Phaelanopsis potting mixes

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Peloric keiki
Jan 22, 2008
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elmer, nj
I have lots of phals and they are in many different mixes. I use small chc's, smallish charcoal and sponge rock around 4:1:1 for smaller plants, larger chc's, charcoal and sponge rock 4:1:1 for larger pots or plants with coarser roots/more aeration requirements, s/h culture for some of the plants that like it wet all the time, pure sphagnum usually fairly loosely packed, s/h pellets in clear pots (normal, no reservoir) for species that liked to be doused but then dry quickly, I mount most of my lindeniis and equestrises on cork bark. There are a few species that like to dry out more between wettings like fasciata and they go into a bark mix small/medium size mixed 4:1:1 with charcoal and sponge rock. There are a few species that I've bought that are on grape or other sticks, and a few others that are on tree fern mounts or posts.

I like s/h culture and have seen others that have had great success with it, but sometimes it just doesn't work for some of my phals. Ray Barkalow tells that some phals just don't like s/h, and since we both live generally in the same part of the country (temperate) I think low air temps have a lot to do with it. The plants get cooled by evaporation from the top of the media, and I think that makes the plant much cooler than the air temperature and many like to be warmer in general than the room temps that we can provide without a lot of extra warming. I try to really soak the pellets like suggested because they can sometimes have residues, maybe I need to soak them even more in hot water to get rid of this stuff.

I had a hybrid that was in a mud mix, and I think if I tried there are some that like wet that would do well in this if you let it completely dry out between waterings, but since I have many that get watered more frequently those would stay too wet. I have seen great plants grown in peat moss and perlite, needs a whole different watering regime and though the mix always looks good it can build up waste salts and should be changed every year or so especially if you fertilize heavily and don't flush with clear water.

I was amazed to see that some plant I had received from Asian growers had the seedlings in pots with sphagnum jammed into the pot as tight as it could be. The roots looked good and the plants were happy, so there must be something to it as long as you water correctly. It took me several minutes to get all the sphagnum out from around all of the roots, where normally loose sphagnum can be stripped off in less than a minute. Sphagnum can also soak up waste salts and should be changed even if it looks good.

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