Thursday, May 17, 2007

Douglas Fir Bark for my Cymbidium Orchid

I am a recent owner of a large cymbidium orchid which someone decided they didn't want any longer. I found it on the street in a plastic bag. I've researched the internet and see that the potting mix for cymbidiums is Douglas Fir Bark (fine grade). Can you suggest any place in the New York City area where I can purchase a large bag of this medium? I'd like to avoid shipping charges which seem to be expensive.

Congratulations on finding yourself that cymbidium. They can be a great plant. The only catch is that they will require some cooler temperatures come fall but we can revisit that later. Newer cultivars are being bred for better warmth tolerance. Your research and findings are correct. Most orchids we try to grow are epiphytic and need to be in a loose mix of either fir bark or sphagnum moss. Cymbidiums are more terrestrial, meaning they grow in the ground instead of in the crooks of trees, so you can use a fine grade fir bark mix. A few references I checked quickly even said that you can use a combination of fir bark and regular potting mix at a ratio of 50:50.

As to where to find it – are you familiar with the flower district down on 28th Street? Mostly between Broadway and 7th Avenues on 28th you will find a ton of different plant shops that sell everything from mixes to containers to cut flowers. A number of stores carry epiphytic mixes appropriate for orchids. You should be able to find the fine grade fir bark, but if shops only have a heavier grade (aka larger chips) then perhaps think about making the 50/50 mix I mentioned above.

Otherwise: bright light to dappled sun; water once a week. If you can keep it near an open window where it will get cooler at night that is a help too. When planting do not bury the pseudobulbs (the large tuberous stems) too deeply. Enjoy!

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