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Old 07-28-2007, 11:08 AM
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Just Bark and Rain Water

Hi everyone,

I don't know about other members in the UK, but every orchid I buy is potted in bark; bark and nothing else but bark. I did buy some potting medium from a specialist grower which included some perlite and some other brown powdery content (probably peat). I only recently used this but I'm not too keen, I was very careful, as this is the first time I have repotted, but ended up with perlite in the base of a couple of leaves and it's a devil to get out (even with the paint brush I use for brushing compost from plant leaves after repotting). I did get one lot out but ended up scratching the leaf so left well alone. The plant seems to appreciate being repotted so fingers crossed.

I have noticed that many of you use sphagnum Moss because of it's moisture retaining properties but wonder whether this is suitable for our climate in the uk.

Also when watering a friend advised me to submerge the whole pot in a small bucket for 30 minutes or so, and this seems to work for me. Also I use rainwater as an elderly gentleman in the garden centre told me he used nothing else for his orchids. They don't seem to have suffered any ill effects from this and let's face it; rain is something we have plenty of in the UK at the moment.

So just now it's bark and rain water: Should I be doing anything different??
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Old 07-28-2007, 01:04 PM
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Hi Tizz, the brown stuff you mentioned might have been coir, which is used by a number of members as it does not break down as quickly as bark. You did not mention fertilizer, but I assume you are using a balanced feed in a week dilution. Provided your plants are happy with the watering system you have adopted all you need to do is keep a careful watch for changes.
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Old 07-28-2007, 02:55 PM
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Hi Bill,

I'm using the Chempak Orchid Fertilizer at each weekly watering and so far so good. My problem at the moment seems to be getting hold of bark without all the other stuff.

I have to say the Zyg and Den (rescue plants) I bought in need of tlc, are in grey plastic pots and I cannot see what's below the surface, but they are heavier when watered. I still adopt the same regime and the Zyg is flowering nicely (used in my avatar).

All my plants with one exception are indoors in an east facing window.

Thank you for your reply.
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Old 07-28-2007, 03:35 PM
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Hi Tizzy -
If you keep reading in this forum it will become (if it has not already) that everyone has their favorite media that works for them. What one person uses exclusively another person cannot tolerate. For example, with my conditions and habits I have little good to say about sphag and others on this forum love the stuff and have every one of their orchids planted in it. I used to use either straight bark or bark mixed with perlite for my phals, but found out early last summer that they do much better in a coir, perlite and little charcoal mixture. The leaves are never floppy but stick out like stiff boards all the time. At least for me I'm super impressed with the way it works. A mix called Aussie Gold has similar ingredients/properties.
Love your zygo avatar - I purchased a young plant with similar flowers that is super fragrant that I am very anxious to bloom one of these days.
mike
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Old 07-28-2007, 03:49 PM
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Mike, I've been round all the garden centres looking for a compost I feel happy with: one was a sphagnum moss mix, the other had volcanic matter
(perlite I guess), but none of the general centres sell just orchid bark on it's own. I'm visiting a specialist grower next week so hope to pick up something better there. Fingers crossed.

Tomorrow, I'm taking my friend shopping for her birthday - she want's a yellow orchid. who knows what I may come back with - watch this space.
It will have to be one from the garden centre as the specialists don't seem to open on the weekends, but she has a sick husband so she's limited when she can get away. I'm sure the new yellow orchid will fill her birthday with sunshine.

Sorry, getting carried away there, must be the thought of a new orchid (for me)
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Old 07-28-2007, 08:29 PM
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The fundamental question you and all the rest of us are perpetually answering here is:

How can I give my orchids what they need?

Different orchids have different cultural needs one of which is water. Some like it dry others like it moist. So if an orchid likes it evenly moist (for instance) what mix is best given the other conditions I have (heat, humidity, etc.) and my habits? Ultimately the orchid doesn't care what it is potted in or mounted on if it is gettign the culture it needs. I could be growing my Paphs in my old t-shirts for all they'd care if it provided the gentle, even moisture they need.

So when considering what mix you use, also consider your other conditions, how humid it is, how warm, and your habits, how often you like to water, if you mist, etc.

Happy Growing!
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Old 07-28-2007, 09:04 PM
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tizzycat: Plastic straw works well to get the perlite out of the 'hard to get' places. You could either blow them out or suck them out( cover the end that is between your lips with cheesecloth or something)

It works very well
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Old 07-29-2007, 05:12 AM
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Pikevi

Thank you for that perfect solution to the perlite problem - straws are on my shopping list.

cheers,
Chris
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Old 07-29-2007, 05:15 AM
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kmarch,

thankyou, that would explain why the den and zyg (which could be in different medium - maybe more absorbent snd retentive) aren't complaining at the same regime as the phals. It's beginning to make sense.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 07-29-2007, 09:10 AM
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Tizzycat

As already stated, everyone has their own little way of handling the potting question. What I picked up on was using a bucket to soak your plants. Its easy and its how I use to water my plants. A wise orchid grower pointed out that, if one of your plants is diseased, you can spread the problem to all your plants. I would think about a different watering method.
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Old 07-29-2007, 12:52 PM
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Charcoal and/or perlite added to the bark prevents the bark from breaking down as fast; hence, prolonging the need to re-pot.
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Old 07-29-2007, 04:10 PM
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Rain water is great for most watering, but don't mix fertilizer in it. Use tap water when you fertilize, unless you buy special fertilizer for pure water. Most fertilizer manufactures expect some hardness to water and make the fertilizer acidic to compensate. In pure water, this fertilizer could go very acidic, so I use at least some portion of tap water when using anything other that MSU (Michigan State University) fertilizer. Since you are in the UK, you may have very much better tap water than us in the US, so the problems with fertilizer may be a little different there, but I will bet that your tap water is very good for the plants. You might want to check with your city for a water quality report to find out what the hardness is.
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Old 07-29-2007, 04:15 PM
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Charcoal also sweetens the mix and the perlite holds moisture while at the same time creates air pockets that the orchid roots need.
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