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Some of the different ways to grow Phals- Bark, Mounted, Semi-Hydro, Sphagnum moss, and CHC
By Call_Me_Bob at 2010-10-25 02:58
Most phalaenopsis are epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that live clinging to other plants, mainly trees. Phalaenopsis have thick fleshy roots that attach them selves to the bark. Because of this, they cannot be grown as traditional house plants. They needs fast draining media that allows for good aeration within the roots. There are many different ways of potting a Phalaenopsis. There four main ways of growing Phalaenopsis are bark, sphagnum moss, semi-hydroponics, mounting and coconut husk chips.
Fir bark is probably the most popular way of growing Phalaenopsis. They can be grown either in straight bark or a mixture of bark and other ingredients. The main ingredients added are perlite, coarse charcoal, and sphagnum moss. Perlite is used for its aeration qualities. Coarse charcoal is inert and gives good drainage. Some think it they may also adsorb toxins and acids from the root-zone. Finally, sphagnum moss is used to increase the water retention. Because Phalaenopsis grow on trees in nature, bark is ideal, since it creates a good surface for the roots to grasp. Although there are MANY different mixes, I use a 50/50 mix of coarse fir bark and medium grade charcoal.
Probably the second most popular medium for Phalaenopsis is sphagnum moss. Sphagnum moss is either added to other mixes or used alone. Either way it provides excellent water retention. Whether or not you can successfully use Sphagnum moss alone as a medium depends on your growing conditions. You must be careful with sphagnum moss, because of its water retention qualities it is easy to over-water. Many big companies use straight sphagnum moss, because it holds water during shipping and is typically clean, so it can easily be imported and exported. It must be remembered that Sphagnum moss hold a lot more water than bark. One must be careful not to over water in this type of potting.
Semi-hydroponics is a relatively new technique. It is a method of using the wicking properties of L.E.C.A. to provide water to the roots of the plant. L.E.C.A. stands for Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate; it is inert so it won’t decompose. It has capillary action that allows it to wick water up from the reservoir into the root-zone. The pot should have a few small quarter-inch holes about one inch up, creating a reservoir at the bottom of the pot. The plants should then be potted as you would with any other media, except that, instead of pressing down the media, pot should be shaken to let the media flow in around the root system. When watering using this technique, water should be run through the medium and down into the reservoir.
Mounting is the most natural way to grow Phalaenopsis and other epiphytes because it mimics the way that these orchids naturally grow on trees. However, mounting is not well suited for the average home grower. Because its roots are attached with only a thin layer of sphagnum moss for moisture, mounted Phalaenopsis will be subject to very quickly. It will need watered every day or so, depending on humidity and the amount of sphagnum moss between the roots and the mount. There are many different materials you can mount on. Some examples are cedar, driftwood, grapevine, treefern, and epiweb.
Potting with coconut husk chips (chc) is similar to using bark, but it holds more moister and creates an airier environment. Like bark potted orchids, they can be grown either in straight chc or a mixture of chc and other ingredients. The main ingredients added are perlite, coarse charcoal, and sphagnum moss. Perlite is used for its aeration qualities. Coarse charcoal is inert and gives good drainage. Some think that it may also absorb toxins and acids from the root-zone. Phalaenopsis grow on trees in nature, and chc is very bark-like; therefore chc’s creates a good surface for the roots to grasp. As with all media, the quality is very important.

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