East Asian Cymbidium Potting Mix

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jokerpass

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East Asian Cymbidium Potting Mix: I'm so glad that the East Asian Cymbidium Potting Mix (Medium Grade and Small Grade) is now available for purchase in Canada. Flora Peculia sent me the pictures last night and I immediately picked up 3 bags to stock pile as I need it for spring repotting. This potting material works wonder on all East Asian Cymbidiums including C. ensifolium, C. sinense, C. kanran, C. goeringii, and C. faberi.

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Tony

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Is this sort of mix necessary for them, or just a traditional thing like putting Neos on mounds of sphagnum? I picked up a C. rectum at the last show and got an ensifolium cross as a freebie with it. I have them in my Paph mix for now but I'm completely out of my element with Cymbidium, I honestly just bought it because I'm a 40 year old child and the name cracked me up.
 

jokerpass

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Is this sort of mix necessary for them, or just a traditional thing like putting Neos on mounds of sphagnum? I picked up a C. rectum at the last show and got an ensifolium cross as a freebie with it. I have them in my Paph mix for now but I'm completely out of my element with Cymbidium, I honestly just bought it because I'm a 40 year old child and the name cracked me up.

This Cymbidium potting mix is used specifically for the Jensoa section of Cymbidium species including C. ensifolium, C. sinense, C. kanran, C. tortisepalum/C. longibracteaum, C. goeringii, and C. faberi. Is used for other less known Cymbidium spp in this section including C. cyperifolium, C. haematodes, C. qiubeiense. To grow and bloom C. goeringii and C. faberii well, this mix is required. I have seen people use alternative materials, on a huge plant, there is only 1 bloom (so doesn't bloom well and won't be able to bloom every year). I think it has to do with the pH and the moisture this mix provides are just right for them. It's not used for hybrid Cymbidiums and any other species.

This is the standard potting materials used in East Asia to grow all the above mentioned species, nothing special. It is the tradition but I am convinced that there must be a reason as well (ie pH, moisture contents for example). When the correct mix can be used, why use other alternatives?
 

mrhappyrotter

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Is this sort of mix necessary for them, or just a traditional thing like putting Neos on mounds of sphagnum?

Let me preface this by saying that jokerpass is an amazing resource and much more knowledgeable on Jensoa Cymidiums than myself by far, but this is one topic where we generally disagree on the answer to your question. I am glad to see that they are at least coming around a bit on the topic, but I still disagree. Really, I wouldn't even care to mention it, but I don't want people to be discouraged from trying these Cymbs thinking they have to find obscure (and often expensive) potting media constituents.

I spent my early orchid growing years avoiding Phrags because certain folks made it sound like they were so exacting in their requirements that I might never be successful. Now it's my favorite genus and I consider it to be the easiest to grow and bloom of my orchids. I avoided Cymbidiums for almost all my orchid growing years because certain folks made it sound like they were tough to flower in my region. None of it was true, and I wish I had discovered these genera earlier in my obsession, but I let others convince me that they weren't a good fit. That's what I want to avoid contributing to here.

Now full disclaimer: I live on the east coast USA in a 7B region, a climate which is similar enough to what some populations of C. goeringii experience in their native habitat that they are actually considered cold hardy here and some people do grow them outside year round! So, that definitely influences my experience with this species, and that experience may not translate for others who don't grow in a similar climate.

All that is to say absolutely and unequivocally, my opinion is that no, this sort of mix is not necessary for them. Good news! I only have a few varieties, though, nothing special, expensive or fancy so it's definitely possible that the expensive and super rare (in the USA) types are more finicky and demanding.

I grow my C. goeringii and other Jensoa Cymbidiums in my standard orchid mix which is some random combination of whatever I happen to have on hand at the time. That generally means a mixture of orchiata, large grade perlite, rockwool, leca, volcanic rock, expanded slate, etc and I tend to go a bit heavy on the mineral based, inorganic stuff. Cymbidium goeringii, its hybrids, and its relatives love it. keep in mind what I said about people growing Cymbidium goeringii in their gardens around here. Those plants are growing and blooming just fine in dirt (which tends to be a thin layer of topsoil on top of heavy red clay) with a layer of mulch/leaves on top. They don't seem that picky about media.

Anyway, in my opinion, the secrets to good growth and heavy blooming is hot, wet, and bright summers with heavy feeding and then cool/cold, dry winters. Maybe the special mix makes a difference, maybe it doesn't, but I don't use anything that fancy and my plants aren't exactly huge but they always seem to have much more than 1 spike per season. I think my smallest little plant just produced 6 or 7 spikes back in January.
 

jokerpass

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to mrhappyrotter: I'm glad that you are able to grow outdoor all year in your garden. There is a method you can plant them outdoor. In Japan, it is possible to plant them outdoor as it is native. I have seen pictures of people grow C. goeringii in their Japanese gardens under trees in Japan. Yes, I'm aware that North Carolina, Oregan, and Washington State have similar climate (temperature wise) as Japan and Northeast Asia. C. goeringii requires a very specific environment to grow and if you don't live in the right zone (which is very narrow), it is very difficult.

Yes, there are 2 different types of media you can use to grow C. goeringii: 1. Soft Organic Materials, 2. Hard Inorganic materials. The soft materials will be consisted of bark, large grade perlite, rocks, peanut shells, dirt.....etc. The pro of soft organic materials is that it is organic and it is cheap to make. The cons though is that it's hard to control the watering because the materials are packed tight, so the air circulation (aeration around the roots) are much diffcult to control. The pro of the hard Inorganic materials (the Japanese East Asian Cymbidium Mix) is very porous and is blended to the correct pH (just slightly acidic). Since they are composed of "pebbles", you can control watering very easily and because there are gaps between each "pebble" it is airy at the roots. The cons are that since they are inorganic, you do need to fertlize a little bit (slow release fertlizer) and it costs more. They hate heavy fertlizaton, only use slow release fertlize (6 months) for them. I don't know where you get the idea that this material is expensive, the cost of this material in Japan per Litre is no more expensive than 1 L of bark mix you buy in a North America Orchid Show (at retail price). Of course it will be more expensive in North America because you have to import materials from Japan.

The hard materials, in my experience, I can revive half dead C. goeringii in 1 season and start blooming in the same season. I grow C. goeringii not in the "natural zone". It is known that C. goeringii is hard to grow for various reasons and that even the green flower forms are rarely seen in orchid shows anywhere outside of East Asia, there must be a reason for it. In my opinion, when C. goeringii is not grown in their "natural zone", it is best to use the materials that is the easiest for culturing them and the hard materials is by far much easier to use than soft materials (also the flowering results is also better). In Japan and Korea, doesn't matter which C. goeringii you buy, from the cheapest to the most expensive (doesn't matter the colour), it is all grown in the hard materials. It is the standard material. Even if the soft materials cost less, there must be a reason why growers don't use it in Japan and Korea.

People that I know and who post pictures of blooming C. goeringii online outside Japan and Korea, I rarely see more than 1 flower, spike at most 2 flower spikes on a huge plant (excluding C. tortisepalum, "true" C. goeringii can only have 1 flower per stem). These plants from what I know are all grown in 50:50 mix of bark and pumice (I don't know what kind of pumice). These plants are growing but they are not thriving and they don't bloom well. From what I know, the roots grown in the 50:50 pumice/bark mix don't grow very long. The roots of my C. goeringii growing in the Japanese East Asian Cymbidium Mix, grow fast, they are all white and long and they reach the bottom of the Asian Cymbidium pots and twist and turn (rootbound) in 2-3 years time.

This is my personal experience.
 
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Ray

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Like Mr. HR, I agree with the fact that joker pass has more knowledge on these plants than I’ll ever have, but I get the impression that the recommendations are that this is “the only way”, rather than “one way” to grow them. The traditional, Japanese way, sure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “the right way”.

My personal experience was limited to sinense, ensifolium, goeringii, and kanran plants imported (~500/month) 30+ years ago from a grower in Taiwan to my greenhouse in PA. In Taiwan, they were grown in a mixture of pumice and twigs and were watered daily, fed only with spoiled milk. They arrived bare root, consisting of two mature growths plus one new one, in-spike. I immediately potted them up in S/H culture and they grew quite well. I never lost a plant and very rarely even lost a bud.
 

jokerpass

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Ray
I am Taiwanese, I go visit my mom once every 2 years pre Covid-19. I know how the Taiwanese grows their East Asian Cymbidiums (C. ensifolium, C. sinense, C. kanran, C. goeringii, C. tortisepalum, and C. faberi). I always do a bit of market research when I go back to Taipei. In Taipei, every single Sunday, there is a flower market (the biggest one in Taiwan) under a section of the inner city highway. So, I observe and talk to the vendors who sell East Asian Cymbidiums.
For East Asian Cymbidiums, Taiwan has the perfect environment to grow C. ensifolium and C. sinense (all East Asian Cymbidium nurseries are pretty much gathered in one County, the Nantou County). This County has a high elevation. In the greater Tapei Area, the East Asian Cymbidium vendors gather around Yang Ming Shan (this is a mountain, again, high elevation). In Taiwan, when C. ensifolium and C. sinense are grown in these specific locations, they all thrive, so will have flower buds on a 2-3 growth plants (again, has the natural conditions for them). These vendors export these commercial grown C. ensifolium and C. sinense to Japan and Korea (mostly Korea). However, for C. goeringii, and C. faberii, it is very hard to bloom in Taiwan because Taiwan is too warm. Even if they are able to bloom, the flower quality is very poor. Also, in Taiwan, it is not possible to find coloured Japanese varieties because they don't have the climate for it, so when it bloom,s the colour is way off.
About the potting materials: yes, the vendors grow mostly in the soft materials because it's cheap (pumice, tree fern, peanut shells....etc). When using tree fern, it must be used carefully as it is quite sharp, so it can damage roots. However, for more expensive plants, it is all potted in the hard materials (Japanese Cymbidium Mix). There must be a reason for it.
Yes, the Japanese Cymbidium Mix (hard materials) is not the only way to grow it; however, when compared with the soft materials, in my experience, it is superior than the soft materials. It is easy to use, and the culturing/flowering results are also more superior than the soft materials.
 

Ray

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@jokerpass
Great explanation. Thanks.

As I said, my issue isn't the info you have provided - it's spectacular and well-detailed - both here and on the Orchid Board. I just think that the way to express things sometimes comes across as "it must be done this way" and be a bit misleading, but then again, some of my own posts might come across the same way!
 

jokerpass

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This are some of the pictures from Japanese vendors and Korean spring C. goeringii show just to demontraste when C. goeringii is grown in the hard materials, this is what the plants can be. In case you want to ask about the black pumice in some of these pictures, at shows, exibitors use black pumice for decoration purpose, not for culture. They remove the black pumice after the exibition is over. When the hard materials is used, this is what happens with the plants. I was able to achieve this kind of blooming last couple of years (the plants I posted last year, a few of them look like this). This is the level of growing I'm striving for.
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spes1959

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This Cymbidium potting mix is used specifically for the Jensoa section of Cymbidium species including C. ensifolium, C. sinense, C. kanran, C. tortisepalum/C. longibracteaum, C. goeringii, and C. faberi. Is used for other less known Cymbidium spp in this section including C. cyperifolium, C. haematodes, C. qiubeiense. To grow and bloom C. goeringii and C. faberii well, this mix is required. I have seen people use alternative materials, on a huge plant, there is only 1 bloom (so doesn't bloom well and won't be able to bloom every year). I think it has to do with the pH and the moisture this mix provides are just right for them. It's not used for hybrid Cymbidiums and any other species.

This is the standard potting materials used in East Asia to grow all the above mentioned species, nothing special. It is the tradition but I am convinced that there must be a reason as well (ie pH, moisture contents for example). When the correct mix can be used, why use other alternatives?
Hi Michael what do you think About this substrate?

This substrate (Bonsai soil) is a high quality product of Japanese origin. Consisting of akadama hard quality Ibaraki triple red band, kiryuzuna hard quality and washed hyuga (pomice). Overall it is already sifted from the powder and can be used pure without the addition of any other type of material.

The percentages of the three components are as follows:
• akadama hard quality triple band: 60%;
• kiryuzuna hard quality: 20%;
• washed hyuga (pomice): 20%.

this is the link
 

abax

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Having grown and bloomed Chinese Cyms. ensifolium and sinense in Cym pots in my regular mix of perlite,
large Orchiata and charcoal, I agree with Ray that the absolutism of potting medium is relative to the
conditions in which they're grown.
 
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