Saturday, November 1, 2008

The root of the problem, ever green dendrobium hybrid roots

One of the problems that you find when you are helping new orchid growers deal with problems regarding their plants is that for some themes there is hardly any information or photos posted. You can find thousands of stunning flower photos but few showing how a healthy root system should look like. To ameliorate this problem I am posting some pictures of how a healthy root system of an evergreen dendrobium of the group of hybrids of sphatulata x phalaenanthe sections. Along with some tips on keeping the roots alive and growing.As you look at the photo please note the following details.

1. There is very little by the way of organic material, the plant is potted in marble chips and the mix is quite clean, no moss, sphagnum or other moisture retentive material.

2. The mix is dry but you see massive root growth.

3. The roots are white and the growing tips are green and all growing at the same time, this is a sign of uniform cultural practices. You see very few dead roots.

4. The mix is firmly but not heavily packed, it has lots of empty spaces but the plant doesn't wiggle in the pot.

5. The bulk of the root mass is attached to the pot not to the mix.The paramount need of these types of dendrobiums is that the roots have access to ventilation and that they experience a cycle of drying. Nothing kills this plants better than tyranny of the evenlymoistness. When watering these plants they need to be thoroughly soaked, drenched even, but then they have to be allowed to dry. Heavy packed mix+heavy watering hand=root death. They need fertilizer but in mild concentrations and frequent applications, root killing high fertilizer concentrations on irregular intervals are sure death.

I know most manuals offer general information on how to care for orchids that is generally good as a starting point but with some of these orchids it pays to look at the nitty-gritty of their cultural needs. As soon as this plant blooms I will post the photos.


Douglas Campbell said...

those roots are incredible! what a happy plant!!!

Lita said...

You are such a great teacher. I'm very appreciative of the knowledge that you share with the orchid community. Thank you.