by Delfina de Araujo

There is no ideal substrate for all epiphytic orchids but until now the tree fern fiber is the one which congregates more qualities to occupy this place. Nowadays, the big challenge to the orchids growers is to find its substitute because the tree fern fiber commercialization is about to be forbidden by reason of the Dicksonia selowii's extinction. Although it has been replanted (unfortunately in a small extent), there isn't a true replantation program. The consummation is bigger than the production because it grows very slowly. It can also be extracted from Osmunda, Cyathea and so on...
The purpose here is putting this question under discussion by knowing some commercial and amateur growers' opinion and experience.

The substrate should have many proprieties: It must retain humidity for a while without getting soaked, to be able to hold the plant firmly (a plant which is not firm never sets healthy roots), to be easy-to-handle and to be long lasting. Another important point is the substrate's pH, the efficacy of absorption's fertilizer depends on its acidity. Some cultivation media such as cork bark, nylon foam, palm's fiber (piaçava, Attalea funifera and Leopoldina piassaba) are inert because they don't have food values for the plant which needs to be integrally nourished by fertilizers. They are considered just a support. Some other cultivation media such as tree fern fiber, osmunda, tree bark, sphagnum moss and coxim are considered the genuine substrates because they provide food although the plants remain needing to receive a complement by a regular fertilizer application.

Inert cultivation media



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