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weak paphiopedilum roots

This is a discussion on weak paphiopedilum roots within the Paphiopedilum & Phragmipedium Info. forums, part of the Frequently Asked Questions category; Hello! I have a mini paph, spotted leaves, which I bought approx 4 years ago. ...

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  1. #1
    katemcgt is offline Junior Member
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    Default weak paphiopedilum roots

    Hello! I have a mini paph, spotted leaves, which I bought approx 4 years ago. In all this time, it has grown but does not thrive. New leaves come out fairly regularly but in time, the growth becomes floppy. I have tried watering frequently, watering less, and moving it to different lighting situations, without luck. Each time I have checked the roots, they are scraggly and spindly. What can I do to stimulate root growth? Any other suggestions are appreciated as well. Thanks. Kate

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    PaphMadMan is online now Senior Member
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    It would help to know what kind of Paph you have. Do have a name or a picture?

    I think we also need some other details about how you have been growing it...

    Do you fertilize regularly? What kind? How strong?

    Do you water with tap water? rain water? or what?

    Have you repotted? What is it potted in? In general Paphs like to be repotted more often than most orchids, but that may depend on what kind of media it is in.

    When you say the growth becomes floppy, do you mean that it wilts or that the whole growth flops over? Either way it isn't good for root growth.

    It isn't unusual for Paphs to have only a few roots but they should be sturdy and strong. Scraggly and spindly just sounds dead to me.

    I'm sure we can help you grow your Paph better and stronger. If you can answer these questions we'll have a better idea where to start.

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    katemcgt is offline Junior Member
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    Hello, PaphMadMan, thanks for your interest. This orchid stands approx 5" high from the base of the plant to the leaf tip. I don't know it's name. It is in a small clay pot so I currently water it twice a week with well water. Occasionally, I flush it with spring water. It gets fertilized every week or two with 1/2 strength 20-20-20. I've repotted it every time I check the roots, which is approx every 6 months. (I only check the roots when it looks unhealthy.) When it flops, the top growth flops over. It currently has a new leaf emerging so it isn't dead yet! It's getting approx 2000 ft candles of light, primarily from a Wonderlite. It's sitting approx a foot back and a little to the side off a south facing window, although I've tried other light settings as well. Your help is much appreciated! Kate

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    katemcgt is offline Junior Member
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    p.s. I'm trying to get that photo to post.

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    katemcgt is offline Junior Member
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    Here's the pic.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    PaphMadMan is online now Senior Member
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    Kate - There is no way to identify your Paph with an exact name, but it is a Maudiae-type. They are among the easiest to grow. It looks basically healthy in that pic.

    I don't see any major problem with what you are doing except possibly overwatering. It is hard to judge someone else's watering because it depends so much on temperature, humidity, type of media, etc. but twice a week along with root problems probably means too much water and media breaking down quickly.

    It should never dry out completely, but wait until it is dry on the surface at least before you water again, and make sure it never sits in a puddle of water. Twice a week may be way too much at some times and not enough at others so don't make it a rigid schedule. You may be able to learn to tell when it needs water by how heavy it is when you lift the pot.

    I would also cut back on the fertilizer except when you know your plant is healthy and growing. The plant can't really use the fertilizer unless it is healthy, and it might contribute to problems.

    What is it potted in now, and when was the last time you repotted?

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaphMadMan View Post
    ....It looks basically healthy in that pic.
    Let's try repotting it into a move free draining mix. I wonder if the roots have been damaged by over watering and just need some air to heal? Kirk is right about them not wanting to dry completely out since they do not have p-bulbs to retain water, but they do need air to the roots. The mix it is currently potted in might be retaining too much water and not allowing the roots to ever really catch on and just grow.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    For what it's worth, I would suggest: a new clay pot with slits up the sides. I also see something that I never like to see on the outside of my orchid pots...a whitish build-up of fertilizer salts. I would definately re-pot if it were mine. Just my opinion...Betty :-)

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    I would agree with the above recommendations. Also, do you have analysis of your well water? Paphs can be very finicky about water quality and if the water has a lot of dissolved minerals or very high/low pH, then that can affect root growth as well.

    Susan

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    Quote Originally Posted by orchidlady View Post
    I would agree with the above recommendations. Also, do you have analysis of your well water? Paphs can be very finicky about water quality and if the water has a lot of dissolved minerals or very high/low pH, then that can affect root growth as well.

    Susan
    I find that my paph's do better when I repot them more than once a year. They also seem to benefit from less fertilizer (weaker solution) than my other orchids (mostly catts) and oyster shell for calcium.

    How are you all getting your well water analyzed? If you have high dissolved minerals or less than ideal pH- what do you do to adjust to those problems if RO water system etc. is not an option?

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