Gardening Tips

Substrate for orchids: how to do it

Substrate for orchids: how to do it

Orchids are plants with very beautiful flowers, but with a well-known reputation for being complicated to grow. It is true that sometimes this statement is exaggerated and it is simply about some plants with some specific needs, but a good substrate will always help a lot to keep your orchids healthy.

If you want to learn how to make your own substrate or soil for orchidsjoin us in this EcologíaVerde article in which we tell you everything about how to make orchid substrate and use it correctly, as well as the preparation of the pots and when it is convenient to transplant these plants, changing their substrate.

How to make substrate for orchids – easy recipes

Before preparing your substrate mix or soil for orchids, you should check if your orchids are epiphytic, terrestrial or semi-terrestrial plants, since they require different characteristics and components. Depending on your type, this is how you have to prepare substrate for orchids:

How to make substrate for epiphytic orchids

For this type of orchid, it is best to make a substrate that has these materials:

  • Three parts of pine bark (if possible, Mediterranean pine bark).
  • Three parts of cork.
  • A part of white peat.
  • A last part of seramis or clay granules.
  • 2 g of acid lime per liter of substrate.

The pine bark and cork will be the base of the substrate, and they help to give the mixture a suitable level of acidity, which the acid lime just adjusts. The white peat has the mission of storing water, to provide the plant with the humidity it needs in a sustained way, and the seramis helps the substrate to be more ventilated.

Substrate for terrestrial or semi-terrestrial orchids

In this case, use these orchid substrate or soil materials:

  • Five parts of pine bark.
  • A part of white peat.
  • A part of charcoal.
  • A part of vermiculite.
  • 2 grams of acid lime per litre.

The main difference with the substrate for epiphytic orchids is that we add more pine bark and remove the cork, in addition to providing charcoal to further increase the pH level of the substrate. The vermiculite helps us so that the mixture retains its nutritious salts.

In both cases, once you have all the proportions of each material, all you have to do is mix everything to fill the pot.

If you are not sure about the species of your plant, here you can learn about 12 types of orchids and identify them, but if you do not succeed, then we recommend you talk to a professional from a nearby gardening store and show them your plant .

Substrate for orchids: how to do it - How to make substrate for orchids - easy recipes

What are the best pots for orchids and how to prepare them

There is a rumor that orchids need transparent pots because they carry out photosynthesis through their roots. It is true that a transparent pot will help us take better care of our orchid, but not because the plant carries out photosynthesis with its roots, which is totally false. What happens is that in these plants it is especially important control the state of its rootsespecially when it comes to knowing when to water them.

When the roots are green, the plant has enough water, while if they turn whitish, it is a sign that you need to water it. Some species are particularly sensitive to these changes in humidity, as is the case of Phalaenopsis, and the most common is to always find them in transparent containers.

In addition to this, it is good that the pot in which you place your orchid has a small rim or legs that raise it above the ground, so that the substrate is not in direct contact with the water that escapes through the drainage holes, since This excess moisture can result in waterlogging and be very damaging.

In the case of epiphytic orchidsthey can also greatly benefit from the use of hanging baskets. This allows its aerial roots to escape, which helps the plant better absorb the moisture it needs from the air and therefore grow properly. In fact, it is a possibility to dispense with any basket altogether and limit yourself to hang the plant from the stemwhich gives a very striking and daring appearance.

Orchid substrate: how to do it - What are the best pots for orchids and how to prepare them

When and how to transplant orchids

These plants need periodic transplants to grow properly. In fact, it is recommended to carry out the transplant every 2 yearsbetween the end of winter and the beginning of spring, before the plant activates its rhythms.

In the case of epiphytic orchid transplantfollow these steps:

  1. Prepare a new pot with a suitable substrate, filling it to just over half.
  2. Water the pot with plenty of water 2 hours before transplanting.
  3. Extract the plant very carefully and take advantage of the moisture in the substrate to remove it from the roots more easily, paying special attention not to damage them.
  4. Plant the orchid in the new pot, add the rest of the orchid substrate and water the plant.

If it is terrestrial orchids, follow the usual steps for a transplant but keep in mind that you do not need to moisten the plant so much before transplanting. Just be careful with the roots so as not to damage them.

Learn more about this process with this other practical gardening guide from EcologíaVerde on When and how to transplant orchids. Also, below you can see a video from our YouTube channel about the most common mistakes when caring for orchids, including an inadequate substrate.

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