What Kind of Soil is Used for Orchids?

Be it for the belief to bring good luck or for their beautiful monosymmetric flowers, orchids are loved by many worldwide. Due to this reason, orchid Farming is a well-known Agri farming business that is sure to earn huge profits. If you are new to orchid growing, you must know that the most important factor you need to take care of when farming orchids is their soil.

When it comes to the soil for orchids, they do not grow in regular potting soil. Instead, your orchids need soil that is not too dense and can drain well along with having various other characteristics. For this, there are various orchid potting materials one can choose from. In this post, we will be telling you all about these mediums, and how to use them to get the perfect soil for orchids.

Let us get started!

What Kind of Soil is Used for Orchids?

If you are wondering “what soil to use for orchids,” you are in the right place. Irrespective of whether you are growing orchids for a long time or are new to them, this information is sure to help you out. For all those who are wondering what ingredients to use in your orchid soil mix, some great options for you include:

  • Fir Bark
  • Peat Moss
  • Sphagnum Moss
  • Lava Rocks
  • Clay Pebbles
  • Perlite Charcoal
  • Coconut Fiber
  • Rocks
  • Tree Fern

Whenever you decide to prepare a soil mix for your orchids or get a pre-made one, these are some of the ingredients that you can look for. Mixing them together can get you a perfect medium for growing orchids. Before we get into details about all these crucial potting mediums for orchids, let us discuss epiphytes and their need for potting mediums.

When it comes to air plants or epiphytes, their need for soil is not exactly like other plants out there. Instead, they need an ideal potting medium for three purposes:

  • Stability: Your orchid soil medium should be able to provide the plant with stability inside the pot. The orchid should be able to cling to it using its roots.
  • Moisture: The soil medium that you choose should also be able to hold enough moisture that the orchids can absorb easily.
  • Aeration: Lastly, your orchid soil medium should provide enough airflow. With good aeration, roots can breathe easily (as these plants are air plants).

In order to get a perfect soil mix for your orchids, you only need to remember these three points. With these, you can readily choose a new medium that will help you with your orchid’s well-being. Now that you know what soil to use for orchids, let us move on to the mediums you can use while making this soil mix.


What are the Different Types of Orchid Potting Mediums?

Bark, moss, or lava rock, what to choose when deciding on soil for orchids? Well, the answer to it is simple. You will have to consider the type of orchids you are growing, their location, as well as how you will be taking care of them. Let us say that you are planning to grow orchids in an area that has a very dry climate. In such a case, you should choose a potting mix that retains moisture.

Similarly, if your orchids are indoors, and you water them regularly, it is best to get a potting mix that drains well. If you are looking for a medium that maximizes airflow, fir bark is a great choice. For a medium that cleans naturally, you can choose charcoal. Further, if you need mediums that drain quickly and retain moisture, you can get coarse perlite and chunky peat, respectively.


Similarly, lava rocks are a great choice if you wish to aerate the roots of your orchid plants. For holding more moisture, sphagnum moss works well. Clearly, there are multiple choices you can go with when it comes to orchid planting medium. Below, we have discussed some of these mediums in detail. Have a look at them:

  • Perlite

Sponge rock or as many may call it, Perlite, is an excellent potting medium for orchids. It is an end product of volcanic glass that is formed when it is exposed to high heat and does not have many nutrients. Irrespective of not contributing any nutrients to orchids, this potting ingredient is a great fit for it.

This is because perlite can provide the orchids with the most needed potting medium that has water retention and aeration properties. Along with this, it is super easy to find. You can readily get it at any nursery or garden center. Coming to “how much perlite do you add to potting soil for orchids,” this is very important.

Typically, if you have container gardens, pots, and raised beds for your orchids, you can use 1/3 of perlite per container. Further, since orchids love this medium, you can mix their potting soil with half or even more perlite. The quantity you decide will also depend on the species of orchids you are growing.

Clearly, perlite is good for orchids and they love it. However, is it okay to put too much of this substance in the potting soil? If you are wondering the same, the answer is no. You should not use way too much perlite as it can cause water to drain out too quickly. You can easily find out if you have used too much perlite by looking at your plant and soil health.

Usually, if there is too much perlite in your orchid soil mix, you should look at the soil closely. If you notice that it remains dry even when you water it regularly, there is too much perlite in it. Further, coming to your orchids, you may notice some changes in them. Usually, it will start to shrivel. In some cases, the plant may turn yellow too.

  • Vermiculite

Like Perlite, Vermiculite is again an excellent potting medium for orchids. You can readily find it in any garden store that has a variety of potting soil amendments available. Along with being available as a single ingredient, this medium is also a part of numerous ready-made potting soil mixes. It generally is of gravel-sized particles and offers good water and nutrient retention to the soil mix.

This light-brown mineral, further, is also known to help in aerating a potting mix. So, if you are looking for soil for orchids that has water and nutrient retention properties, and is also airy, you can use vermiculite for it. Further, if you want to create a light, moisture-retentive orchid mix, you can always use vermiculite in a combination with sphagnum moss.

  • Cork


If you have ever seen or owned a vintage bottle of wine, you might know about the cork on it and its watertight qualities. When it comes to orchids, they love growing in, on, and around this cork. If you have no idea about why cork is used as a growing medium for orchids, let us tell you about its benefits. Firstly, it holds virtually no water. Then, it can last a long time as compared to other mediums, and finally, it can be used in combination with other mediums, as well.

With it, you can create unique combinations for growing mediums for orchids. Any mix with cork as an ingredient is sure to be open and airy. If you are planning to make your own soil for orchids, and are wondering what you can use along with cork for an ideal orchid mix, we can help you out.

Since cork is water-shedding, you need to use something that is water-absorbing for a perfect soil mix for orchids. Sphagnum moss or shredded bark are the best for this. Also, it is a great idea to use larger cork chips. These will offer numerous crevices that the orchid roots can explore readily.

  • Brick Pieces and Cobblestone

The next medium you can use for your orchids is brick pieces and cobblestones. When it comes to brick chunks, they can be easily used to add weight and stability to your heavy orchid pots. While this weight and stability are needed, find smaller-sized pieces so that it is not too heavy. These pieces are also water retentive, and thus, can increase humidity for the plants.

Further, you can also make use of cobblestones in the bottom half of an orchid pot. It will work as an anchor. Also, unlike small, uneven brick rocks, these will not retain moisture. Thus, instead of using any one of these two, it is ideal to use them together. Brick pieces in the top half of the pot can support orchids, and cobblestone at the bottom half can increase the drainage properties of the potting mix.


  • Coconut Coir and Husk Chips

Coconut coir is another medium that is perfect for orchids. This is nothing but the fibrous middle core that surrounds the fruit. You can either use it alone or even as a part of any custom orchid potting mix. This substance has long fibers that are perfect for absorbing moisture. Along with this, it can also drain quickly and easily.

With this as a potting medium, your orchid roots can get the desired moisture without being surrounded by too soggy growing conditions. Apart from coconut coir, you can also use coconut husk chips. This renewable medium comes in different sizes. Again, this too can be used as a stand-alone growing medium or even as a part of any custom orchid potting mix.

When it comes to coconut husk fiber plaques or chips, these are excellent substrates for orchids that are growing on mounts. Also, this substance can provide aeration to the soil medium. It means that the roots of your orchids when growing in this medium will have maximum air circulation for ultimate growth and development.

  • Expanded Clay Aggregate

The next thing that you can grow your orchids in is expanded clay aggregate. In fact, if you have ever had an orchid that was grown in a potting mix with rocks that looked like Cocoa Puffs cereal, those probably were expanded clay aggregate. Some examples of these clay aggregates are Aliflor or Hydroton Clay Pebbles. Now, you cannot compare these rocks to your regular rocks.

Unlike them, these are ceramic pebbles and have different properties. For instance, they are porous and lightweight rocks. Further, they are neither acidic nor alkaline in nature. When it comes to using them as an orchid planting medium, you can use them alone as well as with other growing media. You can even use these rocks as mulch. These will give your orchid pots a uniform appearance.

  • Lava Rock and Pumice

The next two ingredients that serve as excellent potting mediums for orchids are Lava rocks and Pumice. Let us talk about Lava rock first. This is an inorganic growing medium for orchids. You can usually find it in orchids that are imported from Hawaii. If you compare this medium to other rock-growing media, just like them, these serve as a good potting mix amendment.

Using Lava rock is perfect for those orchid species that do not like to have their roots disturbed. Along with providing stability to the plant, these rocks also have water retention properties. Due to this they also are a great medium to increase the humidity for orchids. Coming to Pumice, this medium is also a kind of rock.

This volcanic rock particularly is well-known for its polishing potential on rough skin. However, not many know that it is also a lightweight inorganic growing medium that can be used for orchids. This medium can hold 50 percent of its weight in water and is highly porous. Since it is quite lightweight, you do not have to worry about it weighing your orchids down.


  • Shredded Bark and Sphagnum Moss

Shredded Bark and Sphagnum Moss

While there are many potting mediums for orchids, the last two we have on our list today are shredded bark and sphagnum moss. In the case of shredded bark, you can use it from various sources like fir, cedar, and cypress. In fact, these are among the most common materials that you will find in orchid pots.

Shredded bark can readily acidify your potting mix as it breaks down. While this medium is both natural to look at and pleasant to the nose, your orchid will need repotting once a year if you are using it. Coming to sphagnum moss is a pathogen-free orchid medium that can help you provide a moist environment for your orchid roots. Along with this, it has good drainage and will not make the soil mix soggy.

If you are wondering where to find wood soil for orchids or any other growing medium, you can mix and match any of the materials mentioned above to come up with your own soil for orchids. Alternatively, it is also okay to get a ready-made mix from a garden center or a store. Whatever you choose, make sure that the medium goes well with your orchid species.


Final Thoughts

So, this is all you need to know about soil for orchids. From the post, it is clear that there are several options that you can choose from. Further, it is up to you to use them as a single medium or mix them with other mediums to come up with an ideal soil mix for orchids. Whatever medium you decide to go with, keep in mind that each of them works differently. So, you also need to consider your orchid type and growing conditions while choosing the best. The key is to try out whatever medium you think is the best for your orchids, and if it does not work, you can always try another!


What Soil Is Used for Repotting Orchids?

For repotting orchids, the soil used must mimic their preferred growing conditions. Any specialist orchid compost can help maintain their health and vitality after repotting. Alternatively, a mix of moss, bark chips, and perlite will work well too. You can do so whenever the orchid becomes pot-bound or every two to three years.

I Have Raised Orchids for Many Years, Why Is It Now That My Orchid Soil Is Molding?

If you notice the appearance of a white substance on your potting mix, there may be several reasons behind it. Most of the time, it can mean that you are overwatering the plant or it lacks enough air circulation. Other times, it may be due to the use of the wrong water sources. For instance, tap water may leave minerals and other residues behind, and lead to orchid soil molding. If you notice this, switch to distilled water that has no impurities.

Can You Make Your Own Soil for Orchids?

Yes, you can easily make your own soil for orchids. In fact, many orchid enthusiasts do so. You can choose from the various potting mediums available, and control what goes into your ideal mix. Make sure that it provides stability, moisture, and aeration to your orchids. Your orchid potting mix should also be chosen depending on your orchid variety and growing conditions.