequent. I won't ever say watering once a week or twice a week is good. You really have to develop your own sense for what the plants want, given their conditions. Look at the leaves; check the aerial roots, or the roots in a clear pot; is new growth pleating; are p-bulbs shriveling? They give us lots of signs. It's our job to learn to read them!
This is my first paph so I don't know how to water it yet. It came with fine bark mix that seemed to take forever to dry out (I often look at the bottom of the pot and if I see the bark looks dark - meaning wet, I will hold of watering). I should have repot it earlier so the damage would be smaller. Now it is repotted with fresh new seedling bark and perlite, I will see how long it takes to dry out, if it is more than a week, I will switch to sphag.