Pahiopedilum helenae potting media

Slippertalk Orchid Forum

Help Support Slippertalk Orchid Forum:

ByeBye

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
78
Reaction score
39
Location
somewhere
I’m fairly new to Paph. growing , although I’ve been growing orchids for over 35 years now) and after a lot of research, I decided to focus mainly on Pahiopedilum helenae of which I currently have 4 plants of different sources now and 2 more coming next month.

I’m a sucker for small and miniature orchids and this one really caught my heart. Although I’m not really a Paph. lover.
I’ve done a lot of research and looked around the numerous posts here, I still have some questions
I’ve been growing a few Paph’s over the last 9 months or so and use my own media mix with good results so far.
Note, I grow in a home environment.

My Paph. mix:
- 2 parts of small-medium bark
- 1 part of coco husk
- 1 part of charcoal
- ½ part of perlite
- 1 part of coarse pumice
- ¼ of cut Synthic (artificial sphag. moss, made from recycled materials that’s very water absorbent)
- ¼ of large grade, hard-baked Akadama.

I fertilize with Akerne RainMix (optimized MSU fertilizer)

My question:
- Would this potting mix be OK for the helenae or do I go for a finer mix or what is suggested. I have not repotted my plants yet!
 
Joined
Dec 10, 2018
Messages
213
Reaction score
113
Location
Portland, Oregon
Akadama is an interesting touch! If it’s been working out in your conditions with your other paphs, then I’d say to keep going with your own mix. I think my mix is pretty generic. 4 parts bark, 1 part perlite, 1 part charcoal, 1 part sphagnum moss. Only thing I’ll change up is the size of the bark between fine and medium depending on the size of the plant. I grow in an enclosure and with this mix I’m able to water every 3 days or so.
 

ByeBye

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
78
Reaction score
39
Location
somewhere
Akadama is an interesting touch! If it’s been working out in your conditions with your other paphs, then I’d say to keep going with your own mix. I think my mix is pretty generic. 4 parts bark, 1 part perlite, 1 part charcoal, 1 part sphagnum moss. Only thing I’ll change up is the size of the bark between fine and medium depending on the size of the plant. I grow in an enclosure and with this mix I’m able to water every 3 days or so.

Thanks, Maybe you are right and for the helenae I'd better use fine bark only.
I stepped away from sphagnum moss because it needs to be checked often because of compacting and becoming very acidic, quite quickly, even with the best quality New Zealand moss. The Synthyc is a good replacement and very absorbent.
I've visited Vietnam's nature and have seen how orchids grow there en how the hills look like and of course the temps and humidity, together with winds, rain, mist, etc. The crevices where the orchids grow in are filled with debris consisting of leaf litter and mulch but more than often you'll find small animal rests or birds nest with breaking down eggshells in it, not to mention the creepy crawlers that live in there.
So on top of the mulch you'll find calcium and other minerals in this growing media. That's why I added the akadama. It's rich in minerals and holds some moisture too. Since I added it, I almost immediately saw a positive reaction from the Paphs I already have. Evaluation of using it in the mix, after 4 months is that the leaves are sturdier, more shiny and they started growing better. Even my dianthum, that was sulking from the moment I got it (It was a well grown young plant) started perking up and within three weeks I noticed the leaves were getting sturdy again and the new leaf that hadn't moves at all started and still is growing.
The akadama was a gamble I took that seems to do the trick for me. I use it for my bonsai's so I had it on hand.
Most orchids are in my home environment but the warmer loving ones and very young ones are in my grow tent. At the moment I water every 3-4 days, which seems more than enough. Occasionally I mist the ones in the drier home environment.
 
Joined
Dec 10, 2018
Messages
213
Reaction score
113
Location
Portland, Oregon
I'm having a tough time finding Synthic for some reason, do you happen to have a link to it? Also, do you top dress with the Akadama or mix it in? I live relatively close to a nursery that sells bonsai supplies and would be interested in trying it out on a plant or two
 

JustinR

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 19, 2021
Messages
101
Reaction score
73
Good luck with your helanae, such a cute species.

I've also got a little mini-paph collection going including recently acquired helenae plus some others. Perhaps not the easiest paphs to grow, time will tell. I am also using the Akerne Rain Mix since last year, no complaints there. For my paphs I mostly use a bark based mix and repot every year or two.
 

ByeBye

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
78
Reaction score
39
Location
somewhere
I'm having a tough time finding Synthic for some reason, do you happen to have a link to it? Also, do you top dress with the Akadama or mix it in? I live relatively close to a nursery that sells bonsai supplies and would be interested in trying it out on a plant or two

I'm Europe so I can't help you with a link in the USA.
On the manufacturer's webpage, I found the following distributor for it;

United States:
Glass Box Tropicals
email: [email protected]

The Synthyc strings, I cut into peaces of 1/2 inch.

The akadama, I mix in with the dry media. I tested it first on my Cymbidiella rhodocilla. A young plant that wouldn't grow and it was going the way my previous 2 went, down to orchid heaven. So I thought what the heck, A few weeks later it started putting out new roots and grew new leaves and most impotently, it's still with me and growing. I'm not saying it's needed but it certainly gave me good results. I got the idea from an orchid grower that grows in leca and she got beter results with some finer rooted orchids that weren't doing well growing her way. So my mind started grinding and digging into my memories from Vietnam, where I saw with my own eyes how Paphs and other rock and ground dwelling orchids grew. There always was a mineral based component in the media or their neighborhood.
It's important to get the high grade, hard baked Akadama.
The cheaper, standard used form can be used but it pulverizes much easier. The clay substance used is the same in all Akadama. It's just the baking/hardening process that's different. Whatever Akadama you can find, try to get the largest size pellets.
Note, when you don't need to repot your Paphs, you can easily top dress a bit on the surface of the pot but not against the plant base as it can hold too much water for a longer period and can cause problems.

Good luck !
 

ByeBye

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Messages
78
Reaction score
39
Location
somewhere
Good luck with your helanae, such a cute species.

I've also got a little mini-paph collection going including recently acquired helenae plus some others. Perhaps not the easiest paphs to grow, time will tell. I am also using the Akerne Rain Mix since last year, no complaints there. For my paphs I mostly use a bark based mix and repot every year or two.

For me there's only one orchid fertilizer in Europe; RainMix.
Bark only, I'm always afraid it's too acidic for some orchids,including Paphs. Nowadays we hardly,if at all, can get the high quality, fresh Orchiata bark anymore. Their seems to be a problem with the product used to treat the Orchiata. This product is banned in Europe so at the moment no more imports from New Zealand.

I think the biggest issue with most orchids isn't that they are dificult but us overwatering them. Of course their are finicky orchids but these we don't grow in our home envirement most of the time.
 
Top