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Old 05-02-2014, 10:49 AM
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Paphiopedilum Media of Choice?

If there's one thing I've learned in the few years that I've been growing orchids its that "what works for one doesn't necessarily work for everyone"! As with many genera, media utilized for paphiopedilums varies all over the place - and people report great success with lots of different options. I'm quite certain there are even many options used by people around the world that I've not yet even heard of - many of which are probably not even available in my area?
One of the best paph growers I know grows fantastic plants in my area using nothing but douglas fir bark. She occasionally also uses nothing but straight orchiata (bark) now.
Plants I've picked up over the few years I've been growing orchids may also come in straight sphag, blends of bark with perlite and/or small percentage of charcoal. I use coco cubes on my phrags but have as yet to use it with my paph collection.......
For the last 2-3 years my blend of choice has been the following (which was given to me by a friend that I also consider a VERY GOOD paph grower):

1 (2 cubic foot) bag Rexius fine douglas fir bark
3 gallons lava rock (1/2" & less)
2 gallons medium perlite
2 gallons charcoal
2 gallons sphag cut in approx. 1/2" lengths
lastly......I top dress with oyster shells for the brachypetalums.........

Last time I made this up I threw in a bunch of orchiata as well - just because I "could"! This media combo seems to last well AT LEAST two years and maybe more (even with the sphag thrown in!).........I don't pretend to be an expert yet (eventually maybe/I hope!) - still learning (I hope!)..........

Growing in a home environment 8 months of the year I religiously water once per week. During the warm months I put my paphs outside and water 1-2X per week depending on temps - so far....so good.......
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Last edited by mayres; 05-02-2014 at 10:54 AM. Reason: Addition
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Old 05-02-2014, 10:52 AM
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Thank you for that very helpful info. I love to hear about successful growers techniques!
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Old 05-02-2014, 11:05 AM
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I haven't had a lot of experience growing slippers, but the handful I did have I grew in Repotme.com's imperial Paph./Phrag. mix. They all did exceptionally well in it and the mix held up quite well since most of it consisted of inorganic/decomp-resistant materials. Not sure if it would be something you would want to try out sometime or not.

Small Orchiata Monterey Pine Bark
Small Red Lava Rock
Medium Sponge Rock
Small Cork Chunks

I definitely enjoyed growing them. Had to sell them when I moved to Japan, but I plan to eventually get some more. I'll certainly consider your medium tips when I do. Thanks!
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Old 05-02-2014, 11:31 AM
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I use this mixture not only for my paphs but phals and onc. and ondoglossums crosses.

Medium Orchiata bark
Perlite
Medium coco chip bark
Hydroton
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Old 05-02-2014, 12:57 PM
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Both the last two options sound like they would "wear like iron!"? The only issue with medias that don't break down much or slowly....that I can think of initially.....is mineral deposits if you have/use hard water - which I have......
I try to flush through regularly but everything gets pretty "crusty" nonetheless over time. I've noticed that my plants always "perk right up" after a fresh repot.....probably should do it more often than I do? The phrags, which I currently am growing in coco nuggets with a little orchiata & perlite thrown in - especially LOVE to be repotted! This is in spite of the fact that the media (other than the color change) appears about the same as when I started......
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Old 05-12-2014, 08:35 AM
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From what I can work out, it depends on the plants parentage. Some of them love lava rock and some turn up their toes. - I have a lot of species.
I have been trying to use inert medias to maintain PH, but still seem to use spag. Some of the trials include lava rock, perlite, vermiculite, rock and a bit of milled spag. I also have a few in coco husk nuggets which seem to do alright after they hated everything else.
Have just bought some bark to trial that.
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Old 05-12-2014, 07:43 PM
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Hi, I will put my penny worth in also, as Paphiopedilums natural growing areas range from on trees, limestone rocks, litter from falling trees leaves twigs decomposing etc.
we have addapted them to grow in pots and our favorite media.
I have grown very successfull in AusGrow pine bark (treated) small 3 inch pots just straigh 1/2 pine bark and only add Sel-grit about 1/8 inch in size (Chook grit is crushed limestone) This helps keep the mix sweet
Make sure the medium is moist before using it.
.
This I fertilize every 2nd watering in the growing season 1/3 streanght
Water when the plants need it, ie never let the medium become bone dry, as it is near impossible to rewet it by watering only.
This may mean to to 3 times per week in hot summers!

Problem I find with bark and lot of Aussie growers seem to find this a problem also
After 12 months the mix seems to go off, I have tried liming the mix and watering in, may work for a while, but over the last 18 years of growing Paphiopedilums I find the best way to grow them is to repot into fresh mix every year, great if you only have a few plants but I have many hundreds of them and no longer can afford to buy bark for them.
About 4-5 years ago I started to try out CoCo.
So my next mix. I now us 12-18 mm CoCo nuggets only and just add my sel-Grit at repotting time. Nothing else is needed to muck up the mix or drainage.

I now have far better growth then when I used the bark mix.
Still find it far better to repot them all annually but find they will last 2 years in the larger pots (6-8 inches) ok
Currently I am re-potting annually all pots from 2 inches to 4inches and having very good growth.
Fertilize and water as above and when needed.

Now the problems some seem to have with CoCo nuggets, Salts build up when bought new!
I have a TDS meter and when I break up a new bale of CoCo nuggets I soak it in 100 lt plastic garbage bin, draining it every day for minium of 4 times and in the last wash I add about 1/2 cup common garden lime to keep the mix sweet.
That is all and then use the mix moist.

Now the TDS part, my town tap water is about 90ppm reading of what I do not know! salts!!

So when I soak the CoCo mix for the first time for a day and stir up the lot and take a reading, often it ranges from 950 to 1000+ppm what ever is in the reading I have not tested as I can not afford to test it.
I tip this water out & leave drain for 1/2 an hour and refill with fresh tap water.
Next day repeat the TDS test and often it has halved to arond 500ppm
by the end of the fourth watering before adding the lime the readings have come down to around 100+ ppm.

This is now my favorite mix and used on all my orchids in the greenhouse excepth Cymbidiums, remember to regular repot when needed!

I call my method of grow, KIS "Keep it simple"
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Last edited by Ron; 05-13-2014 at 01:56 AM.
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Old 05-12-2014, 11:44 PM
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I am a big fan of pine bark and perlite and the size of the bark is dependant on the size of the plant. So that's pretty much all I use......
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Old 05-13-2014, 03:03 PM
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I have one from seedling size (actually a very small offshoot) in peat and perlite. To my surprise its growing very well and increased in size steadily. I dont know what species it is though.
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:27 PM
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Yep! You all are making my point - LOTS & LOTS of options work - thanks a heap for all the great comments and suggestions. Hopefully this will provide some good insight for others for a long time to come........
Of course as has also been suggested, water quality and other environmental factors also play an important role in what medias will work best for each of our applications.....
It's actually quite surprising how tolerant these guys are of all our crazy "ideas"!
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Old 05-13-2014, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayres View Post
Yep! You all are making my point - LOTS & LOTS of options work - thanks a heap for all the great comments and suggestions. Hopefully this will provide some good insight for others for a long time to come........
Of course as has also been suggested, water quality and other environmental factors also play an important role in what medias will work best for each of our applications.....
It's actually quite surprising how tolerant these guys are of all our crazy "ideas"!
Hi, yes it is interesting to see how many different types of mixes work.
Water Quality.
Something I did not go into! I should state originally I used town tap water for a while until I put in a small rainwater tank of only 1100lt. Originally only for deflasked seedling and small plants
They rate of growth on these small plants definatly impoved about 100% with the added use of fresh rainwater
Currently at my new home (last 7 -8 years) I installed the 1100lt plus a new 10.000 lt rainwater tank and now use it on all orchids in the greenhouse.

Town water and its additives certinally play havoc with young plants growth and if you lucky enought to have any rainwater tank or collective drums, use it on the young seedling first.
Good growing and enjoy the great hobby of growing Paphiopedilums as many of us do from flasks to flowering.
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Old 05-13-2014, 07:28 PM
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Bumms Ron - I've been thinking for quite some time that I NEED to figure out how to capture some rain water for my orchids and your email just might be what pushes me off the edge! My seedlings grow abysmally slow it seems - maybe it is the water quality? I have both a well and city water - both have high mineral content.....
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:35 PM
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Sorry mate, if you can capture some rain water by installing a by-pass system on your down pipes certingally worth the effort.
I suppose I am lucky in a way as in my younger days I worked for about 5 years in the building indistry and picked up a lot of tips, from helping plumbers, offsideing carpenders, even did a stint as a brickies labourer.

I have a friend who bought about 6 used olive barrels ,(plastic & about 200lt.) and uses them for storing rainwater. these barrels are quiet often sold 2nd hand at reasonable size garden centres.
Best of luck and enjoy!
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Last edited by Ron; 05-13-2014 at 10:43 PM.
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Old 05-19-2014, 03:40 PM
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Still one of my favorite exhibition type Paphiopedilum I have grown from flask and Flowered, My very first Grand-Champion at an Orchid show.
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