Ask a Question forum: orchid media

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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Dec 7, 2014 8:06 AM CST
Has anyone found a suitable substitute for Douglas fir bark? This has now become so terribly expensive, particularly when you add in shipping, that I need to find something that will replace it. Lowe's sells a good, clean grade of cypress bark (mulch), but it is not in chunks like the fir bark and there is really no way to truly grade it as fir bark is (fine, medium, large). I stocked up this summer on Douglas fir bark, but with so many plants, I am sure I will run out of this in the spring. I see that a couple of large orchid sellers, one is Carter and Holmes, no longer sells Douglas fir bark and has substituted cypress for that. I don't know if they have a source that does something special to make it more suitable for orchid growing.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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Dutchlady1
Dec 7, 2014 8:08 AM CST
I wonder if the 'mini pine bark nuggets' that Lowes sells as mulch would do the trick? $ 2.80 or thereabouts per 2 cu.ft. bag...
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Dec 7, 2014 8:14 AM CST
Good idea, Hetty, but I am afraid to use something that I have never used before. Perhaps someone has used this with success. I have several hundred orchids and would be reluctant to use something without having at least someone with experience telling me that it works well. I don't even use pine bark in my landscape or greenhouses (sub-flooring), but do use cypress. Cypress seems to last a lot longer.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator Region: Florida Cat Lover Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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Dutchlady1
Dec 7, 2014 11:07 AM CST
Cypress, however, is non-sustainable. The Botanical Garden where I work advises everyone to stop using Cypress mulch and use the eco-friendly 'Florimulch' (made of invasive melaleuca trees) instead.
Back to your orchid question, I would certainly never experiment with 'several hundred' orchids, but maybe you can try it out on a few more common ones?
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Dec 7, 2014 12:55 PM CST
Yep, I can do that. On the question of sustainability, I actually researched this not so long ago because of a previous comment about this. It appears only Florida considers cypress non-sustainable. According to my research, and I checked several sources, there is now more cypress acreage in America than any time in our recorded history. I think one of those sources was Louisiana State University School of Forestry. I think your Botanical Garden is only trying to find a way to control your melaleuca trees, a tree that is not even found in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama where stands of cypress are large and plentiful. Heck, I don't even know that your melaleuca tree is found anywhere else in America.

As you know, I love to experiment, so I might just make two equal batches of my orchid mix, one using the pine bark and the other shredded cypress.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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woofie
Dec 7, 2014 1:48 PM CST
Maybe Oregon is missing a market. Juniper trees are considered a nuisance there.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Dec 7, 2014 1:57 PM CST
Thumbs up I am not aware of any real "nuisance" trees in the south, other than what Hetty told us. We certainly have huge tracts of pine and that has become a "crop" plant for many farmers in the south. But because of its commercial importance, it would never be considered a nuisance.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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woofie
Dec 7, 2014 2:29 PM CST
When we lived in Oregon, they would pay us to get rid of the juniper trees and seedlings. Since they are a type of cypress, it got me to wondering if they might be useful as mulch.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Dec 7, 2014 5:10 PM CST
I can't think of anyone that would give such an experiment a better fair shake than you, Ken. Do report back if you proceed. Thumbs up
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Dec 7, 2014 5:32 PM CST
Why, thanks, Rick. It won't happen till spring. I just re-potted a couple dozen blooming size (standard) orchids today and I still have plenty of Douglas fir bark for another 4-5 dozen plants, re-potted into 5" mesh-pots.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Dec 7, 2014 8:48 PM CST
Do you think balsam fir would be similar to Douglas fir? there must be a tons of balsam fir trees sold for Christmas trees around here... maybe I could start a new industry, I wanted to get a chipper anyway Hilarious!
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Dec 7, 2014 9:03 PM CST
Good thoughts there, Sandy.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Dec 7, 2014 9:22 PM CST
Remember it is the bark, not the wood that is used. Balsam fir bark is smooth and relatively thin, and the trees don't get that big so the bark doesn't build up like larger growing trees. I think just about any other conifer bark would be better. Although Balsam fir and Douglas fir are both called firs as common names, only the Balsam is a true fir. The Douglas fir is very different and not closely related to Balsam firs at all.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Dec 7, 2014 11:17 PM CST
Good point, Rick. But it gets me to wondering...just what is the difference between the bark chips and wood chips from the same type of tree? Is it just how quickly it breaks down, or does it have more to do with what nutrients are being taken up by the (well, previously) living plant? Yes, my ignorance is showing. Hilarious!
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Dec 7, 2014 11:19 PM CST
Sure, Rick -- go ahead and burst my bubble as a budding entrepeneur of orchid-growing medium! Glare
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
/ Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Dec 8, 2014 6:56 AM CST
Now you've got me wondering, Rick. The cypress that is bagged up for mulch is certainly NOT bark. The cypress tree has extremely thin bark and what there is of it is simply stripped from the tree, not chewed up like pine bark could be. Thus, almost all of that cypress mulch is the wood of the tree. Also, cypress wood is rot resistant and might last many times what Douglas fir bark lasts. Good or bad?

I guess only an experiment will solve this mystery. Shoot, I've got to go to Lowe's anyway. I might as well get a bag of cypress and (premium) pine bark mulches, make my super-duper orchid mixes with them, and let the experiment begin.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier The WITWIT Badge Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Moonhowl
Dec 8, 2014 6:13 PM CST
Hi Ken.

Katrina, Rita, and Gustav, (salt water incursion) along with British Petroleum have wreaked havoc on our wetlands, aquaculture, fishing /seafood industry and swamps , not to mention coastal erosion, as I am sure you know. We have also had a reduction in our normal rainfall (drought) which has had a deleterious effect on wetlands/swamps. Below is some info on cypress sustainability and use as mulch.

http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/the-forgotten-forests...

http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/much-ado-about-mulch/...

http://www.basinkeeper.org/LoggingOff.pdf

http://www.rnr.lsu.edu/people/keim/pubs/Faulkner_etal_SWGLA_...

http://saveourcypress.org/category/faqs/cypress-mulch-fact-s...

http://tigerprints.clemson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1...
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
Image
Leftwood
Dec 8, 2014 7:15 PM CST
To the bark versus wood question, yes, there is a big difference. They are completely different kinds of cells produced for completely different purposes. A simplified version of there positions: http://www.appleman.ca/korchard/grfting3.htm
In virtually all woody plants, the bark is more resistant to break down. It's natural purpose is to defend against environmental stresses and pathogenic invasion.

In the end, is one better than the other for a growing medium? I don't know. Certainly, individual characteristics would vary depending on the species of wood or bark used, and how they are produced. For example, wood chips would have different properties than shredded wood.

... cypress wood is rot resistant and might last many times what Douglas fir bark lasts. Good or bad?

Don't know the answer to that either. But it has been shown that some resins/chemicals (in some trees) responsible for rot resistance has been deleterious to growth of certain plants. So who knows? Shrug!

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