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Using Potting Soil For Orchids: 5 Orchid Mixes & Why They Work

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Are you looking to grow healthy, beautiful orchids in your home? You’ll need more than just the right lighting and humidity.

Potting soil is a key component when it comes to helping your orchid flourish! But don’t just use any potting soil – orchids require special materials for proper drainage and nutrition.

In this article, you’ll find out what those materials are, how to make the right potting mix for your orchid, and tips on repotting them.

With this information in hand, you’re sure to have a successful experience growing these amazing flowers.

Can you Use Potting Soil for Orchids?

Repotting Orchids

Potting soil should not be used for orchids as it will suffocate the roots because it’s too dense and doesn’t drain water thoroughly. Orchids require a more porus material that will allow airflow and water to easily get to and from the roots.

Potting soil is a mixture of various organic and inorganic materials that are formulated to provide the necessary nutrients, water retention, and drainage for plants to grow successfully in containers.

The main components of potting soil typically include peat moss, vermiculite or perlite, compost, and various additives such as lime, fertilizer, and wetting agents. And orchids do not thrive very well in the moist environment that potting soil provides.

Orchids grow horizontally, sending out new shoots from the old rhizome. They are called pseudobulbs, swollen shoots that store water and nutrients to help the plant survive long droughts.


They do not actively absorb nutrients from the soil as normal plants do. Instead, most orchids obtain sustenance from rotting leaves and other organic matter from around the plant.

This organic matter is what makes up the medium in which they are planted, which can be any of the following:

  • Redwood bark
  • Coconut Husk Chips
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Charcoal
  • Lava rock
  • Inorganic Materials

What can you Use as a Potting Medium for Orchids?

You should use a potting medium specifically designed for epiphytes like fir bark, sphagnum moss, peat moss, lava rocks, perlite, charcoal, clay pebbles, tree ferns, coconut fiber, and rocks.

All of these materials provide stability and aeration to the orchid roots while also controlling moisture levels.

1. Redwood bark

Redwood bark, either as a fiber or as chunks, has long been an optional component of fir-bark-based potting media.

At the same time, fir bark is the most widely available medium for orchids and has good physical properties, such as being lightweight and carrying clean filters, which aid in maintaining alkalinity levels as well as providing calcium to the plant.

2. Coconut Husk Chips

Premium pre-washed coconut husk chips provide an excellent supplement to orchid bark and have a life expectancy of 3 years.

Coconut husks hold more moisture than bark and have a fibrous texture that keeps aeration around the roots.

3. Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum moss is another great option since it can retain air and water effectively. Coconut husk chunks are water-retentive but have less drainage than coconut husk fiber.

4. Charcoal

Charcoal is a long-lasting material that doesn’t hold onto water too much.

5. Lava rock

Lava rock is an excellent fast-draining material that never rots or decomposes over time.

Inorganic Materials

Inorganic materials such as perlite, Leca, and Seramis also make good choices due to their lightweight qualities and capability to hold air without rotting.

All of these materials are perfect options for growing healthy orchids!

If you take a look at the potting mixes for orchids on Amazon, you will notice there are all chunky and organic in nature. Click to view on Amazon.

Chunky Orchid Mixes from amazon

Do I Need Special Soil for Orchids

It’s important to know that orchids require a specific type of soil that differs from the typical soils used for other houseplants.

Instead of regular potting, succulent, or cactus soil, you’ll need to use a special medium designed specifically for orchid roots that do not hold excess water.

There are many options available, and it can be overwhelming at first. However, you can find the perfect potting mix for your orchids with the right information and resources.

Regular indoor soil won’t do, as orchids need a special mix that’s porous and airy.

A well-draining mix should include materials like sphagnum moss, fir bark, coconut husk, and tree fern fibers.

And don’t forget to use an orchid-specific potting mix that’s porous and airy. 

Soil Mixes for Orchids

Can I use Regular Potting Soil for Orchids?

You can’t use regular potting soil for orchids because it wouldn’t provide the necessary stability, moisture, and aeration.

Most regular potting soils are made from soil that’s too dense for adequate air exchange and drainage for orchid roots.

Additionally, the chemical levels found in typical potting soils can be detrimental to orchids.

Orchid roots need acidic conditions with a pH between 5-6 to thrive. However, most commercial potting soils have a higher alkaline pH level, which may cause nutrient deficiencies and stunt root growth.

Furthermore, regular potting soil tends to hold too much water, which can cause fungal problems or root rot in your orchids due to poor water quality.

Can I use Succulent Soil for Orchids?

Although succulent soil is sometimes used for orchids, it’s not recommended as the best potting medium for them.

Succulent soil is designed to drain water, but sometimes it can be too much for orchids, leading to root rot in orchids if too much moisture is present.

Additionally, succulent soils don’t have enough aeration for orchid roots.

Orchids need more airflow around their roots than regular plants, with good drainage, which most succulent soils cannot provide.

Fir barkRetains air & water; easy to getCan break down quickly
Sphagnum mossHolds air & water; good aeration & drainageCan break down quickly
Coconut husk chunks/fiberWater-retentive; keeps roots coolPoor drainage
CharcoalLong-lasting; doesn’t retain waterNot as nutritious as organic material
Lava rockFast-draining medium that never rots/decomposes N/A 

Remember that there’s no right potting soil for all orchids, and each growing medium works differently – experiment with different options until you find what works best!

Can I Use Cactus Soil for Orchids?

You may think that using cactus soil for your orchids is an easy solution, but unfortunately, it’s not recommended.

Cactus soil is designed for cacti and succulents, which have adapted to store water in their leaves and stems.

These plants don’t require the same type of potting medium as orchids, which are epiphytic and need a mix that will provide stability, moisture, and aeration.

The best potting medium for orchids is one specifically formulated for them – such as fir bark, sphagnum moss, peat moss, lava rocks, perlite, charcoal, clay pebbles, tree ferns or coconut fiber – rather than cactus soil.

How to use Orchids in Potting Soil

When potting orchids, you’ll need to choose a potting medium that provides stability, moisture, and aeration for the best results. There are many different options to choose from:

  • Fir bark is the most used and widely available potting medium and provides all three of these needs.
  • Sphagnum moss can retain air and water while coconut husk chunks provide a water-retentive medium but don’t drain as well as coconut husk fiber.
  • Charcoal is long-lasting but not water-retentive, while lava rock is a fast draining medium that never rots or decomposes.
  • Inorganic growing mediums such as perlite, Leca, and Seramis may also be used.

No matter what type of potting soil you choose for your orchids, make sure it’s lightweight so that it doesn’t weigh down the plant when potted inside decorative pots for added stability.

If the current soil isn’t working for you, try another one!

Ready-made orchid mix from a local store might be the easiest option if you’re unsure how to make your own mix by balancing organic and inorganic elements.

What is the Best Potting mix for Orchids?

Finding the perfect potting mix for your orchid can be a challenge, but it’s essential to get it right for healthy and happy plants!

The best option is often a combination of different mediums, such as fir bark, sphagnum moss, charcoal, lava rocks, and coconut husk.

If you decide to make your own potting mix, try to balance organic elements like peat or coconut fiber with inorganic elements like Leca or Seramis.

You should also ensure that the pot has holes in the bottom for drainage and is light enough so your plant won’t tip over easily.

How to Make Orchid Soil

If you’re already familiar with the best potting mix for orchids, it’s time to learn how to make your own. Making your own soil can save on costs and ensure you have the right type of soil for your orchid.

To make orchid soil, consider factors like drainage, aeration, and texture. Start by combining equal parts of organic materials such as fir bark chips and sphagnum moss.

1. Bark Potting Mix

You’ll Need the following:

  • Container
  • Tree Bark
  • Peat moss/ Cocopeat


  1. Take one part grounded tree bark. It can be Coastal redwood, Douglas fir, Similarly Osmunda tree fern bark.
  2. Add one-fifth of perlite or peat moss in the same container and mix it with tree bark thoroughly.
  3. Combine one part of osmunda bark with three parts of redwood for a quality orchid potting mix. Ensure to soak it overnight before adding it to the orchid potting mix.

2. Fine Potting Mix

You’ll Need the following:

  • Fir Bark/ Fine-grade coco Chips/ Redwood Bark
  • Fine Charcoal
  • Perlite


  1. Use a measuring jar, and take four parts of fine fir bark, fine-grade coco chips, and redwood bark in a container.
  2. Add one-part fine charcoal and one part perlite to the container. Mix until you obtain an orchid potting mix of uniform consistency.

3. Sphagnum Potting Mix

You’ll Need the following:

  • Sphagnum Moss
  • Medium Sponge Rock
  • Aerolite


  1. In a measuring utensil, measure nine scoops of sphagnum moss.
  2. Add sphagnum moss to the bucket, and add two scoops of medium sponge rock, and one scoop of aerolite.
  3. Mix all the ingredients using a ladle, and that’s the orchid potting mix is ready.

How to Repot Orchids

Repotting orchids can be a fun and rewarding experience – and it’s easier than you think! To repot your orchid, you’ll need some containers, potting medium, scissors or pruners, gloves for protection, and water.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when repotting:

  • Make sure to use a fresh potting medium that’s designed specifically for orchids.
  • Trim away any dead roots before replanting.
  • Remember to wear gloves to avoid getting pricked by the sharp edges of leaves.
  • When transferring your orchid into its new pot, make sure not to pack the soil too tightly, as this will prevent airflow and inhibit root growth.
  • When changing the potting medium of your orchid plants you should also take the time to inspect and clean the pots.

Repotting can help your orchid grow strong and healthy roots. Be careful not to overwater – too much water can lead to fungus growth in the soil, so always check if the potting mix is dry before watering again.

With practice and attention to detail, you’ll be able to successfully repot your orchid like a pro!

Key Takeaways

  • Orchids require a specific potting medium different from typical houseplants.
  • Potting medium options for orchids include fir bark, sphagnum moss, coconut husk chunks, lava rocks, perlite, charcoal, and more.
  • Pots for orchids should have drainage holes and clear plastic pots are good for beginners.
  • There is no one right potting soil for orchids, and it’s recommended to try different mediums or use ready orchid potting mix.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of potting soil is best for orchids?

When it comes to potting soil, orchids need something lightweight and breathable.

You should look for a mix that has both organic matter and good drainage.

A good blend of peat moss, bark, sphagnum moss, vermiculite, and/or perlite can provide the perfect environment for your orchid to thrive in.

Make sure you use well-draining soil so the orchid doesn’t stay too wet.

Additionally, if your area has hard water, you may want to consider using distilled water when watering your orchid, as it could be affected by a buildup of minerals in the regular tap water.

With these tips in mind, you can give your orchid the best chance at success!

Is potting soil suitable for different types of orchids?

Yes, potting soil can be suitable for different types of orchids. It depends on the plant’s specific needs – some orchids prefer a lighter soil mix, while others may need more organic material to thrive.

The key is to do your research and understand what kind of environment your particular type of orchid needs before selecting a soil mix that will provide adequate drainage and nutrients.

With the right balance, potting soil can provide an ideal home for many types of orchids.

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