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  #1  
Old 07-01-2008, 11:59 AM
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camille1585 camille1585 is offline
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Default Unsure what medium to use

As I mentioned in a thread yesterday, I got a Cattleya recently, my first one. It needs repotting asap (some root rot and decomposed medium) For now I will put it in a new pot, but I plan on making a basket for it this summer. The problem is, I'm unsure what medium would work better for it. I have medium grade bark and and coarse CHC (chunks over an inch, sold as mulch for shrubs/trees). I can cut it into small pieces if it's too large. Would either of these (or both together) work, or should I go for something else?
If I remember previous threads correctly, I should soak the chc in water or epsom salts sveral times to leach the salt. Is that right?
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Old 07-01-2008, 01:47 PM
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Camille, I think either the medium-grade barki or the coarse CHC will work fine for your cattleya. However, I do have a personal preference for coarse-grade CHC. If you can soak it in plain water (or, even better, reverse osmosis or distilled water) two to three times, that should take care of any residual salts that might be in it. I usually soak it overnight in a large bucket, dump the water out the next day and then repeat the process two more times with fresh water. One of the nice things about CHC is that it if you let it dry out (after it's been rinsed) and then pot with it, it will expand when it has been watered and help secure your plant in its pot. I've repotted a couple of Cattleya bowringianas in coarse-grade CHC over the last month that had lost many of their roots while in the care of their previous owner, and they've responded very nicely to the new growing medium. So my advice would be to go ahead and try the CHC. Good luck with your cattleya (by the way, what kind of cattleya did you receive--species or hybrid?).

Steve
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Old 07-01-2008, 02:33 PM
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I also like the idea of the CHC, because it will decay slower than wood. It does, however, hold more water. You might consider a clay pot, if you are in plastic, or perhaps a layer of styrofoam peanuts at the bottom of the pot.

-Cj
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Old 07-01-2008, 04:18 PM
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Steve, I have no clue what it is, other than a hybrid noid saved from the trash. It had small orange flowers similar to those on Lc Trick or Treat or Cattleya aurantiaca 'Darkest Orange'

I cleaned up the roots, and it was worse than I thought. It was overwatered and in really badly decomposed bark. The only good roots are the ones on the new growths, and 1 or 2 other roots.The problem with the garden center is that they water all their orchids the same way, so their phals are great, but not the catts and dens.
I think I may have to go sphag and bag with it before potting.

Just to have an idea, how do you water plants in CHC? Does it dry out faster or slower than bark?
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Last edited by camille1585; 07-01-2008 at 04:42 PM..
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Old 07-01-2008, 05:09 PM
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Camille, I like CHC too. It dries a little slower than bark. I only water once a week unless it's super hot out. It doesn't decompose and compress as fast as bark so you shouldn't have to repot as often. If you like plastic pots look for the ones with slotted sides and lots of holes or even an inverted cone in the bottom. This will help them dry out faster. I would'n bother with S&B. The old Pbulbs won't grow new roots. If the new growth has good roots that should be fine.
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Old 07-01-2008, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quiltergal View Post
Camille, I like CHC too. It dries a little slower than bark. I only water once a week unless it's super hot out. It doesn't decompose and compress as fast as bark so you shouldn't have to repot as often. If you like plastic pots look for the ones with slotted sides and lots of holes or even an inverted cone in the bottom. This will help them dry out faster. I would'n bother with S&B. The old Pbulbs won't grow new roots. If the new growth has good roots that should be fine.
I had no idea old p bulbs stay rootless! I guess they are like oncs then. As you can tell, I don't know much about Catts!! This is a completely new genera for me
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Old 07-01-2008, 06:18 PM
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Hi Camille! I also use chc and all my orchids love it! I have used it on a couple catts as well and they shot out a bunch of new roots in no time. I have an Apple Bloosom that was in horrible condition when I got it and after a couple months it had 2 new growths and tons of roots. It's been a year and it's now blooming. I water about once a week like Terri and I also have them in clear slotted pots.
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Old 07-02-2008, 07:52 AM
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Camille, Terri is right: coconut husk chunks does dry out more slowly than bark. The good news is that (at least in my experience) it isn't prone to rotting as quickly as bark is. As far as frequency of watering goes, it depends on other factors (more light and warmth equals more watering) as well as the health and vigor of the plant. I have several cattleyas that are in full summer growth mode. Since they get quite a bit of direct morning sun and are planted in clay pots with a thick layer of styrofoam packing material beneath the coconut husks, they get watered every other day. My suggestion is for you to plant your cattleya in a fairly small clay pot (although plastic will work fine also, the expanding qualities of CHC makes it easier to achieve a secure and tight fit when used in combination with rigid clay instead of flexible plastic) with the coarse CHC, place it in a relatively shady location (alongside your phalaenopsis, if you grow any, would be great) and then water sparingly until a new growth has started.

Steve
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:00 AM
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I found packing peanuts amidst my junk, so that's good. One other question about the CHC. I soaked it last night, and when I drained the water this morning it was stained a dark orange color. Is that normal, or was the CHC treated with something before?
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:42 AM
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Yes, that's normal. As you repeat the process, you should notice a reduction in the amount of stain in the water; however, it will never become completely clear, regardless of the number of times you soak the material. Also, while most of the material will float after being soaked, some of it will have sunk to the bottom of the container. I usually toss the sunken pieces out. But there's no scientific reason on my part for doing this. I just think those chunks of coconut husk might be farther along in the process of decomposing.
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