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Coconut coir for tolumnias??

Discussion in 'Orchid Culture' started by Ben2828, Sep 1, 2017.

Should I use coconut fiber for tolumnias or not

  1. Yes

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  2. No

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  3. It makes no difference

    0 vote(s)
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  1. Ben2828

    Ben2828 New Member

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    Guys... I have yet another question on tolumnias.. I was thinking that I could insert pieces of coconut fiber in the tolumnia pots as I think it will help in water retention...
     

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  2. KellyW

    KellyW Orchid wonk Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Ben, I think a little bit of coconut fiber would be OK if you feel it is necessary but you don't want the roots staying wet very long. Lots of air and quick drying is key. If you feel the roots are drying too fast and the plant is suffering then a little coconut fiber may help. If the plant is doing well without it then I wouldn't recommend it.

    Also, just FYI, coconut fiber and coir are technically the same thing by definition. However, in the orchid community, when someone uses the term "coir" they are generally referring to the coconut fiber dust which is used as a soil conditioner similar to using peat moss. So, to orchid growers (at least in N. America and on this forum) the material in your photo would be coconut fiber. I would be very interested in hearing if that distinction is made in the rest of the world or if that is just an American usage. Are there better terms for these products out there?
     
  3. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    OK. Please bear with me while I get a bit professorial.

    "Coir", if I'm not mistaken, is actually the fibrous material, but has been co-opted by the commercial horticulture industry for the particulate, ground up version of the coconut husk. I've also heard of coconut husk chips (CHC in the orchid world) referred to as coir chips.

    As to the poll, it is not truly valid, and the different cultural conditions each of us has will determine whether or not the fibrous material is a good idea or not.

    When I was first growing in a greenhouse in PA, a little fiber, loose in a clay pot, worked well. When I started watering more frequently, loose fiber rolled up on a plastic mesh became a better option. Now that I am growing them outdoors for the summer here in coastal NC, I find that slab culture is better. I have some on a slab of cedar that are taking root nicely, and am experimenting with a piece of palm frond (technically the petiole) from one of my date palms, as it is remarkably similar n structure to the husk of a coconut.
     
  4. carl

    carl Active Member

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    There are also coconut husk chips (CHC), which come in various sizes. I use them in some circumstances - they hold a little more moisture than bark, but dry fairly quickly, and retain a lot of airspace, if you don't pack them tightly. Coarse CHC might work well for tolumnias, but I prefer mounts, anyway.
     
  5. Ben2828

    Ben2828 New Member

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    I believe mounts would not work for me as my climate is too warm...They would dry up quickly...
     
  6. Ben2828

    Ben2828 New Member

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    More over their roots don't look like roots at all.. they are very dry and paper...Some are even hollow...The leaves are shriveled and the edges are dried up...
     
  7. Ben2828

    Ben2828 New Member

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    I am not able to post pics as the images are too big..
     
  8. KellyW

    KellyW Orchid wonk Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Are you able to see any live roots?
     
  9. Ben2828

    Ben2828 New Member

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    near the base of the plant I could see some plump whitish roots.
     
  10. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    Ben,

    Understanding a bit more about their situation in the wild should help you grasp their needs better: tolumnias typically grow on tiny twigs of shrubs growing on the windward side of Caribbean islands. They get frequent rain, but are soon blown-dry by warm breezes. Find a way to mimic that, and they're weeds!
     
  11. Ben2828

    Ben2828 New Member

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    i just bought some terracota pots with slits an the side.
     
  12. Ricardo

    Ricardo Slave of demanding bird

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    Tolumnias in the wild grow in branches and twigs, most of the time the roots are either exposed or dangling in the air. I live in their natural habitat and during their growth season we get rain almost daily, so they get drenched, but the wind and warm temperatures means the plants dry up relatively quickly.
     
  13. carl

    carl Active Member

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    Sounds like the hot setup is to grow them pretty much like vandas - empty baskets/pots, and perhaps less water.

    Ricardo, what about light?
     
  14. Ricardo

    Ricardo Slave of demanding bird

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    I have seen them growing all the way from full exposure to the worst of the local tropicala sunlight to the deep shade of an ornamental shrub hedge. The healthiest plants were those that got some sunlight early in the morning but were protected from the harsh sunlight when the sun is at its highest point.
    Ricardo's Blog, : Tolumnia variegata "in situ" in the Rio Abajo Forest, Puerto Rico, a plant that I have been watching since last year.
    Ricardo's Blog, : Tolumnia (Oncidium) variegata, a native orchid locally known as angel of the coffee plantation
    Ricardo's Blog, : Tolumnia (Oncidium) variegata, birds weaving this orchid into their nest
     
  15. MattWoelfsen

    MattWoelfsen Active Member

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    IMG_0023.JPG IMG_0037.JPG I have started a small collection of Tolumnia hybrids. On the internet there how many images of Tolumnia growing all different ways--net pots, on a mount, etc. Here are three Tolumnia that I potted on wire skimmers (used to scoop out food from a boiling food pot). These skimmers are made of stainless steel. I mounted the plant inside scoop, added a little NZ Sphagnum Moss--enough to line the skimmer, place the plants on top of the moss, and strapped everything in with a zip tie. These two pictures were taken July 2013. So far they look like they are enjoying this installation.

    I think if you use coconut fiber, that will work too. You have to gauge how well additional organic will work in your environment. I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In the winter, I grow my plants indoors, under LED, fan running intermittently, water every other day, early in the day.
     
  16. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    Hey! I like that skimmer idea!

    This is another great example of why questions like "What's the best potting medium for..." are ridiculous. There are many ways to "skin that cat" in the world of orchids.

    In my former greenhouse in PA, for example, even that small amount of sphagnum might have stayed wet too long.
     
  17. MattWoelfsen

    MattWoelfsen Active Member

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    Figuring out potting media is maybe one of four questions to ask:
    1) potting media
    2) culture requirements, for example, bright light? High humidity? Temperature?
    3) what grow zone are you in?
    4) how diligent are you to maintain and provide the specific orchid's requirements?

    In order of importance I would think #4 should be answered first. Once that is figured out, then what potting media is best for Tolumnia would be an easy answer.

    I use Sphagnum Moss in most of my orchid potting media, because I have very dry air indoors, I have too many orchids to water, and I'm basically too busy working during the day. I hedge the too wet Sphagnum Moss by running fans, intermittently 24/7.