Articles About Orchids
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My Articles About Orchids
   No, we are not going to be making pies or cookies, but we are going to learn about a product that your orchids will love as much as you love the pies and cookies. If you live where coconut trees grow, you may have the perfect medium for your orchids growing right in your back yard free for the picking.

   For many years, orchid growers have relied on tree bark and different types of Sphagnum moss as the orchid potting mix of choice. However, as the environment becomes more and more protected, bark and moss is becoming less available as well as very expensive.
    Just last spring, one major supplier of Sequoia orchid bark announced they would no longer produce orchid bark. Even with the inherent problems encountered with bark, such as decomposing quickly, it was still a favorite medium.
   Sphagnum moss has also become very expensive and the quality has been degrading every year. Some suppliers are using more and more filler, which bring undesirable weed seeds along for the ride.    These problems prompted growers all over the world to look for alternative products to use as orchid media. Sponge rock, rock wool, vermiculite, shredded tires, and others have been tried. Unfortunately, each of these alternative products have problems of their own.
   Growers soon found they really did not have much to choose from in the way of products that provided the necessary properties needed for orchid media. The media needs to hold moisture but not be soggy wet, allow the orchid roots to "breathe" by providing plenty of air space, and not decompose in a short period of time. They were also looking for something that was environmentally friendly and would not rob our world of precious trees and bogs. Now that is a lot to ask for.
   After years of trying about everything that would fit in a pot, someone stumbled onto the idea of using coconuts. Coconuts may float for months in the ocean and the seed would germinate inside the shell. When it finally washed ashore, the little plant would send out roots into the ground and start to grow. What was realized, was the coconut is filled with perfect growing media.
   In the past few years a new product has hit the orchid world. This product is produced from coconuts can be made into peat (coir) chips in different sizes, and fiber. The fiber is excellent for lining baskets or used in mounting orchids.
   The chips can hold up to five times their weight in water but the amazing thing is they can also hold the same amount of air before and after watering. The fiber also holds water like the chips. The outer layer of the chips dries, but the inner layers stays moist, but not soggy wet. The product is also very durable. It takes about 5 years before you see this product start to break down.
   Charcoal or ISOLITE (a porous polystirene medium) can be added to help hold the plants in the pots since the chips and fiber are very lightweight.
   I have been amazed how well this product has performed for me. I have potted salvaged plants that were close to death from the discount stores and nurseries in the coconut chips to see how the media performs.
   Orchids potted in the chips grew roots at an amazing speed. The ones potted in the traditional bark took much longer to grow and stabilize. Mounted orchids flourished when the fiber was used in the mount.
   There is more! How would you like a natural planter? Coconuts also make wonderful planters. The roots grow right into the coconut husk and absorb moisture trapped in the husk. You just have to remove the hard coconut "nut" shell to expose the husk. I also like to drill some holes in the bottom of the husk to let the water run through and prevent pooling. Coconuts are an abundant natural resources, completely biodegradable, and environmentally safe.
    They are an excellent alternative to the ecological depletion of the other materials like bark, Sphagnum moss and peat. I have used coco chips, fiber, and planters for over two years and I can not say enough good things about coconuts and the way my orchids are loving them too.

   I hope you too will give these marvelous coconuts a try. Do you have coconut trees in your backyard???
Bob the monkey