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Humus for paph culture

This is a discussion on Humus for paph culture within the Paphiopedilum & Phragmipedium Info. forums, part of the Frequently Asked Questions category; In another thread, Pat mentions that he uses humus for his potting mix Originally Posted ...

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  1. #1
    IdahoOrchid's Avatar
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    Default Humus for paph culture

    In another thread, Pat mentions that he uses humus for his potting mix

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahon View Post
    Personally, I have had the greatest luck growing all of my Paphiopedilum (and some Phragmipedium) in humus... not only is it free, but effective. It drys pretty quickly, but retains a little bit of moisture. It has great benificial fungi that actually grow on the roots of the Paph. and Phrag.... -Pat
    Pat, and anyone else that does this, could you please describe in greater detail how you aquire or create this mix?

    How do you deal with any creatures (other than beneficial micros) that come with collected material?

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    Good question. I would like to know too.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    Steve,

    Humus is decomposing organic matter, so it can be found in different sources. I tend to dig humus from under oak trees, as it is easy to locate and works better than other local sources (pine, swamp, etc.). These fungi are easy to locate in humus, as they are white and thread-like. I think that it is similar to 'White Rot Fungi', just smaller. In the humus, they look like very short pieces of super-thin,white thread. Collecting the humus will require scraping the leaf layer off, then digging up to about five inches deep (don't forget to wear gloves).

    As for dealing with other organisms found living in the humus, I sort through it all in a large bin. Typically, I find Earwigs, Roly-Polies, Earthworms, and Terrestrial Planarians. To find them, you would have to deal with small amounts of humus at a time, and getting the humus as flat as possible.

    I use this natural humus for most of my Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium, and sometimes with some tropical terrestrial orchids. The fungi like to wrap around the roots of the orchid, and decompose material all around it (leaving usable sugars as the waste prodcut), which is what I suspect to be the reason behind it beneficialness for the plant. I am still seeing what all I can find in the humus and on the roots of the orchids growing in humus. Thanks for your interest!

    -Pat

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    That was very informative. I didn't know to look for white threads. Thanks Pat. I know oak is the best because it decomposes slowly, but there aren't many around here. Time for me to go digging in the spring to see if I see a difference!

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    Cool, thanks Pat!

    Cheers,
    BD

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    Since moving to the South-central Idaho area I have seen TWO whole oak trees that were not in nurseries. Also, being a desert there are not many forests that accumulate much detris that the wind (up to 70 mph) does not redistribute. The neighbor does have a quite overgrown area that I might be able to get some material from and I will try.

    I know oak is quite acid and not much grows under them because of that and the shade they provide. How much weedage do you get in your humus?

    What would you consider the second best source tree/plant?

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    Quote Originally Posted by IdahoOrchid View Post
    I know oak is quite acid and not much grows under them because of that and the shade they provide. How much weedage do you get in your humus?

    What would you consider the second best source tree/plant?
    Oak debris is quite acidic (as you said), and takes a longer time to decompose (longer lasting humus layers). There are sometimes some overly healthy weeds in the humus, but they are easily plucked out. I haven't had any dormant seeds generate when I use the humus for my collection. Also, I sometimes will add other media to the humus, such as some quartz (silicate), limestone (calcium/magnesium), and a few pieces of cypress (for extra decomposition).

    I'm not too sure about the second best source of humus. My second guess would probably be using humus from pine flatwoods. The humus is not as rich in fungi as oak humus, but it is what orchids such as Pteroglossaspis ecristata, Habenaria odontopetala, Cleistes divaricata, and many species of Platanthera grow in.

    -Pat

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    Leaf Mold ! had forgotten about the great stuff. I used to dig it in No. Ca. It was soft and ... well ... fluffy not like the stuff sold in sacks . It was under my pin oak trees .. Thanks Pat

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    I believe pine humus is also quite acidic. I'd soak the humus, and then test the pH of the leachate (the soaking water) to make sure. The roots need a narrow band of pH to adequately absorb nutrients. Too acidic, and they won't absorb, regardless of the presence of the nutrients.

    McJulie

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    Quote Originally Posted by Piper View Post
    I believe pine humus is also quite acidic. I'd soak the humus, and then test the pH of the leachate (the soaking water) to make sure. The roots need a narrow band of pH to adequately absorb nutrients. Too acidic, and they won't absorb, regardless of the presence of the nutrients.

    McJulie
    OK, being a lazy (non-sagging) butt today, do you know what that range is? Might be interesting to do a comparison between that and fir bark.

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