• Jerry Fischer, Orchids Limited
  • Hawaiian Orchid Masters
  • Tim Maye, Acadian Wholesale Supply
  • Graham Wood, Lehua Orchids
  • As we began our 10th year as an orchid nursery, we were able to at last build a greenhouse specifically to house our Phalaenopsis inventory. When it was time to move in, we gathered our plants from the various locations among several older houses. Surveying the inventory, it was not a pretty sight. Many plants had been neglected - potting media, mostly sphagnum moss, was badly compromised. We knew the genetics was good on many of our plants so we began re-potting them in Orchiata bark. Within 30 days there were lots of new roots and in 90 days we had plants we were proud to offer to our customers. Orchiata made the difference.
    John Nelson, Louisiana Orchid Connection
  • Hadley has been breeding and growing Paphiopedilum orchids for the past 25 years. “Orchiata bark is one of the most significant growing improvements that I’ve made with orchids in the last 10 years! We all want a potting mix that will produce great roots, yet last as long as possible. Nothing I’ve tried accomplishes these goals better or longer than Orchiata”
    Hadley Cash, Marriott Orchids, North Carolina
  • In my 40+ years of orchid growing, I have tried just about every brand of bark and other potting media components out there, and had pretty much given up on using bark altogether. Then about 5-6 years ago I acquired a sample of Orchiata and I guarantee you that based upon my experience, I have never seen a better bark. PERIOD!
    Ray Barkalow, First Rays Orchids
  • I have been trying to get this coconut orchid, Maxillaria tenufolia, to re-bloom for about two years. It is such a healthy plant I just wouldn't give up on it. Then, I replanted it in the medium orchiata mix, and guess what? It's blooming! read more
    I have been trying to get this coconut orchid, Maxillaria tenufolia, to re-bloom for about two years. It is such a healthy plant I just wouldn't give up on it. Then, I replanted it in the medium Orchiata mix, and guess what? It's blooming! Now I smell a little pina colada every time I walk by. Now all of my orchids are either in the small or medium mix. I also have another orchid (I've had it so long without it blooming that I don't remember what type it is) this is also in medium Orchiata and now has a spike. I'll send along a picture of it when it's in bloom. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for introducing me to Orchiata!
    Linda C, Hobbyist
  • A recent trip to visit Hawaiian orchid nurseries in March 2012 exposed me to a new type of orchid bark called Orchiata, (pronounced or-key-ah-ta.) This is a sustainable orchid growing substrate produced from 100% pure New Zealand Pinus radiata bark and sourced from renewable man-made forests. After learning about its attributes, I was anxious to get back home and give it a try. read more
    A recent trip to visit Hawaiian orchid nurseries in March 2012 exposed me to a new type of orchid bark called Orchiata, (pronounced or-key-ah-ta.) This is a sustainable orchid growing substrate produced from 100% pure New Zealand Pinus radiata bark and sourced from renewable man-made forests. After learning about its attributes, I was anxious to get back home and give it a try. One month after re-potting a group of Phalaenopsis schilleriana that were pretty much left for dead, I was amazed to see new roots shooting out the bottom of the pots and see the leaves perking up with health and vigor! I’ve used a lot of different potting mediums in my 35 years of growing but I have never seen results like this. I was very intrigued! Orchiata bark is widely used as a stand-alone product, meaning there is no need to add other components such as peat, vermiculite, perlite or charcoal. Just open the bag and start potting. Talk about simple! The Orchiata bark comes in four very uniform grades: Classic (1/4-3/8”) Power (3/8-1/2”) Power + (1/2-3/4”) and Super (3/4-1”.) I’ve used the Classic for small seedlings in 2.5 to 3 inch pots, the Power for slightly larger pots of 4 to 5 inches, the Power + for more mature plants in pots up to 7-8 inches, and the Super for Vandaceous types and larger specimen pots. Your specific use of each bark size may vary depending on your individual growing techniques and environment. Orchiata bark has many other attributes including there is no need for pre-soaking or washing, it has a stable pH of 5.5-6.5, it has beneficial micro organisms to combat pathogens, and is very consistent in rewetting and drying. This product also is proven to maintain longevity in a pot for over 8 years, which means you can “over-pot” your orchid thus having less frequent repotting cycles. Although Orchiata bark costs a little more than our native douglas fir bark, the benefits may outweigh the added expense. It is important that the root system of your orchids remain healthy and active in order for your plants to perform to their absolute best. When checking your collection this season, see if there is a plant or two that may be looking for an extra boost. Go ahead and try a new potting medium, or modify your existing medium to better accommodate your individual plant’s needs. Your orchids will respond with added health and vigor when the roots are doing their best. Happy Growing Everyone! Chuck Acker, Oak Hill Gardens
    Chuck Acker, Oak Hill Gardens
  • WHY I LOVE ORCHIATA – OR ORCHIATA AND ME UNSOLICITED-UNCOMPENSATED – and without request or reward I would like to share with orchid growers everywhere the news that I have finally discovered the best orchid growing media which I have ever used. Like most orchid growers I have experimented with most (if not all) orchid media out there – often with disastrous results! read more
    WHY I LOVE ORCHIATA – OR ORCHIATA AND ME UNSOLICITED-UNCOMPENSATED – and without request or reward I would like to share with orchid growers everywhere the news that I have finally discovered the best orchid growing media which I have ever used. Like most orchid growers I have experimented with most (if not all) orchid media out there – often with disastrous results! Every time a speaker at one of the Orchid Society programs recommended something newer or better, I, like most of us, bought it, tried it and were disappointed. We probably never realized at that time that the SPEAKERS were probably just selling it at the end of their program as a “marketing technique”!! HOWEVER, my search for the best orchid media ended when a colleague introduced me to his “media of choice” – ORCHIATA. I tried it – I more than liked it – and I finally discovered the answer to my life-long, expensive, and frustrating search!! I quickly found that orchids newly potted in ORCHIATA started growing luscious new, green and healthy roots within a few weeks (if watered often and discreetly). To date I have observed that my orchids potted in ORCHIATA two years ago (my earliest experience with it) have a very healthy root system and the media is as solid and stable as the day the orchids were potted. This was in definite contrast to the orchids potted at the same time in a standard orchid bark mix (my control experiment) which was already disintegrating in our hot and humid Florida weather. I personally choose to mix a little aliflor (or hydokorrel) and a little sponge rock with my ORCHIATA for increased drainage, but the colleague who introduced me uses ORCHIATA straight. Whatever works with our own individual culture! The information available from the distributors indicates that ORCHIATA is aged and weed-free, and that some Japanese orchid nurseries have orchids in the same media for the past ten years without the need for change. I cannot verify that yet based on my limited two years of experience, BUT – I can well believe it based on my own experience to date and I will definitely expect it and look forward to it!! In addition, I expect that the slightly more expensive initial cost of ORCHIATA will more than pay for itself in money and time in the long run by eliminating the more frequent need for repotting of our orchids in the less expensive but far less durable and stable orchid bark mix currently available in the orchid supply market. Paul Storm, Meke Aloha Orchids – Home of SCHOMBO-WORLD www.Mekealohaorchids.com
    Paul Storm, Meke Aloha Orchids
  • DOGGY BARK GOODBYE! by Robert Hamilton, Hawk Hill Orchids About this same time, Tom Perlite of Golden Gate Orchids, was testing a new bark product from New Zealand sold under the name Orchiata – www.besgrow.com I had heard good things about this product from friends in Australia and New Zealand. read more
    DOGGY BARK GOODBYE! by Robert Hamilton, Hawk Hill Orchids About this same time, Tom Perlite of Golden Gate Orchids, was testing a new bark product from New Zealand sold under the name Orchiata – www.besgrow.com I had heard good things about this product from friends in Australia and New Zealand. We decided to purchase a pallet of bark from Tom. The bark came as a mixed lot with bags of both fine (#9) and medium (#5, aka “Power”). Orchiata is made from 100% New Zealand Pinus Radiata bark, a renewable product derived from tree farms. Orchiata advertises their bark goes through a special process which creates “a renewable high quality, stable, long lasting, toxin free, consistent growing substrate”. They further claim their bark supports helpful organisms and suppresses pathogens. I have found it a harder, denser bark than fir bark and it wets nicely. I decided to make a 100% switch to Orchiata. This year I have finally completely this task. All of my plants are in Orchiata bark and to say that I am pleased with their growing is an understatement! I would go so far as to say ecstatic. Orchiata is performing superbly and two of my colleagues who were skeptical at first have now switched to Orchiata bark. I have tried it straight, mixed with “red lava rock”, a rock from a local landscaping supply and with a bark, lava, charcoal blend. When supplementing bark with another material such as rock, one has to use care to select a material with the same size, so one does not fill up the “open space” of the mix. For this last year’s potting, I have added a cup of oyster shell flour, a product sold to the poultry industry. This is a trick I learned from Jerry Rodder, a superb local grower and the patent holder for “Jerry’s Grow” fertilizer. A visit to Jerry’s greenhouse where he has “with” and “without” oyster is pretty convincing. So far the bark has lasted two years with no signed of decay. Root growth is phenomenal. I have stopped using the #9 fine bark for mature plants and am using only the #5, Power. The pure bark mix and the bark with lava rock (of about the same size) both grow well. The lava adds weight to the pots which is useful in keeping pots from getting tipped when watering. Adding about a cup of oyster remains an experiment, but appears to be beneficial. The concept is oyster shell, which is virtually pure calcium carbonate, acts as a pH buffer helping to maintain the substrate at a constant pH. I have nixed using any charcoal whatsoever as it seems to offer no benefits. It has inconsistent size and is nasty stuff to work with. (Note: Andy Easton recommends gypsum for the same purposes and he finds it superior to oyster.) After my change to Orchiata, I have seen an immediate improvement in my collection. Leaf color has improved to a dark, verdant green. This also holds true for the masdevallias John Leathers grows in the same greenhouse after he moved them into Orchiata. Prior to Orchiata, his coccinea’s had become alarmingly chlorotic in the fir bark we were using. My odont bulbs are fat and turgid. Their roots are the best I have ever seen them in my 30 years of growing. John and I are sold on Orchiata. Using it also pays off in the reduced need to repot saving time and material – well worth the extra cost of this media. I’ll close by stating I am sold and a zealous proselyte for Orchiata bark. I’ve recently become aware there’s another importer of New Zealand Pinus Radiata bark. It is sold by a different supplier. I have no experience with this product. I do know it is not prepared in the same manner as Orchiata. Caveat Emptor. I wholly endorse Orchiata bark. Given its long pot life and clean, uniform character, right out of the bag, you won’t go wrong.   PART 2: MORE ON ORCHIATA™ BARK by Robert Hamilton, Hawk Hill Orchids Recently, I received email from Russ Vernon asking me to update my experience with Orchiata bark. Russ heard from a prominent Southern California grower his collection had suffered root damage when grown in Orchiata. The barks pH had dipped too low to sustain roots. In the appended note I’ll share my experience which does not corroborate this. My partner John Leathers and I began growing in Orchiata after we were invited to share the cost of a shipment with Golden Gate Orchids. This was a generous offer and an act of kindness and good will on the part of Golden Gate. At Hawk Hill John grows masdevallias and I grow odonts. Our initial order was for 100 bags of bark. We chose bags of two sizes, half the order was medium and half was fine (Orchiata has a confusing and bizarre way of branding bark size which even today I cannot fathom). We had heard from growers we respect, namely Andy Easton of New Horizon Orchids, Kevin Hipkins of Royals Orchids, Australia and other “Anzac” growers the product was excellent. I am guessing that first order was about four years ago. The reason for turning to this offshore product was simple. The bark we were buying, which came from a producer in Oregon, was at best “iffy” in quality – poor is probably the better word. Some shipments were fair while others were poorly graded. The shape of the bark was not conducive to keeping open space in the mix. Our plants were suffering. This fir bark was lasting less than a season. While on the roof one day I noted a dead zone in the area I was dumping spent bark. The situation had gotten bad enough that we got in our car and drove to Redding, on the Northern California border, to inspect the bark of a different producer, a distance of 211 miles. While better, we were not impressed. We initially used Orchiata straight out of the bag with no amendments. Because the cost of this premium bark was higher than local products we began amending the bark with lava-rock and charcoal, eventually abandoning charcoal as messy and useless. Initially, no buffer was added (a buffer is typically some compound of calcium that dissolves in proportion to the acidity of a substrate thus keeping the pH somewhat constant. Dolomitic limestone and oyster shell are two such products). Our immediate effect of changing to Orchiata bark was dramatic – excellent plant and root growth. We can also share experience with the lifetime of this product. I am ashamed to admit there are still a few plants that remain potted in mix from that initial trial. Note, this four-year-old bark: it has begun to breakdown which is something you’d expect from a mix this old. It is holding more moisture than it should and the tops of the pots are showing algae and moss growth – an indicator that the bark has exceeded its lifetime. In response to Russ’ inquiry I performed a “soil paste extract”, a standardized protocol for measuring substrate pH, on my oldest mix to see if there is a pH issue. Indeed, there is. This old bark measures a pH of which is quite acid – too low for good growth. Some roots in this old media have suffered. Having said this, four years is an outrageously long time for an orchid to remain potted in a mix. This is a testament to my laziness. As experience with Orchiata bark progressed I began amending it by adding oyster shell as a buffer. Living on the California coast this is an easy material to get. It is sold by agricultural suppliers and in pet stores for bird owners and tropical fish raisers. With time, after inspecting excellent growing done in our greenhouse which is shared with Tim Brydon, I followed Tim’s lead and began adding red lava-rock, about the same size as the bark, to the mix. Thus, I now had a buffered mix more likely to maintain a stable pH and the lava-rock, being cheaper than the bark, is a cost savings. Up to 50% does not seem to interfere with excellent growth. I am currently repotting my collection en-masse. The current bark/lava-rock mix is holding up very well. I should say – excellent. The roots look great (having said this, there are some odonts that, probably because of their genetics, never hold good roots). There is nothing that makes motives change from this excellent mix. We just purchased more Orchiata. We’ll continue to add a calcium buffer as well as lava-rock as the lava-rock filler is cheap and, as an added benefit, lava-rock adds weight to the pots. So, what’s up with the warning Russ received from the Southern part of my state? I can’t say. Was it “el Toro poo-poo”? There is fact in the issue that aging bark substrates experience a pH shift toward acid. This holds true no matter what source bark is used. From my experience, Orchiata is by far the most stable and best bark I have used. Is four years a long time to keep an orchid in a mix? Yup, four years is too long. Having said these things I cannot account for another grower’s culture. Incorporating a calcium buffer will extend the lifetime of a mix. I suspect such buggers should even be applied annually but do not have experience with this (perhaps a grower with more experience can elaborate)? Lava-rock is cutting costs and keeping the pots more stable because of its weight. It does not seem to hurt anything at 50% volume by volume. In noting my continued endorsements of Orchiata, please bear in mind we’ve received no considerations from this firm. We do not resell bark or for that matter orchid sundries. I remain an advocate for Orchiata bark. Try it, you’ll like it!
    Hawk Hill Orchids, Excerpt from Odontoglossum Alliance Newsletter – May 2012