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Does root require the top layer of the media to be moist to search?
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  #1  
Old 05-20-2023, 10:47 AM
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PuiPuiMolcar PuiPuiMolcar is offline
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Does root require the top layer of the media to be moist to search? Male
Default Does root require the top layer of the media to be moist to search?

This has been on my mind for a while now and I need to get it out of my head. I've always been concerned about establishing the root right but I can't figure if the orchid prefer to latch on wet or dry media. I figure it depends on the orchids because catasetum for example will stop making root if you water it too much post dormancy, and then there are some orchid like oncidium I noticed prefer to have softer, premoist media, then the cattleya root that just grow on whatever. My orchids make lot of roots, but it seems like only 6/10 make it into the media. It still confuse me to this day, as I don't know which is the safer method to consolidate good root growth.
I also don't like the uneven feeling of the lower layer of the pot is always wet while the top dry up too easily.
My Laelia superbien for tax.


Last edited by PuiPuiMolcar; 05-20-2023 at 10:50 AM..
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Old 05-20-2023, 10:57 AM
Optimist Optimist is offline
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My fall back in questions of what orchids like is to look at their "natural" growing environment. Orchids have seed pods with millions of seeds in them. Only a handful will latch on to an ideal growing situation, and grow up to have their own seed pods. The other seeds do not germinate (this includes seeds eaten by birds etc.). So what is the ideal situation?

Most orchid sites have mist some kind of light or continual moisture related to them at certain times of the year, and often only at certain times of the day (often the morning). Some are constantly wet, and some dry out. Some have drought periods when they look shriveled and nearly dead... it's about studying your orchid.
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Old 05-20-2023, 08:53 PM
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Remember, too, that the majority of orchids that we grow are epiphytes. In nature, having roots growing freely (not in media) is what they do. But of course, that requires conditions that we can't so easily replicate in our homes, or even outdoors in temperate climates. So we put them in pots with media to provide enough moisture for them to thrive, and we work rather hard to try to maintain the balance between moisture and air that they will accept as a compromise. We're not giving them the natural environment, but we are giving them a substitute that provides what they need, that is the goal. The growers who can come the closest to those needs are the ones with the best success. Hence the requirement to study and understand those needs for each specific orchid, and to understand the differences for the different types.

Nobody can grow everything! Part of the challenge of orchid growing is to learn which types are the most likely to be able to adjust to the conditions that we can give them. These are living organisms, not manufactured products. To understand hybrids, go back to the constituent species and learn about their environments, and you'll have more and more successes,.

Example: i have found that many Catts, and especially species like L. anceps and L. superbiens, grow best once they escape from the pot. They really didn't want to be in a pot... They are doing what comes naturally. Don't fight nature, enjoy it!
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Old 05-21-2023, 11:46 AM
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Does root require the top layer of the media to be moist to search?
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Originally Posted by Roberta View Post
Nobody can grow everything! Part of the challenge of orchid growing is to learn which types are the most likely to be able to adjust to the conditions that we can give them. These are living organisms, not manufactured products. To understand hybrids, go back to the constituent species and learn about their environments, and you'll have more and more successes,.
This is such great advice. I have been learning it this year myself and finding great appreciation in growing things that grow well for me, and not wasting energy trying to bend over backwards for plants that do not suit my conditions.
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Old 05-22-2023, 03:08 AM
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thank you for both of your input, I almost forgot that we force them to adapt to growing in pot. Sometime old habit die hard and you just can't help but trying to make everything perfect. I've been a little obsessed with control lately, but I'll live and learn.
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Old 05-23-2023, 02:51 PM
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cattleyas and catasetums are not shy about sending out roots. something like a paph, though, can be. I have had paphs with root damage have a tough time sending out new roots because of dry home conditions (especially the ones that want to "climb"). I am guessing in a humid greenhouse that would be less of an issue.
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Old 05-23-2023, 03:00 PM
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Paphs (and Phrags as well) are more "terrestrial"... their roots are adapted to growing in cracks of rocks or in leaf litter. (The "vertical" ones often grow on cliffs.) So they are quite different than the roots of the "dominant epiphytes" like Catts, Catasetinae, Phals, Vandas that, given adequate humidity (like in nature) tend to send roots in every direction in the air (and are capable of photosynthesis, even) . You won't see green roots on Paphs or Phags when wet like you do on these strongly epiphytic genera where roots evolved to expect exposure to light.
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Old 05-23-2023, 03:18 PM
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Remember, too, that the majority of orchids that we grow are epiphytes. In nature, having roots growing freely (not in media) is what they do. But of course, that requires conditions that we can't so easily replicate in our homes, or even outdoors in temperate climates. So we put them in pots with media to provide enough moisture for them to thrive, and we work rather hard to try to maintain the balance between moisture and air that they will accept as a compromise. We're not giving them the natural environment, but we are giving them a substitute that provides what they need, that is the goal. The growers who can come the closest to those needs are the ones with the best success. Hence the requirement to study and understand those needs for each specific orchid, and to understand the differences for the different types.
This is so well said. I wish someone shared with me this thought process when I started growing orchids.
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