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When do you give up on your orchid?

This is a discussion on When do you give up on your orchid? within the Orchid Ailments / The Compost Pile forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Over the past year, I've killed a few orchids (I mean DEAD, no question), pulled ...

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  1. #1
    mauraec's Avatar
    mauraec is offline Senior Member
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    Default When do you give up on your orchid?

    Over the past year, I've killed a few orchids (I mean DEAD, no question), pulled a few through that suffered from my own lack of cultural knowledge, revived a dozen from the trash pile, and lost a beautiful paph to nasty critters in the space of a day.

    Those situations were pretty clear to me, but I feel like I'm losing my perspective in this attempt to rescue the 35 or so pathetic survivors of the "English Greenhouse Murder". One thing that's slowing me down is that I have about 20 - 25 paphs that I had tagged and numbered before I left, and most were returned to me tagless - as were all my brassia/oncidium types. I have all my plants photo'd and catelogued, but, without blooms, even I can't tell a lot of them apart. Another thing that's making it hard is that my plants were (are) all in clay pots, and I'm running out of clean clay pots, so I'd either have to buy more, or sterilize (Bleach and/or physan) the pots from the dead plants - another pretty big project.

    I've looked at all these plants so closely for the past week, I have just plain lost my ability to separate the sheep from the goats anymore. I see fungus, rot, and insect damage everywhere, even when there may well be none. And my household has suffered while this took center stage - it's a colossal mess in here.

    So.... I have both a practical and a philosophical question to throw out there: When is it time to give up? And if it's at or close to that time, how do you wind things down so you feel some closure about the plants you've rejected for rescue? I have about 18 more plants to work on, most of them paphs that are very dear to me, but, as I said, have been untagged. And it's such slow-going, I'm afraid that I have more left to do than I've actually completed.

    Everyone has been so kind and compassionate, I'll never forget such support - but now, as part of moving on, I really need to end this episode.

    Has anyone else ever experienced this kind of dilemma? What did you do? Even if you haven't actually undergone this particular trial, what would you do to bring fast closure without the regret that perfectly wonderful plants have been discarded?

    Maybe the answers here are really obvious - but they aren't to me and I could sure use some guidance.

    Thanks everyone,

    Maura

  2. #2
    pavel's Avatar
    pavel is offline change is the only constant
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    First and foremost -- whether it be to a garden, art exhibit, social function, whatever -- take a day off from dealing with the orchids to clear your head and enjoy yourself. If a plant up and dies during that time, then it was too far gone to waste time worrying about. Move on.

    Next, time for triage. And that really is where you're at. Categorizing who has the best chance of being saved and also who of those needs the attention first.

    Have Phil give the plants a look over -- roots as well as foliage. Have him winnow out by a 1/2 to a 1/3 the ones that strike him as being in the absolute worst condition. (And why am I putting Bigfoot in the hotseat? Because I suspect he will be able to be a bit more objective at this point.) Then you look at the ones he has pulled. If you recognize one of those he has culled as being one you KNOW was particularly awesome, then you can consider 'over riding' his culling to try and save it. Otherwise all the ones he has pulled -- pitch them. Don't sorrow over it and don't look back.

    Now for the remainer. First, sterilize the old clay pots. No you don't actually have to bleach or physan them. Scrub them off in the sink, put them in the oven, and bake them at 450-500F for an hour. There won't be anything alive on them by then. Once they cool, they're good to go.

    Don't worry about potting them all up right away either. Any rootless or just about rootless plants should be sphagged n bagged. More on that later if you need to but I believe there have been several posts on that should you use the search function. Any catts you have can handle being left bareroot for a week no problem, and this will allow any fungus time to dry up. Even any onc alliance plants should be okay for this. Your paphs and any phrags will be the ones you have to be the most concerned with taking care of promptly. As I don't do those, I leave it for others to chime in with what best to do for them.



  3. #3
    cdayinflorida's Avatar
    cdayinflorida is offline Senior Member
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    We have all felt like this. Well, at least I have. All that Paul mentioned are great ideas. Give yourself some time. I think when you drug it all back home that in itself was overwhelming. I've lost plants that sincerely made me want to just give up. Thinking about you

  4. #4
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    Dorsetman is online now Senior Member
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    I think I have been there Maura – more than several times – currently my plants are in poor condition for reasons which I explained in another post – mainly that I gave them no attention for several weeks at a time on more than one occasion this year ( spending my time travelling back and forth to hospital and sitting at the bedside – and later taking my wife away for a restful holiday/convalescence ) – you will see that this was not a choice situation ! There are some things you have to do.
    I pay a local guy to look after plants for me when I am away for a week or more – giving him strict instructions about which water to use, when, and on which plants, but it seems that he has developed symptoms of some kind of dementia ( he is in his mid 70s ) and neither he nor his wife thought to tell me ; he forgot what he was doing or supposed to do, and so on…
    I am now overhauling all my plants, throwing out the ones which are in a sad way – I’ll soon forget them once they are gone, whereas if they sit on the bench looking dreadful I shall keep reliving it.
    My experience in the past suggests in three months time my plants will be recovering and some will be looking good ; true I shan’t have many specimens in magnificent condition for a year or two – but hey – that’s something to look forward to.
    I don’t say that I do it for the challenge, but if it were too easy I wouldn’t be interested in orchid growing anyway.
    And look at it this way – there must be lots of plants you would like to grow, and never had room for – now you will ! Isn’t that exciting ?

  5. #5
    ang709's Avatar
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    Default

    Pavel gave very sound advice. It really does sound like you could use a fresh set of eyes right now. And if you're really questioning whether or not you see something wrong with a particular plant, you could post a photo here too.

    The missing tags aren't something you have to deal with right now, and they're not a permanent problem either since you were wise and had everything catalogued.

    Wishing you the best...

  6. #6
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    i don't have so much experience for orchid but in this situation only my suggest is leave them alone for a while...look for something to do and enjoy yourself.when you fell better,start to put everything in priority 1,2,3 and do it one-by-one.good luck/Kitty

  7. #7
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    I to have second guessed myself at times as to if all the disappointment and sorrow is worth it. All these comments prove one thing to me Maura that i think might help you a bit. It shows other people in our hobby who have lost orchids, but they have persisted and carried on to better things to come. As Geoff pointed out the next phase in your orchid cultural experience will be more satisfying than the first. Until there is a Time Machine for the purpose we can't repeat the past anyway. So naturally there is no choice but to do what you can and move on. Remember that confusion is the enemy and that with a bit of clarity ANY decision you make will be the right one. The best is yet to be! AL

  8. #8
    Teena's Avatar
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    Maura - good advice from everyone, especially the taking a day off. As far as sterilizing the pots go, if it makes you feel better you can soak them in the sink first in a weak bleach water solution, then scrub them. Then put them in the oven, turn the oven on and bring it up to 450-500F and let them bake for about an hour. I don't believe in putting cold, wet, unglazed clay objects in a hot oven. It's possible they can crack from thermal shock. Pavel is right, at that temperature nothing is going to survive. Good luck.

    martha

  9. #9
    opaline's Avatar
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    Sometimes a problem is increased and maximised because we have clouded our judgement by suffocating ourselves with Ifs and maybe's and regrets. Often I have thrown in the towel and said 'forget it' but glad i didnt once I got a good night sleep and some TIME OUT. This is how I deal with my compulsive and obsessive behaviour. You cannot control all this in one go. Think to yourself how much pleasure and enjoyment you get and how much you would miss tendering and pottering and relaxing. Its a hobby you love. Those orchids are tough. Those 24-48 hours you need to unwind will not harm the plants. Try it it will work for you.

    Visualise a series of boxes in your head, any colour you want. Each of these boxes has one task and while one box is open the others are closed. These are your comfort boxes! Put everything away, media, tools, books, chemicals thats laying around. Put it all away. This is not helping you adjust. Allocate a space in your house, put some newspaper down and lay all your plants down on their sides. Shut the door!!!!!!! While they are resting on their sides no moisture will enter crowns and axils and cause rot.

    Over the next couple of days have a breather. You are one step closer to returning to Maura and Phillip normal mode pre Maine. Spend sometime discussing your holiday, remembering the journey, where you dined and what you ate. sights and views and pleasures. Casually think of those 5 different coloured boxes. Write it down if you want. each box needs one task and one only! You can only open one box and close it each day. each box has one task relating to a step by step 1-5 solution to your challenge.
    I would -
    Mental Box one - First day remove all plants from all pots placing all bark, media in a bucket and lay plant back down on its side. This will aid a short harmless dry out period. Box one closed. Shut the door and go out.

    mental Box two - second day as Pavel suggests. give your pots an early spring clean. Thats it! have a look at your plants if you wanted.Theyre fine! You will already see progress. Starting again Maura will refresh you, your plants and Phillip. Take your time and you will soon retain some logical meaning to your passion for orchids.

    us orchid lovers will always have casualties, its part of the hobby and we cannot punish ourselves for our mistakes. We are only human. Theres a reason why orchids have been on earth for millions of years and we for a mere blink of an eye.

  10. #10
    Daethen is offline Senior Member
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    Hang in there, Maura. You have been wronged terribly but you will make it through. I agree to take a bit of time off. If a day makes a difference then they would have died anyway. I recently went through a huge scale epidemic on part of the collection. Unpotted soaked and repotted all of them in that growing area. I cleaned the clay pots out and put them in a cold oven turned it to 500 and once it reached the right temp I left them in there an hour then turned it off and let them cool inside it. I recently went to our local green house and was told by the owner that I did all the steps right. It has been a few weeks and no scale is visible. Let them rest a bit.

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