Can you use orchid soil for other plants?
Orchids are the queens of houseplants. They have high demands – not only on their flower pots, but especially on their soil. Many people therefore buy special orchid soil. Those who have some left over when they pot up their orchids often ask themselves: can orchid soil be used for other plants?
And in fact this is a good idea: the orchid soil is very airy. Therefore, it is also well suited for other plants whose roots tolerate a lot of air. And also coarse pieces of bark, which you add to the soil for better grip, is beneficial for many plants.
We explain in this article why you can use orchid soil for other plants. We will also show you how to make your own orchid soil – and give you many more tips on the subject.
Can you use orchid soil for other plants?
In general, there is nothing against using orchid soil for other plants. However, it should be noted that the more airy orchid soil is not suitable for every type of plant – because some plants need a firmer hold.
However, what you can almost always do without problems: Mix the orchid soil together with “normal” potting soil and use it as a substrate. Such “mixing soils” are suitable for:
- exotic perennial plants
- Dragon trees (Dracaena)
- Tree friend (Philodendron)
- window leaf (Monstera)
- tropical ferns
- Zamioculcas (lucky feather)
What is orchid soil?
Strictly speaking, orchid soil is not soil, but a substrate – the “base material”, so to speak, on which the plant can grow. Orchid soil is a composition of various components: In part, it is very little “normal” potting soil, which is enriched with compost or humus, as well as granules. The most important thing, however, is that good orchid soil contains coarse, larger pieces of bark. This allows a good supply of air to the roots. The difference to normal potting soil is therefore immediately noticeable.
How can you recognize a good orchid soil?
A good orchid soil has tangible characteristics: It promotes the natural conditions so that your orchids can bloom optimally. You can recognize good quality by the fact that there are sometimes larger pieces of bark in the substrate. This is because orchids grow in the wild on the branches of trees. You should also make sure that your orchid soil does not contain peat. The right amount of fertilizer is also important – this will ensure that your orchids have enough minerals and nutrients to thrive magnificently.
Can you make your own orchid soil?
Good news for all DIY fans: of course you can make your own orchid soil. We’ll show you what you need and how to do it:
As basic ingredients you need pine bark or pine bark. But also the bark of oak or Douglas fir can be used.
As organic additives you can add cork, sphagnum moss, wood or coconut fibers.
Possible inorganic additions are expanded clay, perlite, rock wool or even lava granules.
Once you have these materials together, you can start mixing. But the question of the right ratio is not so easy – it often takes many attempts to find the ideal composition. Therefore, we have put together a mixing ratio for you that has proven itself over many years of experience:
- 50 % medium coarse pine bark
- 20 % sphagnum moss or coconut fibers
- 10 % charcoal
- 10 % lava mulch
- 10 % perlite
- 10 % nut shells
Depending on the type of orchid you want to grow, you can still easily adjust these specifications to your individual needs. We also recommend that you steam your finished substrate afterwards.
Can you steam your orchid soil yourself?
Professional manufacturers of orchid soil pre-treat their product by steaming it. The advantage: this destroys pests and pathogens. And here, too, DIY enthusiasts have every reason to rejoice – because steaming orchid soil can also be done DIY style. We’ll explain how to do it – without any chemicals at all:
- Fill the orchid soil into a fireproof bowl.
- Spray the substrate with water (note: it is enough to moisten it).
- Put the lid on loosely so that the steam can escape
- Now you can preheat your oven to about 90 degrees (top/bottom heat)
- Place the dish on a baking tray and put it on the middle shelf.
- Clamp a wooden spoon in the oven door so that the steam can escape.
- Let the substrate steam in this way for half an hour.
- Turn off the oven; the substrate can then cool in the oven with the door open.
Et voila – you have successfully rid your own orchid substrate of pests and pathogens. Now nothing stands in the way of growing orchids in your homemade orchid soil!
What can you take as orchid soil?
Very important: you can not use ordinary potting soil for your orchids. This is because in nature, orchids in most cases do not grow above ground, but on the branches of other trees and larger plants. So their roots are not in the soil, but literally “in the open air”. Conventional potting soil would therefore be harmful to orchids, as their roots would thus not get enough oxygen, nor enough light.
As “orchid soil” you can therefore rather take a substrate that consists of coarse, larger pieces of bark as well as other admixtures such as coconut fibers and small amounts of lava mulch. This way the roots have enough light and air to make the orchids bloom.
Can you mix orchid soil with normal soil?
Basically, you should avoid mixing your orchid soil with normal soil. This is because the orchid “soil” is rather a substrate that consists of coarse pieces of bark and thus gives the roots a lot of air and light. The normal soil, on the other hand, would suffocate the roots. Therefore, mix your orchid soil rather with coconut fibers or nutshells – your orchids will thank you.
How do you fertilize orchids?
During the growth phase, you should fertilize your orchids about once every two weeks. To do this, you can enrich the immersion water with a special orchid fertilizer. These have the advantage that you can adjust them exactly to the needs of your orchids. But also a commercial fertilizer (all-round fertilizer) is suitable for orchid beginners. Nevertheless, you should be careful here, because many fertilizers for flowering plants are dosed too high.
Tip: It is best to use a liquid fertilizer. This ensures that the nutrients are optimally distributed.
What are epiphytes?
Orchids belong to the so-called epiphytes. These are plants that do not grow terrestrially, i.e. directly above the ground – but at airy heights, usually on the branches of trees or other, larger plants. The roots of orchids suck the water and nutrients they need from the air or mist. So they need a lot of light and oxygen – and therefore do not tolerate being planted in conventional potting soil.