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naoki

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I've been using left over charcoal from wood stove (birch is the wood). Sifting the ash is kind of messy, though. pH might not be so important for epiphytes, but I try to add it for plants known from more alkaline soil. I haven't compared the pour-through to see if it really makes difference, though.

I also wonder if charcoal contains some residual Karrikinolide (Kar-1), and whether it may have a positive effect. That is a relatively recently found bioactive component of smoke water (people use it for germination of Australian plants).
 

Stone

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I've been using left over charcoal from wood stove (birch is the wood). Sifting the ash is kind of messy, though. pH might not be so important for epiphytes, but I try to add it for plants known from more alkaline soil. I haven't compared the pour-through to see if it really makes difference, though.

I also wonder if charcoal contains some residual Karrikinolide (Kar-1), and whether it may have a positive effect. That is a relatively recently found bioactive component of smoke water (people use it for germination of Australian plants).

I smoked some native seed just last week. (over smoking embers that is not in a pipe!)
 

myxodex

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I've been using left over charcoal from wood stove (birch is the wood). Sifting the ash is kind of messy, though. pH might not be so important for epiphytes, but I try to add it for plants known from more alkaline soil. I haven't compared the pour-through to see if it really makes difference, though.

I also wonder if charcoal contains some residual Karrikinolide (Kar-1), and whether it may have a positive effect. That is a relatively recently found bioactive component of smoke water (people use it for germination of Australian plants).

Thanks for that, it's very interesting. There is a report here ( http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254629915003397 ), suggesting that it's action might be similar to gibberellic acid in some respects.

There is a curious coincidence about this paper and your question about karrikinolide in charcoal. I started reading up about activated charcoal for use in orchid propagation media and whether I should add it or not. I came across a review about the use of activated charcoal (AC) in plant tissue culture from the same lab as the above link (J van Staden; https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1006119015972 ). Also from the same lab a paper on the interaction between auxins and AC, indicating a greater auxin response in the presence of AC than without it. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254629915303975 ). This result conflicts with a study that showed that AC reduces the available "free auxin" when added to TC media from another lab (will have to find the link). Yet another lab indicating that AC can induce rooting in protocorms in the absence of added auxin, and that AC could be a substitute for auxin addition in poorer countries. It's quite possible, even likely, that there are a bunch of active compounds present in AC. What I remember from this reading in general was a fair amount of conflicting results. It could be that the source of the AC is important. Although the most commonly touted hypothesis that AC absorbs toxic compounds released by stressed plants seems reasonable, I didn't get the feeling that it was really nailed down by direct evidence and so the positive effects of AC in plant tissue culture does seem to remain without a definitive mechanism of action.

OT,... but personally for me, this brings up memories of hot days and struggling to stay awake in Botany 1 lectures as an undergrad student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal where both the late Joyce Stewart (Angraecoid Orchids book) and J. van Staden were my lecturers. Botany was not my favourite subject back then ... if a life form didn't move about it wasn't interesting for me ... seems I've changed a bit over the decades.
 

Ozpaph

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Some of the 'older' Aussies might remember Mt Tamborine orchids. They grew cattleyas in 100% charcoal for many years - quite successfully.
 

RodN

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Some of the 'older' Aussies might remember Mt Tamborine orchids. They grew cattleyas in 100% charcoal for many years - quite successfully.

So did Ron Lin of Sunnybank Orchids in Sydney, along with most of his miscellaneous genera.

I use it to space the bark and to aid in drainage. It is light, it is inert (perhaps) and it has worked for me for many years. I do repot my slippers annually so there is probably not enough time for any problems to show.

However I grow other genera in a similar mix and leave them in the pots for years without a problem.

I do not know but I suspect the benefits derived from having charcoal in your mix are all physical. It is a great spacer.
 
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