Why blocks of EpiWeb?


Due to the tropical intensive rainfalls in Papua New Guinea, growing in pots is not optimal for hoyas . Also, the soil substrate decomposes quickly and becomes too compact to allow water and air to circulate. The hoyas  would then rot quickly. They are epiphytes and prefer tree trunks, which only become slightly moist and allow excess water to run away. There, the hoyas  and its relatives create airy root systems along stems within and around the coarse bark of the tree amongst mosses, lichens and ant nests.

Therefore more porous and durable materials have been used extensively. Like Dicksonia/Xaxim which is made from tree ferns, and are now endangered because of this. But even Dicksonia/Xaxim are decomposed after some years and becomes too compact or fall apart into smaller pieces down onto the ground.

Instead, I use individual blocks of EpiWeb which imitates the structure of Dicksonia/Xaxim. EpiWeb is 100% synthetic, made out of plastic (of which a great deal is recycled) so it is very durable and would be an one-time expense. More environmentally friendly option due to the recycled plastic and the tree ferns won't be disturbed.

One block of EpiWeb allows hoyas  to grow around the block and develop similar root systems inside the porous substrate. The block will be covered externally by mosses after some time, and excess water will flow through freely, leaving only a small amount of water inside the block. The external moss keeps the block slightly moist for an extended time. During dry spells the blocks are easily watered by opening one tap, as the water would be directed in plastic tubes with tiny holes for target watering. (see examples of EpiWeb IIS at WWW.EPIWEB.SE)

This is the most optimal when growing hoyas  outside in their own environment with heavy rainfalls, to imitate their own habitat rather than to grow them in pots as we would do inside our protected houses.

Also, the pots would fly away by strong winds, causing the soil substrate to be scattered all over the place, and the labels would be lost or mixed up. Every EpiWeb block retains its shape and protects the roots inside the block and the label is anchored into the material. This reduces the damage and hassle after strong winds

This is clearly illustrated by two of the photos at right, on a Dischidia ovata NS08-071, which was planted on a 2.5 cm (1") thick plate of clean EpiWeb in April 2009. The photos were taken in August same year and illustrates how the roots have grown through the substrate so the cutting is well anchored. Mosses have also established on one of the surfaces and creates a protective humid sheet like those on tree trunks in the wild where you find hoyas, dischidias and orchids.

The decision to use EpiWeb was also based on another two important factors: time and resources.

I have to use my time and resources effectively. EpiWeb almost eliminates the need of the annual time-consuming repotting which disturb the plants  and delay the flowers. This saves a lot of time and resources to be spent on field work and research instead.

From my previous visits I estimate to collect at least 1500-2000 different hoya cuttings, of which each need one own block.  Those blocks measures 6 x 7 x 25 cm to allow plenty of space for roots to develop. Some of these blocks are hollow to be filled with shredded coconut fibre, which retains more moisture, to evaluate wheter solid or hollow blocks work better.

Thanks to all of you who contributed to 1000 blocks of EpiWeb to start the project with!

Traditional block of coconut fibre which is too decomposed after three-four years. Sometimes it gets too wet for some species, causing them to rot.
(Picture above.)

EpiWeb, is fully synthetical and retans its porous structure for decades. (Both pictures below, with Dischidia ovata NS08-071.)




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