You might have noticed certain tropical plants like orchids growing on bark slabs or other surfaces in the past. They usually look cool and mostly out of place, as we are used to growing flowering plants in pots and containers.
Orchids are one of the world’s largest genera of flowering plants, with over 28,000 known species, and are classified into about 850 smaller groups called genuses. These flowering plants are categorized into two groups: the epiphytic and terrestrial orchids. Terrestrial orchids grow on the ground by spreading their roots (or pseudobulbs).
On the other hand, epiphytic orchids are tropical flowering plants that grow on the surface of tree bark and other surfaces when in their natural habitat. About 70% of all orchids are epiphytes. Epiphytic orchids grow by clinging to their hosts with their powerful roots. This is not a parasitic relationship as they get their nutrients and water from the surrounding air and not the host tree.
When grown in their natural habitat, mounted orchids tend to perform better, grow faster, require little care, and can outlive those planted in pots. This is possibly due to the freedom the roots of orchid on tree bark gets. Potted orchids have limited room for their roots to grow, while mounted orchid roots are free and spread in all directions, gathering nutrients and moisture from the air and body of the host.
Mounted Orchid care
Caring for mounted orchids is simple and easy to carry out. Mounted orchid care isn’t different from that of other potted plants here.
To successfully grow a mounted orchid plant, you need to imitate its natural habitat. As tropical plants, mounted orchids grow best in warm and humid environments. Epiphytes require a high level of water and humidity to grow. This is why it is difficult to grow mounted orchids indoors.
Also, provide your mounted orchid with bright, indirect light. In its natural habitat, the mounted orchid always grows upwards in the direction of the sun.
Types of orchids you can mount
Before proceeding to mount any orchid plant, it is important to research if they will make good mounted plants. Not all orchids are epiphytic in nature, and not all epiphytic orchids are easy to grow.
When growing your own mounted orchid plant, especially when done indoors, refrain from growing large orchid plants on mounts that are not large enough, permanent, or stationary. Mounted orchids are best grown on permanent outdoor structures such as a tree.
Brassavola Nodosa, also known as “lady of the night,” is an epiphytic orchid, but when grown under ideal conditions, they grow fast, outgrowing their mounts, and might need frequent remounting throughout their lifespan. Cymbidium orchids are another great example of orchids capable of outgrowing their mounts.
Some examples of orchid species you can grow on mounts easily include:
Materials Needed For Mounting Orchids
The main materials needed for planting your own mounted orchid include the orchid plant itself, the mount, and a piece of material to be used to secure the plant to the mount.
As stated earlier, not all varieties of orchids are epiphytes. And even among the epiphytes, depending on their mark up, they do require slightly different types and sizes of mounts.
When it comes to selecting the mount to use, there are some important things you need to take into consideration, such as its durability, appearance, and functionality. You need a good mount that can last for a very long time, that can hold sufficient moisture, and also look appealing to the eyes. Some examples of mounts you can use for your orchid plant include:
- Cork bark
- Coco husk fiber plaques
- Cypress bark slab
- Tree fern plaques
After getting your mount and orchid plant, you will need something to use to secure them together. This can be plastic plant ties, fishing lines, strings, etc.
How to mount orchids
After selecting the amount you wish to use and also acquiring your orchid plant, the next step would be to prepare your mount. Attach a string or wire to one end of the mount, preferably the top. Do this on both sides so as to create a handle from which you can easily hang the mount.
Get your orchid plant out of its pot, gently removing any bits of potting mix left on its roots. Use sphagnum moss to cover the roots of the orchid plant, preventing transplant shock.
Using a strong wire or fishing line, attach the sphagnum-soaked orchid plant root to the body of the mount. Ensure it is firmly attached to prevent unnecessary movements of the plant.
After a few months, check if your plant has fully attached itself to the body of the mount. If yes, remove the wire used to hold them together.
70% of all orchids are epiphytes.
These are plants that grow on tree bark and other surfaces. They get their nutrients from the air.
Epiphytes can also grow on rocks.
Always water your mounted orchids to keep both the mount and the plant damp.
Yes, you can mount an orchid plant directly onto a tree.