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Thread: All roots gone, leaves getting dead, two air roots.

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2023

    Default All roots gone, leaves getting dead, two air roots.

    Hello guys, I am new here. Registered to ask if it is possible to save this little guy and what exact steps to take.

    This orchid was gifted to us few years ago. It was in a bigger ceramic cash pot and a plastic sleeve inside. We have never re-potted it, I guess we were afraid to ruin it. A couple of weeks ago a guest squirrel tipped the pot and it came down and crashed. Unclear if it was the actual cause, but about at the same time the orchid started to look sick.

    I removed it from the pot and found absolutely all roots dead, and they were crammed in damp sphagnum moss, that is how it was packed at the store. I cut all of the dead roots off, so, now it only has the two air roots and three leaves that look pretty bad.

    I have read here before registering that I should try soaking the plant in growth hormone, which is what I did, for about 8 hours. I only had Hormex 8.

    After that I dried the plant for one day in air, and placed it under a plastic clear bell, made by cutting off the bottom of the 1 gallon water jug. It was separated from the water on the bottom, as it was sitting in a dish on top of the water.

    However, in a couple of days in this moist enclosure, there appeared a lot of mold. White, fuzzy and covering primarily the air roots.

    I have then sprayed it with a weak solution of water and baking soda, following some suggestions for the home made fungicide.

    So, here is where I am now, the plant is laying on the napkin, drying and warming under a 75W incandescent bulb.

    Is there a chance? What should I try doing to try to save this orchid? Climate wise, I am on the coast, south of Los Angeles.

    Images: (hosted elsewhere due to size):


    Thank you

  2. #2
    Real Name
    Ray Barkalow
    My Grow Area
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Oak Island NC


    For the most part, I'd say that's a goner, but there does appear to be a small amount of viable mass (mostly those aerial roots), so if there is significant sentimental value to it, it might be worth at least trying to save it.

    Basically, by letting it remain in the same decomposing and compacting medium for so long, especially in what was likely a poorly-draining pot, you have suffocated and killed the roots, giving the plant virtually no way to take up water, hence the extreme desiccation.

    Unlike terrestrial plants, epiphytic orchids do much of their gas exchange processes through their roots, rather than through their leaves. The key to success with them in understanding the balance required between air and water in the potting medium.

    If you do want to give it a try, I can recommend the following:
    1. Buy a bottle of Kelpak Biostimulant and mix up one ounce in a gallon of tepid water.
    2. Immerse the plant in that for a couple of hours.
    3. Pot it up in a good, fresh potting medium and container with reasonable drainage, then water it in with that solution.
    4. Invert a clear plastic bag over the plant and pot, leaving it unsealed at the bottom.
    5. Move it some place very warm and shady. 100? is not too warm; 75? is marginal, in this case.
    6. Over the next several weeks, keep the potting medium moist (never soppy) with that same Kelpak solution.

    If it survives, you should see some new growth in about 6 weeks, and once you see roots entering the potting medium, you can remove the bag and treat it normally.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2023


    Thank you for your reply.

    Yes, it had a sentimental value, and tried what I can to save it. As I described in my OP, I tried Hormex and Clear bottle bell, but, it just get moldy instantly. So, then I tried watering just the air root, it would get green and plump, and then small and dry again. Eventually, it started to get smaller and smaller, and the rest of the plant dried out completely. Then it died.

    It is ok, it wasn't super sentimental, just that I don't like to let anything in my care to die, because it is an alive thing.

    At least it lived longer than most that end up in trash two months after being gifted.

    I am learning these lessons about orchids. I have another one that is not very good but is getting better.


    I just re-potted it into DIY medium, made completely from fir bark that I chipped into small enough pieces to surround the roots, and the only thing I added was the powdered egg shells. I water it by submersion up to it's center, leaving the leaves in the air until the roots get green and plump, then it dries out in about two days and sits till the next watering about a week later. The bark drains very good, as compared to anything else I tried. This year, for some reason it is very humid outside, so I wanted something that drains better. The pot is made of clear organic glass and is comfortably small. The roots can get the light and I can see their color and condition. It should be better this time, as I learn more about Orchids. We love what requires us to worry more, don't we?

    Again, thank you for your help!

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