pH is a numeric scale used to specify the acidity or basicity (alkalinity) of an aqueous solution. Solutions with a pH less than 7 are acidic and those with a pH greater than 7 are basic (or alkaline). pH is important in the growing of orchids because the pH level in your orchid pot impacts the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients. If the pH is too high or too low, your orchid will not be absorbing the nutrients provided by your fertilizing regimen and plant health will suffer.
There are several methods that can be used to check the pH of your orchid’s growing media (or any plant’s media for that matter). The most common is the pour through method. As the name suggests, this involves collecting water that has been poured through the orchid’s pot and testing the pH of the collected water. It is typically best to do this at the end of your regular watering regimen. pH strips can be used or for a more precise reading, you may want to invest a few dollars in a pH meter.
Most orchid resources recommend a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 which is slightly acidic. In any given orchid pot, your growing media, water and fertilizer all work together to determine the pH in that particular pot. Pine bark and fir bark, popular orchid growing media, are naturally acidic with pH often in the range of 4.0 – 5.0. Orchid bark mixes with lower inherent pH means your orchid is depending on water and fertilizer to raise the pH into the optimal range – an interaction often left to chance. This is further challenged because as the growing media breaks down over time, its pH can fall further. Fortunately, Orchiata orchid bark is pH adjusted during its unique aging process to deliver a potting media that is already in the optimal range right out of the bag. Orchiata’s hard internal structure results in minimal breakdown helping to avoid pH degredation. If you think your orchid is not living up to its potential, consider checking the pH. You may find its time to change your potting media.
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