Orchids Care – Planting Orchids Know How
Potting Composts for Orchids Care
For a very long time now, the standard ingredients of potting composts for planting orchids, have been the bog moss known as sphagnum moss, and osmunda fibre which is the chopped-up root system of the royal fern (Osmunda regalis). Osmunda fibre is somewhat expensive as it is imported, from Italy together with a finer grade fibre which is imported from Japan. Despite the fact that it requires some knowledge and level of skill in its use, its properties are long-lasting and it has the ability to provide enough nutrition as it is broken down, thus making it an ideal medium in which to grow orchids.
The beginner orchid grower would be do well to gain experience in potting and planting orchids with osmunda fibre and wait a while before experimenting with some of the substitute potting compounds. A good general mixture for planting orchids would be 3 parts of osmunda fibre to 1 part of sphagnum moss and for the types of orchids which require more moisture, the proportions should perhaps be more like 2 – 1. Osmunda fibre can be purchased from orchid nurseries – it sometimes comes ready-prepared and mixed in with sphagnum moss for use immediately. Large amounts can be bought in its rough state in bales. The baled fibre should be pulled apart, chopped up and the dust sieved out of it. Selection of the fine and rougher fibres will provide material for those orchid plants with either thin delicate or coarse fleshy roots roots.
The prepared mixture of compost should be neither completely dry nor wet but just moist. Prior to a planting session, the potting compost should be left in the greenhouse to maintain its warmth, as the use of cold compound can harm the roots by cooling them down.
Many of the cultivated orchids are epiphytes, which basically means that they are plants which grow on trees. These types of orchids derive their nourishment from leafmould and other plant debris which accumulates around their roots, and also from the air. They are known as perching plants only, which do not actually derive food from their host tree as do the parasitic types of orchid plants. Many of the roots of the epiphytes plants, are freely suspended in the air whilst others cling to the bark or penetrate amongst the mosses which grow along the branches of the trees.
The dividing line between the epiphytes and the other group known as the terrestrials is sometimes a little vague. The terrestrial type of orchids grow essentially in theor in the humus of forest floors. At one time it was common practice to use these two categories as a guide for potting compounds. Thus fibre and moss was used for the epiphytes, whilst loam fibre was added to moss and fibre for the so-called terrestrial orchids, such as the plain-leaved slipper orchids (paphiopedilums), lycastes and cymbidiums. Loam fibre is not used as much nowadays, but if good quality loam fibre material is available, it will help to keep the expense down by reducing the amount of osmunda required in the orchid composts.
With care, orchids will grow in a good variety of potting materials, provided they are of an open texture. For example, various types of tree bark broken down into small pieces are used extensively in America. Excellent results of planting orchids in such a medium are produced, but feeding of some sort still seems necessary. Whereas, with the standard osmunda compost type, feeding the plants is not generally necessary.
Other supplementary or substitute materials which are sometimes used, are dry bracken fronds, which are believed to be rich in potash. Some plastic fibre compounds, which have the same thickness and consistency as osmunda fibre, when mixed together with sphagnum moss, give excellent feeding results. Even pure sphagnum moss as a potting material for planting orchids, has been quite successfully used for some types of orchid plants.
Bed cultivation of cymbidiums has become popular, and a recommended potting compost would consist of equal parts of leafmould, coarse sand, dry bracken stems, old cow dung and sphagnum peat. This compost can also be used for pot cultivation.