Among all indoor plants, orchids are distinguished by their exactingness to the nutrient medium. For good growth and abundant flowering, they do not need traditional soil, but a special substrate. For the most part, it consists of bark. Of course, a ready-made best bark for orchids can be bought in specialized stores, but not always and not everyone has such an opportunity. In this case, there is also a way out the mixture can be made independently from available raw materials. To do this, it is enough to prepare and process the tree bark. We will describe in detail what is the best bark for orchids and how to do this correctly prepare at home in our article.
why are orchids planted in bark?
Novice collectors often wonder why there is bark instead of familiar soil in a transparent pot. This is due to the biological characteristics of orchids. Most of them in nature grow on trees, were fixed by roots to the bark.
The structural features of the orchid root system are distinguished by a special cover. This is a spongy tissue – velamen. With its help, plants are fixed on the surface of the tree bark. It also serves to absorb moisture and gaseous nutrients from the air.
Plants with such properties are referred to as epiphytes.
Since it is impossible to provide an orchid with a full-fledged tree at home, it is successfully replaced with bark.
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What is best bark for orchids
For growing orchids, the bark of any tree or shrub is suitable. But most tree species have a relatively thin and dense shell. For the substrate, it is better to use a porous and thick bark so that it absorbs and retains as much air and moisture as possible, which are necessary for respiration and nutrition of the root system. The pine bark of mature trees over 50 years old copes with this task best. By this age, a shell with a thickness of 8-12 mm is formed in the lower part of the trunk.
Its property is as follows:
- If you press down with your fingers, it becomes slightly compacted, and, and then, straightens again, as if it were springy. What indicates its porosity is the ability to absorb moisture and air well. It is this quality that is valuable for optimal aeration and nutrition of the orchid.
- If it is not possible to purchase a ready-made nutritional mixture for an orchid, you can make it yourself from quite affordable raw materials like pine bark.
is pine bark good for orchids and how to get it
A place where it is quite possible to collect bark for an orchid is quite accessible to everyone. This is a pine forest, forest park, or park where these trees meet. If there is a sawmill nearby, bark can be collected there. Often on the Internet, there are advertisements for the sale of rough sawn timber, for example, slab. This is the outermost part of the trunk with bark, cut off during sawing.
When planning to stock up on raw materials for the substrate, it is important to follow these recommendations:
- You cannot remove the bark from living trees . First of all, mechanical damage will cause diseases and pests to enter the open wound of the plant. In addition, fresh bark contains a large amount of resinous substances that are harmful to the orchid.
- Harvesting should be done from dead, felled or cut pine trees , and stumps left after felling trees are also suitable.
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On them, the bark dries quickly, and the hardened resin will not harm the orchids.
- Before separating the bark from the tree, it is worth making sure that it is intact, in good condition, and not damaged by rot or other diseases. It is also important to pay attention to pests. Most often, a bark beetle or a grinder settles on dried trees. Such a bark is not suitable for a substrate. Good quality raw materials are suitable for growing orchids, without stains, dust, and suspicious growths.
Using a sharp knife with a long blade, the bark is first cut to the wood, then separated from the trunk. It is better to do this with an ax, then large, thick pieces are obtained.
The bark can be harvested at any time of the year, but it is better to do it in the summer, in dry, rain-free weather.
Preparing the bark for orchids potting at home step by step
Before proceeding with the direct processing process, it is necessary to conduct a preliminary audit of the raw material. Carefully and meticulously examine each piece from all sides. The bark from which cannot be removed is ruthlessly discarded:
- Spots of various colors, these can be diseases,
- Fragments rotted or damaged by pests,
- Large or small pieces of cured resin. It is harmful to the orchid, as it makes it difficult for air and moisture to reach the plant roots, and also releases specific substances that are dangerous to the plant.
If the bark is not needed in the near future, it is sent for storage in a dry, warm place with good aeration, for example, in a shed or pantry where there are no rodents. In suitable conditions, the workpiece can be saved indefinitely.
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how to sterilize bark for orchids
In the case when the bark is needed immediately, the processing is carried out immediately after sorting. In order to protect raw materials from pathogens and pest larvae that may be contained in the bark, it is necessary to carry out heat treatment. The most common preventive treatment is boiling. More details on how to carry out the procedure correctly:
|Step 1||Cut the sorted pieces of bark with scissors, a knife, or a garden pruner into smaller pieces, 3-5 cm in size.|
|Step 2||Put the raw materials in a metal bowl. The bark does not need to be compacted, it should be placed freely. To prevent it from floating, a lid or a smaller bowl is placed on top of it to lightly press down the contents of the dishes. The bark should be completely covered with water.|
|Step 3||Pour boiling water over the contents of the container and cook for 30 minutes, bark of 3 cm fraction, and large pieces for at least one hour. At high temperatures, pathogenic microorganisms, eggs and larvae of harmful insects and arthropods die.|
|Step 4||During boiling, pests, even the most microscopic ones, float to the surface along with debris, and pathogens also die. They are poured out along with the water after it has cooled to a safe temperature.|
|Step 5||The boiled bark must be dried. To do this, it is laid out in one layer, on kraft paper or on fabric, made of natural fibers. If there is too much moisture and the material cannot absorb it completely, then it is replaced with a dry one.|
Important! It is better to take an enameled container, you cannot use galvanized buckets. When boiled, zinc oxide is deposited on the bark. For the orchid, this chemical compound is dangerous. Also, after cooking the bark, do not use any cooking utensils. Usually, they use the container that is intended for gardening purposes. In it, infusions are prepared, fertilizers, and solutions for plant care are diluted.
Besides this heat treatment method, there are other options.
A more time-consuming option, which requires a colander of such a size that the entire bark is freely located in it in full. The dishes in which the water is boiling must match the size of the colander.
The processing is done like this:
- Water is poured into a saucepan (or bucket) and brought to a boil.
- The bark is folded into a colander, covered with a lid and placed over boiling steam.
- The heat treatment is carried out for an hour.
- Then, the colander is removed, and the bark is laid out to dry.
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Carried out in the oven at +700. Higher temperatures can ignite the bark. Perhaps that is why this method is not very popular among flower growers.
Nevertheless, if a decision is made to use it, it is worth considering the following subtleties:
- Do not use the tray for baking food. It is better to take a container in which the soil for indoor plants is fried.
- Spread the bark in one layer.
- Preheat the oven to the required temperature and make sure that it does not rise above the required mark.
- Place the baking sheet with the bark in a preheated oven, slightly open the door and fix it in this position.
- Carry out the processing for at least one hour, stirring the bark from time to time and making sure that it does not burn.
Oven-dried bark must be soaked before planting the orchid.
How do you replant an orchid in bark?
If the treated bark has not been chopped beforehand, then this should be done immediately before planting. It is best to cut it up while it is still wet so it is easier to handle.
The size of the pieces for the orchid substrate depends on the age of the transplanted plants:
- for offshoots, a mixture is prepared in which the pieces are 1x1cm in size;
- for adult plants, fragments are 3-5 cm.
Often other components are added to the pine bark:
- sphagnum moss,
- fern roots,
- drainage material, for example, fine expanded clay.
For this you will need:
- A flowerpot made of transparent plastic, sized for the roots to fit freely,
- Orchid substrate.
Wet bark is used for planting. If not soaked , dry edges can damage the delicate roots of the orchid. From this, the plant weakens and takes longer to take root . This is why it is best to boil or steam the bark before planting.
If the bark is calcined in the oven, it must be filled with water in advance, a day before the orchid is planned to be planted.
The flower pot is filled in the following sequence:
- Drainage is laid on the bottom, in a layer of 2-3 cm,
- On it – several pieces of large bark,
- Install the orchid root system in the pot, so that the ground base is 1 cm below the edge of the pot.
- Holding the plant in the center, carefully cover the substrate. It is important not to seal it. Forcible pushing of large pieces of bark can break the roots. It is better to fill the resulting voids with other components of the substrate or fine bark. If voids form in the pot, this is not scary, they will be filled with young overgrown orchid roots.
- After planting, the substrate does not need to be watered if the bark has been soaked and remains wet. Sometimes, before transplanting an orchid, its roots are kept in a growth stimulator. For example, in “Kornevin”. In this case, the solution in which the plant arrived is poured into the substrate. This improves root formation, and, therefore, plant survival.
If everything is done correctly, best bark for orchids pine bark and it will last at least two years, or even longer. When the substrate is overcooked and compacted, it will have to be replaced.