Cattleya with few roots

Meezer42July 26, 2014

I apologize in advance for the poor photo quality and band aided finger in the picture haha. I got this i Cattleya orchid a bit over a year ago at an orchid grower and immediately de potted it to see what the state of the roots were in, and it was a good thing I did. It was mostly rotted; so much so that I had to trim off virtually all of the roots. I have had it in this ziploc bag with some sphagnum moss that I moisten every once in a while ever since. Unfortunately it has done little in the way of root growth (I have heard that I should put it in the dark so it can focus on root growth. I did not do that unfortunately). It does however have five roots or so that are about the length of the root in the image which is a about a half of an inch. I'm wondering what I can do to help it have increased root growth, and I'm wondering at what point I can choose to re pot it. Any tips?

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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

"Cattleyas" tend to grow roots in spurts and this will vary according to the type of "Cattleya" you have. I intend to start repotting/ tidying up my collection in the coming week and will probably finish about December (Southern Hemisphere) .
If you have good growing conditions your plant might have done better potted up. Sorry, have no idea what good growing conditions are in PA

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 8:47PM
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I see. No, probably not the best growth conditions for orchids. I have two phals that do very well but then again they're in great shape. They stay indoors under a multi spectrum growth bulb. Why did you put "cattleya" in quotes though, have I committed some major orchid faux pas?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 9:37PM
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I guess, to clarify, I'm wondering if I should give it a shot and pot it in an extremely small pot, or continue to keep it in the moss for quite a while longer until it develops a better root system.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 9:51PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Not a major orchid faux pas at all, but other genera appear in the breeding of "Cattleya" hybrids and in some hybrids no Cattleyas are used. So if you joined an orchid society or put your orchid in a show the section might be called Laeliinae Hybrids.
I'd give it a go and pot it up in a small pot.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 10:16PM
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Thanks! I thought that was what you meant. It had a specific name when I bought it and I thought I could remember it but obviously I cannot.
I think I'll try potting! I'm wondering if I should just use sphagnum moss because the roots are so small and the moss will retain moisture well.

This post was edited by Meezer42 on Sat, Jul 26, 14 at 22:52

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 10:29PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Yes, provided the plant is fairly tightly potted. Too big a pot and the roots will not dry enough between watering intervals.
You want the roots to grow and quickly attach to the sides of the pot. Under-potted is much better than over-potted
Good luck and I hope this helps

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 11:17PM
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I agree with Arthurm. Pot the plant. It should not be in a ziplock. Worse possible thing you can do, amazing its alive at all.

Orchids grow on rocks and trees. Their roots have adapted to collecting water from rain. They must have lots of air flow. Ziplock bags do not provide either.

Put the plant in a small pot. You can use small bark mixed with sphag. Water when dry. Most important, put in your brightest window. Not direct sun until it adapts.

These plants like sun and warmth. They do not want their roots kept wet. They must dry out between waterings. Put the little plant outside if you can.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:39PM
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Hello folks:

I think a plastic bag is an invitation for rot - no air circulation.

I have found that a rootless catt - even just a pseudobulb or "back bulb" can be revived and develop roots in just perlite in a clay pot. It's loose and allows air circulation. Or a net pot with coarse charcoal and bark perhaps. (Sphag can line the net pot to keep the chunks inside)
Humidity for the leaves, but definitely the wet/dry routine for the roots. Roots actually need air circulation for oxygen, just as the leaves consume carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, roots of any plants absorb oxygen for their metabolic functions. Epiphytes in trees are getting constant air circulation and wet-dry conditions and evolved depending on it.

Taking a cue from Nick in California - (Hi Nick) I recently put a near rootless rescue (BC Binosa) in a net pot with coarse bark and charcoal and a bit of sphag. Then put that net pot into a next size up plastic pot and wedged in just a few pieces of charcoal between the walls to hold the net pot steady. Placed it in semi-shade outside. The space between containers holds just enough humidity plus air circulation to encourage the re-rooting. The roots have made terrific progress in just a month and made a couple of new leaves, so I feel confident that even some of my healthy plants will be getting a similar treatment depending on the genus.

Good luck~
Maryanne in WMass

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 12:41PM
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