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  • 1 Post By SusanLee
  • 3 Post By Chris in Hamilton
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  • 9 Post By raybark

orchid root question

This is a discussion on orchid root question within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; when I spray the aerial roots on my phals the silvery wrinkled roots absorb water ...

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  1. #1
    SusanLee is offline Member
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    Default orchid root question

    when I spray the aerial roots on my phals the silvery wrinkled roots absorb water and turn green while the newer roots seem to repel water. What's going on? are the roots that absorb the water healthy? is this normal? thanks for any and all replies.

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    Chris in Hamilton is online now Senior Member
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    Tis' normal. The green tips have not developed the gray skin (vellum) yet. That absorbs and holds the water until the plant takes it up. Should the plant have enough water and that covering stays wet root rot may develop.

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    SusanLee is offline Member
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    Thanks for that info. It is the entire length of the new roots that repel the water, not just the tips. Some of these newer roots are 3 to 4 inches long. Just seems like a strange phenomena. Then again, orchids themselves are kinda strange in that one has to throw out everything one knows about terrestrial house plants.....'cause orchids are so different. Fascinating but different.

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    You can soak them and likely in less than 20 minutes they will be green. It probably would be a good thing to do to help them be healthy. Use slightly warm water. Just be sure to get the excess water out of the axis of the leaves and stem as well as the crown. This will avoid crown rot from soaking it and getting water in dangerous places. I use the corner of a paper napkin or paper towel.

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    Velamen is an array of dead cells, sort-of like the very top layer of our skin (although we tend to lose them rapidly, while on an orchid they serve a strategic purpose). Aged vellum will be more porous than new stuff, so may take a little coaxing to begin to absorb well. Spray, wait 15 minutes, and respray, and you'll see it do a better job.

    There was a study once that showed that velamen has the unique ability to strongly trap nutrient ions. When you consider that the nutrients washed out of the forest canopy are only present at the instant a downpour begins, the ability to grab them before the continuing torrent washes them away is a great adaptation. It's also evidence that "watering first, then feeding" is a mistake: water first, and the velamen gets saturated, trapping whatever ions are in the water. Then feed, and there are fewer, if any, places for the intended nutrient ions to go.

    Watering with a very dilute fertilizer solution routinely - flooding the plant each time, just as happens in nature - seems to me to be a far better way to irrigate. And, it's easier, because you never have to be concerned about a feeding schedule!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybark View Post
    Velamen is an array of dead cells, sort-of like the very top layer of our skin (although we tend to lose them rapidly, while on an orchid they serve a strategic purpose). Aged vellum will be more porous than new stuff, so may take a little coaxing to begin to absorb well. Spray, wait 15 minutes, and respray, and you'll see it do a better job.

    There was a study once that showed that velamen has the unique ability to strongly trap nutrient ions. When you consider that the nutrients washed out of the forest canopy are only present at the instant a downpour begins, the ability to grab them before the continuing torrent washes them away is a great adaptation. It's also evidence that "watering first, then feeding" is a mistake: water first, and the velamen gets saturated, trapping whatever ions are in the water. Then feed, and there are fewer, if any, places for the intended nutrient ions to go.

    Watering with a very dilute fertilizer solution routinely - flooding the plant each time, just as happens in nature - seems to me to be a far better way to irrigate. And, it's easier, because you never have to be concerned about a feeding schedule!
    I so appreciate this response. Growing orchids I learned very quickly about the velamen but never knew exactly why this was the case. It was interesting to read about the evolution and how these amazing plants so readily adapt to their environment.

    cheers,
    BD

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    thanks, that's good information to have.

    ---------- Post Merged at 09:39 PM ----------

    thank you so much for that information. I do use a dilute fertilizer every time I water and I've started using Super Thrive too. But I have given the orchids a break from fertilizer for a few weeks. Just flooding the pots and misting with plain water. Its good to know that the velamen captures nutrients that way.

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