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Miltonia Red Tide with live roots only, no leaves, for 1.5 years - what the?!

This is a discussion on Miltonia Red Tide with live roots only, no leaves, for 1.5 years - what the?! within the Orchid Ailments / The Compost Pile forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I failed at my first few attempts to grow Miltonia. One apparently dead plant (Miltonia ...

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  1. #1
    Delila is offline Member
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    Default Miltonia Red Tide with live roots only, no leaves, for 1.5 years - what the?!

    I failed at my first few attempts to grow Miltonia. One apparently dead plant (Miltonia Red Tide) I stuck in my live sphagnum moss container because its roots appeared to be firm - maybe there was a crazy outside chance it could sprout a new leaf...

    1.5 years later it is still there. The roots are firm and have grown into the moss, but it still has not one leaf. Not even a glimpse of green! It's literally just lots of live roots united by a blob of dead brown top bit.

    What do you make of this?! Will it ever, ever, sprout new leaves?

    I don't intend to move it because it's inspiring how it continues to live in this limited way, but I'm interested whether you've seen anything like this before and what you think about it.

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    kharma is offline Senior Member
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    it is probably sucking nutrients from the moss greenery and doesn't need any of its own it sounds like its parasiting the moss

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    ksriramkumar is offline Senior Member
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    are the roots growing or are they still?. picture would help. if the root system is active, I would not give up

    ---------- Post Merged at 11:46 AM ----------

    are the roots growing or are they still?. picture would help. if the root system is active, I would not give up

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    Delila is offline Member
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    Yes, the roots are alive and growing into the moss happily. Just not a trace of leaf growth through two Summers and one Winter. It's still the best looking Miltonia I own though! Here it is:


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    PaphMadMan is offline Senior Member
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    It is hard to tell from the picture, but if the roots are indeed still growing after 1.5 years then there must be living stem tissue with some viable meristem. The roots would not persist and grow on their own for long. Roots of epiphytic orchids are usually capable of some photosynthesis, possibly enough to sustaining some growth in this case. It is not possible for an orchid to be a parasite on moss, though it could be getting some help from a symbiotic fungus. While there is still life there is still hope of growth. Probably the best thing you could do to encourage it is increase the light gradually.

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    Given its appearance I'm not surprised it needs time to stablize lol. I agree with sriram....don't give up there is still a chance.... but it will take time.

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    To reiterate, yes the roots are definitely still growing! Mentioned, confirmed, reconfirmed!!! There's four times the root mass than there was when I first put it in moss 1.5 years ago and some roots extend many inches through the moss.

    It's already in 'Sphag light' - bright shade to filtered sun - so all the potential is there. I will wait, and wait ... and convert my entire sphag container into a Miltonia pot if necessary

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    FloraStar is offline Junior Member
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    That is really interesting to see! If we needed any further confirmation that orchids can live on, in spite of a terrible appearance, this is it! I have a couple of plants I was ready to give up on but you have given me inspiration to wait a little bit longer. Thanks for sharing!
    I'm interested in your live sphag, too. How did you initiate that?

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    Delila is offline Member
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    I swear, it's miraculous stuff. There must be something symbiotic/parasitic going on, because orchids on their last roots almost universally perk up in live sphagnum moss.

    I bought mine from a garden centre that had old, damp sphag in bags that had obviously been left somewhere quite bright. There were some green live bits - just very few - and I was able to grow my own crop from that.

    You layer it in a clear container, like this:
    - Put peat moss (brown powdery stuff) on the bottom, dead sphag moss in the middle, and live green sphag bits on top.
    - Water it well with rain water so there's about 1cm in the bottom of the container.
    - Add a clear lid with slight ventilation.
    - Place it in very bright shade/soft filtered sun.
    - Wait.


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    FloraStar is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks for the information, Delila! I'll have to be on the lookout for a mistreated bag of sphag moss at one of the big box stores.
    Best luck with your Miltonia!

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