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Wild Catt Roots!

This is a discussion on Wild Catt Roots! within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I have a question regarding cattleya orchids. I have ten or so plants whose new ...

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  1. #1
    Slipperhead's Avatar
    Slipperhead is offline Senior Member
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    Jul 2004
    Midlothian, VA

    Default Wild Catt Roots!

    I have a question regarding cattleya orchids. I have ten or so plants whose new roots want to wander across the top of the media and go out and over the pot rather than burrow downward. I know that a number of species are known to have "wild roots" but these are hybrids, in particular mini cattleyas and a few standards.

    Could this be evidence of potting media that is too fine? I'm currently using cyprus mulch in a clay pot because it is commonly used in this area. Since this media is fine and holds moisture, a clay pot is probably a good idea. I have traditionally used good old coarse fir bark with foam peanuts underneath in a plastic pot. It is the traditional favorite and I feel it is hard to beat if the pot size and conditions are correct.

    I'm wandering what the rest of the roots look like on the plants. I may unpot one or two to see.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
    TundraKev's Avatar
    TundraKev is offline Banned
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    Feb 2005


    I don't grow any Catts, so maybe I shouldn't even be responding here, but I do have a few plants that do exactly what you describe. I've kind of come to the conclusion that maybe it's a sign they shouldn't even be in a pot.

    The plants that do this for me are some hybrid Oncs. I've had them for years, tried different standard type potting mixes and still the best roots they produce are all outside the pot. When I do repot, most of the roots inside the pot aren't in the greatest shape anyway.

    When I saw your question, I thought of a photo I had seen of a whole bunch or Phals that had been mounted on a concrete wall. It was from somewhere in Asia. Those roots were just amazing. They had grown out from the plant in every direction, absolutely glued to that concrete. They almost looked like a spiderweb. Needless to say, the plants looked very happy this way.


  3. #3
    OrchidTraci's Avatar
    OrchidTraci is offline Senior Member
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    Oct 2003
    Western New York


    It may be so pot bound that it is the only place for the roots to go. I found this to be true when I had the same issue. I took the plant out of the pot and was shocked to see a mass of roots! Take one out of the pot and see.

  4. #4
    LJA's Avatar
    LJA is offline OrchidTalk Tech Admin
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    Catts almost seem to prefer having their roots exposed. If you soak the aerial roots well so that they're pliable enough, you can turn the growing tips down into the medium and they'll keep growing that way as long as conditions down there are ok. I have a feeling though that when you unpot, you're going to find some rotten roots, especially if the media was fine. Those Catt roots really need to dry off between waterings. Of course, this is all just guesswork; we'll never know what the situation is until you actually unpot.....

  5. #5
    Piper's Avatar
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    Dec 2004


    Catt roots, like phal roots, love to go aerial. It has nothing to do with the potting. I think they're just checking things out, above as well as below. I wouldn't change culture based on it.

    If the plant is happy, keep doing what you're doing.


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