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How do you know...

This is a discussion on How do you know... within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; How do you know if your plant is dying or if it's just dying off ...

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  1. #1
    helenmcdonough is offline Junior Member
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    Default How do you know...

    How do you know if your plant is dying or if it's just dying off for a short time to rebloom later (don't know the proper term)?

    And if it is going to rebloom, should I care for it the same as before?

  2. #2
    LJA's Avatar
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    Hi Helen--what kind of orchid is it? Is there any kind of label in the pot? If so, what does it say?

    Many orchids are deciduous, losing their leaves on old growths just before putting out a new growth spurt, but it's going to be hard answering your question without some kind of reference to the type of plant, or a picture of it, if you have a digital camera and can post one. (That would be best, actually....)

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    Piper's Avatar
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    Actually, Louis,

    I've never been clear on which of the major genera have dormant periods and which remain active growers. It's related to Helen's question, so would you (or anyone else) mind piping up on that?

    Julie

  4. #4
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    "Major genera" is too broad a set, I think, to answer that one accurately, since some species and hybrids within a genus will exhibit that behavior, and some won't. A grower's conditions will play a big part in that as well. That said, monopodials like Phals and Vandas should never drop all their leaves. If they do, something is definitely wrong culturally, though the loss of a lower leaf here and there on mature plants is perfectly normal.

    A sympodial like Cycnodes, for instance, will lose all of its leaves for its winter rest before putting out a new growth, provided the grower allows the temperatures to fall low enough. If the temps aren't dropped, the plants will carry their leaves into the begining of the next season, well after new growth has already started.

    Many nobile dendrobiums can also lose all the leaves on an older cane just before budding, and if you don't expect that, it's easy to think that your normally slow-growing plant is suddenly dying in front of your eyes in a matter of days. However, many within the genus Dendrobium won't do that, especially the ones that don't especially require a cold winter rest to initiate buds.

    A host of Cypripediums and other genera native to the US will die back to "roots and rhizomes" come winter, leaving virtually nothing left alive above ground.

    To my knowledge though, all orchids go through some kind of rest period after putting out new growth and / or blooming, a time when they seem hung in suspended animation and appear to be doing absolutely nothing. During that time, they might drop leaves or even allow entire growths to die back in preparation for another growth spurt, either next growing season, or, in the case of some hybrids that can rebloom a couple times in one season (some in the Catt alliance, some Oncidium intergenerics), next month. The usual practice is to water just enough to keep any pseudobulbs from shriveling, and only resume normal watering and fertilizing when the plant itself has given you the go-ahead by putting out new roots, growths, or buds.

    I'm sure others with experience growing specific genera can elaborate more on this, since very few of the sympodials I grow here die back to bare bulbs on a seasonal cycle.

    Without knowing what kind of plant Helen is growing, there's really no way to answer whether what's happening is normal for that type, or whether she's doing something wrong culturally. For example, if it's a Phal dropping all of its leaves, or a Dendrobium dropping all of its leaves on new growth, my first guess would be an overwatering / root rot or underwatering problem. No one can say though, without having more info.

    (BTW, I can't pipe. But I can sure blow pretty good. )

  5. #5
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    JB_Orchidguy is offline Senior Member
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    I agree with Louis, more info is needed. If it is one thing I have learned is that its not an all or nothing thing with orchids. Louis I could be wrong here, but I think I remember reading about a deciduous type of phal species. Now maybe it was someone just making that remark because they just killed their's. I can't remember. I don't think it was a hybred and I don't think it was one of the common ones. Although I do think there is one of the species that do drop all its leaves. Although I don't remember the name and I knowI don't have one. Can someone elaborate? Again I will say I more than likely wrong, but that is what I read a while ago.

  6. #6
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    Josh, you may very well be right--though such a Phal is unknown to me.

    One of the most frustrating things about discussing these plants is the need to always qualify one's statements. Like you said, nothing about them is ever "always" or "never." I should have qualified my statements above.

    If you or anyone knows of any deciduous monopodials, genus, species, please post back--it would be great to get that info.

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    I have a species zygopetalum that's deciduous and I learned that many of the hybrids aren't. Thought that was kind of weird.

    I was asking about dormant periods, Louis, and you responded about deciduous plants - don't certain non-deciduous 'chids have dormant periods as well? (Aside from the universal rest after blooming.) I'm only asking because mine all grow in my apt. I have varying light levels in different rooms and the temps are cooler in the winter and especially at night in the winter, but otherwise they get the same treatment (apart from watering.)

    Quote Originally Posted by lja
    (BTW, I can't pipe. But I can sure blow pretty good. )
    Yeah? So? I can finger, squeeze and blow (all at the same time.)

    Julie


    Quote Originally Posted by lja
    (BTW, I can't pipe. But I can sure blow pretty good. )

  8. #8
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    don't certain non-deciduous 'chids have dormant periods as well?
    Sure. but that's their resting time. I answered both questions. "Dormancy" is any time when they're not in active growth, usually happens after active growth and blooming, coincides with winter, and on the deciduous plants, causes them to lose their leaves. I don't know of any orchid that doesn't have some kind of rest period or dormancy. All it looks like is the plant just sitting there, doing nothing. What didn't I answer?

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    Sorry,

    Just got confused. (Happens with alarming frequency.) If the rest period is typically after blooming, I'd think all the gazillions of spring bloomers would be resting in the summer, not the winter. Why then would it coincide with winter?

    Julie

  10. #10
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    Some of the spring bloomers do rest in summer. Some of them bloom in spring on a previous growth, then put out new growth without resting, then rest over winter. Others bloom in spring, put out new growth at the same time, rest, bloom again and put out new growth in late summer or early fall, and then rest again. Some bloom in the middle of winter, and rest the first half of spring. *In general*, dormancy coincides with late fall and winter; the Phrags here, for instance, aren't doing much then and the deciduous plants lose their leaves, but it sure doesn't necessarily have to. Just depends on the kind of plant and when it normally blooms.

    A lot of hybridizing has been done (notably with Catts) for no other reason than to change a plant's blooming season so that it coincides with one of our major holidays for the cut flower market. So dormancy for a particular plant begins during any season when that plant has stopped its active growth. Dormancy ends when the plant either puts out new roots, growths, or buds. It can happen any month or season of the year, and will depend on genetics and growing conditions.

    Keep in mind too that I'm using "dormancy" and "rest period" synonymously. A true "dormancy" however, should best be applied, I think, to those plants that are deciduous, typically putting out new growth and blooming during spring, summer, and fall, then losing their leaves down to bare bulbs or rhizomes with the onset of cold over winter.

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