Tough Luv

by Colleen Rochette

As you know, my Psychopsis Mendenhall ‘Hildos’ finally made her way home last week. After being blessed with another big-leaved beauty with a finicky attitude, I definitely wanted to transition her into some new medium and a comfy pot. The lava rock and charcoal would definitely be suitable for the long haul. No gloomy dispositions allowed!

IMG_4900Upon removing the pot, I noticed the little foam block, again. This has consistently been showing up within the root systems of my plants and I have been curious about it’s purpose. After a some light research, I found out that these are horticultural foam bricks. They seem to be left on the plants as they are potted-up, probably to support their developing root systems. Is this what is being referred to when growers mention orchid plugs?

This particular Psychopsis has been living in a mix of sponge rock and old bark chips. I am curious to see what each grower chooses to nurture their orchids in, especially when you order several different species from one greenhouse.

IMG_4906Freshly rinsed red lava rock and charcoal, along with one long blonde hair for luck.

IMG_4913In anticipation of these particular arrivals, I placed an order for some supplies before I had met the gals. I decided to order a couple of pots, instead of just one. You can never know if the root mass will need to be trimmed or if a plant may need more room than originally allotted. Fluctuations to my original estimates happen frequently, so I was very happy that I spent the extra $1.25. I used the larger of the two pots so I could plant my orchid a little lower in the pot.

IMG_4914To take up some of the extra space, I added a few packing peanuts around my Psycho’s roots to take up some space. These little guys will also help her medium dry out quickly and provide better drainage. When using these lil’ squishy things, please be mindful to only place the pure white Styrofoam pieces in your orchid’s pot! No pretty pastel colors and no guilt-free, biodegradable varieties.

IMG_4922When it is time to apply the finishing touches, the lava rock and charcoal mix are slipped down the sides of the pot. I tap the bottom of the pot so the mix falls down and around her roots naturally. Once a regular watering schedule begins, the material will settle slightly and you can add a few more pieces of medium to the top if needed.

Considering how fussy this orchid can be, I prefer not to smush the medium into the pot with my fingers. The potential of scraping and bending her already jostled legs is not too favorable. No need to escalate the uproar that I have probably already caused with the initial examination.

Oh,  and if you take a closer look, you can also see the fog that accumulates on the clear pots. This will remain slightly until she needs to be watered again. In combination with the weight of her pot, I take this as my cue for bath-time.

IMG_4919Hopefully the large Psycho is happy! I am excited to see how she responds within the next few weeks. Also, I am curious to see if her new growth in the left corner will continue to thrive after all of the travel and re-potting. My fingers are crossed for a future spike and big butterfly flowers.