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Thread: Help with my Lowes Cattleya Mutt

  1. #1
    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    Help with my Lowes Cattleya Mutt

    Hey folks,

    This is my first attempt at growing orchids. Well, if you must know, it's actually my second - my first attempt happened at college and came to a sudden halt when I thought it would be a great idea to mix up a strong batch of Miracle Gro and flood the pot with it.

    But I digress. I got this orchid in the fall as a pair of tiny plants with no flowers in the same pot for $6. Well, it still hasn't flowered, one of the two plants has died, it hasn't grown at all, and now the leaves are wrinkly! D'oh!



    As for conditions: it's in my grow rack at the moment, hoping to coax it into recovery. But it usually stays near a south-facing window where it gets an hour or so of direct sun a day. I try my best to keep it shaded from the sun by putting an african violet plant I have between it and the window on the same shelf. Ambient humidity in the room is generally in the 50s. The media is mostly what it came with - seems to be a mix of charcoal, bark, and lava rocks. When I repotted it, I used LFS - by now it's all kinda mixed together.

    I read online that wrinkly leaves can either be a sign of too little or too much water. The media always stays slightly damp, so I figured it was too much. I read that I needed to examine the roots - so that's what I did!

    A vast majority of the roots were brown and crispy, so I removed them. There were only two roots that were plump and greenish-white. So I removed the dead mass and potted the plant back up.

    Is there anything else I can do to encourage this plant to grow and flower? I have Maxsea fertilizer (16-16-16). Is that OK to use, or should I use a dedicated 30-10-10 orchid fertilizer? Several websites that sell Maxsea say it's great for orchids, but I figured I'd get some opinions here.

    Thanks!

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    swords's Avatar
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    Hmm well firstly, Cattleyas are full sun orchids, they need BRIGHT light for many hours each day as well as Intermediate and prefferably HL conditions (warm days 70-80 / cold nights 50-60). They are epiphytes and the roots don't like staying wet/suffocated so the LFS is not good to have in there. Ontop of that the plant looks water stressed - the ribbed pseudobulbs should be full and smooth and the leaves should not be wrinkly. I am tempted to think all the roots will be dead (brown) if you were to unpot it (oops I see you already did).

    What I would try if it were my plant:
    Unpot it cut off all brown/black roots keep only the thick white ones, repot in medium/large chunks of orchid bark or some commercial orchid mix if you can't get a bag of plain bark so there is lots of air getting down into the root area, I can't see how deeply it's potted but when you repot it try to just have the very bottom set in there - if you can set it to where you can see the spot where the roots emerge from the bottom of the plant that's even better. Then put it back in your lowlight conditions until it starts to show signs of recovery (the bulbs fill in, leaves smooth out and roots start to creep out into the pot), then start introducing it to more and more direct light until it's spending most of it's day in bright light.

    I wouldn't bother fertilizing it until it recovers, it doesn't look yellowed at all so it doesn't appear to need it. Once it's recovered and moved to bright conditions then a 1/4 - 1/2 strength, weekly fertilizing schedule would be good to start up. Might wanna check your watering water and make sure it's pure cos water stress/root death can be caused not just by being too wet/too dry but also if there is sodium or high TDS in the water which can crystallize on the roots as the media dries out, then the roots won't soak up water when you re-wet the soil due to the mineral deposits. When you do fertilize it use a balanced fertilizer like 20-20-20 (even numbers all across the board) Also try to find a fertilizer that contains not just N-P-K but also all the micro/trace elements as well. I personally use Grow More urea free orchid fertilizer on all my orchids and my Nepenthes it's a gentle non-burning fertilizer and has a whole smorgasbord of nutrients.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by swords; 04-10-2011 at 11:17 AM.

  3. #3
    Oh, the humanity!! TheFury's Avatar
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    Hey, thanks! Well that stinks because I don't have any orchid media handy! I'll have to run out and get some. I'll keep my orchid in a north-facing window for the time being, too. Eventually I'll transition it back to full sun in my window.

    Thanks for the note about the fertilizer. Looks like Maxsea will work fine - it's 16-16-16 with trace elements too. But I'll hold off on it.

  4. #4
    Little Old Lady (LOL) Z.Z.'s Avatar
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    "Hmm well firstly, Cattleyas are full sun orchids,"

    Interesting, I heard that somewhere else too, so I put my Catt outside in full sun, and it got severely burned, so badly that I thought I had killed it, so now it stays in bright indirect light and seems to be recovering, has 2 new growths on it.
    Of course I currently live on Oahu, which is like 3 inches from the surface of the sun, so they may fare better in full sunlight in more temperate regions.

    "Well that stinks because I don't have any orchid media handy!"

    Personally I would mount it on a hunk of wood, it will do much better than in a pot.
    Just wanderin around behind the little animals

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    31drew31's Avatar
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    Your plant probably burned because of the sudden change from low light to full sun.

    Growing on mounts is fine if you can keep the humidity up and have the time to mist every second day or so. Growing in pots is usually easier and will do just as well if the conditions are right.
    Last edited by 31drew31; 05-16-2011 at 05:30 PM. Reason: Spelling

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    Little Old Lady (LOL) Z.Z.'s Avatar
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    Yeah, probably. Of course going out in the sun on Oahu is like being a bug under a magnifying glass
    But keeping it in indirect bright light seems to be good for it, its growing faster than the rest of my orchids

    I usually end up killing them when I leave them in pots, the only ones that do real well for me are mounted on wood. But again, Im retired so I have time to sprinkle them every day
    Just wanderin around behind the little animals

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