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Sphagnum Moss vs. Bark: Which is Better for Phalaenopsis Orchids?

March 20, 2013

Potting materials have a significant effect on the growth of orchids, and therefore, it is essential that you select the right potting material for your Phalaenopsis orchids. There are two kinds of potting materials that are commonly used for growing Phalaenopsis orchids, and they are sphagnum moss and bark.

Before we discuss the pros and cons of sphagnum moss and bark, let us take a look at the properties and functions of an ideal potting material for Phalaenopsis orchids.

  • Supplies water and nutrients to orchids
  • Maintains adequate aeration around the roots
  • Provides sufficient room for root development
  • Allows good root anchorage
  • Free of toxic materials
  • Absorbs water quickly and allows adequate drainage
  • Absorbs nutrients well and release them slowly
  • Should not decompose too quickly

No potting material can meet all these requirements, but sphagnum moss and bark are more suitable for Phalaenopsis orchids than other types of potting materials. Sphagnum moss is a fine substrate, and it can hold water better than bark. Its water retention ability makes it an excellent potting material for young orchids. However, it cannot provide proper aeration for root respiration. It can also be difficult to transplant an orchid that is potted in sphagnum moss. Bark, on the other hand, provides good aeration for the roots and helps produce larger cavities, but it has poor water holding ability. Phalaenopsis orchids can grow well in bark because their roots have photosynthetic ability and can absorb moisture from the air.

Choosing between sphagnum moss and bark can be difficult because they both have their pros and cons. The best thing to do is to use a mixture of sphagnum moss and bark.

Check out our Orchid Care Videos to learn more orchid potting tips.