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Questions about wooden baskets

Discussion in 'Orchid Culture' started by Armando, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. Armando

    Armando Hobbyist gone wild

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    Spring comes i plan to transfer some of my plants to wooden baskets.

    Do I need Teak baskets? Or Cedar/Rosewood would last long enough? Some vendors don't specify the wood used in the baskets they sell so I'll have to ask them.

    Other question - if I use organic media in the basket, when the media breaks down will be a mess to remove the media and keep the plant in the basket (since the roots will be all attached to the basket I'd rather keep the plant in there)? Is it better to use exclusively something like lava rock so i won't have to "repot" it later until the basket rots?
     
  2. Mary Jane

    Mary Jane New Member

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    I've made baskets using regular old cedar fencing from Home Depot, dog-eared pickets. My plants have not complained or reacted badly to them. I usually put a screen in the bottom/sides to hold in medium and I've used bark and moss, both alone and mixed. Usually when the basket starts falling apart, I'll dig out what I can with out messing with the roots much (mostly bulbos, here) and just plop the whole thing in a larger sized basket. If there are some pieces of plant hanging out or growing funny, I'll snip them and pot them up, insurance ya know.
    I find the easiest way to get old medium out is to use water. Spray the crap out of em, (bulbos, remember) and the old loose stuff falls away pretty good. I don't worry about what is left.
    So, cedar is fine, in my estimation.
    I would think lava rock would be fine, if that's what you and the plant like.
     
  3. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    Teak will last longer tha most woods, but they all decay eventually.
     
  4. Vincent

    Vincent New Member

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    The wooden baskets sold commercially are made from scrap wood of various kinds. Vendors don’t necessarily know what kind of wood their baskets were made from, especially if the type of wood isn’t specified in their description. Those called “cedar” baskets might be cedar or they might be this or that species of juniper. If the wood is not identified at all in a vendor’s description, it could be anything.

    I trust that those described as teak baskets really are some species of teak because I have found them to be very durable. Some other baskets I’ve used that were made from unidentified wood rotted out within two years.

    I use wooden baskets with a medium of coarse fir bark for Cattleyas and have found this to be ideal in my growing conditions. Here are a few things I have learned from my experience:

    Choosing the size of a basket for a particular plant is not like choosing a pot. The basket should be somewhat roomy rather than being just large enough to contain the roots. Over-potting in a pot is a concern because the medium will hold water longer. In a basket, the medium is well ventilated, at least until it breaks down and becomes compacted. By then, it should be replaced anyway.

    In a cramped basket, the benefits of growing in a medium are mostly lost and roots have nowhere to go but out and nothing to attach to but the basket itself. They will have to be removed from the basket sooner than from a larger basket and then there will be more root damage than if they had been established in a larger basket.

    To keep the medium from falling through the slats on the bottom of a basket, you can use a piece of screen as Mary Jane suggested or you can cut a piece of ½-inch wire mesh and line the bottom with that. You don’t need to worry about the sides at all. Some people suggest lining baskets with Sphagnum moss, but that's a mistake, in my opinion. It results in too much moisture retention and too little aeration, which defeats the whole purpose of using a basket in the first place.

    In my growing conditions, fir bark breaks down and becomes compacted within 12 months, and needs to be replaced. If roots have become attached to the basket, I can often replace the medium without removing the plant. While holding the basket upside down, most of old bark can be teased out, but the plant holds itself in place (with a little support). Then new bark is carefully filled back in under the rhizome.

    When a plant must be removed from a basket and its roots are attached to it, then there will be some root loss. Minimize the damage where you can and make clean cuts where necessary rather than breaking or tearing the roots loose. After being repotted, healthy roots will heal and new growth will branch out of them.

    The advantages and disadvantages of lava rock depend a lot on growing conditions. My Cattleyas are outside most of the year. They get a lot of direct sun, even in high temperatures during the summer. That’s the reason I have never tried lava rock as a replacement medium. It would get too hot. But I have been experimenting with it, using it in the middle of the fir bark medium where decomposition occurs first. So far, I don’t think it’s as good as fir bark alone. Mixed in with fir bark, it seems to hold moisture as long as the aging bark it replaced. It also makes baskets much heavier.
     
  5. Tom_in_PA

    Tom_in_PA I am not an addict

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    I make my own baskets out of scrap mahogany wood I pulled out of one of my in-laws rental units a number of years ago. I only started using them 2 years ago and they appear to be holding up great with absolutly no signs of rot and the plants are going great.
     
  6. Jon

    Jon Mmmm... bulbophyllum...

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    What Vincent said.
     
  7. Armando

    Armando Hobbyist gone wild

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    Thank you all for the great information! I ordered the Teak ones and will use coarse bark as a medium.
     
  8. Doc Elly

    Doc Elly Member

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    I've tried wooden baskets and don't like them, so use only the plastic ones. Medium depends on what kind of plant. For vandas I use no medium. Draculas go in sphag. I don't have a lot of space to hang things, and try to mount just about anything that would otherwise go in a basket, so maybe I'm not the best person to comment on baskets.