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Old 05-14-2015, 01:40 PM
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Peat Moss and Perlite?

The newest orchid I received is potted in a blend of peat moss and Perlite. I have been researching this and have discovered certain nurseries use it as it reduces the need to water. In the warmer months 7-10 days and as little as 10-14 days in the winter.

I suppose I could see this mixture being used in a drought stricken area; but I kill orchids from over watering. I don't see it being a good thing for me personally. Does anyone leave their plants in this stuff?
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Old 05-14-2015, 02:19 PM
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Are we talking phalaenopsis? We used to have a phalaenopsis hybridizer here in Oregon that did an EXCELLENT job growing them in "mud". Yep! You have it right.....during the winter I went nearly a month without watering.......I think the key to this type of media AND to the other common complaint-media used in phals (tightly packed sphag) is that commercial growers have it in very warm greenhouses - and then they only have to water every two weeks or so (I've confirmed this with another commercial grower up north). Everyone grows differently and we all move to our own media of choice that fits our given culture techniques and available conditions. If you have not already read these old threads on phal repotting it might be worthwhile? Phal Repotting & Media
Phal Repotting & Media

Last edited by mayres; 05-14-2015 at 02:20 PM. Reason: correction
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Old 05-14-2015, 05:32 PM
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My newest orchid is an intergeneric type. Through feedback from the AOS and the nursery (in California) it appears to be an Odontocidium Catatante Colmanara type. Here is the thread I started on this new arrival: http://www.orchidgeeks.com/forum/orc...urprise-33046/.

I already know I will be repotting into a different mix once the blooms drop (Researching now). Just surprised to find any orchid in peat moss.
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Old 05-14-2015, 05:38 PM
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mayres is a glorious beacon of lightmayres is a glorious beacon of lightmayres is a glorious beacon of lightmayres is a glorious beacon of lightmayres is a glorious beacon of lightmayres is a glorious beacon of light
I also would be initially surprised for oncidiums too - essentially because I have not seen it before either .....but after thinking about it.......it would/should work for commercial uses when all of it's attributes are taken into consideration. Like you - would be looking to find a more suitable media for myself soon.............good luck!
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Old 05-15-2015, 04:59 AM
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I was talking to a nursery owner about this combination. He said it does well for 8 months out of flask and the plants grow super quick, depending on growing conditions it may only do well for the 8 months. After that he finds the plants slow down and have to be repotted.

Apparently for speed of growing it is just about an ideal combination.
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Old 05-15-2015, 09:44 AM
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"Overwatering" is not a particularly accurate description of the issue; "underaerating" is more to the point.

Plants can handle being constantly wet, as long as the roots still get sufficient air. Take plants in semi-hydroponics or those in rainforests as proof.

The issue most folks have with sphagnum is that over time - especially if they top-water heavily - the stuff becomes compressed in the pot, so the void spaces can remain filled with water, suffocating the roots. I avoid that in two ways, only misting the moss from the top, letting it absorb and spread the moisture, then mist some more, or only "bottom water" by setting the pot in a tray of water, and letting it wick up.

Mixing sphagnum with something that provides some structure to keep it from compressing - perlite, coconut husk fiber, etc. (I have had great success with EcoWeb cubes mixed with it), is yet another alternative.
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Old 05-15-2015, 12:55 PM
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Good points Ray......all you noted makes perfect sense.........
It is amazing though - the number of phals I've repotted over the years that "seem" to have their pots filled to the brim with sphag that was inserted with a hydraulic ram?!
Hard to imagine there ever being much air space in the pots. I'm wondering with both the peat & sphag - possibly there are air spaces - lots of them - at a very small level .....for a time......and that eventually small pieces of media decomposes to fill those in and it becomes unacceptable in 6-8 months as noted?
Would be fun if we had indefinite supplies of media and plants to do scientific studies of things like this and test the limits and find the ideals for each condition?! LOL Seems like the longer I attempt to grow orchids the more I see that there are numerous ways to both grow them and not-grow (kill) them......
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Old 05-15-2015, 03:18 PM
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Many thanks for the feedback. I was completely shocked that a reputable orchid nursery grew their orchids in peat. But as they are in California and as this type of media reduces water needs I guess I can see the benefit, as well as what Bolero stated. Very interesting to hear from a nursery as to why peat is being used for orchids. Peat moss is very high in tannins, so it makes me wonder if this is the factor that is spurring on the initial growth.

Ray, as always, you make me step back and look at things differently. What I have determined over this past year, being as I didn't kill my plants, was that I wasn't letting the pots sufficiently dry out between waterings in addition to watering too heavily or letting the pots sit in the tiniest amount of water. Therefore, I labeled that as overwatering. But from your description of the issue I was simply suffocating them Regardless of what was causing my issues by greatly reducing the number of days between waterings along with only watering until water runs through the pots and waiting until the pots became fairly light I am now successfully growing orchids.

I know I am still a newbie when it comes to proper care for orchids, but I am still very happy so far. My 2 largest phals bloomed even though they were damaged and took that dip into the aquarium last summer; my Cattleya would have bloomed, however, the spike dried up for some reason last winter; and one of the oncidiums I got from digriz has 2 spikes on it. So, all in all, I cannot complain about the past year as it is also my first successful year. I no longer will walk past the orchids feeling that I am not capable of keeping them alive.
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Old 05-16-2015, 04:13 AM
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I have several paphs growing in peat/perlite, even in cold weather (10C). Growth is rapid and the roots leave the bottom of the pot. But i would not try this on every species, it works best on my higher altitude indochinese paphs that grow in the leaf litter/soil often next to streams etc. ie the ones that like wet feet, which seems to be most of the indochinese ones.

Things like Epidendrum ibaguense simply love peat/perlite as well.

In the wild i've seen dendrobiums growing naturally in sphaghnum on the ground, but the sphag is quite loose (a shallow layer, maybe 2-4inches deep) and not compressed like it would be in a pot. I also use a tray of live sphag to help keikis get going or revive ailing mounted plants etc.
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Old 05-19-2015, 07:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayres View Post
It is amazing though - the number of phals I've repotted over the years that "seem" to have their pots filled to the brim with sphag that was inserted with a hydraulic ram?!
Yeah, I've seen that as well, but have yet to really understand it. That seems most prevalent in plants coming from places that have really warm growing conditions, so maybe the evaporation is so fast, that "waterlogged" is a transient issue only.
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Old 05-23-2015, 12:54 AM
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Strange but true

I have a friend who actually grows her Phal in Miracle grow potting soil. I don't know why it survives, but it does and flowers twice a year.
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