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What Potting Mix Should Be Used for Orchids?

What Potting Mix Should Be Used for Orchids?

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The Orchid plant family is also known as the Orchidaceae. They are flowering plants that are known for their diverse colors and fragrances.

Orchids can live on the grounds or can be attached to woody plants and can even be found under-ground.

These plants are often grown indoors as well because of their stunning appearance. However, a proper potting mix must be provided for them to thrive inside.


What Potting Mix Should Be Used for Orchids?

Orchids can grow in several different types of organic materials. The Phalaenopsis Orchids can be planted in materials such as fir bark, sphagnum peat, tree fern, charcoal, perlite, and sphagnum. Materials that are coarse cut are generally better for Orchids since they promote root aeration, nutrient retention, root drainage, and water retention.


Basic Potting Mix for Orchids

The planting medium used for Orchids depends on several factors such as the availability of the ingredients and how well your Orchids grow in that potting mix.

The majority of Orchid growers experiment with different planting mixes to find the right one for their plant.

Orchids come in different varieties, and depending on what Orchid plant you have, the ingredients of the potting mix can change as well.

If you own a Phalaenopsis Orchid plant, you should use materials such as perlite, peat moss, and tree fern for your soil.

For other Orchid plants, you can try using ingredients such as charcoal, cork, polystyrene foam, sand, and Rockwool.

It is best to keep trying different recipes until you find the perfect mix for your Orchid.


Importance of Potting Mix for Orchids

The right potting mix is important for Orchids as they require drainage, good air circulation, and moisture. These factors can change depending on the type of Orchid you own.

Potting mix recommendations for Orchids will consist of different types of potting medium. Each potting medium has its own pros and cons.

Many people consider potting mix as simple dirt for their plants, but there is no traditional soil available for Orchids.

Since the majority of Orchids are epiphytes or “air” plants, they need to be provided with proper air circulation for the roots.

You can not use tightly packed soil for Orchids since their roots will start to rot. Orchids will need to have a proper mix that also contains enough moisture but also drains out water from the soil.

Orchids can also go by a year or so without needing to be repotted. But if the potting mix that you use starts to rot earlier, then you will have to repot your plant unnecessarily.

Having to repot the plant unnecessarily increases the chances of damage to your plant’s roots.

You should never repot Orchids when they are blooming, and this can happen several times in one year.


Best Potting Materials for Orchids

Terrestrial Orchids like Cymbidiums can grow in soil, but tropical Orchids prefer to have more air to the roots.

Such Orchids can be found growing on the bark of tree trunks, and this can be recreated indoors with the use of vertical mounting.

However, recreating the habitat for the plant is a lot easier to do in potting mix. The fleshy roots of Orchids have a layer of white cells on them.

Another name for the white layers is velamen. These layers absorb water and nutrients.

The outer surface of Orchids also protects the roots from heat loss and moisture loss.


Fir Bark

Fir bark is a common ingredient in potting mixes. They can be found in three different types such as fine, medium, and thick.

The finer the fir bark chips are, the more moisture they hold, and these are more suitable for young Orchids.

Corse fir bark dries out more quickly, but it allows more air to flow through it. Epiphytes are mostly well adapted to fir bark and other tree barks, which is why it is a popular choice.


New Zealand Sphagnum Moss

Orchids that are not used to drying out, such as Moth Orchid, like to be kept in soil that retains moisture. The majority of the terrestrial Orchids grow in sphagnum moss.

But air plants will grow on limbs covered with moss or rocks over with moss. However, moss is known to have acidic PH, which is not favored by many Orchids as it breaks down the potting mix.


Coconut Husks

Coconut husks are similar to fir bark, but they hold more moisture and break down a lot slower.



Sponge rock and perlite are good for water retention and providing good aeration.


Fine and Medium Mix for Orchids


Fine mix

A fine mix works well for plants that are smaller in size. Young Orchids and Orchids with small roots prefer to remain damp.

To create a fine mix, use four parts redwood bark, one-part fine charcoal, and one part small-grade aliflor.


Medium mix

The medium mix can be created when you are not sure what type of soil mix is best for your plant. This sort of mix is mostly used for mature Orchids, Cattleyas, and Phalaenopsis.

To create a medium mix, you need to use four parts medium coconut husk chunks, one part charcoal, and one-part medium grade aliflor.


Frequently Asked Questions about Orchids and Potting Mix


Can regular potting mix be used for Orchids?

Some Orchids such as Cymbidiums do fine in regular potting mix, but not all of them can thrive in regular potting mix.


Can Orchids grow without soil?

The majority of Orchids are epiphytes, which means that they grow on other plants instead of soil.

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