Orchids: Hydroponic by nature

A native of moss-covered rocks of the tropical rainforests, magnificent orchids grow hydroponically, naturally.

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Magnificent orchids grow hydroponically, naturally

There are few things more magnificent than an orchid.

In the rainforests of South America and other tropical areas, orchids are found growing on the bark of trees or on moss-covered rocks; as rain runs down the side of the tree or rock, it supplies the perfect balance of water and oxygen, while the plant’s roots trap nutrients from decaying vegetation. There is no soil in these conditions, which in essence makes orchids hydroponic by nature.

Many of the traditional hydroponic growing media work very well for orchids. An inert, sterile media with good air retention provides an ideal anchor for these plants. Young seedlings can be transplanted into a hydroponic growing medium at any time making repotting a simple procedure.

Suitable growing media for orchids include:

Expanded clay pellets. These are uniform in size and quite porous, allowing plants to stabilize easily while providing great capillary action. Available in a variety of sizes, clay pellets are a great environment for orchids with thick roots.

Perlite and vermiculite are heated natural minerals, and can be used individually or with a mixture of peat and bark as a soil-less mix.

Both perlite and vermiculite have a light and fluffy quality that won’t get waterlogged. These media are well suited for orchids with thin, airy roots.

Rockwool is a spun rock fibre, available in cubes, slabs and granulated form. Rockwool has an enormous water-retention capacity while permitting plenty of air to reach the roots.

A mixture of various growing media can be tailored to suit individual orchid requirements.

Experiment with one or two plants at a time, as you may find that changing the medium can also alter other aspects of the plants’ care.