Garden & Greenhouse October 2017 Issue - Page 47

benefits of sphagnum while avoiding – or at least delaying – the pitfalls? Here are a few of the tips I’ve learned over the years: Use Top Quality Moss It is far more forgiving of misuse than are lesser grades. Learn to Water Lightly Just moisten the moss, rather than “smashing” it down with heavy overhead watering. One trick I’ve learned is to place a 1″-2″ layer of LECA at the bot- tom of the pot, with the plant and moss on top of that, then only water from below. The LECA absorbs and wicks the water up to the moss, which becomes uniformly moist without ever being mechanically dis- turbed. Blending Consider blending the moss with more “rigid” components. I have had success with coarse strands of coconut husk fiber, interwoven with the strands of moss, as well as perlite or charcoal – anything that helps the sphagnum “stand up” under its own wet weight. Experiment Once you gain a reasonable level of “mastery” of the moss, you’ll find it to be a good addition to your orchid-growing arsenal. Yes, it will always be one of the shortest-lived potting media you’ll use, but the phenomenal growth rate is often worth the more- frequent repotting. GG Ray Barkalow has been growing orchids for over 45 years, and owns First Rays, which offers horticultural products to the hobby grower. He may be contacted at and you can visit his website at Visit October 2017 47