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  #1  
Old 02-07-2015, 08:02 PM
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MrHungx MrHungx is offline
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Default My experience with sphagnum moss

I'm sure most people have heard about the horrors of sphagnum moss causing root rot. I have previously used medium/coarse bark mix as a universal medium for all of my orchids. I live in a particularly arid climate (humidity is usually ~40%). My orchids have never "thrived" under my care. I unpotted an orchid one day to look at the roots and confirmed that it was under watered. As an experiment, I repotted some of my orchids in a sphagnum moss/bark mix and have experienced crazy growth. I have now repotted my entire collection in a sphagnum moss/bark mix. The smaller orchids have a higher sphagnum moss to bark ratio while the larger orchids have a lower sphagnum moss to bark ratio. The pseudobulbs of my oncidiums have remained plump and my other orchids are putting out lots of roots. My point is sphagnum moss is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It works great for under waterers in arid climates. I understand that what works for me may not work for other people, but I just wanted to share my experiences with sphagnum moss.

Edit: Also, I find it easier to tell when to water my orchids when planted in a sphagnum moss/bark mix. Since the mix tends to dry out more evenly than a pure fir bark mix, I can simply look at the surface of the medium to determine if the orchid needs to be watered.

Last edited by MrHungx; 02-17-2015 at 05:57 AM..
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  #2  
Old 02-07-2015, 08:11 PM
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Thanks for your post. I know orchids thrive in it, but I've struggled to keep any of mine happy in bark. It's not the medium for me, at least for now. I don't live in an arid climate, but I do get behind and under-water. Sphagnum has worked well for me, sometimes mixed, sometimes straight up moss.
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Old 02-07-2015, 08:28 PM
LovePhals LovePhals is offline
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Interesting. I find too it depends on the quality of moss. I like my sphagnum moss I bought recently, I can tell a big difference in my plants with the better grade of moss!
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Old 02-07-2015, 09:30 PM
RJSquirrel RJSquirrel is offline
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I like good clean moss. I get this at petsmart. Good and clean made for wildlife so its also been 'sanitized'. Unfortunately the way most people see moss in use is when they get a phal from the store and its packed with wet soggy goopy moss. The 1st thing they do when they get it home is water it...Let the moss dry up to where its just barely moist if not almost dry before you water the plant again. If the moss gets too dry its going to take a lot of water to perk it up. When its kept cool such as indoors it doesnt need much watering. Bark on the other hand inside I found myself running my plants to the sink all the time. It will eventually plug your sink up. Moss can save you a lot work if you learn how to use it properly under the right conditions for your own growing habits. Its not the media that kills the plant its the routines you apply in using it.
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Old 02-08-2015, 04:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJSquirrel View Post
Its not the media that kills the plant its the routines you apply in using it.
Yep, that's about it. Plus the bit about what works for one person won't always work for another.

To me, the problem with sphagnum is its ability to compact and restrict air flow.

It's not just with hobbyists either. I bought two Catts from a reputable orchid supplier and discovered that the root mass was a solid, compacted plug of dead roots and sphag, so dense that it would take a wood screw.

Again, my phals are in large fir bark ONLY, I water with a spray, and as soon as water exits the bottom of the pot, I stop. Once a week to two weeks in the winter, twice a week in the summer. I don't bother with soaking the medium, and they are thriving and spiking.
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Old 02-08-2015, 12:47 PM
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Well I have to say I am doing a bit of experimenting myself right now. I have a fine mix I bought from Kellys Korner that I have my mini phals and paphs in. I re-potted 2 more mini phals and I added some extra spagh. It's not New Zealand moss but from chili. I found it in Lowes I think. It doesn't seem to bad. We will see how they do. They haven't been in it very long both are spiking but it does seem to be easier to tell if they need water.

I was not watering the other 2 enough at first and was doing it every or every other day. I am doing these every other or every 3rd day. I was hoping to not have to water so much. I do think it is helping a bit.

I just ordered New Zealand from Ray this morning so I will be able to see the difference. But since I am just mixing it I hope I will be able to use it up. Jury......still out.
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Old 02-08-2015, 02:33 PM
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I live in too damp of a climate to use sphag for my phals. However I sprinkle a bit in for my oncidiums and they seem to like it.

Additionally, I've layered about just under 1cm on the tops of all my pots now!
I tried it on 2-3 oncidiums first, and it really helped them put roots down. I put it in a few more, and now I am trying it on my 3 phals. We'll see!

Additionally, the paphiopedilum I bought a while ago came in sphagnum, and the plant seemed to like it quite a lot. I took it out of the pot after flowering and the media was totally fine, so I just packed it back up in pure sphag. It seems to like it and I just soak it in some water every time the moss is almost dry.

I am too scared to do it with other plants, but for the paph and for reasons above, I do like sphag!
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Old 02-08-2015, 06:17 PM
mimigirl mimigirl is offline
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I have a scaphyglottis sp. plant shallow in spagnum and kept in a small terrarium with some other minis and it is dried out every day. I am not too happy with that.
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Old 02-08-2015, 08:20 PM
lotis146 lotis146 is offline
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I've learned Sphag is not nearly the demon that some call it out to be. I think I need to add more Sphag to several of my plants the next time I repot because I am an underwaterer, bad. But then I'd have to balance this out with them being outside come spring and summer. If it's a mild summer like last year than Sphag might be too much, but if it's hotter Sphag might help me and my lack of watering.
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Old 02-09-2015, 04:21 AM
bil bil is offline
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There is an old saying. "Rules are made for the guidance of wise men, and the obedience of fools."

There are certain rules re the watering of orchids. If you break them, as long as you you are fully aware of what you are doing, and can take balancing steps then things on the whole will be OK.

However if you don't know what the problems can be, then you stand to kill the plants.
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