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Orchids in the ICU over Thanksgiving

This is a discussion on Orchids in the ICU over Thanksgiving within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; I believe many, if not all, of those orchids will bloom again. Despite the lack ...

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  1. #21
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    I believe many, if not all, of those orchids will bloom again. Despite the lack of roots, you've got them looking pretty good already. The pseudobulbs still look nice and plump. You've got them on the way to recovery. Some may even bloom sooner than you think. And then you can put the correct tag.

  2. #22
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    Your hard seems to be paying off.
    Keep it up, looks like you are on your way to saving whats left.
    D

  3. #23
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    Maura,

    When I first started collecting orchids, I fretted a lot over root loss. Every new acquisition, no matter the source or genera, lost roots after I brought it home. Some became completely rootless, others lost most of their roots, almost none maintained the full root ball they came with. It didn't matter what I did, leave it in it original pot, repot immediately, more water or less--I'd like to say that I have now arrived at a magic formula to prevent root loss but that would be a lie. Perhaps now that I've learned some appropriate watering habits, the plants suffer less during their transition, but the roots still die back in my environment.

    And yet, I've lost very few plants over all. ( I am a LONG ways away from the expert status achieved by killing one's own weight in orchids.) Frankly, the quickest way for me to kill an orchid is to sphag & bag it—invariably leads to rot for me. After I posted here in a panic over root loss on several miniature cattleyas, Amey gave me a gentle shake and told me to put them in empty clay pots, keep the humidity high and airflow good and leave them be. I did this with 11 orchids initially and even though I neglected their humidity level for a time after I had surgery, only 1 of these plants died. As the others began to grow roots, I potted them up and several have gone on to rebloom. If I had expected them to change dramatically in 3 weeks, I would have been SORELY disappointed. One lingered in its empty clay pot completely rootless for over 8 months before finally sprouting. After failing to kill orchids despite decimating their root systems, I mellowed out a lot and now if their media is in good condition, I don't even remove them from their pots after a massive root loss.

    After reading a post by Geoff about acquiring orchids in the days before commercial propagation, I had something of an epiphany. Vendors would collect orchids, remove most of their roots, put them through a drying process and then post them bare root overseas, sometimes for weeks. Geoff (and any orchidist at the time) could only give them a soak upon arrival and then set them aside and practice patience.

    It occurred to me then that the roots my orchids were arriving with simply weren't appropriate for my conditions. The plant wasn't dying when it lost roots, it was just adjusting to its new environment. Orchids really are hard to kill. A local friend of mine has given me several orchids from his greenhouse—some magnificent specimens with fat shiny pbulbs and 6+ spikes and just a tiny sprinkling of live roots when they arrive. It wasn't until I visited his greenhouse that I realized why he could have such gorgeous healthy plants with so few roots. His automatic misting system is geared toward the needs of bare root vandas—soggy and humid. His oncidiums, etc. don't need a lot of roots to thrive. Conversely, I'm sure, if I were to give him one of my plants that are accustomed to hand watering in a home environment where I struggle to achieve 60% humidity, the roots would immediately perish in his wet greenhouse.

    The orchids you have pictured look remarkably well-hydrated. If they were mine, I would mist or briefly soak them with seaweed extract & superthrive, stake and clip them securely in pots, and fill the pots with regular media to just touching the rhizome and then carry on as usual with special attention only to keeping humidity high. (At least with the oncid and catts, I have not tried this with paphs.) If you don't have good experience with sphag (neither do I) I would avoid any sort of enclosure with plants lying on wet sphag. It's not easy to provide sufficient air exchange and I'm convinced sphag & bag only works for those who have mastered keeping sphag appropriately moist. I seem doomed to either make it soggy or let it dry out.

    I haven't posted much regarding your recent encounter because I've been struggling to process and understand what really happened to your collection. I just can't register if it was a result of poor care or direct maliciousness. Based on my experience with root loss, it could have just been the natural response to a change in environment from your apartment to her greenhouse. The appearance of the orchids in your photos seem to support that possibility. As any orchid in my collection can attest, it is nearly impossible to put them near death in a matter of 5 weeks, barring aggressive rot, and once they are rootless AND suffering dehydration, no amount of attention will rehydrate them to the level of plumpness yours show in a mere 3 weeks. In my mind, it is possible that this woman was just a terrible orchid keeper and everything in her collection is infested ( I have another friend that is in complete denial about the severity of the bug problem in their greenhouse). Certainly, the removal of so many tags could only be sabotage, so that can't be disregarded. But, I cannot wrap my brain around how one would go about maliciously and deliberately infesting plants with bugs and fungus in one's own greenhouse.

    Please don't take my post as demeaning or disbelieving. Here from the other end of the internet with only your photos above to illustrate the situation, I realize my post seems to imply that you were overreacting when you retrieved your orchids from this person. That is not my intent at all. If anything, I am acknowledging that you must have better natural orchid-keeping ability than I do, and consequently have not encountered much ordinary root loss or the orchid's extraordinary will to live and ability to recover. Your orchids are not dying—the ones pictured look better than half the orchids I have blooming right now. Patience, grasshopper.

    I hope Phillip feels better soon.

  4. #24
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    I am a LONG ways away from the expert status achieved by killing one's own weight in orchids.
    This is new to me! I will post this in my local OS newsletter!
    I just can't register if it was a result of poor care or direct maliciousness.
    My comment is BOTH!
    I hope Phillip feels better soon.
    Tell him we miss him!!!!!!! (Can I call him Bigfoot too?)
    If you move to Florida that would be great!
    Jose

  5. #25
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    Wow, Kassie - what an epic post! Thank you for all the time you put into it. I agree that it's really hard to believe someone could deliberately set out to kill orchids out of malice, but there are a lot of other things going on with her that have forced me to believe the unbelievable. As an officer of the local orchid society, AND the official photographer for the AOS judging center here, she certainly knows how crucial the tags are. In addition to that, she didn't get even one acceptable shot of my Miltassia that won the HCC/AOS, and has, as a result, blocked the award from becoming official. The plant that was in the worst shape was just that plant, and she had cut off almost all the leaves, four spikes that were budding, and the pseudobulbs were rotting from the inside out. I sent it to a special nursery for recovery and the owner there, a very experienced grower who has won a lot of awards over the past 30 years, was shocked. He wanted me to report her to our society, but I can't because she has too much power. I've tried to work with her on the photo, but her responses have become nastier and nastier. As for whether she is just a lousy orchid grower, it's hard to argue that, especially since she also had about 15 of Phillip's orchids and she returned them in fabulous condition, fully tagged and thriving. I do think she is extraordinarily impaired in her orchid growing skills - when she showed us her greenhouse, all the plants she claimed to have had for years had had various incidents that destroyed them, and she had to read all the tags of her plants before she could tell us what they were. One theory is that she simply throws out the plants she kills on a regular basis and buys new ones. Hard to believe that someone with a greenhouse that is a replica of Kew Gardens, and who has been ostensibly growing orchids for years and years, would be so inept, but there it is.

    With regard to my orchids looking as good as they do, believe me, they had full root systems and were clean and healthy when I left them. I have thrown out about 40 of those that were beyond recovery, and the rest were in tough shape when I picked them up. I have been working on them day and night since then, just to get them to the stage they're at.

    I only have one experience with sphag & bag - and it was a mini-catt that died a swift, rotting death - one of the reasons I'm so reluctant to do it now. I would certainly take any advice from Amey very seriously, and I think I'm going to conduct a controlled experiment by trying both methods to see which of them I have the most luck with. It's taken awhile for me to process this whole thing, but I think I'm pretty much over it - there's just a lot of work left to do, and I've learned to accept that part of growing orchids is losing them, so that was a big step forward.

    I do grow my orchids in my apartment and, in good weather, outside on a small deck, so no greenhouse - just humidifiers, fans, and growlights as adjuncts to the light I get naturally. But one of the things I'm finding is that when your orchids are in your living room and bedroom, you have no choice but to look at them a lot, which prompts me to keep them groomed and healthy. By the way, I have had some experience with root loss myself, generally a result of changes in environment, but it's only happened to 5 or 6 of the plants I've brought home. The rest have adapted well. And I've also learned how to choose my plants more carefully - something I didn't have the knowledge or skills to do at the beginning.

    You hit the nail right on the head with your emphasis on patience - it's something I struggle with constantly, and I'm consciously trying to use it now.

    Phillip is still very sick - after about 36 hours in the hospital, he's still pretty delirious, coughing and oxygen-deprived. That's just another opportunity for both of us to practice patience.

    I hope this helps to elucidate some of the murkier facets of this whole incident - I still hate to think that anyone would do so much damage on purpose, but I think winning too many ribbons and an AOS award as a newcomer must have triggered some resentment - somewhat understandably, I guess. Time for all of us to move forward now - I've forgiven her for the most part, but I'm still very disappointed about the AOS award she's held up. I have no idea what will happen on that. The two other plants awarded that day were photographed competently and have already been finalized....

    I can't say how much I appreciate your time, effort, and support - it's truly inspiring. Thank you

    Maura

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jose R. Nieves View Post
    This is new to me! I will post this in my local OS newsletter!

    My comment is BOTH!

    Tell him we miss him!!!!!!! (Can I call him Bigfoot too?)
    If you move to Florida that would be great!
    Jose
    Hi Jose - Absolutely, you can call him Bigfoot - I think he likes the notoriety. Moving south is still a fantasy at the moment, but one never knows how things will turn out - and I have finally realized that that's a good thing. I will tell Phillip you're asking after him - he appreciates everyone's concern.

    Thanks for all the positive energy - it helps - a lot - and I'm sending it right back at you, amigo.

    Maura

  7. #27
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    Love and kisses to both of you!
    Jose

  8. #28
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    Hi Maura since you are backed now you can slowly begin your project, get the plants put according to their genera and follow the instruction how to repot again. Dont worried I had many similar cases like this most important thing are to keep them moist and not wet and under 60 to 70% shade its always worked for me, since your plants so healthy that are bonus for you within a weeks to months depending on the genera they will come out new roots just be patience and take care the new roots. Hoping your husband will doing well and recover very fast with the antibiotic and antifailure drugs.

  9. #29
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    Thanks everyone, for all the advice and support. Phillip is still very sick, even with i.v. antibiotics; I think he'll be in the hospital for at least a few days - maybe more.

    Sounds like I need to see some worse-looking plants than mine - I can only compare them to how they looked when I left them at the beginning of October - and they looked a lot better then. Got to get a handle on this obsessive-compulsive perfectionist streak I have.....

  10. #30
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    Marua, our prayers continue for Bigfoot's improvement. We also continue to root for your orchids (pun intended!).

    Just remember the best revenge is a life well lived and imagine the look on the wicked witch's face next year when you win another award or two!

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