Redwood Bark


Is an orchid potting mix that contains redwood bark safe to use with orchids? I seem to remember reading that baskets made out of redwood secrete some sort of substance that is toxic to orchids. However, the only orchid mix I can find lists redwood bark as a minor ingredient. Is this okay to use? —Deborah Dillon


Redwood bark, either as a fiber or as chunks, has long been an optional component of fir-bark-based potting media. It has been used by itself with some success, as well. It was used in fir-bark mixes to lower pH, to help with moisture retention, to reduce some soil-borne pests and, some thought, to increase the life of the mix. It was also thought to discourage snow mold in pots. Redwood baskets were also rather commonly used on the west coast until redwood became rare. —Ned Nash