Orchids can be classified in various ways, one of them is to do so with respect to the substrate on which they grow. So we find ourselves with orchids epiphytic, rupicolous or lithophytes, terrestrial, saprophytic, humícolas and parasitic. Therefore each type of orchid requires a substrate different.
Types of Orchids and their relationship with the soil
The terrestrial orchids grow directly on the soil, its roots are set deep and have abundant branching. They need a high humidity and daily watering. They are very susceptible to lack of water.
Orchids Rupículas or Litófilas:
Orchids rupículas or litófilas living on the rocks in full sun. Often protect the tip of the roots by dipping them under the earth that accumulates in the crevices of the rocks. Withstand very high temperatures. Usually form compact groups that cover small areas in the rock.
The orchids and epiphytes are those that develop in the trees and only use it as a support. In nature generally feed through of chemical elements and substances secreted by the leaves of the trees with the rain drain down and get trapped between the leaves and roots of orchids.
The orchids are saprophytic are very rare and are devoid of chlorophyll, are nourished by the decomposition of plants and animals. It seems to be that only an orchid can be really considered saprophyte, the curious Rhizanthella gardneri.
Orchids humícolas are those that feed from decaying organic matter, but unlike the saprophytic contain chlorophyll and perform photosynthesis. At first glance they can be confused with the terrestrial orchids, but the main difference is the root. Their roots are extremely thick and are distributed in parallel to the soil below the leaf litter of forests. Delving into the earth only a few inches.
There are only three species of orchids that are considered parasitic, although many people still think that epiphytic orchids are parasitic on the trees that grow. Orchids parasites survive by taking the nitrogen they need from the fungi to parasites.
Types of Substrates
In the cultivation of orchids in pots, the substrate has a great influence on the quality of the plant. Mainly performs the function of serving as a support for the root system of the plants. But at the same time must facilitate the supply of water, air, nutrients, suitable pH and other conditions satisfactory for the growth and flowering of the plants.
The tree fern is the preferred substrate for a large number of growers of orchids. It is formed by adventitious roots of some ferns of the families Cyatheaceae and Dicksoniaceae. It is excellent for the cultivation of orchids because it retains large amounts of water for a long time.
The charcoal is ideal for humid climates. In dry climates you must go accompanied of another substrate which retains moisture well. Required more frequently in the fertilization but it is very lightweight and porous. Requires watering frequently with clean water to wash the excess minerals that often retain.
The pine bark is a substrate very easy to get to and with a good retention of the fertilizer. Instead presents a high rate of tannins and is degraded with ease. Breaks easily and will not subject the roots so it requires to use a guardian to keep the orchid. Lasts about a year, and is indicated for species such as Cymbidiuns, Vanda, Cattleya and Laelia.
The slate is a black stone used in construction, is very rich in iron and is a great support for species lithophytes orchids as Pleurotallis and Bulbophyllum rupiculum. Does not hold water but it has an unlimited duration.
Ceramic and tile
The crushed ceramic tiles can be used for species such as Vanda, Ascocentrum, Rhynchostylis, Cattleya and Laelia. Its main feature is the retention of water and nutrients. It is heavy with what supports well the plant and allows a good circulation of air.
Gravel and stones
The gravel and stones as ornamental as the dolomite go well with Cattleya and Laelia purpurata. Its duration is indefinite and they are not recommended for species that do not tolerate the calcium. They retain a lot of salts to the fertilizer which can damage the roots of some orchids. Will need washed frequently.
The knot of the Araucaria heterophylla
The knot of the Araucaria heterophylla is collected from the trees in the decomposition of this species and does not contain toxic substances. Is indicated for species of Cattleya and micro orchids. It is difficult to find but has a very long duration.
The bark of peroba
The bark of peroba or palo rosa Aspidosperma polyneuronm, has a high durability, it is rough and retains little water. Can be used in the cultivation of orchids in vertical vertical holding them to a fence or wall. It is suitable for orchids orchids such as Miltonia, Oncidium, Brassia, Brassavola, Encyclia and Cattleya walkeriana. Lasts for more than 5 years and requires watering more frequently. Retains the wrong fertilizer.
The pit of Acai
The pit of Acai berry is the seed of a palm tree very common in the amazon region. Preserves the acidity at a good level for orchids and retains the optimal amount of fertilizer and moisture. Does not contain an excess of tannin or other substances that are toxic to orchids. In humid regions it does not last more than two years.
The fiber of coconut contains macro and micronutrients essential for the growth of orchids. It is sold in various presentations and treatments. Is usually try to lower the amount of tannin. Does not hold much fertilizer, and does not contain nitrogen. In humid regions and cold is not advisable to retain too much moisture. It has a duration of more than three years, and is suitable for species such as Miltonia, Oncidium and micro orchids.
Coconut fiber compressed
Coconut fiber compressed it is the ideal substitute for tree fern. It is sold with the shape of a pot, in bars, cubes, plates, and many other forms. It is ideal for warm areas due to its high water retention. Ideal for species such as Miltonia, Phalaenopsis and Vanda.
The guardians live that are used to grow orchids epiphytes are tree bark rough as Pouteria caimito, Cydonia Olonga, Artocarpus heterophyllus, Punica granatum, Ficus carica, Psidium guajava L, Citrus limonia orsbeck among others. It is the substrate that better mimics the natural conditions of the forests.
The Sphagnum moss
The Sphagnum moss is usually appointed as a substitute for the fiber of the tree fern. Retains a large amount of water and is always used in combination with another type of substrate. Is an ingredient of many substrates for commercial orchids that can be found in garden centers.
The expanded clay
The expanded clay is a material that is inorganic and inert, which has characteristics similar to gravel. With the difference of being a material much lighter and can be used both to drain the bowl as to form the substrate together with other components.