mud mix

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Jun 7, 2006
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Anyone ever try a mud mix (canadian peat moss and pearlite) on paphs or phrags? I tried this stuff called "The Ultimate Potting Mix" that I found at my local farm suppy store and my phals, pescatoreas and coelogynes seem to love it. So, I was curious if anyone had tried that kind of thing on slippers.
Been using it for years. Most plants you see me post are in "mud". I've recently switched many plants to hydroton in aircone pots(semi-semi-"hydroponic" I call it) in the name of experimentation. So far, so good.

My mix is Scotts MetroMix with Coir, which is a good quality peat with ground coir, charcoal, and sponge rock(perlite). Holds water well, but stays pretty porous in an aircone pot. Just be sure to let it dry out enough before watering again. Most people that hate it and call it mud are too heavy with the watering.

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I make my own mud mix from cocopeat and perlite....needs lots of perlite. Its excellent for terrestrials like Ludisia, even better for cymbidiums. Good for paphs with weak roots....paphs can do well in it even with good roots, but they seem not to put out much in the way of new roots, so I stick to chc for paphs. Phrags HATE it! They would probably do well with real peat, but phrags do not like coconut, and especially hate least in my experience. Take care, Eric
Eric Muehlbauer said:
I make my own mud mix from cocopeat and perlite....needs lots of perlite.
Me too, for my Zygos. I use about 50% perlite by volume. I agree about the Paphs. I've tried adding some cocopeat to PrimeAgra and perlite for Phrags with very mixed results. Right now most of my Phrags are in CHC, diatomite, perlite and charcoal, and have new growth and new roots since making the change 3 months ago.
There's a white paper on soilless mixes here:
that I found very helpful.
Don't know the authors personally, but they appear to have put a lot of research into it.

Am using it for a number of genera, including paphs and phrags with success. Some more than others, but I think it's just a matter of customizing the mix, and the pot, to the genus. The paphs do better in a the mix with more perlite in it. Fot the most part these are seedlings, ex vitro. But am moving some mature plants into it (Phals, mostly) also with good results.

As Jon stated, overwatering is the kiss of death. And the other point made in the article, that I found as important, is not to pack the mix. Tamp it down only. Settle it in with a fine mist to the point of running through the pot. The fines seem to coalesce and stabilize the plant.

charlie c
I know the authors pretty well... ;)

Some caution should be used, the article is fairly old. A few of the growers who were using the mud mixes are not doing so any longer. EFG springs to mind, they switched back to bark, more for customer acceptance than cultural reasons. Also, most people using mud mixes now are using either all coco-peat or a substantial portion of coco-peat in place of the sphagnum peat.

Going from memory, but I think Hilltop is using Scotts Metromix 360 (380?) with coir, plus some seedling bark, plus some perlite and charcoal. I can't bring myself to add bark to mud mix, so I leave out the bark, add a bunch more perlite, and lately a good bit of an expanded aggregate called Haydite. I've considered adding some small diatomite, but haven't done it yet.

My 'grower' (friend who helps me out for free and probably knows more about orchids than I do...) has switched us back to a bark mix for the phals as of this summer. I'm still not convinced. However, in my conditions over the winter, the top growth was amazing but the root growth was not as impressive. I say screw the root growth, since it is obviously sufficient. But, I wasn't doing the repotting. Plus the pots tended to tip over with tall and heavy phal spikes, especially just before watering time. I'm still using mud on epidendrums and some other things.

I guess "knowing the authors pretty well" may be the biggest understatement yet posted at this site :).

It's a pleasure and an honor to be able to speak to one of the co-authors.

Wondering what the advantages of coco-peat are over the sphagnum? I've never had great results with any of the coconut derivative media, so I admit to a built-in prejudice. But I'm always ready to learn.

charlie c
Well, it isn't _that_ great of an article... *grin*

I'm not sure what the advantages of coco-peat are supposed to be.... I like it because sphagnum peat is not sustainably harvested, it is actually quite destructive to collect. Coir is much more environmentally friendly. Also, the 'sales pitch' seems to be that the coir/coco-peat does not shrink as much when it dries, so it won't pull away from the sides of the pot. That is a big problem with straight sphagnum peat mixes.

There might be other reasons, but the non-shrinkage would probably be sufficient in itself.

For what it is worth, I can't seem to get the stuff to work for paphs and phrags. I keep trying, though.
I agree, shrinkage would be an aweful thing :rollhappy:
Sorry, I had to take a shot at that pun.
First for bwester:

Not nice to make those jokes in the presence of a man in his 60's. I wouldn't even grow Coelogyne flacida -- never know it might be contagious :).

And for littlefrog:

Under the catagory of FWIW, I have deflasked paph seedlings into "mud" but put into fiber pots (Jiffy Pot). They dry faster and that seems to help. Now this works for me, under my conditions. But it's certainly not empirical data. I use a mix of 3 parts sphagnum peat, 3 parts perlite, 1 part vermiculite, 1/8 part oyster shell. In a side-by-side test with seedlings in NZS and seedlings in this mix (out of the same flask) the mix is preforming better. Again, this may or may not work for you but I thought I'd mention it.

And secondly, I think you're being overly modest about your article on soilless mixes. I found it to be concise, factual, and most importantly the cultural guides are right on the money. Thank you.

charlie c

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