Change of Substrate

Sleppo

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Jun 28, 2018
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250
Location (City and/or State)
Philadelphia, PA
Good morning all,

I am considering changing substrate for my Russians who are wintered in the house in open top tort tables. For the last 3 years I have used straight cypress mulch and I am looking for a better alternative which seems to be orchid bark. My problem with the cypress mulch is that it doesn't hold moisture well and gets super dusty, I mix water in it every few days and still dries out so quickly. I live in an old house with hot water radiators so the air itself is dry but I try to combat that with a humidifier in my tort room. I have a few questions about cypress mulch and I would appreciate some input. Thanks in advance!

1. Does the orchid bark get dusty?
2. Does the orchid bark hold moisture?
3. Does orchid bark contain natural/artificial dyes that will stain?
4. About how long will it last before needing a complete change out? (my tort tables are large so I look for something that would last 6+ months, I of course would refresh it as needed and spot clean daily)
5. Anyone know a spot that sells bulk orchid bark online? Not many of the local home improvement stores here offer it .
 

Blackdog1714

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Richmond, VA
1. No
2. Yes, but the top most part will stay dry even with standing water underneath
3. No Orchid Bark is Fir Bark
4. Spot cleaning minimizes complete change outs and add new as needed
5. :mad: ON THE EAST COAST the best I have found online is $52 a bag for bulk fir bark. On the West Coast it is priced the same as most mulches.:mad:
I add water daily to my russians enclosure and I also have hot water radiators. I get the Humidity to stay around %50 and have never found my cypress to be dusty, but I do have plastic over mine. For East Coasters we are stuck with waiting on Petco and Petsmart deals for the big 22 quart bags, unless somebody is up for a serious road trip?
 

ZEROPILOT

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I pour water into my ORCHID bark and it soaks it up like a sponge. The bottom layer will be wet, but the top layer will remain humid.
Dust likely says you aren't using enough water. Or that your substrate is too deep.
Home Depot sells orchid bark by the hanging Orchids.
With simple spot cleaning, it will last a very long time.
Do not buy the type with fertilizer in it.
 

Maro2Bear

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I’m surprised that your cypress mulch is drying out so quickly. I’m thinking that you probably aren't getting it well soaked to start out. I take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it about half way up with cypress mulch, then fill it with warm water. Let it soak overnight, then drain off the water. The cypress soaks up water (almost swells full) and stays moist for a long time. As long as you don’t let your cypress substrate totally dry out, once fully soaked it easily accepts wetting down via spraying if/as needed.

It sounds like you are just misting, which only wets the very outer layer.

Anyhow, just my two cents. You could also mix your orchid bark & cypress together. Your orchid bark sho7ld be well soaked to start as well.

Best of luck!
 

Sleppo

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Joined
Jun 28, 2018
Messages
250
Location (City and/or State)
Philadelphia, PA
1. No
2. Yes, but the top most part will stay dry even with standing water underneath
3. No Orchid Bark is Fir Bark
4. Spot cleaning minimizes complete change outs and add new as needed
5. :mad: ON THE EAST COAST the best I have found online is $52 a bag for bulk fir bark. On the West Coast it is priced the same as most mulches.:mad:
I add water daily to my russians enclosure and I also have hot water radiators. I get the Humidity to stay around %50 and have never found my cypress to be dusty, but I do have plastic over mine. For East Coasters we are stuck with waiting on Petco and Petsmart deals for the big 22 quart bags, unless somebody is up for a serious road trip?
Thanks for your input I appreciate it! Given your response I don't think I am adequately hydrating the cypress mulch to begin with which is probably why it is soo dry I do pretty much have my mind made up making the switch though. I'll let you know if I find anything cheaper. Thanks again!
 

Sleppo

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Joined
Jun 28, 2018
Messages
250
Location (City and/or State)
Philadelphia, PA
I’m surprised that your cypress mulch is drying out so quickly. I’m thinking that you probably aren't getting it well soaked to start out. I take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it about half way up with cypress mulch, then fill it with warm water. Let it soak overnight, then drain off the water. The cypress soaks up water (almost swells full) and stays moist for a long time. As long as you don’t let your cypress substrate totally dry out, once fully soaked it easily accepts wetting down via spraying if/as needed.

It sounds like you are just misting, which only wets the very outer layer.

Anyhow, just my two cents. You could also mix your orchid bark & cypress together. Your orchid bark sho7ld be well soaked to start as well.

Best of luck!
Thanks for your response, given what you have said I am definitely not soaking the mulch as much as I should to keep it from getting dusty. I carefully put a liter of water where they like to dig in for the night and don't usually soak the entire table. My table isn't lined to I have to do it slowly while stirring so it doesn't leak out the bottom. I like your idea about doing it in a bucket outside of the table I really never thought about that. Thanks for the pointers! I think I am still going to end up making the switch but this may help extend the life of what I have in there now. My tables are big and it is a huge pain in the a$$ to change out. A very dirty job! Thanks again!
 

Sleppo

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Joined
Jun 28, 2018
Messages
250
Location (City and/or State)
Philadelphia, PA
I pour water into my ORCHID bark and it soaks it up like a sponge. The bottom layer will be wet, but the top layer will remain humid.
Dust likely says you aren't using enough water. Or that your substrate is too deep.
Home Depot sells orchid bark by the hanging Orchids.
With simple spot cleaning, it will last a very long time.
Do not buy the type with fertilizer in it.
Yeah I think you are right I am not adding enough water to it, my substrate is about 6-7 inches deep my girls love to dig. I am going to try soaking it in a bucket as suggested by Maro2Bear to see if I can extend the life of what I have but I am going to ultimately make the switch. I'll be sure to be careful when purchasing the bark to make sure it is free of fertilizers/chemicals. Thanks for your input I appreciate it!
 

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