Orchid Composts – Part One
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For orchids, compost has the dual function of supporting the plant in its container and providing the roots with a medium which is well aerated yet moisture-retentive.
It is seldom replaced more than once a year, and often at longer intervals, so it must decompose slowly. Composts is use today are usually mixtures of natural materials, such as pieces of pine or fir bark, coarse grit, coir, fibrous peat, chopped dried leaves or sphagnum, and inert materials like perlite, perlag, pieces of horticultural-grade charcoal and sometimes pieces of polystrene. Individual growers have favorite mixes best suited to their own greenhouses and different watering regimes. A mix containing large particles with large spaces between them will need watering more frequently than close mix with particles of small size.
Many growers add bone meal, dried blood or hoof and horn meal to these mixtures when plants are potted. Others prefer compost which is completely inert so that they can supply known quantities of liquid fertilizer to the plants as a dilute feed on a regular basis throughout the growing season. In commercial nurseries both the watering and feeding are usually computer controlled.
For more information on orchid composts, check out Part Two!