How to Mount an Orchid Plant
Around the country, there is a small but devoted group of hobbyists who grow their orchids the way nature intended – not in pots, but mounted to pieces of trees. Duplicating rainforest culture is not as challenging as it sounds. Simple materials such as cork, fishing line, sphagnum moss, and some un-potted orchid plants are all that is required.
In the wild, moisture-laden clouds roll in each day - bringing much needed water to the jungle plants. The root tips lengthen and wrap around the tree bark. Small amounts of nutrients are obtained from nearby decaying vegetation. Most orchids are epiphytes and live their entire life attached to trees.
For anyone wishing to grow their orchids mounted, there are five easy steps:
1) Find a mount: The traditional material is a cork slab of various sizes. Other possibilities include tree fern chunks, wood-slatted baskets, and actual sawed off tree branches. The mount is often ‘hung’ using wire. Some people use eyelets or hooks that are screwed into the mount.
2) Find an orchid: Most popular genera such as Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, Oncidiums, and Phalaenopsis do well. Experiment with one that is not a favorite at first. Remove the plant from the pot and brush off the old media.
3) Attaching the plant: Add a small amount of moist sphagnum moss between the roots and the mount to stimulate the growth of roots. Securely wrap the plant with fishing line, plastic plant ties, or small pieces of panty hose!
4) Where to hang: Near a window, perhaps from a curtain rod. Maybe in the bathroom or by a sink.
5) When to water: More often than potted orchids, usually every day with a sprayer bottle or in the sink under a faucet. Get very wet.
Within a few months, new roots have emerged and become attached to the mount. The plant is secure and eventually the fishing line can be removed. Not only are the roots visible, but the sprouting pseudo-bulbs can be seen clearly. There is an appealing ‘earthy element’ to a mounted orchid that is not found in standard potted plants.
The mounting of a single orchid can be taken a step further. Recently, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte built a full-sized ‘orchid tree’ in one of their Horticulture Department greenhouses using large pieces of cork attached to a wood frame. Hundreds of epiphytes thrive on this tree which is misted automatically every few hours. Visitors feel as though they are experiencing an actual rainforest.
For those who want to get a real touch of nature, put your next orchid on a cork slab and watch the roots fill every crevice.