Epiphytic orchids, those that live on trees, can easily adapt to growing on various types of mounting material.
Many orchids do just fine growing in pots, but mounting orchids can allow them to grow healthier root systems and thrive for years longer than they would in a pot. Mounting also eliminates the need to repot regularly and takes up less space in your shade house as they hang on the walls.
The classic mount for orchids is cork which is available in varying sizes. Some orchids, particularly those with thin roots such as Oncidiums and Tolumnias are fond of tree fern mounts and we see their roots growing all the way through them. If you mount on cork, be aware of the water needs of that orchid. Tree fern mounts hold water and can be soaked in a bucket.
If using tree fern, soak the mount for a couple of hours before attaching the orchid. It also helps to soak the orchid at the same time to ensure the roots are pliable.
Once you have found a suitable mount for your orchid, place the bare rooted orchid on the mount and put a small amount of sphagnum moss over the roots so that it’s able to attach and grow properly on the mount. The sphagnum moss will help keep the orchid from stressing during the time it takes to attach to the mount and will hold the extra moisture and nutrients needed for good growth.
Pay attention to the growing habits of the orchid. Some orchids grow straight up (monopodial) others grow outward (sympodial). So, be sure to place your orchid on the mount so that it grows as it does in nature.
Attach the orchid to the mount with fishing line, florist wire, plastic coated wire, softy tie thread or stockings! If you are using wire ensure that the roots and bulbs are covered with a small amount of moss to protect them from the wire. Wrap the tie around the mount, orchid, and moss -crisscrossing in different directions; essentially tying everything together. Make sure the orchid is snuggly held in place; if it is loose and moves around, the roots will not attach to the mount.
The best time to mount an orchid is when your orchid is showing signs of new root growth. Low light will keep your mounted orchid healthy for its first few weeks while it’s trying to attach itself to the mount, and depending on climate, you may want to give it a watering every day adding a fertiliser to the water once a month.
Once the orchid is firmly established on the mount (roots into the tree fern or new root growth on cork) you can remove the ties and sphagnum moss, be prepared to tie it on again if it is not fully secure.