Hello Orchid Growers February 2019
The Banking Royal Commission established that most problems in Banking culture start at the top and work down (at a cost of million’s). Aranbeem Orchid Growers group established that most problems in orchid culture start at the bottom and work up (at a cost of $0). Last month we discussed all the components that make up an orchid plant and how they combine to make a healthy plant. Most orchids grow on things, not in things. We grow in pots, mounts etc for our convenience. Often the roots are concealed and we may not be paying the attention that we should to them. Following are some of the information that they may be trying to tell us.
Orchid roots contain a spongy structure which is designed to enhance absorbing water. To work effectively they need to go through a wetting and drying cycle. If you are over watering the roots will rot and decompose. If you are under watering the roots will be somewhat thinner and not have a full healthy look.
Fertilizing and Chemical Spray
Orchid root tips should be a nice shinny greenish colour. They are sensitive to chemical damage. If they turn brown or black and cease growing, then this would indicate that you have been using a fertilizer or chemical at excessive strength.
pH (acidity or alkalinity)
Most orchids grow best in a slightly acidic medium between 5.5 and 6.5. The pH is a result of the media used and also your watering and fertilizing practice. Most media increase in acidity as they age and decompose. If the orchid root tips die and the roots appear a reddish orange colour change this indicates excessively low pH. The plants need repotting to fresh media before further damage results.
Some pests of orchids are generally more active at night and/or are concealed in the growing containers. Slugs, snails and cockroaches love nice soft juicy root tips to eat. If the root tips are chewed off, this indicates their presence and treatment is required. Examining roots regularly allows for early intervention before you have a much bigger problem with these pests.
Happy healthy orchids have roots that are growing uniformly strong. If the plant is stressed due to factors such as air circulation, temperature, humidity etc they will demonstrate a stop/start process of growth. Roots that look like “a String of Cherrios” indicate that your orchid is experiencing some such stresses.
Many orchids have pronounced growth cycles including rest or dormant periods. When roots and root tips are actively growing, they benefit from additional watering and fertilizing. When they become less active the root tips with change colour and/or seal indicating time to back off watering and fertilizing.
We can learn a lot from paying more attention and observing our humble orchid roots. Happier, healthy plants will be the result.
Next Orchid Growers Group is Saturday 2nd March. The main topic for the day will be about housing of our orchid collection. We will be covering traditional to alternate options. There are many simple and practical experiences that we will share. Benching, hanging and positioning options to maximize benefit are also on the agenda. We look forward to another enjoyable and productive gathering.
Thank you for your support.
Ross and Liz