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Recycled Tires as Medium

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Sue

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Ok, I mentioned this in a different thread. This summer, I thought I'd try something new: rubber mulch.

A third of a year later, results have been mixed, but mostly good:

Phrags in S/H: good root growth, spikes initiated at expected times, blooming comparable to previous bloomings.

Paphs in plastic pots: had one Maud-type go into significant decline, but existing root system had been poor. Hybrids with parents in subspecies Brachy, Parvi, Poly, and Cochlo are represented in the experimental group, and are all doing well. Henrietta Fujiwara initiated spike when expected, blooming seems like it will be comparable to previous bloomings. Two reluctant bloomers (for me, anyway) seem to have put out sheaths (finally).

Laeliinae in plastic pots: one Schomburgkia is sulking, another doing well. A Catt. bifolate hybrid has had increased vigour, blooming twice over the summer. Minicatt has done well, but not as dramatically so. Not sure what root growth is like in any of these.

Phals in plastic pots: Repotting a phal hybrid established in a sphag-and-clay-pot setup resulted in sulking. So I didn't really give that a chance. However, Phal. mannii seedlings put out good growth, and great roots, until midsummer (98 - 105 F), when the medium, heating up more than most media, burned the leaves from the bottom.

So that's about what I know right now. I think I might try to half-unpot one of the Paphs to see what the roots look like. Here's a Gongora truncata with the top layer of mulch removed, so you can see the roots. As far as I can tell, the roots look like that across a half-globe downward. This is a seriously happy Gongora.

Click for large view.



So, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts about using this stuff, given that, although preliminary results are pretty good, in some circumstances at least, there are still serious questions about long-term success. Most importantly:

Isn't this leaching petroleum onto the roots? Isn't that bad? Why does it seem like they're happy?

What do you all think about this?
 
G

Greenpaph

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That is real interesting, Sue!
Did you cut up the tires yourself. How did you get it shredded?
Is that straight rubber you are using? Any drainage?

thanks
 

Sue

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Oh! Sorry! This is a commercial product. It looks like this. That isn't the brand I've got, but I can't find the brand I got online anywhere. It's like that -- not the ones that look like flat wood chips -- and each piece is maybe 2-4 8ths of an inch across. There's also a larger type -- 3/4 - 1" across. I'm not using that.

I'm not actually certain it's made from tires. It does, however, say that it's %100 recycled, and that it's ASTM safety-rated for children. I got it at Lowe's.
 

littlefrog

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I still have a bag sitting in my barn, I was going to test it too... Of course that was a year or so ago.... Glad you are doing it, Sue.

I was thinking it would work better as a mix, rather than straight. Perhaps with some coconut chips or rock.
 

SlipperFan

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There is a guy in our orchid society that grows many of his Cattleya-types in this rubber stuff. He swears by it. I understand that it is inert, so nothing from it should migrate into roots.
 
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johnndc

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Funny you should post this, I just saw on the news today that tires used as artificial reefs (reeves?) have been a disaster. They're now having to remove them after 3 decades - they're killing the corral.
 

SlipperFan

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johnndc said:
Funny you should post this, I just saw on the news today that tires used as artificial reefs (reeves?) have been a disaster. They're now having to remove them after 3 decades - they're killing the corral.
Yea -- I saw that, also. But I wonder if the recycled stuff has been processes somehow, or just shredded.

Personally, it would not be my media of choice in any case.
 

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