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Anyone growing Paphiopedilums in NZ Tree Fern Fibers Successfully?

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Happypaphy7

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I'm quite happy with what I use for my plants, but curious about this potting medium and its use for Paphs.
 

masaccio

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My understanding is that chopped tree fern is used to aerate an epiphytic medium, cattleyas and so forth. These typically are cultivated in 5+ inch pots), and require more medium in the pots. The addition of tree fern into a greater volume of medium helps guarantee that epiphytic roots are exposed to a relatively high volume of air, even directly after watering. It is used to provide openness and aeration in larger pots of medium which otherwise risk becoming stagnant.
Paphs, on the other hand, are typically potted in relatively small and narrow pots and yet need more steady moisture with a less extreme wet-dry cycle than typical epiphytes. For this situation, the opposite of tree fern would be the additive, if an additive is necessary at all. For example, I'm partial to a chunky basic medium for paphs (because I tend to overwater), The addition of a little chopped sphagnum to this type of medium guarantees more even moisture content over a longer period of time without sacrificing air content. Tree fern in this situation would not be desirable.
On the other hand, many people cultivate paphs in finer mixes of small grade fir bark and perlite and charcoal. As plants potted in these fine mixtures enlarge and require somewhat larger pots, I could see using chopped tree fern fiber as an additive to keep up efficient drainage.
 
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Silverwhisp

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There are different degrees of coarseness, aren’t there? What I’m using with my Phrags is pretty fine.
 

masaccio

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I think that if you consider what you're doing, you can make pretty much anything work, in concert with other ingredients, provided one understands the moisture requirements of a given genus. The question was for paphs, not phrags. I have never seen tree fern in a paph mix, nor would I consider it a particularly necessary addition to the mixes I have seen or possess myself. I certainly wouldn't buy it with paphs, or phrags, in mind. If you happen to be in possession of a quantity of chopped tree fern and you are anxious to use it because you paid for it, by all means it could be useful as long as you know what you are trying to accomplish. My response to the original question was to impart a sense of what the the medium does. Take it or leave it.
 

Greg Barnes

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If you use a 100% NZ tree fern fibre you need to watch that you do not over water. I live in Auckland , New Zealand and in summer the watering interval would be between 4 to 7 days and for winter two to three weeks. The general rule of thumb is if in doubt , don't water.

As tree fern dries out it turns from a dark brownish colour to light brown colour. It is at this point you should think about watering. Managing the water frequency can be an issue for many growers and to help prevent over watering they add tree fern from 30% to 50% to their potting substrate instead of using 100% tree fern fibre.

I wrote an article about growing paphs in tree fern fibre: www.bioleaf.co.nz/articles/tree-fern-fibre-and-dyna-gro

Enjoy
 

TyroneGenade

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Greg, how do you go about potting the Paphs in the tree fern? Do you use fibers like these: Tree fern fiber and what grade? Or do you use fiber cubes; and if so, small cubes or a large pot-size chunk? If the latter, how do you pot the Paph in it?

Thanks!
 

Greg Barnes

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Greg, how do you go about potting the Paphs in the tree fern? Do you use fibers like these: Tree fern fiber and what grade? Or do you use fiber cubes; and if so, small cubes or a large pot-size chunk? If the latter, how do you pot the Paph in it?

Thanks!
I can't comment on the Guatemalian tree fern. It will be for a different species compared to what we use in NZ and such it will probably require different management.

NZ tree fern is very 'fluffy' and works best if pack it into the pot lightly. If you compress it too much it may hold too much water.
 

Happypaphy7

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I think there was some confusion regarding what NZ tree fern fibers are (different than tree fern fibers) because the answer is pretty much the opposite.
The way Greg Barnes explained above is how I understand. Thank you.
 

masaccio

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If you use a 100% NZ tree fern fibre you need to watch that you do not over water. I live in Auckland , New Zealand and in summer the watering interval would be between 4 to 7 days and for winter two to three weeks. The general rule of thumb is if in doubt , don't water.
Your article was so helpful. This is new stuff to me. I didn't realize that NZ Tree Fern was a different product from the stiff twiggy stuff that can be bought in a bag, which is also "Tree Fern." but a different variety (from the New World?). I'm curious when NZ Tree Fern began to hit the orchid grower's market? It sounds great, and apparently a renewable resource.
I think I have it sorted out now. There's the stiff, twiggy stuff that I think of as "tree fern" Then there's this special New Zealand tree fern that softer and more absorbant. Then, there's Osmunda which is from fern root but not tree fern root. It's Osmunda regalis. This has been very helpful. I will be ordering some of the New Zealand stuff. Anxious to try it.
 

Jenny St. Michel

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I bought a bag of Fernwood TreeFern Fiber last spring and used it a couple ways. 1. Mixed in medium orchiata bark 2. As a thick top dressing. When i first started using it within a few days of watering a brown mold grew on it. I started soaking it in boiling water before use and the mold went away. It could have just been a bad bag or something. Anyhow the Phrags seem to like it. It doesn’t break down as quickly as spagnum moss. The stuff I got was fairly light and fluffy and doesn’t compact. But I also feel it’s too expensive. I don’t think I will buy again because of the price and having to boil it.
 

masaccio

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There are probably other answers to the mold problem other than having to boil it. That would be a pain, though. One of the things I like about bark mixes is that they make repotting paphs a comparative breeze. Another favorite choice for me for paphs is sphagnum, which I don't find breaks down quickly at all. I've also noticed that even though it certainly can hold quite a bit of water, if potted with the correct firmness not too lightly and not too firmly, it has a self-supporting structure that firms up after awhile and has excellent, really excellent drainage. Long story shortened, not sure I want to learn yet another medium at this point, unnecessarily, and pricey to boot.
 

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