By Anne Baley
Orchids have the reputation for being difficult to grow, but they’re just like other plants. If you give them the correct planting medium, moisture and light, they’ll thrive under your care. The problems start when you treat orchids like any other houseplant. The fastest way to kill an orchid plant is to transplant it into normal potting soil.
Soil for orchids contains not actual soil, and is instead a mixture of chunky ingredients that mimic the environment the orchids use in the wild. You can buy commercial orchid potting mix, or have fun creating your own special blend.
Types of Planting Mediums for Orchids
The most important attributes for orchid soil are aeration and drainage. Orchids don’t have the same type of roots as other houseplants. If the roots are left in moisture for any length of time, they will rot. While orchids love moisture, a little goes a long way.
Most commercial orchid planting mediums contain ingredients such as peat moss, perlite or fir bark. Each type of orchid enjoys a different type of planting medium, so if you plan to grow a large variety of blooms, creating your own mix may be the best option.
Orchid Potting Mix
Your own planting mediums for orchids depend on factors like the availability of the ingredients and the way your orchids perform when using the mix. Most orchid growers experiment with planting mixes until they get just the right blend.
The orchid variety itself can dictate the ingredients in your mix. The phalaenopsis, for instance, should never be allowed to dry out completely, so you will need to incorporate more absorbent materials such as perlite, peat moss or tree fern into your mix.
Try a variety of mixes to see which ones your orchids like the best. Try ingredients such as rockwool, sand, charcoal, cork and even bits of polystyrene foam. Try a new recipe every time you repot an orchid until you find the perfect blend for your varieties.