Cork bark

Cork Oak (Quercus suber) is a medium-sized, evergreen tree, native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa that can grow up to 20 m tall. It is the primary source of most cork products in the world.

Cork bark is composed of a sobering hydrophobic substance and is watertight. It also buoyancy, good compression, expansion and is fire resistance, rot resistance, termite resistance, non toxic, impermeable, etc, All these properties make cork bark ideal for mounting orchids, as it provides a growing environment with good aeration, drainage and anchoring. (Orchid roots very happily attach themselves to cork bark).

Harvesting: The cork oak tree must be at least 25 years old before its bark can be harvested. At the right time, the “bark” is stripped off the tree without damaging the tree. New bark will grow in its place. After the first harvest, the tree can be re-harvested about every 9 years.

Virgin Cork: The bark obtained from the first two harvests of a cork tree is called “Virgin Cork”. The cork bark produced after the first two harvests is called “Corkwood”. Corkwood is used in the production of a variety of cork products such as wine stoppers. Virgin Cork has a very rough less uniformed surface appearance and texture and therefore can be easily identified from the much smoother corkwood.

Virgin cork bark is used extensively in the growing of orchids. Many orchids are epiphytes that require good aeration and drainage and happily attach themselves to cork bark. Because of the rough texture of virgin cork bark, the roots of the orchids can tightly grip the bark. That makes cork bark the perfect medium for mounting orchids.

Small cork pieces are commonly added as a “fill” in perforated pots for the support of Vandaceous orchids. Slabs made from small compressed cork pieces are also available.