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Crape Myrtle Branches for mounting?

Discussion in 'Everything Else Orchid' started by Tom-DE, May 7, 2014.

  1. Tom-DE

    Tom-DE Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I have heard some growers in the south, particular in LA, have used crape myrtle branches for mounting. I wonder how good/bad it is? long lasting? What kind of orchids have you used/tested on?

    Thank you for the feedback if you have used it for awhile or have seen/heard other reputable/experienced growers use it.
     
  2. DPfarr

    DPfarr Well-Known Member

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    I feel like there's a couple plants from Andy's that were on Lagerstromia.
     
  3. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Tom, have you asked Andy? He tries a lot of different wood types.
     
  4. Tom-DE

    Tom-DE Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Marni, I have not talked to Andy about this wood..., Years ago, someone mentioned about it for mounting but I can't remember any feedback from that person, I should have some small crape myrtle branches from my bushes/trees pruning soon and I wonder if I should keep them.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2014
  5. gnathaniel

    gnathaniel Lurker Supporting Member

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    Tom, I mount a lot of plants on crape myrtle, mostly Laeliinae and others that like to dry out a little between watering. I can't speak to ultimate lifespan, one plant's been on it at least 6 or 7 years with no significant breakdown of the wood, and a number of others are going strong at 3-4 years. Recently I've used more old weathered pieces, these hold more water and sometimes grow wood-digesting fungi, but so far the wood retains good physical integrity and the fungi are playing nice with my plants. I'll see if I have any illustrative pictures or take some more if I have time in the next couple of days.

    I have plants from both Marble Branch Farms and Louisiana Orchid Connection that came on crape myrtle. MBF seems to mostly use branches around 1" or less diameter and LOC more flat planks split from 3-5" trunks. Most of what I get myself is in-between in size and I split it once or twice to increase surface area and reduce weight. If it's freshly-cut I weather it outside for a few weeks, which gets the bark separating a little and the wood cracking enough to split easily, though I've put things on it fresh without obvious ill effect.
     
  6. Tom-DE

    Tom-DE Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Nat. I will only have the small branches, 1"--1.5" diameter. Thank you for the reply and I would like to see/know more about the wood-digesting fungi. Also, would the skin of the branch rot away quickly?
     
  7. gnathaniel

    gnathaniel Lurker Supporting Member

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    I'll see if I can find any fungal fruiting bodies to photograph, aside from reproductive structures the organisms are mostly out of sight infiltrating the wood. One of the more striking ones is a deep blue color, pretty easily ID'd as the saprotroph Terana caerulea, aka Cobalt Crust. It almost certainly hastens the wood's decay but it's very pretty, plus I've only seen it on a few small seedling mounts that will be upgraded in a few years anyway so I've let it be.

    In my experience the thin bark is surprisingly durable, quickly detaching in some spots but staying firmly attached elsewhere, over time adding another layer for roots to wander into. I think on some of my older mounts it's beginning to disintegrate and flake off where still exposed. This might vary depending on the specific crape myrtle's genes, though, Lagerstroemias seem to have some diversity in their bark-shedding habits.
     
  8. Einstein

    Einstein Expatriate

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    I don't like it personally, Tom. But the folks at Marble Branch Farms use it quite a bit.
    Andfor those I know that do like it, it does last a long time
     
  9. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Tom, I use it and have used it for a number of years. My plants are grown outside, so they dry more quickly than those grown in greenhouses and the like. That said, I've had this wood last ~5 years without fungus or major breakdown. To give you another idea, I use this wood in my sealed frog tanks from time to time (100% humidity, no circulation, often sitting in ponds of water) and some have been in use for 2+ years without decay.
     
  10. Tom-DE

    Tom-DE Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Joe and Zach, thanks for the inputs,