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  #1  
Old 11-02-2020, 05:54 PM
mam288 mam288 is offline
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Cattleya roots dying suddenly Female
Default Cattleya roots dying suddenly

Hi, I have a favorite cattleya that I've been having some trouble with. Several years ago I got a plant form a grower that was health and bloomed a couple of times for me. It had a really nice root system and was doing well, or at least I thought it was. It then started to look unhappy and when I checked, all of the nice roots that had been healthy not long ago rotted. The plant followed shortly after. I thought it was maybe that I hadn't repotted it since getting it from the grower but never knew what actually happened.

I got a replacement plant last summer and had the same thing happen again! I repotted it back in May and it had since put out a couple of new growths and the roots seemed nice and healthy. I noticed the new growths were not able to support their weight anymore and were drooping and when I took it out to check on it, all of the roots had rotted. I couldn't find a single live root. I have since put it in a bag with some sphagnum moss but am wondering if anyone has thoughts on what might have happened. I have not changed my treatment of the plant, it is in a window under grow T5 grow lights. It's potted in an orchid bark mix, which seemed to still be in tact when I took it out of the pot. I water it about once a week so it should be drying out between waterings.

I'm attaching some pictures. If anyone can help it would be much appreciated! I'm stumped and don't want to lose my favorite plant again! Thanks in advance!
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Cattleya roots dying suddenly-20201101_103848-jpg   Cattleya roots dying suddenly-20201101_103854-jpg   Cattleya roots dying suddenly-20201101_103908-jpg   Cattleya roots dying suddenly-20201101_104115-jpg  
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  #2  
Old 11-02-2020, 06:49 PM
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The first thing I would do now that it is out of the pot is to soak the roots for about thirty minutes in water. If they turn green, they are alive. If they do not, they are dead.

I am not certain what climate you have but I tried in vain to grow Cattleyas in bark for two or three years here in Ohio. The roots would grow great during the summer and then, when the weather turned cold, if I watered, the bark never dried and the roots would rot but if I kept it drier, the roots didn't get enough water and the roots would die. Now I use red lava rock. Orchids grow on trees and the medium's only purpose is to hold it upright in a pot and to keep the air around the roots humid so.... Lava rock has worked well for me. I have used it in clay pots and now I use it in basket pots (so I can see the roots). It might be a solution for you if you are having trouble getting the watering right for your orchid. If you want to use clear plastic pots, melt a few holes in the pot to give the roots better air-flow.
You can still save the orchid...it just might take a few years to recover. Good luck!
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Old 11-03-2020, 02:19 AM
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Welcome to the Orchid Board!

Most bark lasts perhaps 2 years in an orchid pot. After that it crumbles and the roots may suffocate.

I don't know whether your plant got into trouble because the roots rotted first, or you didn't water it enough. Once a week during the summer is probably not enough for most healthy Cattleyas.
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Old 11-03-2020, 10:47 AM
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Thanks for the advice Leafmite and estacion seca!

@LeafMite - It seems like I might be experiencing something similar to what you experienced. The plant did go downhill after the hot summer weather here in North Carolina ended. I thought it was drying out between waterings but maybe once the weather got colder only the surface dried. I think I'll give the lava rock a try. Should plain red lava rock suffice or does it need to be mixed with anything?

@estacion seca - Is repotting every 2 years in bark sufficient? I'm trying to repot at least that often.
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Old 11-03-2020, 10:59 AM
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mam ----- also check out these links too. They may help a bit later.

Click Here and Click Here and Click Here and Click Here and Click Here and Click Here

Also consider plant temperature and roots temperature. If for some reason the plant stays too cold and the roots too cold (ie. cold and wet roots), then that can be a problem for roots.

And also consider gentle air-movement of air into the media, and flowing gently over roots, which is often very beneficial for orchids.
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Old 11-03-2020, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mam288 View Post
Should plain red lava rock suffice or does it need to be mixed with anything?
Plain red lava rock will be just fine. Just choose a relatively shallow pot, and relatively wide one. To start off with ----- you could just try what I do. That is, put the bulk of the water into the media at the outer regions. And much less water into the inner regions. Could try this first if you want to. You can always later change ----- such as to water all regions of the media evenly. You can see how it goes by placing the bulk of water around the outskirts.

For good air-flow ..... choose relatively large pieces of lava rock ... (scoria) ... eg. 10 to 15 mm average diameter. And a pot like the one in the attached image is very good for catts.
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Old 11-03-2020, 12:51 PM
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T5 grow lights are hot. The sun has shifted lower, so the plant on your windowsill might have been getting more light and heat than before. I think the main problem was lack of water.

There are a lot of things to take into consideration when growing tropical plants indoors under lights. It can be difficult to figure out and can take time.

Another thing - did you repot when the plant was making new root nubs, or in between growth cycles? I recommend not repotting unless the plant is making new roots. Repotting usually damages older roots, which may then struggle to take up enough water until the plant makes new roots.

Can you find a small mericlone of this plant? I think its chances of surviving are low, and your time would be better spent with healthier plants. You might have better success with a new seedling you can watch closely and watch get bigger. Seedling Cattleyas still need good light, but they can't tolerate as much light as will adults.
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Last edited by estación seca; 11-03-2020 at 03:15 PM..
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Old 11-03-2020, 02:45 PM
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Hi,
I have had similar problems with some plants. Sometimes it just goes wrong and you spend months coping with a plant that will anyway die.
I have little to add to the good advice given before, but if you tend to overwater, maybe consider to use inorganic media so the plant dries between waterings.
Good luck,
T.
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Old 11-03-2020, 02:51 PM
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I don't know whether your plant got into trouble because the roots rotted first, or you didn't water it enough. Once a week during the summer is probably not enough for most healthy Cattleyas.
I think ES hit the nail on the head.

My first thought is that plant looks dehydrated, not rotted. The roots actually don't look that bad either. I'd say it didn't get enough water to survive.
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Old 11-03-2020, 08:11 PM
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Last edited by SouthPark; 11-03-2020 at 08:23 PM..
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