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Orchids/Saving a Cattleya orchid.


New root shoots
New root shoots  

Hello. I received from Hawaii (I am in NC)a gift orchid with two buds ready to open. Upon arrival it looked fine. Several days later the buds dried up. The roots above the bark media were all dried up. All roots were dried up in the pot.
I have had great success with Phal's, but this is first Cattleya.
Today there are about 4 new roots coming out, but only from the ONE section. Several questions on trying to save this plant:
1. Should I cut away all the brown/shriveled roots?
2. Should I cut away all the sections with no roots coming out?
3. Do I peel the black coverings off the fat "water compartments"? (don't even know what to call the plant sections)
4. Can the smaller sections be potted under the media--down in the pot (to keep plant upright--it is side heavy).
Any other suggestions after seeing the pictures is so welcome. Thanks so much!!!

Hi Holly

1. You may cut away all shriveled roots

2. Do not cut off the psseudobulbs as they store nutrients and water for future growth.  Also, some may have an "eye" at the base of the pseudobulbs which can begin to grow if the leading pseudobulbs are damaged (an insurance policy for the plant).

3.  These are called pseudobulbs (see above).  The black coverings are referred to as "Sheaths" and protect the new growth coming inside them.  As the growth matured, the sheaths may dry and split.  In their native habitat, these sheaths also provide protection to the tissue beneath from the scorching sun.  These sheaths can be a problem if they allow water to enter and get between the sheath and the growth it protects.  Normally, there is a pretty good seal which prevents this, but it is best to avoid getting it wet.

4. When repotting,, keep the base of the pseudobulb even with, or above, the potting mix.  Repot the plant when new growth is about 1-2 inches high.  Pot in the smallest possible pot.  Do not use potting mix that has fine particles in it as this can lead to root rot.  When in doublt, do not water.  When the top of the potting mix is dry, the root zone may still be wet.  Unlike most other plants, orchids like good air movement at the roots.  Many normally grow on their substrate in nature, rather than in it.  Pot culture, therfore, must provide good drainage and air movement in the root zone.  Biggest problem in   
growing orchids is over watering which causes root rot.

These cattleya type of orrchids like warmth and an increasing amout of light as days lengthen.  If you are able to provide some protection from direct sunlight, they enjoy growing out of doors. Also provide some protection from wind damage and excessive rain.  Keep them off from the ground.


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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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