Where to Buy Quality Fir Bark?

anglo(8b)November 25, 2007

I used to buy a lot of Better-Gro fir bark in the old red bag. I liked it because it was convenient to buy at LoweÂs and it was an excellent medium for Cattleyas in wooden baskets. But at about the time they changed the appearance of the bag to the current version with pictures of orchid flowers on a light background, the quality of the product began to deteriorate.

It used to be chunky pieces of golden brown outer bark. Now itÂs almost entirely dark brown inner bark supplemented intentionally or unintentionally with wood chips and sometimes pieces of walnut shell. The inner bark is soft and crumbly. In a planting container, it absorbs water, stays slimy wet, and quickly packs into a squishy, rotting clump.

I have read here and there that fir bark is not as readily available as it once was. ItÂs more expensive now, so I guess Better-Gro has been substituting cheaper crap for the good stuff in an effort to hold the price down.

If IÂm going to continue using it, I need to find another source. Does anybody have a recommendation for an online vendor that sells high-quality fir bark?

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I believe that most of the quality fir bark you are talking about came from old growth forests that were harvested.
Have you ever checked out the regular landscaping fir bark available at Home Depot, Lowes, WalMart. At the local Home Depot it is available in a smaller grade and I use it in planting cymbidiums.
For cattleyas you may want to consider switching to coconut chips or chunks. This is readily available at several online orchid supply houses as well as herp stores.
Ever grow in osmunda? This is a fern root that can be grown in a container and in just a few years can yield a nice clump of usable rooting medium.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 1:13AM
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Try Rexius Orchid Bark. Go to Orchid Mall and look under Supplies.
Also, out here there's Kelloggs Orchid bark.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 3:57AM
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I like Kelly'sKorner Orchid Supplies.com
They have a good selection/quality of bark and sphag.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 10:10AM
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penelope14(5 WI)


I've purchased both fine and medium bark mixes from Oak Hill Gardens. I've been very pleased with the mixes.


Here is a link that might be useful: Oak Hill Gardens

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 2:14PM
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pamelaw(z6 NE Ok)

If you are in the sticks -- as I am - call your local orchid club -- you can find the member from the AOS web site and they can give it to you -- my best deal is to purchase it from a member -- or find the local orchid show -- I gave up on home depot and lowes sometime back, actually a local garden center has the best deal on spag. This is not a get what you pay for deal but who has the best for the best price -- I've actually 'sold' at cost to people in an emergency --

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 4:41PM
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Oak Hill.

I buy medium fir bark and a medium bark mix for cattleyas here. It's top-notch quality. Sure, it's terribly expensive to ship it 600 miles!

This is the only life that I get. It means that I won't purchase as many orchids in order to maintain the ones that I have already selected in the best media!


    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 6:43PM
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Thanks to all of you for the info and advice. IÂll look into these sources. After years of successfully growing Cattleyas in fir bark, IÂd feel most comfortable sticking with it, even at a higher cost.

I do use CHC for Phals and also for young Cattleya seedlings, which need a more continuously moist medium. CHC is ideal for these purposes. It very effectively holds both air and moisture, providing an excellent environment for orchid roots that donÂt want to dry completely between waterings. What I donÂt know is if it would work as well for a large Catt in a large basket as is does for small orchids in small containers. I might experiment, possibly mixing it with an inorganic medium.

And I have also considered experimenting with a coarse bark mulch or landscaping bark. I havenÂt seen any from fir trees in my area so far, but pine bark nuggets are available. Maybe theyÂd have some potential as a medium if the resin and any pathogens were steamed out and if they wouldnÂt rot too fast and/or be too acidic. If anyone knows anything about that already, IÂd be interested in hearing it.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 10:22PM
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highjack(z6 KY)

anglo - you can get a CHC mix containing inert ingredients from Kelly's Korner. I've had some plants in it for over a year and have been very happy with it.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 7:08AM
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