My 5 “Go-to” Orchid Potting Mix Recipes

In Orchids
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These are the primary orchid potting mix recipes that I use for nearly all of my orchids including phals, slipper orchids, and jewel orchids. I use different ratios depending on the species of orchid and what their roots have adapted to in nature (either dryness, wetness, lithophytic, terrestrial, or epiphytic growth). There is a science behind why these media work well for me in my seemingly dry and hostile climate; if you’d like to know more about why, read this post on, the Best Potting Soil EVER. This post is specifically about the recipes, so let’s get to it…

 

Here are my 5 Orchid Potting Mix Recipes

 

Cool-Spiking Phalaenopsis Potting Mix

Goal: Moist, airy, and allowing to dry slightly before next watering

Orchid Media Ratios

  • 65% Bark (Pine)
  • 15% sphagnum
  • 10% Pumice/Perlite
  • 10% Charcoal

 


Wondering what’s the difference is between a “Cool-Spiking Phalaenopsis” and a “Summer-Blooming Phalaenopsis”?

Read more…


 

Summer-Blooming Phalaenopsis Potting Media Recipe

Goal: Evenly moist, approaching dryness at next watering (but not letting media or roots go bone-dry)

Orchid Media Ratios

  • 50% Bark (Pine)
  • 25% sphagnum
  • 15% Pumice/Perlite
  • 10% Charcoal
  • 1/2 cup peatmoss/4L

 

Mud Mix – Jewels & Summer Phals

Goal: Always moist, roots should never dry out

Orchid Media Ratios

  • 50% Peatmoss
  • 40% Pumice/Perlite
  • 10% Charcoal

 

Phragmipedium Potting Mix

Goal: Always wet, but well ventilated and airy

Orchid Media Ratios

  • 50% Pumice
  • 25% Bark (Pine or Fir)
  • 15% Charcoal
  • 10% sphagnum
    *pot sits in 1/4″ of water if temps are over 16C

 

Paphiopedilum Mix

Goal: Always moist, but well ventilated and airy

Orchid Media Ratios

  • 60% Bark (Pine)
  • 20% Pumice/Perlite
  • 10% Charcoal
  • 10% sphagnum
  • 1/2 cup peatmoss/4L

 

Orchid Potting Mix Tip: In nature, orchids grow where it’s moist, right? Moss also grows where it’s moist; to me, it makes sense that using moss on the top of our potting mixes can help make the conditions right at the base of the plant a little more hospitable to new roots. For that reason, all of my pots are top-dressed with sphagnum to ensure the area at the bottom of new growths or around the crown (where new roots emerge) is moist.

 

Tips on Watering Newly Repotted Orchids

When you repot a new orchid, you generally need to increase your watering frequency for the next 4-12 weeks. By the act of repotting, you’ve introduced a “fresh media”; new mix is generally less good at holding water because it needs to break down a bit first, that’s why you have to compensate and generally water more frequently. That doesn’t mean you water it every day, but it means you need to water it as the media dries (or the day after)—this will depend on the type of orchid you’re keeping. Having a clear pot will help you see the state of your roots and better determine when it’s time to water.

Also…there’s this idea that orchids don’t like water and wetness…that is misleading. It’s true, many types of orchids won’t do well if they’re sitting in water for days on end, so for the best growth you want to achieve a wet/dry cycle over about 3-5 days. If they’re taking too long to dry out, add more perlite or bark to your ratio, if they’re drying too fast, add more sphagnum moss.