|Not that long ago, osmunda
was the potting media used for growing orchids. Its increasing scarcity, and consequently high price, have caused it to fall out of favor.
It also requires some skill to be able to successfully pot with osmunda. Other potting materials available today are much easier to use. There are
certain instances when this medium might be just what is called
for to coax a recalcitrant orchid into growth. It is also useful to put
a small pad of osmunda beneath the rhizome when attaching a plant to a
mount, this provides a little extra moisture while the plant gets established.
The fibrous roots of osmunda fern provide a higher amount of nutrients than most other potting materials, therefore require more dilute fertilizer application, perhaps one-half strength used for other media. Despite the fine texture of osmunda, it does not break down quickly and will generally last in excess of two years. Additives such as charcoal can be used to maintain the openness of the mix and keep it from souring.
Potting with osmunda requires some practice; chunks are torn into conveniently-sized pieces and forced into the pot with a "potting stick" or similar tool creating enough pressure against the roots to hold the orchid firmly in place. An orchid which has been properly potted in osmunda usually requires no clips or stakes unless it is top-heavy by nature.
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