I just acquired a Phalaenopsis orchid that has white roots growing into the air. After further inspection, I noticed that the roots in the pot are black and rotting. Is all hope lost? Mia L
The root condition that you are describing is fairly common with ‘Moth’ orchids. The previous owner of this plant kept the potting media too wet by either over watering or providing inadequate drainage. The roots in the pot literally rotted off so the resourceful orchid grew new roots this time above the unhealthy potting media. These new ‘aerial roots’ are growing outward and hoping to find a better place to reside. This is where you can help.
It is time to repot this Phalaenopsis so that it can return to it’s former glory days and bloom again (Note - Phalaenopsis can be repotted anytime of the year). The first step is to remove all the old media (gently) and see what roots, if any, remain. The second step is to choose the smallest pot that the roots will fit into since orchids like to be ‘pot bound’.
Mature Phalaenopsis plants usually require 4” to 5” pots and clay pots help reduce the chance of over watering. The third and final step is to place the roots into the pot and fill gently with either a peat moss type media (such as Promix) or sphagnum moss.
You will notice within a few weeks that new roots have emerged and are enjoying the new home. It is your job to keep the new media damp all the time and not let it completely dry out or stay soaking wet. Expect to water Phalaenopsis thoroughly 1-2 times a week.
What kind of mini greenhouse (6’ to 8’) would be appropriate for my orchids? We would like to build one but need some guidelines.
Orchid fanciers often run out of windowsill space in their homes for their growing orchid collections. Small greenhouses provide the perfect overflow for these prized plants. There are many books available on the subject of greenhouse design and they discuss everything from building materials to heating and cooling methods.
It is very important that the greenhouse be located in an area that receives good sunlight. South facing is ideal, though east or west facing is acceptable. Notice whether the surrounding trees are deciduous or evergreen. Most orchids like ‘filtered light’ which, for a greenhouse, is full sun that has been diffused by shade cloth, blinds, or white wash.
Whether the structure is stand-alone or attached to the house has a big effect on how much it is used. Do you really want to walk through a snowstorm to check on your plants? There will need to be an entrance door between the house and the greenhouse and this is most commonly accomplished by using an existing house door or by converting an existing house window.
The size of the greenhouse can be almost any length or width and is determined by the owner or, in some cases, by the building code. Always build larger than initially planned since greenhouses have a way of ‘filling up’. The best greenhouses that I have seen are those that are south facing and attached to the house where the warmth of the sun and the beauty of the flowers make for a most enjoyable winter retreat.
I’ve heard that some orchids are immortal. What’s the oldest known orchid? Colleen C
There are 30,000 naturally occurring orchid species around the world that have evolved for millions of years. The earliest recorded man-made orchid hybrid in the western world dates back to 1853 and is a Cattleya. It is thought, however, that the Japanese and Chinese growers were hybridizing several centuries earlier.
An individual orchid plant can live a long time if taken care of –
hundreds of years or more since orchids do not have a ‘life span’.
Taking care of an orchid is easy:
– Air Circulation – slow moving fan
– Fertilizer – a little when you can remember
– Humidity – 50% or more
– Light - usually filtered
– Re-potting – every 1-3 years
– Temperature - 60-90 deg F
– Watering - once or twice a week
We have a Cattleya in bloom right now that was bred in 1898 and is still going strong!