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Orchid Sundries

This section of the site contains information on a variety of sundries that you will find useful and in some cases will determine whether your orchids will survive or thrive. Such a case is with the wooded baskets, orchids such as Coelogyne massangeana grow naturally on trees as Epiphytes. This and other Epiphytic orchids will grow quite happily in pots and will flower on a regular basis but they will thrive in a basket that is suspended by wires. The other reason for growing this type of orchid in a basket rather than a pot is that the flowers are often borne on pendular spikes, this means that if grown in a pot the flowers will be resting on the bench and will not look at their best


A slightly misleading term as it is really only there to fold moisture and anchor the plant in it's pot. Orchid compost comes in a few varieties and there are more than a couple of alternatives, which we will discuss here.

Bark based compost - mostly from Douglas Fir

Bark based compost is easy to use and has good free draining properties. This compost is usually offered as a mix consisting of graded bark (small, Medium and Large), perlite and peat.
Plain Bark
This is the main constituent of the above orchid compost but contains no peat or perlite. It is often bought for plants that require a very open mix or by people wanting to make their own mixes up.

For more information on orchid bark visit the bark page


Osmunda Fibre
This was the Victorian orchid growers favorite potting medium, it is the cleaned and washed roots of the Osmunda fern (mostly Osmunda cinnamomea and Osmunda claytonia). It is very wiry and has extremely good lasting qualities and is capable of holding a large volume of water. Still available but not used so often.


This is the roots of the Tree fern (Cyatheaceae) which grown in many tropical and subtropical countries. Again it has a slow rate of decomposition, good drainage and can hold a lot of water. Mostly used in the USA

Rock wool

Rock wool is made by melting basalt or diabase rock together with one or two other elements in a temperature over 1600C, the molten mix is then spun in what is in essence a large candy floss machine! Rock wool has very good moisture retentive properties but offers little else. It does however readily take and hold on to nutrients and is one reason it is very popular with hydroponics.


Orchid baskets are intended for use with epiphytic orchids, this type of orchid usually grown either on the trunk of a tree or where a branch joins the trunk. As a result many of the plants have evolved a flower spike that grows downward either singly or on a pedular spike.

 2000 Orchid-Guide.com If you grow this type of orchid in a pot it will usually grow quite well but you may loose the flowers as they will grow downwards in to the pot and be lost. A good example of this is with Coelogyne massangeana (see photo). these orchid have a pendular flower spike and although you can train it to grow out of the pot it will be lost on the bench - although you will still be able to smell the wonderful honey fragrance! 

Grow it in a basket however and you will transform it in to something quite different.

Baskets come in a variety of sizes from 4 inch square to massive 14 inch square ones and you choose the one that suits the growth of the orchid in question.

This plant although growing very well will never look it's best until grown in a basket.

This plant is now in a basket and you can follow the process here.

Cork Bark

This, as the name suggests is the bark from the cork tree. It is the same bark that is used to cork bottles of wine but we put it to a much better use!
 2000 Orchid-Guide.com Many orchids are epiphytic and will benefit from something other than a pot.

Phalaenopsis is a good candidate for mounting on to a piece of cork bar. (see photo)

This plant was in good condition when bough but quickly began to 'walk' out of the pot. The reason for this is they these too naturally grow on trees and millions of years of evolution can't be bred out of them overnight.

Phalaenopsis usually grow at a 30 to 45 degree angle to the tree they are growing on, they will when planted in pots attempt to adjust their position to get this angle as they don't know they are in a pot!

The only snag with mounting orchids on bark is that they do take more looking after than their pot grown brothers and sisters as they will usually need watering every other day or they may become dehydrated.

Once this plant was placed on to bark it started growing like a cabbage! and has been in constant flower now for over 18 months. It's flower spikes are so long they can be seen growing out of the edge of the photo - there are four spikes and a new one on the way, plus two new leaves.

Orchid Bark chunks are available in a variety of sizes from our shop at Faunology

Here's some useful equipment you may need with summer on the horizon
Thermometers | Thermostats | Humidity Gauges


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