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Thread: Orchid rescue

  1. #1
    moonflower's Avatar
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    hello again [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile.gif[/img]

    i've been working at my college's greenhouse for a while now and i've got a bit of a project coming up... we have a whole bunch of seriously neglected-looking orchids in the back room that we finally moved up front (the irrigation system back there wasn't working right) and now we're looking for ways to save them. problem is, nobody who works there knows much of anything about orchids... a handful of them were labeled, there was one phalaenopsis and two labelled "cattleya cross", a bunch of really well-labeled little ones wired to hanging bark that unfortunately look quite dead (all different- some of the genus names were comparietta, chysis, dendrobium, aerides, gastrochilus, and sarcochilus). the larger potted ones are definitely coming back, but they have a lot of dead material on them and the substrate is just a mess, all rotted bark. also, the hard water here is leaving calcium buildup on the few remaining leaves (they're misted frequently during the day). what's the best way to clean these up without killing them? is there any chance for the really dead-looking ones to come back? thanx!
    "Seeds? Oh yeah... sometimes I forget they grow from those. I feel like they should hatch or something."

    ~a friend's observation of my CP's

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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    I'd dump out all the potted ones (saving labels) and cut away ugly looking roots and dead (brown) pseudobulbs. Healthy roots are usually plump and white or green or even a healthy shade of gray. They look very different from dead roots. Except if any of the plants are Paphiopedilums, whose roots look very different. Any that show live leaves or pseudobulbs or roots have a chance and can be repotted in whatever fresh orchid mix you have available there.

    As for the mounted ones, I'd soak them for a couple hours in a sink or buckets or pans or whatever's convenient. Then inspect each to look for a sign of life. Not green, necessarily, but anything that doesn't look parched & brown. Some have a dormant season and can spend a season looking like sticks. But sticks with healthy looking roots like described above. One of my all-time favorite orchids, Dend. aphyllum, does that. If you find some look promising, post a list of names and we can try to figure out what you should do with each. My Dend. aphyllum, for instance, hasn't been watered in over a month and won't get watered again until it blooms in a few months. That's what it wants, but such treatment would kill many others.

    I wouldn't fertilize anything and, if the water's hard, make sure you water thoroughly every time so the pots flush out well. Some Paphs like calcium, but most orchids like water similar to what Neps like.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

  3. #3
    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    I've rescued many a nearly dead orchid from Lowes (too many!). You'd be amazed at how hardy many orchids are. I've had pots of nothing but withered, yellow dendrobium canes sprout new ones after some decent care. But...dead is dead (dry, totally brown, crunchy, etc.) so those I'd toss.

    Its hard for me to pass up those poor dying orchids at Lowes but unless its something extra special, like a paph, I have to pass them by now.
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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