|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
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.
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
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 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.
||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.
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!
||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