Orchid Potting Mix

It seems like every orchid grower has his or her own favorite orchid potting mix recipe, guaranteed to get lots of air to the roots while retaining moisture and being freely draining and having lots of other seemingly-contradictory qualities. Here are a few of the more commonly used ingredients in these recipes:
  • Fir Bark. This is very commonly used in mixes for repotting orchids. It typically comes in three grades, fine, medium, and coarse. Finer bark tends to hold more moisture and dry more slowly, while coarser bark dries more quickly and lets in more air. Epiphytes are well adapted to grow on bark, as it's what they do in nature.
  • New Zealand Sphagnum Moss. This retains a lot of moisture, and is often used for orchids that don't like to dry out, such as Phalaenopsis and Phragmipedium. Many orchids grow in moss in the wild; terrestrial orchids often grow in the sphagnum moss within bogs, while epiphytes often grow on mossy limbs and lithophytes often find themselves on mossy rocks. It has an acidic pH. Some orchids prefer an acidic growing medium and others don't; it's just something to be aware of.
  • Coconut husks. These are similar to fir bark, but break down more slowly and retain a bit more moisture.
A few other common ingredients include charcoal, perlite, rockwool, tree fern (osmunda fiber), even wine corks for rapid drainage!

Experiment a bit. You'll find that different types of orchids appreciate different potting mixes, and that the choice of potting mix has a lot of effect on how often you need to water.

Terrestrial orchids require somewhat different potting mixes; they are usually denser, such as a mix of sand and peat moss. Read more at the terrestrial orchids page.

What are YOUR favorite orchid potting mix recipes?

I'd like to hear what potting mixes work well for you! Other readers can benefit too. What types of orchids does it work well for, and how often do you water?

Name your potting mix

Other Visitors' Potting Mixes

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Can i just use charcoal to plant a Cattleya orchid? 
Can i just use charcoal to plant a cattleya orchid?...

Phalaenopsis potting mix Not rated yet
I sometimes pot Phalaenopsis as follows:

I fill the bottom of a plastic pot with packing peanuts (the kind that isn't biodegradable), as drainage …...

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