One of the reasons that some people think orchids are hard to grow is that they do not grow in regular plant potting soil. Anyone who has not done some research on them or asked enough questions when buying one, could end up easily killing a orchid by applying normal soil/potting methods instead of using proper soil or mixes.
These organisms are epiphytes, and are sometimes referred to as air plants to denote the fact that their roots are not supposed to be packed into soil but left free to air circulation. In their natural environment, such as in the rain forest, they grow on the trunks and branches of trees. They can even grow along the ground with their roots never entering the ground.
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Air Circulation at The Core of Producing Vibrant Blossoms
The only reason one of these plants needs anything in its pot at all is really to hold it upright. That is why the materials or medium used to grow them is very light and very porous. There needs to be air circulation around the roots at all times or the plant will never flower. That means that any growing mixture which buries the roots is going to kill the plant.
After people have been growing orchids for a while, they all develop individual recipes which they consider are just right for their planting medium. All of the different substances used in these mixtures have advantages and disadvantages. It really depends on the varieties you are growing and your personal preferences.
Some Things To Do When First Starting To Grow These Plants
One of the best things to do when you are just starting out in this activity is to talk to other people who grow and breed them. They are usually a friendly bunch who will be happy to talk to you about the ins and outs of different substances. Among the most used media for orchids are fir bark chips and redwood bark chips. Most gardeners usually combine at least two or three kinds of soil, such as mixing together fir bark, granular charcoal and sifted perlite.
Organic Materials are Best for This Activity
Also used for cultivating or planting them are coconut fiber or coconut chips, osmunda fiber, clay pellets, and chipped rock. Sphagnum moss and peat moss are also used, but usually with kinds that have a particular need for more moisture. Both of these were used a lot more before the various barks which allowed better air circulation were discovered.
The Importance of Looking at The Size of The Materials
Another consideration when growing them is the size of the pieces used in the medium. Larger chunks allow for more drainage and air, while smaller ones keep in more moisture. If you are just beginning or are the kind of person who tends to over-water plants, start out with something like fir bark chips. You can always change your preferences as you go along. Cork and wood are often used to mount orchids outside.
Some Problems That May Occur When Growing These Plants
If your soil does not have the right texture and water is retained in the medium, what you may notice is that the leaves of the plant start to turn yellow or the bulb starts to shrivel. These are signs of your medium being too wet, but sometimes they are misinterpreted as meaning the plant needs more water. This is the worst thing to do as more water will rot the roots and kill the plant.
Should you have problems these, there are books that can help as well as many forums on the internet dedicated to this subject which you may find useful. Most of the people in these forums are more than happy to answer your questions about anything related to these flowers.