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Orchids/Fragrant Orchid Dieing


Fragrant Orchid 2
Fragrant Orchid 2  
Fragrant Orchid 1
Fragrant Orchid 1  
QUESTION: Hello,  I received this orchid wrapped in a wet paper towel and plastic.  It was taken from the mother plant.  I soaked the bark for 24 hrs according to directions then planted the orchid with a couple of sticks to hold it in place.  A week later I watered it again.  It started with 6 leaves and I'm now down to 2.  I have not watered it in a month.  The last two leaves are beginning to turn yellow.  Today, I took it out of the window and moved it to a location without direct sunlight.  How do I save this orchid?  I'm hoping that the bulbous bottoms will generate new leaves.  I'm afraid to water it.  See photo - I don't know what kind of orchid it is.  Thank you, Charlotte

ANSWER: Charlotte, there are two ways to help you discover the  health of your plant. You need to check the condition of the roots in the potting mix. Any roots that are mushy or stringy are likely dead and can be removed.  The surface roots (covered in a white sheath) look healthy so these can be potted into the potting mix. The other factor important to future growth is found near the base of each pseudobulb. It looks a little like a bud and, in fact, is the structure from which new growth develops.  If these are lacking, no new growth can appear from the pseudobulb.   You are right to hold back on the watering.  More plants die from overwatering than from being too dry. After watering , let the potting mix dry out completely before rewatering.  You are right that the water storage organs at the base of the plant can supply what the plant needs during a drought.

As to the name of this orchid plant, see if there is a name tag in the pot of the mother plant or talk to the owner of the mother plant. There are many types of orchids that have similar vegetative structures so it is not possible to classify it strictly on that basis.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Wayne,  Thank you for your reply.  This orchid doesn't have any surface roots. That is string you can see in the photo holding the plant in place in a 4" orchid pot.  

It hasn't been watered since the last week in September and has been loosing leaves since that time.  Down to 1 leaf and hoping to hang on to it????  

It has no surface roots can it grow new roots in this condition?
Can new leaves grow from the pseudobulbs?
Putting the orchid back in the window caused the last leaf to go yellow and fall.  How long can I keep it out of direct light AND not water it?
Should I just use a humidifier on it this winter vs. watering?

This orchid doesn't have a name.  It was from a grower who was experimenting with fragrant orchids.  

Thank you,

Well, that string sure fooled me.  If there are bud-like structures at the base of the pseudobulbs (they would be covered by a sheath), and the pseudobulbs are firm, there is still a possibility of getting new roots and leaves to form.  This may take many months.  In the interim, mistingg from time to time can maintain the turgor of the pseudobilbs without causing rot. Low light might be beneficial but without leaves or roots the plant has little use for light, water or food. Hardest part at this time is patience.


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Wayne King


Any question about orchid culture. I have thirty+ yrs of growing experience,president 2x of our local Orchid Growers Guild,held a position in most all other offices associated with the Guild at one time or another. Head of Orchid judging team for local club meetings and some shows. Member of two Orchid Socities and local Rep.for Mid America Orchid Congress for several yrs.I have in my collection about 800 Orchid plants of all types.


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