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Newbie: Clear Sticky Droplets on Phal Spikes

This is a discussion on Newbie: Clear Sticky Droplets on Phal Spikes within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; As a former biology teacher, I have a different view of the nectar, or honeydew, ...

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  1. #11
    wuness is offline Member
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    As a former biology teacher, I have a different view of the nectar, or honeydew, that is often found near the orchid flowers. My feeling is that the drops of nectar are designed to draw ants to the vicinity of the flower. By enticing ants to this free food source, the orchid benefits because the ants will fiercely protect this food resource and drive all other insects away, including insects such as beetles who might otherwise devour the flower. (As a side note, evolutionary theory suggests that beetles may have played an important role in the evolution of the pistil. The theory suggests their herbivorous ways led to the evolution of the cylindrical shape of the contemporary pistil as a way to protect the developing seeds inside. But that's another story.)

    I don't believe the nectar droplets are large enough to trap any insects of any size. Nor do I believe attracting pollinators is an important function. Nectar inside the flower, as well as smells, shapes, and colors do that. I also don't believe that the nectar droplets encourage ants to bring aphids and scales to the plant. After all, if the nectar droplets are bubbling to the surface and free for the asking, why would an ant bother with aphids and scales? If you have aphids and scales on your orchids, I think that's a separate issue entirely. If ants are there with the aphids and scales, the latter drew the ants rather than the other way around.

    In my view, these nectar droplets are a natural part of the orchid defense strategy that would have been important in the natural habitat of the ancestors of the orchids we grow in our hobby. Wash them away if you will. We go to great expense to wash away our natural secretions as well.

    If you are interested in an extended discussion of this idea, and some additional comments from other posters, I started a thread recently entitled "Orchids, ants and extra-floral nectaries." It's located in the "General Orchid Culture" forum.

  2. #12
    strzyga12 is offline Junior Member
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    Hi everyone,

    I had a very similar situation to one described by Andrea at the beginning. I'm glad to know that my orchid is happy

    Still, I'm quite concerned about it as recently its bottom leaves become soft and are loosing their turgor. I had this plant for more than a year and nothing has changed in the way I care about it. It stands at the south window and is soaked in the warm water once a week.

    I would really appreciate any suggestions at what may be wrong with it.

    Thanks,
    Klaudyna

  3. #13
    78Terp's Avatar
    78Terp is offline An Avant Gardner
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    Hi Klaudyna-
    If you could post a picture or 2, it always helps figure out problems.

    And welcome!

  4. #14
    strzyga12 is offline Junior Member
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    I'm not able to post the photos don't know why, but they are not uploading.

  5. #15
    78Terp's Avatar
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    Did you re-size them to no bigger than 700 x 525 pixels?

    Also use the little picture frame icon, just left of center above the comment entry space, to enter the picture's location.

  6. #16
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    One possibility is that it has been in the same medium too long and needs to be re-potted. Eventually the media breaks down and no longer has the same structure of bark and air that the plant needs (providing you are using bark). However, I'd agree, pictures can be a huge help. It may have disease or bugs or who knows what?

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