Four months into his two-year Fern Fibre Substrate trial, orchid grower Allan Watson from Taranaki says it is time to share some of his observations.

After four months into his trail of growing orchids in Fernwood NZ’s fern fibre substrate, a 2-year process in total, award-winning orchid grower Allan Watson says it is time for some observations:

“Taking a leap into such a trial takes some commitment in time for observations and plants for the trial. Lucky that retirement and a varied orchid genera collection have allowed me to provide both,” he says. While the initial trial was to compare Miltoniopsis grown in a Bark/Pumice mix with those grown in Fern Fibre substrate, Allan felt that a wide range of comparison would provide added value to the trial’s end result. After some discussion with Alan Ford from Fernwood NZ, the trial started.

This is what he noticed:

  • Miltoniopsis were first, and after 4 months there were changes, be it small (plants are in a semi dormant phase, and Allan will share photos in the next blog.)
  • Plant foliage in the Fern Fibre Substrate seemed to be darker and healthier.
  • Less water required to satisfy Fern Fibre Substrate.
  • Root Structure in Fern Fibre Substrate seemed more vibrant
  • Odontoglossum: It just made good sense to trial this Genus as they were at the repotting stage.
  • The presurebulbs showed no sign of stress
  • New growth seemed to develop after 2 months
  • Overall plant heath seemed to be ahead of those in straight bark mix.
  • Dendrobiums: Despite this Genus almost at its dormant phase I decided to include in the Fern Fibre Substrate trial.
  • No Noticeable difference at this time
  • Cattleya: Having an issue with a couple plants in this genus it seemed to make good sense to try Fern Fibre Substrate.

While the photos are of seedlings their root structure in Fern Fibre Substrate was advanced compared to those in fine bark. This was after 4 weeks.

I also have some mature Cattleya re-potted in Fern Fibre Substrate my next blog will have some before and after photos.

Other Genera: As with all collections I have the odd problem plant so I decided to make a clean swap and change their potting mix from Bark to Fern Fibre Substrate.

This Oncidopsis Nelly Isler after 4 months re-potted in Fern Fibre Substrate has produced a strong spike whereas the other in Bark / Pumice mix shows no such sign but does have similar plant growth. Very satisfying. Next repot will be into total fibre.