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Every orchid grower has their favorite formula for orchid potting mix. There are as many different orchid soil recipe formulas as there are growers. The primary consideration is to select one which is proper for your plants.
If you want to buy a high-quality best orchid potting mix, you can get it cheapest at your local stores or online through Amazon, but before that, read my tips on how to choose the best one for your loving plants.
Adding several soil amendments to the commercial mix enhances its quality and improves aeration and drainage. This type of soil will make your orchid happy and bloom many flowers.
Many indoor growers will try different orchid soil mix media, looking for that perfect formula. Generally, it takes around one growing season to test a media for the orchid substrate.
The biggest threat to orchids is too much water. These plants are natively growing on large trees, stems /branches, or rocks in tropical rainforests. Even after heavy rains, the water recedes and dries up quickly on those surfaces. Therefore, excess moisture is harmful to orchids.
I suggest using a balanced mix of ready-made orchid potting soil with your own orchid soil amendments for home growers. Using that method, you can easily manage its moisture level according to climate conditions.
Table of Contents
Do orchids need soil?
Orchids do not like regular soil. So you cannot plant orchids in potting soil that we use for typical houseplants. It needs a unique substrate.
The majority (around 70%) of orchids belong to the Epiphytic family. As I mentioned earlier, this variety of plants grows on top of trees. Therefore orchids prefer large particle-size ingredients as a growing medium.
Barks is a nutrient-rich potting mix for many house plants, including orchids and succulents. This substrate retains less moisture and takes a long time to break down.
With the support of a sound root system, orchids get nutrients and moisture in the air. These airborne micronutrients are enough to thrive and produce flowers and seeds in the plant. Due to that reason, orchids grow aerial roots.
Generally, orchids love to grow in the air than in the heavy compact soil medium. However, when you are growing orchids indoors, this is not advisable. Because indoor places lack airborne micronutrients and moisture. Therefore orchid’s aerial roots dry up quickly.
How to select Orchid potting medium ingredients.
- Maintenance of pot stability.
Generally, these tropical plants grow several inches higher. Therefore your potting media should have enough weight to maintain the pot and plant stability. Lava rock and clay chips are reasonable solutions for increasing a pot’s weight.
- Improve humidity and drainage.
Orchids do not like to grow in low humidity and high moisture. Therefore your orchids substrate should have enough organic and inorganic materials to balance it. Charcoal, perlite, pumice, and coconut husk are good ingredients to improve humidity.
- Airflow inside.
Since these orchids prefer to grow in the air, it is essential to use more prominent particle size mediums as your soil. Even if you choose the right pot for orchids, if the substrate particles get smaller, it blocks inside airflow. Use more than 1 inch (2.5cm) of larger particles to improve aeration. These size particles will help orchid roots expose to air.
- Orchid variety root systems.
It is essential to choose the right potting mix for orchids. If the plant has fine roots, tiny seedlings, or orchids, you must use a small particle size medium. If you have a thick root orchid, like Phalaenopsis, use larger size orchid bark.
Ready-Made Orchid Potting Mix.
Ready-made orchid potting mix is blended depending on the orchid species’ needs and based on the orchid type. It’s very comfortable for orchids growers. Many of these products are sterilized to protect orchids from fungal diseases.
Some ready-made orchid potting mixes contain tiny particles less than 1/4 inch in size—such a mix is best for propagating orchids or fine-rooted plants. Always choose a potting mix of 1/2inch or larger for thick rooted orchids. That size of particles substrate improves the potting mix aeration and drainage.
So if you want your orchid to thrive and reward you with gorgeous blooms, you should choose an orchid potting mix based on each genera’s needs. You can find special blends for Phalaenopsis, Cattleya, Dendrobium, Cymbidium, Miltonia, Oncidium, and Paphiopedilum.
After long years of experience, I have come up with very high-quality orchid potting mixes available on the market. Fir bark classic orchid mix is a good standard commercial mix. Though I do not use them, I always add a few extra ingredients and make DIY own orchid soil recipes. This potting mix is blended by the orchid’s particular need depending on the orchid type and species.
It’s perfect for orchid growers, novices, and advanced growers because it is already made, and it is an excellent formula for each type of orchid.
Best Orchid Potting Mix Recipe Guide based on orchids species.
Orchid Potting Mix For Phalaenopsis.
Monopodial orchids like Phalaenopsis will remain in the same pot for years if the orchid potting mix does not break down and hold too much water.
Choose a perlite/charcoal (medium size) mix, peat mix, sphagnum moss, rock wool, or medium fir bark for monopodial orchids if you are not a heavy waterer. Choose tree fern, pumice, baked clay, lava rock, or cork nuggets if you tend to overwater.
Orchid Soil Mix for Phalaenopsis Monterey.
Phalaenopsis Monterey soil recipe ingredients. You can mix the following ingredients. Alternatively, you can purchase rePotme Phalaenopsis Monterey Dark Imperial commercial mix.
- Sphagnum Moss.
- Pine Bark.
- Medium Cork Nuggets.
- Large Sponge Rock.
Orchid Potting Mix For Cattleya
Cattleya and other large sympodial orchids need a growing media that will last several years. Large fir bark is the most popular. As the bark breaks down, the interval between watering becomes longer. If you are a heavy waterer, check out this orchid potting mix.
If you prefer a ready-made commercial mix, you can purchase high-quality Cattleya Imperial Orchid Mix. This commercial mix is exclusively created for cattleya orchids.
Orchid soil mix for Cattleya.
- Medium Cork Nuggets.
- Medium Pine Bark,
- Medium Aliflor
- Large Sponge Rock.
Orchid Potting Soil Mix For Oncidium and Seedling
Oncidium and Seedling Classic Orchid Mix includes:
- Small coconut husk chips,
- Small sponge rock,
- Chopped sphagnum,
- Granite chips.
This Classic Orchid Mix blend is for all seedlings and fine rooted orchids such as Oncidium, Odontoglossum, Epidendrum, Lycaste, Masdevallia, and Miltonia.
You can easily find an all-purpose orchid potting mix on the market, but I am not a big fan of universal potting mixes because various orchid species’ needs differ. However, you can purchase an oncidium-specific imperial orchid mix. This commercial mix is specifically created for oncidium orchid species.
How to make orchid soil for different climates.
We must mix organic and inorganic matters depending on the climate conditions. This ratio will balance the orchid soil mix moisture level and drainage.
For colder climates, use more inorganic matters to reduce the moisture level. You can use more charcoal, fired clay chips, perlite, and pumice. These materials will help to dry to potting media quickly. The best organic materials for colder climates are pine barks, wood chips.
For dry and less humid climates, use more organic matters to hold moisture for longer. However, it is not advisable to use more and more water-retaining materials. It can lead to orchids root rotting. The best organic materials for dry and less humid climates are coconut husk chips and wood chips.
DIY orchids soil recipe.
If you cannot easily find a ready-made orchid potting mix, you can make your own orchid soil mix with few ingredients.
It is advisable to maintain the correct organic and inorganic materials ratio when making your own recipe to keep the potting mix aeration, drainage, high humidity around the roots, and moisture level.
The best organic and inorganic ratio for DIY orchid soil recipes are 50:50. When using more inorganic materials, it quickly dries out the potting media. These materials will increase the regular watering and fertilizer. You can use fir bark classic orchid mix as a base mix. It contains medium fir bark, medium sponge rock, and medium stalite. You can add the following organic and inorganic materials to enhance the quality of the potting mix.
- Lava rock.
- Terracotta chips.
- Granite chips.
- Fir bark.
- Coconut husk chips.
- Cypress fiber.
- Redwoods chips and fiber.
- Peat moss potting mixes.
These organic materials have different water holding and exchange capacities, which will influence your management once the orchid is potted.
Therefore, always use balanced inorganic materials to maintain and absorb excess moisture.
What is the best soil particle size for orchids?
The ideal size for orchid soil particles is ½ inch to 2-inch size. This range improves the aeration and supports the plant’s aerial roots, freely growing and capturing airborne nutrient molecules.
However, it is not recommended to use lower than ½ inch. It makes the substrate more compact and blocks aeration.
How to mix orchids soil ingredients.
This is the final step of making your own orchid mix. Collect required tools and equipment.
Get organic and inorganic matters in a 50:50 ratio. This type of rato is suitable for most plants.
Using a small shovel, mix everything well.
Is charcoal good for orchids?
We can find many benefits in using charcoal for orchids’ soil mix. It can eliminate foul odor, absorb excess moisture, prevent bacteria and fungus activities (which help prevent orchids root rot), absorb toxic substances on water, and improve soil aeration. Charcoal takes a longer time to break down. Therefore charcoal is excellent for orchid potting mix.
Can I use bonsai soil for orchids?
Bonsai soil is an excellent soil alternative for orchid plants. It contains akadama, lava rock, and pumice. These inorganic matters improve the aeration and drainage. I recommended using 1-inch (3cm) size particle ingredients for your DIY orchid soil recipe.
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