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Cattleya with no roots

This is a discussion on Cattleya with no roots within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; I have a little laeliocattleya that's in really bad shape. It has two good pseudobulbs ...

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  1. #1
    Sequoia's Avatar
    Sequoia is offline Junior Member
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    Default Cattleya with no roots

    I have a little laeliocattleya that's in really bad shape. It has two good pseudobulbs left, but with no leaves, and it has basically no good roots. It has twice sent up new growth within the past 6 months or so, but both times the growths died. They went brown and soft and wilted - all I can think is that water got into the cracks in the new leaves without my noticing.

    Does anyone have any advice about how I could encourage this plant to put out new growth and roots? I would really like to save this plant - it is really beautiful in bloom, and it was my first orchid. I currently have it sitting in spagnum moss, which I water every couple days, letting the moss dry out before soaking it again. I also try to mist around the base of the plant because it dries out pretty quick. It has some old roots on it still, which I think are dead, but which I'm terrified to take off because it has no good roots and I don't want to remove its last roots just in case they are taking in something for the plant. These roots are brown and the outer covering is breaking off in places, showing the threadlike thing that's in the center - so they're probably pretty much certainly dead, I guess.

    So what should I do with this plant? Any advice would be very greatly appreciated! I'm determined to save this plant if I can.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    cindiras's Avatar
    cindiras is offline Senior Member
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    Check the forum General Orchid Culture for water culture. That may work better for you than sphagnum moss.

  3. #3
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    Cjcorner is offline Senior Member
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    Water culture may be the answer...but you may want to be extra careful and use some fungicide/bacteriacide just in case as well. I've had this happen and wrung my hands as they slowly died. Recently I'd thrown the "carcass" of a cattleya just as you described, it landed in a dark spot that holds water a little and it grew this huge new root and then a new growth. I've placed it in an old pill bottle with hydroton and it's doing really well. you may give it a try...course, they may just end up dying anyways, but it may not. You never know...

  4. #4
    Lambert's Avatar
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    I am in the process of reviving a 3 pseudolbulbs/no leaves/rootless laelia ...
    What is working for me in this extreme case is a small plastic pot, a little bit of sphag at the bottom but not in contact with the plant, clay pellets and charcoal (it is antiseptic)
    on top of the sphag.
    The whole thing is really a thin layer at the bottom of the pot just to keep some humidity.
    "Paint" the base of the p-bulbs with a weak solution of rooting hormone, and put the pot in a humid, warm and somewhat shaded spot with some air flow.
    Put the plant in the pot, no need to stabilize it at this point.
    Once in a while remove the plant and wet the substrate.
    General humidity is more important than a wet substrate for now.
    When an dormant "eye" wakes up, be very careful not to get it wet.
    As you have unfortunately experienced it, water can easily lodge itself in the new growth and rot it.
    No need to mist the base of the plant anyway since there is no roots, the only thing you can do is to try and gently clean up the rooting hormone once a new growth starts
    as I have read that too much of it can inhibit root growth on the new lead.
    Once the new lead has grown enough, you can stake the p-bulbs in what will be the permanent pot with whatever substrate you want, and move it
    to a brighter location.
    No need for a big pot!
    Good luck and patience, it is a tougher rescue without any leaves but your orchid may pull through. Keep us posted ...

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the advice! I'll try setting it up like that tonight and hopefully it'll pull through! Just two more questions - should I cut off the old roots? And might it work without rooting powder, or will the powder give it a much better chance?

    Thanks

  6. #6
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    If you have a doubt about whether the old roots are viable or not, then don't cut anything ... just the ones that are black and/or mushy.
    Because there are no leaves and maybe no good roots, this is a race against time ... the p-bulbs will have to feed/sustain the new growth,
    until it grows some roots, so you want to have a new growth starting as soon as possible, hence the rooting powder which will accelerate the process.
    If you had leaves and more than 2 p-bulbs, the rooting powder would not be necessary.

  7. #7
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    Sometimes they say that if you keep a plant on the drier side watering-wise, it will encourage it to put out new roots sooner, which will aid the eventual recovery of the plant. Since u said u have had problems with rot, I don't think moss is tge media you want to be using. I would use something very quick draining and less water retentive like large chip bark and just water it every 4-5 days or week. Humidity will also help in this case to prevent the plant from drying out and whithering too much bc it is currently losing water but not able to take up any bc it has no roots. Also keep it out of ant direct sun, that will stress it too much. Good luck! Don't give up on it, it just needs time and your patience.
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