Orchid Bark

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Orchid bark, a premium potting medium, that is used to cultivate award-winning orchids.

Typically, orchid bark is harvested from the bark of softwood trees such as the Australian Radiata Pine, New Zealand Pinus Radiata, and the Douglas Fir (Western Fir). The trees are harvested and stripped of their bark, which is then put through a process known as aging.

The aging process is similar to composting; water is added to the bark, and air is introduced into the pile by turning it. This process of adding water, airing it, and maintaining the correct temperature initiates a biological process where beneficial microorganisms begin to grow.

Before these beneficial microorganisms start to break down the bark, the bark is removed from the process. This halts the progression of the microorganisms but retains the current colony.

Orchid bark is free-draining, retains moisture, contains beneficial microorganisms, and can last for several years.

Some orchid growers use orchid bark as a base for a mix, combining it with sphagnum moss or creating an orchid soil mix that includes a mixture of soil, bark, charcoal, and perlite.

Orchid bark is available in a variety of sizes, ranging from 1-liter to 50-liter bags, and comes in many classes, from 3-6mm to 20-50mm nuggets.

The most common brands of orchid bark include Orchita, Better-Gro, Ausgro, and Kiwi Bark.

Orchid bark is the preferred potting medium for growing orchids in pots. It offers several advantages:

  • It lasts significantly longer (more than 10 times) compared to sphagnum moss.
  • It provides excellent aeration within the root system.
  • It is free-draining while still retaining some moisture.
  • In most cases, it falls within the optimal pH range for growing orchids.
  • It often contains more available nutrients due to the way the bark is processed.