Orchids on Bark or Driftwood

Orchids of several genera, i.e., Cattleya, Encyclia, Oncidium, and a few others grow well when they are planted on plaques of cork bark or on driftwood.

A bare rooted plant, preferably a rather small species, is placed on the plaque or driftwood in an attractive arrangement, and in such a way that the growing tip or tips have plenty of room to grow across or up the support. Using wire covered with plastic which will not cut into the plant stems or roots, fasten the plant in place, twisting the wire tightly enough to hold the plant firmly but not so tight as to damage the plant. If this is done correctly, the plant will put out roots which will grow into or encircle the bark or driftwood and will eventually hold the plant in place. Green plastic coated wire will be inconspicuous and may be removed when the plant is firmly rooted in place. This is the way many epiphytic orchids grow in nature.

Since most orchids, such as the genera mentioned above, thrive best in at least partial sun and in moving air, they tend to suffer from dry roots if they are not watered or misted regularly. Extra mistings may also contain extra food. Most of these orchids also benefit if they are given a short soak in a bucket or in the sink for 10-20 minutes – then returned to their usual growing spot. Only the roots need to be soaked; do not immerse blossoms or upper leaves. This soaking is best done in the morning so that very hot sun will not hit them immediately after soaking and burn them.

Oncidiums especially benefit from growth on bark or driftwood, since they prefer to have their roots dry within an hour or two of watering.