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Aerial Roots

This is a discussion on Aerial Roots within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I've been reading up on how to care for aerial roots to make sure they ...

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  1. #1
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    Default Aerial Roots

    I've been reading up on how to care for aerial roots to make sure they don't shrivel, but no matter what I do, I seem to lose them eventually. I have a mister and I try to keep the plants that need the most humidity closest to it, which inevitably leaves some further away. If they're not near the mister, I use a hand held one when I remember to. Any tips to keep these roots alive? I never really thought much of them until I became more familiar with orchid culture, and now I'm worried about being a bad plant mommy!

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    Well, I'm not an expert but I've noticed that you just sometimes lose roots, so that others can take their place. I have a few mounted species where the roots actually seem to be leading to the areas with the most moisture (from my humidifier). It could however be a problem with your water. What kind of water are you using? Too many salts or dissolved minerals can damage roots and plants and lead the plants to the trash can. If you're using tap water, try distilled or RO water...

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    I use filtered water and my plants are thriving, I think the aerial roots just aren't getting the total moisture they need. I have a few that are doing just fine but I've lost some. Maybe it's the circle of life

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    I mist until the velamen on the root turns clear and I can see the green in the root. Now, that is not always possible, especially with the little wirey rooted species. But, for the most part, a soaked aerial root will change color when it is soaked enough.
    Don

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    Aerial roots develop a different velamen (covering) than roots submerged in potting mix. Aerial roots are not designed to have water applied directly to them, but rather are like a sponge that soaks up the "humidity"...which is why some use small pebble humidity trays under their indoor plants.

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    Not designed? So I guess in nature rain does not get on aerial roots? Hmmmmm.

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    yes but lets say a phal in nature, will grow roots and attach them to a tree or something and all this roots will be aerial. and all of this roots will be exposed to the same condition as the other roots. But when you grow them in pots like mos of us do, orchids will grow roots in the media and aerial roots; the roots in the media will most likely die if you unpot the plant and treat them as aerial roots which they are not and the same apply to aerial roots. every time i get an orchid with aerial roots and i try to bury them in the media, they eventually die. why?? because roots grow accordingly to the conditions they are exposed to. when you grow orchids in pots, your plant grows all kinds of roots that are designed for different conditions.

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    ...and that is why I decided to only grow mounted orchids. It's much easier to simulate nature with a sprinkle now and then and use a humidifier. I'm also trying natural fertilizers as well (bird droppings, worm castings, leaf debris, mixed in with the water I'm sprinkling with. Afterall that's how they do it, right??? You can also check the species native growing habitat (location) to see when the rainy / dry periods are. The species growing in areas with dry spells usually have a dormant (dry) time as well, I've noticed.

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    I think they just like to wave their little arms in the air...

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    HAHA, like they just don't care!!

    You often read that roots of epiphetic orchids need air - this includes the roots we have forced to grown inside pots (against their nature). Media sthat breaks down fills in those areas betweed the bark nuggets and cuts down the air spaces available to the roots - hence they rot. Well, actually all roots need air. Tree roots need air, if you pile a bunch of earth on top of an existing tree base, you will suffocate the tree eventually.

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