Substrate notes – Melcourt

Tropical orchids, ephiphytic ferns, aroids and many bromeliads are usually grown on bark chips.  More recently composted bark has become a successful substitute for peat in many composts.  Melcourt are a major provider of bark based growing media in the UK.  We are looking for bark to grow many plants in and Melcourt have kindly sent a range of sample bags for us to try.

Melcourt Bark samples - Soil Association and FSC approved

Melcourt Bark samples - Soil Association and FSC approved (1p coin for scale)

The finest grade we were sent is Growbark Pine (far left) which is similar in consistency to moss peat.  Propagating bark (left) has particles about 3-7mm in length and very little fine material.  Potting bark (Centre) has particles from about 5mm to 15mm long with soft edges.  There are two grades of orchid bark – Medium (right) and Coarse (far right) which are much harder particles with sharper edges.  Speaking to our local orchid growing expert it’s been suggested that the coarse grade orchid bark will suit large rooted species such as Phalaenopsis while the medium grade would suit finer rooted species such as Dendrobium.

After leaving bark samples out for 48 hours it is easier to see the difference in nature between the vary hard orchid bark chips and the grow bark. The latter is more abraded and produces a much softer and absorbent substrate.

The products have FSC certification and are Soil association approved.


About Alastair Culham

A professional botanist and biologist with an interest in promoting biological knowledge and awareness to all.
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