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The Complete Guide to Mounting Orchids

The Most Natural-Looking Way to "Pot" Your Orchids

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how to mount an orchid

I’ve been growing orchids for over a decade and have used just about every kind of orchid pot imaginable. I’ve found that mounting an orchid has some real advantages. Besides being the truest-to-life way to display an orchid, mounted orchids can live on their slabs for years. 

It can be hard to wrap your head around foregoing a pot in favor of a wood slab orchid mount. But, for the most authentic look, opt for a mounted orchid. Here’s a complete guide to mounting orchids with 11 tips to help you get started and help you care for your mounted orchid for many happy years.

While applying the moss, wind the fishing line over the moss to secure the orchid and the moss to the mount.

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1- Mounted Orchids – The Way Nature Intended

In nature, many tropical orchids are epiphytic and grow on trees or branches with long, plump roots extending far from the plant. A pot confines a naturally meandering root system. 

Many orchid flowers grow pendulously and are the stalks are staked for easy viewing. The flowers of mounted orchids when displayed from a higher vantage point, do not require staking, and look as they would in the wild.

tutorial - mounted orchids

2- Versatility

When potting orchids one thing that may come to mind is versatility. Orchids can be potted in a traditional pot, or even without a pot, in a moss ball, kokedama style, or they can be mounted.

A mounted orchid can either be hung or a or placed on a table-top. While mounts that are hung take up less space, providing more room for more orchids, table-top mounts are easier to make as the mount doesn’t have to be equipped with a hanger. Just be sure to protect your surface if you opt for a table-top mount.

3- Mounts Last Longer Than Pots

Healthy orchids grow quickly with vigorous root systems making it necessary to re-pot the orchid. Orchids that are mounted rather than potted can live for many years on a slab of wood. Orchid roots can stretch out and the rhizome of sympodial orchids can lengthen and grow beyond the constraints of a pot.

While orchid enthusiasts are encouraged and thrilled to see the rhizome making its way over the edge of the pot, it also indicates that re-potting is in order. Not so for mounted orchids.

4- Why Not Mount Your Orchids

Like everything else in life, there are pros and cons to mounting. The most important drawback is that mounted orchids need more water than potted orchids. 

Not only do mounted orchids need more frequent, perhaps daily watering, as their roots dry out much more quickly than potted orchids, but they need more water in the air. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to daily watering or the ability to provide high humidity, you may want to forgo mounting your orchid. 

If these limitations are not a problem for you, you’ll be able to enjoy orchids displayed in a natural way, delay potting, postpone re-mounting for years, and, if you decide to hang your mounts, you can free up space for many more orchids.

5- When to Mount an Orchid

When it comes to when to mount an orchid, the same rules apply as potting. The best time to re-pot, and to mount, is when new roots are just beginning to grow. For many orchids, this is in the spring. New roots help ensure that the orchid will adapt well to the mount and recover faster from the trauma of potting/mounting.

6- Materials for Mounting an Orchid

When selecting your mount, you want to choose a mount that will last. The beauty of a mounted orchid is that by mounting you won’t have to worry about re-potting. Pick a wood slab that allows for several year’s growth. To learn more about tools I use to grow orchids, CLICK HERE.

Choose a Long-Lasting Hardwood Mount

  • Hardwood tree branches
    • Sassafras
    • White oak
    • Highbush blueberry
    • Dogwood
    • Mesquite
  • Some fruit trees
    • Citrus
    • Cherry
    • Persimmon
  • Mopani – used for terrariums
  • Tree fern slabs
  • Cork bark
  • Cedar
  • Redwood
  • Mounting kits

Wood to avoid

  • Treated
  • Preserved
  • Painted
  • Saltwater driftwood
  • Walnut

Material to Wrap Roots for Added Moisture

  • Coconut fiber
  • Sphagnum moss

Other Materials

  • Rigid wire
  • Wire snips
  • Needle -nose pliers
  • Electric drill
  • Fishing line

Of course, you will need a healthy orchid.

7- Orchids Recommended for Mounting

There are many types of orchids that do better mounted than potted. Probably the poster child/orchid for loving mounts is the cattleya orchid. Cattleyas can grow to be very large and are very well suited to mounting. 

For your first mount, I recommend the brassavola orchid. These orchids are in the cattleya family. They are fairly drought-tolerant, and thus the recommendation. When in bloom, brassavolas have a lovely evening fragrance.

Orchids Recommended for Mounting

  • Cattleyas
  • Brassavolas
  • Phalaneopsis
  • Coelogyne tormentosa
  • Cytorchis arcuata
  • Tolumnia
  • Miniature orchids

No matter which orchid you choose, make sure it is healthy with a vigorous root system. You want an orchid that is in active growth, meaning that new roots are emerging.

8- How to Prepare a Hanging Mount

If you’re using a rounded section of wood and you want a flat side to rest against a wall, if you’re hanging it, or to sit flat on a surface, you will need to cut the wood in half the long way, using an electric saw or hatchet. This will give you two mounts.

To hang the mount, drill a hole through the top of the wood and thread the wire through the hole.  Cut the wire with the wire-cutters leaving enough length to create a loop from which to hang the mount and to twist the end of the wire together. Using the pliers, twist to form a hanging loop on the end.

9- Secure the Orchid to the Mount

  1. To start, soak your orchid for about 20 minutes so that the roots become more pliable.
  2. Gently remove the old potting media from the orchid’s roots. Toss all the old potting media in the garbage. Using the sanitized bonsai shears, snip off and discard any dead roots.
  3. Soak the sphagnum moss or coconut fiber in water. It takes about 20 minutes for the moss/fiber to hydrate. Gently squeeze moss/fiber to remove excess water.
  4. To provide moisture to the orchid’s roots, secure a pad of the moistened sphagnum moss/coconut fiber to the mount by wrapping the fishing line around the mount and the moss or fiber.
  5. Spread the roots around the wood slab and cover with a thin layer of moistened sphagnum moss or coconut fiber. For optimal placement, keep in mind the direction of the root and pseudobulb growth. 
  6. Wrap the fishing line around the slab, moss, and orchid to secure the orchid to the mount. Use care to keep the fishing line from cutting into the roots.
Driftwood - orchid mount

The driftwood mount will give the orchid a natural look and will sit securely on a tabletop. Set mount under a tray, to protect the table.

sphagnum moss - orchid mount

Once the orchid has been picked clean of the old potting media and dead roots have been removed,  place a bit of moss on the mount to pad the orchid.

Orchid driftwood mount

Then, gently splay open the roots so that they wrap around the mount.

how to mount an orchid on driftwood

Squeeze the moss to remove excess water. Then, begin wrapping moss to cover the orchid’s roots. Avoid packing the moss over the roots. Instead, lay the moss over the roots.

Secure orchid mount

While applying the moss, wind the fishing line over the moss to secure the orchid and the moss to the mount.

Phalaenopsis orchid mounted

That’s it! The orchid is ready for display. PS Did you notice the mishap? The mount got away from me while wrapping the invisible thread around the mount and the tip of the flower spike broke off. So sad! I’d been waiting and waiting for this orchid to finish blooming so I could re-pot it. Then before the last bloom died, a new flower spike started growing. The potting mix was in bad shape and I didn’t want to put off potting it any longer.

10-Where to Place the Mount

Outdoor Mount Placement

If you live in a tropical/subtropical climate, you can hang your mounted orchid outside, under the shade of a tree, or even under a porch. 

Indoor Mount Placement

Windowsill growers will need to hang their mounts so that the orchid gets enough light and also makes watering, a daily routine, as simple as possible.

Hang your orchid in a window where there is bright, but not direct sunlight. Hang a sheer curtain to shield the orchid from too much light. Or, if you have the opposite problem, supplement light with artificial light.

NOTE: When the orchid is first mounted, place the orchid where it is a little more shaded, then when the roots become more established, move the orchid to a brighter location.

Since mounted orchids need watering daily, be sure that the orchid is easily accessible. If the orchid is hung indoors, you can just spray the orchid down with a hose – provided that the water is a tepid temperature. You will need to carry it to the sink and let the water wash over the roots.

11-How to Care for a Mounted Orchid

As noted above, the main difference in caring for a mounted orchid compared to a potted orchid is that mounted orchids dry out faster than potted orchids. This means that while you will need to water more frequently, it is very difficult to overwater a mounted orchid. Ideally, allow the orchid to dry slightly between watering. Still, if your orchid roots are drowning in water – mounting may be the answer. 

Watering Outdoors

If you live in a climate where you can grow your orchids outdoors and the tap water is warm enough, you can give your orchids a daily spray down with the hose. If it is unusually hot, the orchids may benefit from an additional watering.

Watering Indoors

If you grow your orchids indoors, then watering becomes a bit more complicated since you don’t water on the floor from the hose. Instead, if you hang your orchid, unhook the orchid and bring it to the sink and let tepid water run over the roots. To avoid clogging up your drain, it’s a good idea to use a drain catch.

If you display your orchid on a tabletop, you can water the orchid the same way that you a hung orchid. Another option is to display the mount in a saucer that will catch any runoff from the water. This is what I do. I use a narrow-spouted watering can that I use to saturate the roots. Excess water stays in the saucer. I take care not to let the orchid sit in water. Be sure that the mount is resting on something above the saucer so that the orchid roots never sit in water.

Use Fresh, Clean Water

Always take your orchid to the sink to water, or use a watering. Alternatively, the mount can be dunked in a clean bucket of clean water. If you do decide to dunk your orchids, be sure to change the water for each orchid to avoid the spread of pests and disease

Orchid Leaves and Water

Orchids like to absorb water in their leaves through the water in the air – humidity – not water from the faucet. When watering, try to keep water off the leaves to prevent bacterial and fungal growth at bay. 

Orchid Roots

You may have heard that misting orchids is a good way to keep them hydrated. This is true, just remember to mist the roots, not the leaves. You can buy really nice spray bottles that with one squeeze you get a continuous mist of water. I first saw these misting spray bottles at the hair salon, then I saw them again at an orchid show vendor’s booth. They save your hands if you have trouble squeezing. I like them.

Mounted Orchids Have Higher Humidity Requirements

If you live in a dry climate, add water in the air with a humidifier set to the lowest setting. Orchids breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen through tiny openings in their leaves. These tiny opening are call stomata. When the stomata open to release oxygen, the orchid loses water. To make up for the water lost when breathing (called transpiration) the orchid relies on humidity to make up the difference. 

Besides keeping water off the leaves when watering and adding water to the air with a humidifier, anther way to keep your orchid healthy and avoiding fungal and bacterial infections is by adding air movement. You can do this by opening a window as weather permits, turning on a ceiling fan, or by turning on a small fan pointed away from the orchids and set to low.

When to Water

The best time of day to water is in the morning. By watering in the morning, you give the orchid time to dry out a bit before the evening. Again, this will help you to grow healthy disease-free orchids.

Fertilizing Mounted Orchids

Feed mounted orchids to provide them with the nutrients they need to flower and grow. Since you will need to fertilize your orchid for optimal health and vigor, you also need to know how to deal with fertilizer salts.

If you notice root tips turning brown or leaf tips drying out the mount may have absorbed too many fertilizer salts.

How to Leach Salts from an Orchid Mount

Soak the mount – orchid side up – in a bucket of distilled water for about an hour. One week later, repeat the process. 

If you decide that the orchid needs to be re-mounted, use care and sterilized pruning shears to separate the orchid’s roots from the mount. Try to disturb the roots as little as possible.

Your Turn

If you have an orchid that ready to be potted, why not give try mounting it? Just remember that it will need to be watered more frequently. Higher humidity levels are also recommended. If you aren’t hanging the orchid, set the mount on a tray. Either way, enjoy the natural appearance of your mounted orchid!

Quick Up-Date

emerging flower spike

All was not lost. This orchid really wanted to bloom. A new flower spike emerged just below the spot where I accidentally broke the flower spike. I’ll add a picture when the orchid blooms 🙂

how to mount an orchid

The third time is the charm. After breaking off the tip of the flower spike twice, my orchid grew a new spike for the third time. Finally, my Phalaenopsis is in bloom. Isn’t she lovely?

How to Care for Orchids

Keep reading to learn all the essentials of orchid care

Read

Limp Leaves: Signal a Watering Problem

To solve your problem, read on!

Read

The Top Tools I Use to Bloom My Orchids

These tools will help you too!

Read

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18 Comments
  1. Anita lui says:

    Thank you Anna. It is very informative. I really enjoyed reading them. Hoping to do that sometime. My Phal is not doing very well, I don’t see healthy roots coming, but it still produce new leaf. It’s encouraging, but not so happy about it. Perhaps it can be happy being mounted on a tray. what do you think? Regards.

    1. Anna says:

      Anita,
      A new leaf is a good sign. It’s a normal part of the orchid growth cycle. First, I would, if possible, check the roots to make sure you aren’t overwatering. Overwatering is the most common reason that orchids fail to thrive. How are your orchid’s leaves? Drooping leaves mean the the orchid is not getting enough water, either because the orchid has been underwatered or because it has been overwatered and the roots have rotted.

      About mounting: Yes, repotting/mounting is a good idea if the potting medium has broken down.
      Anna

  2. Maryna says:

    Thanks Anna. I am not up to date with mounting my orchids. I will send you a photo so please tell me if my orchids need repotting.

    1. Anna says:

      Maryna,
      Sure, I would love to see a photo of your orchids. My email is [email protected]. Here are some reasons why your orchid needs repotting: the potting medium has broken down (or will break down soon), fertilizer salts have built up, the orchid has out-grown its pot. The best time to repot is after the the orchid has finished blooming and new roots are growing.
      Great to hear from you,
      Anna

  3. harold wurtz says:

    Thanks again Anna mounting is a great idea, and now that I have so many pots, I will try this to vary the displays. I’ll forward photos when I get some good ones done.

    1. Anna says:

      Harold,
      Thanks for sharing! I look forward to your photos!
      Anna

  4. Yvonne says:

    Hi. I have 4 Phal there in my bathroom I soak them for about 12 days. The leaves are dark green and firm, they’re blooming, everything looks OK, the only thing I’m concerned about is the root system the main roots system is a dark brown. but, they are growing spikes and they’re like a silver green and look healthier . Is the normal ?

    1. Anna says:

      Yvonne,
      Are the dark brown roots firm or mushy? If they are firm, your orchid could have some fungus or bacterial growth on the roots. Try pouring a bit of hydrogen peroxide on the roots and see if that helps. If the roots are mushy, they are overwatered. Also, there may be some sort of bacterial or fungal growth caused by soaking the orchids for 12 days.
      Let me know how it goes,
      Anna

  5. Mary Calder says:

    I like the idea of mounting an orchid. I live in quite dry high mountain desert so it may not be for me. My orchids love the East facing kitchen window where I keep them they bloom and rebloom. Even tiny new plants have appeared and most live if I am patient while they make new roots ready to plant. I absolutely love everything about them.

    1. Anna says:

      Mary,
      Thanks for sharing. I too live in a high desert climate. I use a humidifier and I do have to keep an eye on my mounted orchids. It isn’t for everyone as these orchids will take extra care if you live in an area with low humidity (as we do).
      Best,
      Anna

  6. Hannah says:

    It was really interesting and helpful .
    Thank you 😊🌸

    1. Anna says:

      Thank you, Hannah!
      Have a great day!
      Anna

  7. Glenda Bland says:

    I noticed that you used driftwood – was this from the ocean? I’ve read not to use wood that has been in salt water. I live on the ocean in Mexico and can easily get ocean driftwood. My orchids love the heat and humidity here in Mexico!!

    1. Anna says:

      Glenda,
      Excellent point. Orchids would not appreciate a salted mount. Mine was not true driftwood. In addition to the salt issue, you don’t really know what kind of wood you are using. Here are some mount alternatives: hardwood (avoid walnut), fruit tree wood such as cherry and citrus, cedar and redwood. Avoid using wood that has been treated.
      ~Anna

  8. Judy Goodson says:

    I have mounted a small orchid on driftwood in sphagnum moss. It seems to be doing well, but I have to water or mist it at least twice a day! Apparently I didn’t put enough moss around the roots.

    1. Anna says:

      Judy,
      That’s good advice! Remember to add enough moss so that it stays damp for a couple of days. Of course, those with high humidity wouldn’t have to mist nearly as often.
      Best,
      Anna

  9. Gail Dameron says:

    We are on city water , what kind of water do you use ????

    1. Anna says:

      Gail,
      I use tepid tap water. And my orchids have been fine. Rainwater is another watering option.

      Some people use a reverse osmosis system. This is an investment and an expensive way to water orchids – but some orchid enthusiasts swear by it. If you do use RO water, you’ll have to use a special fertilizer that is specifically formulated for RO water. This water is very pure, but also caustic.

      Rainwater is probably your best, easiest option if your tapwater is highly treated.
      Best,
      Anna

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the ONE email you'll open every week

Saturday mornings I send out an exclusive email sharing my best tips on how to grow healthy orchids.

YES! THANK YOU!