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  • 1 Post By orchidbud
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Question on Disinfecting Grow Area

This is a discussion on Question on Disinfecting Grow Area within the Orchid Ailments / The Compost Pile forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I've neglected my orchids and lost a couple that needed more frequent watering and am ...

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  1. #1
    nicki is offline Senior Member
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    Default Question on Disinfecting Grow Area

    I've neglected my orchids and lost a couple that needed more frequent watering and am losing more to some sort of black rot, bacteria or something. I grow under lights in a semi-enclosed area. I noticed some blackish spots growing on some of the surface in the enclosure too. Not sure if it s mold or mildew or what so I'm going to clean everything with a mix of bleach water.

    I have a question regarding the spread of anything nasty. Can fans circulate whatever is going on through the enclosure and spread it to other plants and areas? Is there anything else I should do when cleaning everything?
    So far it's just the bottom shelf that is having the problem. What plants are still alive, for now, I removed. None of the plants were touching and I spray Physan on them from time to time but that didn't seem to do much. I do have 2 fans running. And the humidifier has been out of commission so high humidity or excessive moisture has not been an issue. I'm not sure where the problem started or exactly what it is. I am sure there are threads here on this subject but I searched and couldn't locate them. Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    orchidbud is offline Junior Member
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    A regular spray with Physan is a good idea. you mentioned the problem was on a 'bottom shelf'. If that area is not getting good air circulation a would try to increase air movement. Not knowing the layout I would suggest a fan moving air away from the area or out of your growing area. I have two exhaust fans and a ceiling fan in our small hobby green house. You may also want to increase the spacing between your plants. I have heard it said that every orchid grower should have a cat. Give the cat room to walk between the orchid pots and your orchids will have room to breath. We don't have a cat but it helps to remember to give them a little breathing room. Good luck. Bud

  3. #3
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    silverstoli is offline Senior Member
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    Can you post some pictures?

  4. #4
    nicki is offline Senior Member
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    Here are a few pictures. I don't know how much help they will be. I didn't take any when the problem first started.
    The plants were a losing battle so I stopped caring for them but just haven't thrown them out yet. The one that had black spots all over it is now entirely black and dried. Hard to believe for the most part they were all either putting out new growths or blooms. I now have a mini graveyard of dead orchids. The last picture is the back of the fan that has some stuff growing on it.
    My enclosure is pretty small, just a couple shelves on a standing shelf. A decent sized fan per shelf which provides good airflow but I guess there could be dead spots.









  5. #5
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    kspalding is offline Senior Member
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    I had a similar problem with my orchids. I tend to buy more than I have room for and so spacing was limited. I cramped them together and unfortunately lost almost half of my orchids.

  6. #6
    nicki is offline Senior Member
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    I have a lot of bare spots now I'll wait a bit before getting new ones. I want to make sure what is left will be fine and I need to get back in routine anyway. At least it will be fun shopping for new ones

    Quote Originally Posted by kspalding View Post
    I had a similar problem with my orchids. I tend to buy more than I have room for and so spacing was limited. I cramped them together and unfortunately lost almost half of my orchids.

  7. #7
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    Cjcorner is offline Senior Member
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    You want to increase air movement and the second you see brown on a plant get it away from the others. If you allow water to drip from the upper plants onto lower plants you will see this a lot. Until a senior member came to visit my greenhouse a few years ago I had the exact problems. If you have a calendar handy, set up a spraying schedule. Go to your local gardening store and look for something that says it treats fungal and bacterial infections. You also want to look around for a systemic bug control liquid. You need to spray once a week. The best sprayers hold about two quarts and you pump them so you don't have to break your finger squirting over and over. After you have kept a regular program for a couple months you will begin to see progress. You have to segregate your sick and infected plants. I also use ear swabs and rubbing alcohol to remove any visible bug infestations. You can also line your shelves with something so the water won't drip onto lower plants. It's that or go to a single level which actually is best. It took me losing a ton of plants before I gave up on layering anything other than my vanda section. One last note, sick plants can be given raw honey with warm water. It is commonly used when rehydrating plants just received from overseas. One to two tablespoons, depending on the size of the plant to two quarts water. I add it into my fertilizer water a few times as well in the summer to give the orchids a boost. edit...Forgot to mention; I said to make sure and use the systemic bug killer because they are what is spreading your brown infection thing.

  8. #8
    Catt Mandu's Avatar
    Catt Mandu is offline Senior Member
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    Default

    Decontaminating surfaces with a wipe or spray is a good start (bleach solution or Physan may be appropriate, depending on your circumstances; depends on if the solution might drip on a surface that could be damaged by bleach).

    Good airflow should be beneficial to solving the problem. When indoors, my plants grow without a fan on them but do live in an area that gets air circulation.

    Another important factor to consider . . . orchids are much more susceptible to various fungal and bacterial rots if they don't receive enough calcium and magnesium. I find that the easiest and cheapest way to provide Ca and Mg is with Epsom salts (to provide Mg) and gypsum (to provide Ca). Both of these provide sulfur (S) as well. Get some pelleted gypsum, sold in your local garden center or hardware store for application to lawns. The Epsom salts can be the plain unscented kind from the pharmacy. Add a teaspoon of each to a gallon of water, allow it to stand overnight. The next day, drain off & keep the liquid, discard the remaining solids. Add several ounces (roughly 4-6) of the liquid per gallon of fertilizer solution when you water.

    I will add that I don't know what your water quality in the Pittsburgh, PA area is like. Assuming you are on public water supply and not a private well, your water utility tests the water regularly and can provide you with their water report. If the water is already hard, it may have enough Ca and Mg already, assuming you use tap water for your orchids (of course, tap water that has gone through a water softener is also a problem).

  9. #9
    nicki is offline Senior Member
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    After I cleaned everything with bleach I tried to reposition the fans a little better. I can think of a few things I should have done differently. Honestly while I can say I've been pretty busy this year and not able to be as attentive, it comes down to laziness. I could have caused problems by carelessly spraying when I didn't have the humidifier running. I didn't immediately remove plants that showed problems. Kinds of just sprayed them with Physan and crossed my fingers. It actually didn't hit me that bugs could be spreading the problem. I do have some bug spray but I'm not sure if it's systemic. I've use it at the start of noticing a bug problem but then don't keep up with it regularly. A calendar or notebook would not be a bad idea!

    I've never used a mix of Epsom and gypsum but I do water with Epsom salts once a month. And use a good fertilizer with micro nutrients weekly. I've been using distilled water with tap.

    Thanks all for the help and suggestions.

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