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Phal Roots - Repotting Question

This is a discussion on Phal Roots - Repotting Question within the Phalaenopsis ('moth orchid') Information forums, part of the Frequently Asked Questions category; Oksana, Are you soaking the roots in warm water for 10 minutes or so after ...

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  1. #11
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    Oksana, Are you soaking the roots in warm water for 10 minutes or so after you take them out of the pot? This lets the still live roots absorb water, the dead ones just stay mushy feeling, but the live ones are firm when you give them a gentle squeeze. when the roots are dry, they all look white and dry and dead, so be sure to soak them before you remove any.

  2. #12
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    Oksana, please do not cut off any more orchid roots without posting a photo of the roots here first. I am afraid you may be mistakenly cutting good roots off of your phals because of a misunderstanding. When looking at the 'root' photo you posted and then looking at the orchid 'without' roots, I see good roots that are missing! I also recommend you go back to the box store and get one more phal and unpot it and take a photo of its roots. Let us see the roots after you have washed them under room temperature water to remove the sphag or other medium. Sorry, I did not see your post earlier. I know here in Arkansas the orchids available locally are very limited, but even the boxstore orchids are not all bad. Make sure the next one you select has firm leaves. Don't worry about a spike or flowers as many times those are not really part of the same orchid (long story...).

    Also, on July 26 my orchid society is bringing in a really awesome vendor with whom I have purchased several great orchids. If possible, you should make the trip to Springdale and come to the meeting. You can purchase some healthy orchids and I can help you check the roots out to make sure they are fine. I am the president of the society and, unless something comes up that is out of my control, I will be at the meeting. OSO website.

    Cheers,
    BD

  3. #13
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    Hi, Oksana. Now if I lived in Arkansas, or even if I could drive there in an hour or two, I would go to the orchid society meetings to get together with Sadie and BD and I bet have a heck of a good time....

  4. #14
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    Good evening people. Cindi, I absolutely soaked the new plants in water for an hour at least before took that picture. Bruce, that only green root you saw on the picture and couple of yellow ones were hanging on a thin threads and had black mushy areas closer to a base of a plant. I'm a "good girl" and have read "Guide to orchids" before start doing anything in such new area to me. Guide says to remove all dead and damaged roots - there were NOT A ONE absolutely healthy root on both plants. I have two more Phals to check tomorrow. Do you think I should leave these partually black-partually green/yellow roots? Wouldn't they rot later?
    How in a world can plant look so healthy above ground line and have dry roots or mushy mess instead of roots below?
    I'll post pictures of these two tomorrow before cutting any roots off - to get your verdict.
    Thanks for inviting me to a meeting - would be happy to come!

  5. #15
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    Great and great!

    Post a photo of the roots before doing any cutting. Try to get a good, clear image.

    The address of the meeting is on the OSO website. If you need driving directions, just pm me a few days before the meeting.

    Cheers,
    BD

    Quote Originally Posted by SiberianGirl View Post
    Good evening people. Cindi, I absolutely soaked the new plants in water for an hour at least before took that picture. Bruce, that only green root you saw on the picture and couple of yellow ones were hanging on a thin threads and had black mushy areas closer to a base of a plant. I'm a "good girl" and have read "Guide to orchids" before start doing anything in such new area to me. Guide says to remove all dead and damaged roots - there were NOT A ONE absolutely healthy root on both plants. I have two more Phals to check tomorrow. Do you think I should leave these partually black-partually green/yellow roots? Wouldn't they rot later?
    How in a world can plant look so healthy above ground line and have dry roots or mushy mess instead of roots below?
    I'll post pictures of these two tomorrow before cutting any roots off - to get your verdict.
    Thanks for inviting me to a meeting - would be happy to come!

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    Well, I decided to check them one by one (it is just too upsetting). These are pictures of a roots after 2 hours soaking in a water - from both sides of a plant. On thirst picture you can see two green roots with gamage and dead ends, but on second I found ONE good root (in a middle) -just 2 inches long. Not much... but better than previous ones.
    What to do next now? In details, please...
    Thanks to everybody!!
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  7. #17
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    When you unpot an orchid plant that has both aerial roots and submerged roots, the first difference you notice between the two is the roots’ color.

    Since aerial roots are exposed to light, when they’re wet, they can take on a greenish-grey cast, and during active growth, their tips are often bright green or reddish-purple. An orchid’s aerial roots carry the same pigments its leaves do, and aerial roots can help your orchid plant carry out photosynthesis.

    However, orchid roots that have naturally grown submerged and hidden in potting medium have no such color. Older ones are often dark brown, and newer ones are a creamy, yellow-white. They don’t carry photosynthetic pigments because such pigments are unnecessary inside a dark container filled with medium.

    A difference that’s not immediately apparent, however, is the difference in velamen structure between an aerial root and a submerged root.

    The whole purpose of velamen (the thick, fleshy, or spongy tissue around an orchid’s actual root thread) is the conservation of water. In aerial roots, the velamen’s outer epithelial cells form a thick, basically one-way water barrier. When those cells get wet, they allow water to passively enter. When they dry off, they keep the water inside from getting out. Those outer cells protect aerial roots from dessication, and only aerial roots will develop that outer wall of dead, “shield” cells to such a great extent.

    In submerged roots, the outer wall is very thin, and sometimes completely absent. The plant has no need to develop an “air-water shield” on submerged roots since moisture is a lot more abundant and easily obtainable. But with no shield in place, submerged velamen is also a lot more permeable to air. It has to be to carry out gas exchange in a potted environment that’s relatively “air-poor.”

    You have both in the above photos and I recommend letting the orchid tell you what to remove. Dead material will not need to be 'cut away' if it is actually dead. Since you soaked these roots in water for 2 hours, you should be able to rinse away the dead plant material. The dark brown spots that are not squishy are just part of the root system. Granted, these roots are not in the best shape. They have been damaged by lack of air and there is some rot, but DO NOT cut them off. They are still viable at this point. Remove only what will fall away - gently.

    The best time to repot is when your orchid is in active growth. I don't see any active growth tips on the roots of this phal. Therefore, cut off the spike so that the orchid can focus on leaves and roots. Repot in a bark mix that is open enough to let air move through those roots. Let the pot almost dry out between waterings. Since phals do not have p-bulbs like oncidiums, they should never completely dry out, but it is better to error on the side of two dry than too wet with the current root system.

    I hope this information helps.

    Cheers,
    BD

    PS - I moved this thread to the phal orchid questions section and out of the introductions forum.

  8. #18
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    Thank you Bruce So-o-o much!! I didn't know about that - didn't find it anythere in a book. But that actually means that I've killed previous Phals... Oh my gosh!... OH MY GOSH!!... How stupid!!! ...It makes me cry...

    Is there anything what can be done to help these poor plants to develop normal roots and live in a pot again (instead of water)?

    And if plant with some aerial roots on a surface of medium needs to be repoted - can these roots be covered by medium ore absolutely have to be left outside? I followed you advise and went to a nursery nearby and got an orchid with firm leaves on sale. Here is a picture. I even not sure if it need repotting or not. What would you say? I afraid to take it out if not needed. May be this one will live in my hands?...

    Lots of thanks to everybody!
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    Last edited by SiberianGirl; June 8th, 2009 at 10:19 PM. Reason: add a picture

  9. #19
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    Oksana, you can try a rooting hormone- sold in the big box stores- the one I use is called Rootone. Dip the root area into the powder, pot the plant and secure it to a small stake of some sort. Bamboo skewers from your grocery store will work, or a stick stuck down firmly into the bark inyour pot. Orchids seem to grow roots sooner if they are secured to something.

  10. #20
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    Cindi, I have one called Green Light Rooting hormone. I very much would want to try what you suggested, only afraid how plants are going to "eat and drink" if there is nothing to do it with?... I was thinking - may be would be better wait till new roots will just start to bud out - and then plant it into bark,before they actually develop?
    Ore is this another stupid idea of mine?...

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