HOS Members Try Shredded Rubber Tires

Shredded rubber may become the in-thing for orchid growers if an experiment by HOS members prove successful.  At a workshop conducted during the general membership meeting on Thursday, May 12, thirty-five members planted orchid seedlings (Dendrobiums and Calanthes) using shredded rubber from recycled tires.  Workshop instructor Mel Waki has been experimenting with the shredded rubber as a media for dendrobiums, cattleyas and epidendrums.  So far the experiment has been very positive.  The orchids seem to like the rubber media with nice root and plant growth.  Waki saw bags of the shredded rubber at Sam’s Club in Pearl City two years ago.  It was being sold in a 1.15 cubic foot bag as a mulch for landscapes, play areas, golf courses, pool and pond areas and yards.  The rubber was dyed red and was about the same size as  medium orchid bark.  Waki purchased a bag but did not use it on orchids until several months ago.    The shredded rubber has the appearance and consistency of orchid bark.  It has a similar density as bark so the rubber will not float, compact or blow away.  The shredded rubber has lots of void space so it will retain moisture.  It is extremely clean to work with and will not breakdown.  The shredded rubber has been processed so all of the wire from the steel belted tires have been removed.  The shredded rubber has a rubbery smell but is non-toxic and latex free.  The shredded rubber is currently available at Home Depot in 0.8 cubic foot plastic bags for $10.  It is being sold as Vigoro Rubber Mulch in red or brown color.  Waki encouraged members to try the shredded rubber on a few selected plants in their collection to see how things go.  At the workshop, members planted their orchid seedlings in 3 and 4-inch plastic pots with a 3-5 foam peanuts at the bottom.  The shredded rubber was used straight without peat moss or perlite.  A few pellets of Nutricote fertilizer (13-13-13) was added as dressing on the top.  Most members preferred the red colored rubber.  Updates on the experiment will be reported in this forum.

Orchids Planted with Rubber Mulch
Dendrobium seedlings planted in shredded rubber.


Bag of Rubber Mulch
Bag of Vigoro Rubber Mulch from Home Depot