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Thread: Death Bin Orchid / Questions

  1. #1
    I Am the Terror Of the Night! NemJones's Avatar
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    Death Bin Orchid / Questions

    Upon my nightly scuttle, I happened upon a very nice phalaenopsis.
    Im a sucker for the Doom-Bin plants at the back of the supermarket.

    However, I normally never buy orchids because im very skilled at killing them.
    Also, I dont really know much about them. I currently have a vanilla orchid,
    but thats the extent of my orchidry.

    Is there anything special I should do for the orchids? Im planning on introducing
    the new one with my nepenthes.

    Also, Should I be worried about orchid viruses? Im extremely distru****l of
    supermarket orchids and have no idea how to tell if they are diseased or not.
    I would rather not infect my vanilla orchid, as it has just started to grow for me.


    The Culprit
    : Note the leaves. They are extremely floppy and un- rigid to the touch. Almost like a rubber mat.
    However, the media is near desert dryness. This was a 5$ orchid afterall.



    The Stem.





    The lowest leaf feels like that of a grandmotherly character.








    Final Concern - One leaf was crushed on something long before I got to it, but the leaf itself is splitting straight down the middle. Is this accident or Virus?
    Is there anything to worry about or is this a clean orchid??












  2. #2
    BS Bulldozer SubRosa's Avatar
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    The plant is dehydrated. From what I can see it has at least some healthy roots, so it certainly isn't beyond hope, even for an experienced orchid killer! Personally I would repot it in something that makes watering more controllable than sphagnum. Bark chunks, lava rock, leca, or even smooth river pebbles can all work. The easiest way to keep Phalaenopsis IMO is in clear containers so I can see the roots. Phalaenopsis roots turn silver when dry, and are green when hydrated. With a healthy plant I water heavily when the roots are silver, let them soak up a bunch of water and turn green, then wait until they're silver before watering again. With a dehydrated plant I wouldn't let the roots dry that much. As soon as they get a hint of silver water again. For best growth don't let them drop below 60 F at night, although mine saw mid 40s on occasion without dying back.
    Last edited by SubRosa; 02-12-2016 at 02:28 AM.
    Judge not lest ye be judged creates a cesspool. Judge others and prepare to be judged by them.
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    BS Bulldozer SubRosa's Avatar
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    As far as your virus concerns, the damage to the leaf looks like simple physical damage to me. To avoid infecting your other plant IF your Phalaenopsis is infected, first and foremost tend the vanilla first when working on your plants. Wash your hands well between plants.Don't let the same water or tools touch both plants. Avoid physical contact between the two. Watch for sucking insects like a hawk, they're how viruses usually spread unless a person comes along and does the job.
    Last edited by SubRosa; 02-12-2016 at 02:44 AM.
    Judge not lest ye be judged creates a cesspool. Judge others and prepare to be judged by them.
    Just know when to keep the verdict to yourself.

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    Whimgrinder's Avatar
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    And flame all cutting tools.

    The oft-heard "all supermarket orchids have virus" mantra is apocryphal and based largely on the presumption that the popular striped/mottled/spotted Phalaenopsis got their markings from viruses. While that might be true in isolated cases, it is largely total baloney since several species (look up P. stuartiana, and P. gigantea for starters) have genes that are quite capable of producing outrageous markings when hybridized.
    Think about it: plant viruses are well-studied phenomena and the deleterious action on the host plant is something we understand quite well these days. Virused plants perform less optimally than their "clean" counterparts, often producing fewer blooms, smaller and sometimes conspicuously crippled plants, not to mention the risk they pose to non-virused inventory in a production scenario. In other words, there is great incentive to the grower to exclude virused cultivars from their facilities.

    But hey - everyone loves a good myth!

    Phalaenopsis Culture for Beginners
    Last edited by Whimgrinder; 02-12-2016 at 07:39 AM.

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    Subsurface Lurker gnathaniel's Avatar
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    There have been a number of documented instances of virus in Phalaenopsis imported from Taiwan, and infected Phals are surprisingly often asymptomatic for two of the most common orchid viruses, ORSV and CymMV. Supposedly the Taiwanese producers have implemented better cultural practices in response to the bad press this generated a few years ago, so it may not be as much of an issue as it once was.

    Your plant doesn't show any obvious sign of virus, but the only way to really tell for sure whether a plant is positive or negative is by testing it, which is probably not worthwhile for a mass produced bargain bin plant. As John and Paul said, controlling potential insect vectors and using sterile tools will generally prevent spread to other plants. If you're really worried about virus and don't want to test each plant yourself, it's best to buy from nurseries that have their own testing regimes and warrant plants to be virus-free.
    --Nat--

  6. #6
    carnivorous plants of the world -- unite! DragonsEye's Avatar
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    Don't entirely agree with Paul here ... And wish to add a bit too of clarification to his first statement.

    First a clarification wIth regards to flaming all cutting tools ... My understanding is that one should not use a butane flame (as from a lighter) as it does not burn hot enough. Flaming of tools is usually recommended between each cut, but should definitely be done between plants.

    Virus-wise, it is possible to obtain a virused plant even from a reputable grower. A well grown plant may be virused yet show no signs of being so. It is not unlike some diseases which can lay "dormant" in the body of an animal until some factor/sress weakens the host. Furthermore, there are other issues which can cause virus-like symptoms. For this reason, it is best to practice sterilization of tools and pots, isolation of suspected virused or otherwise ailing plants. Suspected plants can be virus tested or, if the plant is common and cheap, be destroyed. Burning is generally touted as the best method. Do not compost a virused plant.

    Considering the huge number of orchids a large scale operation like those in Asia will have in the works at one time, it would be difficult and financially prohibitive to virus test each orchid. In this regard, there is indeed a chance of obtaining an infected plant and the grower might be honestly unaware of the problem. The supermarkets or BBSs they supply would almost assuredly be clueless. Smaller operations may be more likely to catch any infected plants in their stock if they have raised the plants up themselves or have had them for a number of years. However, there is a caveat which must be mentioned. Currently, because of the expenses involved in growing orchids, many smaller operations obtain their plant material as seedlings to blooming sized plants from those very same large scale growers in order to offer a truly diverse array of offerings to their customers. As such, they too may have some infected plants.

    With regards to you wilted plant. It will take some time for it to perk back up -- much longer than many typical houseplants do. I would unpot the plant and check the roots and the media. As long as the roots are in good shape and the media has not degraded, it should be fine. Phals, IME, tend to be quite adaptable. What type of media is in the pot?

    Ah, I see Nathaniel chiming in while I was eating and typing.

    Last edited by DragonsEye; 02-12-2016 at 11:58 AM.
    "Blessed are the cracked….
    For they are the ones who let in the light."



  7. #7
    I Am the Terror Of the Night! NemJones's Avatar
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    Wow thanks everybody. Thats helps quite a bit
    As far as viruses go though, it sounds like its pretty random and
    no sure way to tell if they have it...

    Quote Originally Posted by DragonsEye View Post


    What type of media is in the pot?



    Currently, it is in dry sphagnum wrapped in a rather tight plastic pot.
    Im planning on repotting soon, but not quite sure if I should leave the sphagnum
    or remove it. I have orchid bark to switch over.

  8. #8
    Whimgrinder's Avatar
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    Let me say that the statements following mine are also quite reasonable and accurate. My comments were intended to address the "all supermarket orchids are virused" meme I hear from people all too often, and was not intended to suggest that there aren't plenty of virused Orchids out there, but the grocery store "disposable gift orchids" aren't by any means the Lone Perpetrators that some would like to suggest.

    Just as it is in any collection of heirloom Roses, Orchids of a certain age often (but not always) come infected with virus (usually ORSV and/or CymMV). The "old school" Cattleyas from the 1940s-1980s are especially prone to bringing one or more viruses along with them, simply because they have had decades to acquire viruses (through insect vectors or - more often - contaminated pruning tools) and they are from an era of Orchid growing when little was known about virus, and most growers were oblivious about it. There are some famous Cattleya clones still in collections and still being traded/sold that cannot be found virus-free. When you're talking about a specific cultivar that was bred in the 1940s (just for example), its possible that there was a time when there were only one or two plants left anywhere, and so every plant still in existence may have come from a single plant at one time. Now, if that one plant was virused.....every copy of it made from that point on will be virused too.

    That said, not all cultivars that have a virus show visual symptoms. Some of these older heirloom plants grow just fine with the virus in them and you may never see evidence of the pathogen. Unless you opt to buy only certified virus-free clones and have all others lab tested, you cannot be sure just by looking. And if you do opt to keep a few heirloom types that are in the high risk category, be sure to sterilize cutting tools when moving from one plant to the next.
    @paul: about flame sterilizing tools: I would be surprised if butane torches are insufficient to the task. I use a three jet cigar torch and it can make a stainless steel scissors glow orange hot in seconds! How much hotter does it need to be?!

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