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My mini orchids are not doing well

This is a discussion on My mini orchids are not doing well within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hello all, this is my first post! I am an orchid lover (or lunatic, whichever ...

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  1. #1
    SuZCC's Avatar
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    Smile My mini orchids are not doing well

    Hello all,
    this is my first post!
    I am an orchid lover (or lunatic, whichever you prefer) from MA.
    I recently ordered about a dozen miniature orchids from a great orchid supplier. They arrived fastidiously packed and in glowing good health. At first they did really well--a couple in spike bloomed and are gorgeous. This was in Dec. and it is now March and they are languishing. Many of them are oncidium varieties. The leaves are yellowing, the pseudobulbs are shrivelled. I'm wondering if the roots have rot--they don't look rotten--if anything, they are dried out looking. How do you tell if an orchid is dead?

    I try not to overwater but I fear I may have done it anyway. I have a small fan set up near them--they are sitting in an east/south exposure except for the one in bloom which have the place of honor on my west facing kitchen window. i also have a humidifier in the room with them and maintain the humidity at about 40%. I know a lot of orchids require more, but I can't seem to get the humidity higher than that in the winter.

    Anyway, I am watching helplessly as my babies appear to be dying. i Googled
    "my orchids are dying! help!" and came up with this forum. If you don't know the answer, no one does--not even Wikipedia!

  2. #2
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    Hi SuZCC,
    Could you post a picture of the orchids and orchid roots?
    -g

  3. #3
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    Ok, lets see if we can figure this out. Can you post a photo of the orchids? If so, it will be better to see and guess than just guess in the dark. But, from your description, I am going to go with you overwatered and rotted the roots. If the p-bulbs are shrivled, this sometimes makes one think that s/he needs to give more water. What actually may be happening is that the roots are rotting and therefore cannot take in more water, so the plant has been sucking life from the p-bulbs to survive as long as it has. The more water one adds, the more the orchid drowns from lack of air to the roots, and the more the rot takes over.

    My suggestion is to unpot the orchids and take a look at their roots. In the article library here, there are several photo demos of repotting to look at for help. If your orchids are currently growing in the same medium that they were shipped to you, then they must be repotted. Most likely they have been in that medium for over two years and still have a plug of sphag in the center of the pot holding in all kinds of water. (Remember, just guessing here.)

    Take a look at the roots. If they are mushy and squishy, then clean away the bad ones. You want to leave the good ones alone, so before removing from the pot, pre-soak the medium in a bowl for a good 10 minutes. This will get the medium loose and easier to remove from the roots.

    Clean up the roots and repot in an orchid bark mix. (You can get this at a big box store.) Be sure to place some packing peanuts or nice sized lava rock in the bottom of the pot to allow drainage and air to reach the roots of your orchid.

    Also, if your orchids have been placed into decorative containers that do not get good air movement, don't put them back into those containers. Grow your orchids in a plastic growers pot.

    Good luck! And post some photos of the plants to let us look.

    Cheers,
    BD

  4. #4
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    What BD and g said goes for me too. Post a pic both with the roots and the plant itself.

  5. #5
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    I think most importantly...what do you have them potted in? Clay/plastic? Spag/bark?

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    pavel's Avatar
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    Just for clarification's sake I would even ask "ARE they potted?" [Or are they mounted?] While potting is the norm for most oncs, some are mounted.

    As others have stated, pictures of the plants and roots will be a big help if you are able to do so.

    Additionally how often have you been watering and HOW do you water?

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    My orchids came potted in bark and some kind of twig-like medium with particles of styrofoam in it.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brutal_Dreamer View Post
    Ok, lets see if we can figure this out. Can you post a photo of the orchids?
    I can post a photo of them, but I can't take them out of the medium yet because I need to go and buy more so I can repot them.
    If so, it will be better to see and guess than just guess in the dark. But, from your description, I am going to go with you overwatered and rotted the roots. If the p-bulbs are shrivled, this sometimes makes one think that s/he needs to give more water. What actually may be happening is that the roots are rotting and therefore cannot take in more water, so the plant has been sucking life from the p-bulbs to survive as long as it has. The more water one adds, the more the orchid drowns from lack of air to the roots, and the more the rot takes over.
    Wow! This is REALLY helpful. I would never have known that about the p-bulbs.
    My suggestion is to unpot the orchids and take a look at their roots. In the article library here, there are several photo demos of repotting to look at for help. If your orchids are currently growing in the same medium that they were shipped to you, then they must be repotted. Most likely they have been in that medium for over two years and still have a plug of sphag in the center of the pot holding in all kinds of water. (Remember, just guessing here.)
    I also did not know you need to repot in new medium after they have been shipped!
    Take a look at the roots. If they are mushy and squishy, then clean away the bad ones. You want to leave the good ones alone, so before removing from the pot, pre-soak the medium in a bowl for a good 10 minutes. This will get the medium loose and easier to remove from the roots.
    I looked at the roots and they don't look mushy. If anything, they look dry.

    Clean up the roots and repot in an orchid bark mix. (You can get this at a big box store.) Be sure to place some packing peanuts or nice sized lava rock in the bottom of the pot to allow drainage and air to reach the roots of your orchid.
    Packing peanuts! Who knew?
    Also, if your orchids have been placed into decorative containers that do not get good air movement, don't put them back into those containers. Grow your orchids in a plastic growers pot.

    Good luck! And post some photos of the plants to let us look.
    I will take some photos tomorrow a.m. when it is light!
    Thank you SO much!!!!!

  9. #9
    SuZCC's Avatar
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    Hi,
    I can't take my orchids out of the pots because I need to buy more potting medium for them. I can take a photo of them IN the pots, tho.
    Thanks!

  10. #10
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    My orchids are all potted in plastic pots (not orchid pots, tho! most pots are 2.5 in., some 3 in.) Except one, which is mounted on a tiny bark slab. This one seems to be doing OK--I drench it every day with water from the sink. I only water the others once a week or less.

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