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  • 1 Post By wetfeet101b
  • 1 Post By Jef09071984

Orchids: Specimen Pruning / Grooming

This is a discussion on Orchids: Specimen Pruning / Grooming within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; 1st Disclaimer: This is NOT for the faint of heart. The following information may contain ...

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  1. #1
    wetfeet101b's Avatar
    wetfeet101b is offline It's not dead! It's just permanently dormant.
    Real Name
    John
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    Cattleya, Cymbidium
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    Default Orchids: Specimen Pruning / Grooming

    1st Disclaimer: This is NOT for the faint of heart. The following information may contain graphic and disturbing images. Viewer discretion is advised.

    2nd Disclaimer: This is a very controversial topic, with some camps insisting that this is heresy in the orchid world, while some agree that this is necessary for orchids that are kept in the safe confines of a garden.
    The more common solution is to periodically divide the orchid into smaller plants to address overcrowding.
    I am not preaching orchid pruning. I am merely providing information on alternative solutions.

    Here are some pictures of a large cattleya plant that I plan on growing as a specimen.
    I pruned the plant due to the following reasons:

    1. The center of the basket was getting too crowded, that there are no new growths emerging from the center. The last two new leads that tried to grow from the center were so deprived of light that they ended up being contorted and twisted as they tried to snake their way around the old pseudobulbs to find light.

    2. Due to the crowded conditions in the center, there is poor air circulation and this could lead to secondary issues such as the plant staying wet for too long, as well as fungus and critter issues.

    3. The new robust growths are emerging from the edges of the plant, and are on the side of the basket. This could eventually lead to a "ring of flowers" appearance on the plant where you have blooming pseudobulbs only along the edges of the plant, but none up top.
    Its like a bald spot for orchids.

    In nature, the old pseudobulbs would have faded already, clearing room for new growths in the center.
    However, in the pampered conditions of a garden the pseudobulbs can outlive their natural life spans.
    The oldest pseudobulbs on this particular plant are about 6 years old - some still with leaves in tact.

    Now, a 6-year old pseudobulb is not bad specially if it has leaves to contribute to the plant's growth. However, as far as cattleyas go, a bloomed pseudobulb will never bloom again. And I grow orchids for their flowers, not to break records for longest lived pseudobulbs.
    So cutting away some of the old pseudobulbs along the center of the plant will encourage new growths to emerge from the center.
    This will also open up the airflow and provide a healthier growing environment for the plant.

    The key to pruning is to cut away only what needs to be removed. Each pseudobulb and leaf you remove is one food factory and storage system that is lost. You have to decide if the benefits of encouraging new growths in that section will outweigh the loss of old growth.

    Now, on to the pictures.

    Here are the Before & After pictures. The left one is before pruning, the right one is after pruning.


    Notice the dark shadows at the base of the plant. There is so little light in there that the new growths tend to be leggy as they are forced to reach for the light.
    The new growths are also being crushed by the older pseudobulbs.
    Another issue is that the old, dead roots are crowding the base that the new roots are forced to wander farther out in order to reach the potting medium. Some even make it all the way to the basket's edge before attaching.




    This new growth in the middle was stunted due to overcrowding and lack of light.


    In this picture, I have already cut away selected old pseudobulbs along the center of the plant.
    This allows me to identify any problem roots and further evaluate the plant if I need to cut away any more old pseudobulbs.
    I removed 4 old pseudobulbs, and removed the leaves on 3 old pseudobulbs.
    Its looking better already.

    Note: Cut the pseudobulbs above the dormant eyes. This gives the pseudobulbs a chance to produce new growths as well.


    We are not done yet. The roots need some cleanup too.
    Here I identified some dead roots and determined how to remove them. I am using a plant tag to point to a dead root for this picture.
    This is the method that worked best for me:
    1. Cut the dead root right at the pseudobulb.
    2. Use needle-nose pliers to pull the root out of the potting mix. Be careful to minimize damage to healthy roots.
    3. Most of the time, I can pull the entire dead fibrous root core and the dead, spongy velamen disintegrates during the process.
    4. Sometimes the dead root snags on a healthy root. So I decided to just cut away as much of the dead root as I can and left the remainder under the potting mix. It will decompose over time. What matters most is that you remove the clutter of dead roots between the rhizome and the top of the potting medium. This will allow the new roots the shortest possible route to the potting medium.


    So this is what we have so far. Old pseudobulbs removed, dead roots cleaned up.
    You can see now how much light reaches the base of the plant.
    You can also see how much plant material I removed.

    Also notice how leggy the new growths are. The next batch of new growths should not need to grow this long as they should have plenty of light the next time around.


    The final step is to use training wires to have the new growths point up and provide a better plant presentation and you have the final product.



    I hope you enjoyed this post.

  2. #2
    Brutal_Dreamer's Avatar
    Brutal_Dreamer is online now Dreaming with my eyes open...
    Real Name
    Bruce Brown
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    Default

    I enjoyed it very much! Will you come and do that to all of my cattleyas? They need it so very much.

    Haha! Nice work, John. Looks like you could easily turn this into a how to article for the forum's article library if you would like.

    Cheers,
    BD

  3. #3
    catttan's Avatar
    catttan is offline Senior Member
    Real Name
    Yew-Sung
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    Outside 24/7
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    cattleyas, vandaceous,paphios
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    Kedah, Peninsular Malaysia
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    Fascinating, John. A very good idea for growing specimens of sympodials. And an excellent photo tutorial as well. Thanks.

  4. #4
    Tom-19951's Avatar
    Tom-19951 is offline Senior Member
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    Tom
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    Almost all species...
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    Certainly it is not the traditional way to prun/groom a Cattleya. I would love to see an update in six months or a year. Very interesting, John. Thanks.

  5. #5
    Tmai's Avatar
    Tmai is offline Ya'll are funnin' me!
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    Great thinking post, John. Thanks for the info. Everyone should gain a bit of knowledge from your post, and maybe some new ideas too. Thanks!
    Tami

  6. #6
    delphiguy's Avatar
    delphiguy is offline Senior Member
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    Nice one John.... really informative. Im bookmarking this. Thanks.

  7. #7
    wetfeet101b's Avatar
    wetfeet101b is offline It's not dead! It's just permanently dormant.
    Real Name
    John
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    Cattleya, Cymbidium
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    Orchid Update:

    Here is the same orchid 15 months later.
    It has already bloomed twice since, and it is growing bigger than ever.



  8. #8
    Jef09071984's Avatar
    Jef09071984 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by wetfeet101b View Post
    1st Disclaimer: This is NOT for the faint of heart. The following information may contain graphic and disturbing images. Viewer discretion is advised.

    2nd Disclaimer: This is a very controversial topic, with some camps insisting that this is heresy in the orchid world, while some agree that this is necessary for orchids that are kept in the safe confines of a garden.
    The more common solution is to periodically divide the orchid into smaller plants to address overcrowding.
    I am not preaching orchid pruning. I am merely providing information on alternative solutions.

    Here are some pictures of a large cattleya plant that I plan on growing as a specimen.
    I pruned the plant due to the following reasons:

    1. The center of the basket was getting too crowded, that there are no new growths emerging from the center. The last two new leads that tried to grow from the center were so deprived of light that they ended up being contorted and twisted as they tried to snake their way around the old pseudobulbs to find light.

    2. Due to the crowded conditions in the center, there is poor air circulation and this could lead to secondary issues such as the plant staying wet for too long, as well as fungus and critter issues.

    3. The new robust growths are emerging from the edges of the plant, and are on the side of the basket. This could eventually lead to a "ring of flowers" appearance on the plant where you have blooming pseudobulbs only along the edges of the plant, but none up top.
    Its like a bald spot for orchids.

    In nature, the old pseudobulbs would have faded already, clearing room for new growths in the center.
    However, in the pampered conditions of a garden the pseudobulbs can outlive their natural life spans.
    The oldest pseudobulbs on this particular plant are about 6 years old - some still with leaves in tact.

    Now, a 6-year old pseudobulb is not bad specially if it has leaves to contribute to the plant's growth. However, as far as cattleyas go, a bloomed pseudobulb will never bloom again. And I grow orchids for their flowers, not to break records for longest lived pseudobulbs. So cutting away some of the old pseudobulbs along the center of the plant will encourage new growths to emerge from the center.
    This will also open up the airflow and provide a healthier growing environment for the plant.

    The key to pruning is to cut away only what needs to be removed. Each pseudobulb and leaf you remove is one food factory and storage system that is lost. You have to decide if the benefits of encouraging new growths in that section will outweigh the loss of old growth.

    Now, on to the pictures.

    Here are the Before & After pictures. The left one is before pruning, the right one is after pruning.


    Notice the dark shadows at the base of the plant. There is so little light in there that the new growths tend to be leggy as they are forced to reach for the light.
    The new growths are also being crushed by the older pseudobulbs.
    Another issue is that the old, dead roots are crowding the base that the new roots are forced to wander farther out in order to reach the potting medium. Some even make it all the way to the basket's edge before attaching.




    This new growth in the middle was stunted due to overcrowding and lack of light.


    In this picture, I have already cut away selected old pseudobulbs along the center of the plant.
    This allows me to identify any problem roots and further evaluate the plant if I need to cut away any more old pseudobulbs.
    I removed 4 old pseudobulbs, and removed the leaves on 3 old pseudobulbs.
    Its looking better already.

    Note: Cut the pseudobulbs above the dormant eyes. This gives the pseudobulbs a chance to produce new growths as well.


    We are not done yet. The roots need some cleanup too.
    Here I identified some dead roots and determined how to remove them. I am using a plant tag to point to a dead root for this picture.
    This is the method that worked best for me:
    1. Cut the dead root right at the pseudobulb.
    2. Use needle-nose pliers to pull the root out of the potting mix. Be careful to minimize damage to healthy roots.
    3. Most of the time, I can pull the entire dead fibrous root core and the dead, spongy velamen disintegrates during the process.
    4. Sometimes the dead root snags on a healthy root. So I decided to just cut away as much of the dead root as I can and left the remainder under the potting mix. It will decompose over time. What matters most is that you remove the clutter of dead roots between the rhizome and the top of the potting medium. This will allow the new roots the shortest possible route to the potting medium.


    So this is what we have so far. Old pseudobulbs removed, dead roots cleaned up.
    You can see now how much light reaches the base of the plant.
    You can also see how much plant material I removed.

    Also notice how leggy the new growths are. The next batch of new growths should not need to grow this long as they should have plenty of light the next time around.

    The final step is to use training wires to have the new growths point up and provide a better plant presentation and you have the final product.


    I hope you enjoyed this post.
    Hi John, I really love your session on this, it really makes fun and very in formative to read (the highlighted one gives me a nice laugh). This is great very very good documention. Kudos John!

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