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How to Grow a Plant in Charcoal

Charcoal can be an ideal growing medium for epiphytic and other plants that require air flow around their roots or that soak up moisture and micronutrients from the ambient air to sustain themselves. Orchids, bromeliads, cacti and succulents all can survive and thrive with garden-grade charcoal being used as a significant element in their planting medium. Charcoal is often used as a substitute for perlite as it possesses the same functional qualities. Charcoal speeds drainage, inhibits bacteria and fungal development and allows good air flow and is therefore a good option for inclusion in potting medium for a range of plants.

Combine 1 part horticultural charcoal with 2 parts each of sand, peat moss and garden soil as a planting medium for cacti and other succulents.

Build a growing medium for epiphytic orchids such as dendrobiums, cattleya and phalaenopsis by mixing 1 part horticultural charcoal with 5 parts of coarse chipped or shredded bark.

Mix a potting soil for bromeliads by combining 2 parts sphagnum peat moss with 1 part horticultural charcoal and 1 part pine fir bark.

  • Charcoal can be an ideal growing medium for epiphytic and other plants that require air flow around their roots or that soak up moisture and micronutrients from the ambient air to sustain themselves.
  • Combine 1 part horticultural charcoal with 2 parts each of sand, peat moss and garden soil as a planting medium for cacti and other succulents.

Create a planting mix for African violets that includes 1 part horticultural charcoal with 2 parts sphagnum peat moss and 1 part vermiculite.

Feed and water your plants growing in chipped charcoal or charcoal amended soil regularly. Most epiphytic or drainage-loving plants will benefit from weekly or more frequent watering and monthly feeding of fertilizer diluted with water and applied over the roots.

Grow A Plant In Charcoal

Place a small piece of screen over the drainage holes in the bottom of a pot. Mix compost or potting soil and horticultural charcoal using 2 cups of charcoal for every cubic foot of potting soil. Set plants in the pot as you normally would, leaving one to two inches of space between the top of the soil and the lip of the pot. Repot plants as needed using a fresh mix of charcoal and potting soil each time. Rake the planting area smooth and add seeds or nursery stock as you normally would. Always water both seeds and seedlings thoroughly immediately after planting.

  • Create a planting mix for African violets that includes 1 part horticultural charcoal with 2 parts sphagnum peat moss and 1 part vermiculite.
  • Set plants in the pot as you normally would, leaving one to two inches of space between the top of the soil and the lip of the pot.

Warning

This is not the time to break out the charcoal briquettes and crush them up. Charcoal designed for barbecue use is treated with chemicals that can quickly be deadly to plants. Use only bagged horticultural charcoal when planting.

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