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Go Back   Orchid Board - Most Complete Orchid Forum on the web ! > ORCHID DISCUSSIONS > Beginner Discussion
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  #1  
Unread 01-04-2013, 12:05 AM
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Exclamation HELP--Newbie Cattleya owner in need of assistance!

Hello all.

I purchased a Cattleya (Sanyung Ruby "Tweng Wen") from the Atlanta Bot. Gardens on Oct. 25, 2012. I live about an hour away from Atlanta, Georgia USA. Here's my problem:

SUNLIGHT: I reside in a basement apartment that has only ONE East/Southeast facing window. We only get sunlight on clear days, and only in the early morning hours because we're heavily shaded by a deck, trees, and the rest of the house. Though shrouded by trees in the distance, we see the sunrise every morning, weather permiting. Though I've been putting her on the window sill the last few days to see if her leaf color brightens up, I have had no success due to the cloudy/rainy winter weather we're currently experiencing.

HUMIDITY: I did not mist/watering her regularly for 2 months (Nov-Dec of 2012) because I heard they don't need a lot of water, just humidity. I admit I have been negligent in this regard, but I honestly didn't know how much water was the right amount, and I heard that it's better to err on the side of "too little" than "too much". I have been misting her this week with a spray bottle day and night and check the mixture to see if it's moist/dry daily.

TEMP: I have little control over the climate in our basement as I do not have my own thermostat. To compensate for this, I move my Catt to a storage room at night because it's cooler than in the main space, and move her back in the morning where it's a little warmer. I know that this method no where nears the 10* temp. variant requirement, however. I use a heater in my bedroom, and I'll gladly share it with my orchid if the experts deem this appropriate?

ROOTS: Some are hard to the touch, not squishy, and brownish in color. The layer around the actual root breaks in certain areas, but it doesn't come off. The roots closest to the rhizome that I can see from the top are still green in color and intact. I suspect the root rot is traveling upward?

REPOT: My Catt came in a plastic pot, and a clay pot came with her as a bonus for purchasing her. I have not repotted my Catt after her blooms fell because I heard that you're only supposed to do that in the spring (?), but now I fear that my Cattleya is dehydrated and suffering a bit of root rot. I know I should repot it to get a good look at the roots and clip off any that are dead, but I'm scared I'll do it wrong. I also don't know if the clay pot will be good for her (it only has one 1-inch hole at the very bottom).

I'm very afraid (and may be over-stressing) but I love my orchid very much. Experts please help.

Thanks
Attached Thumbnails
HELP--Newbie Cattleya owner in need of assistance!-20130103_215757.jpg   HELP--Newbie Cattleya owner in need of assistance!-20130103_215953.jpg   HELP--Newbie Cattleya owner in need of assistance!-20130103_215942.jpg   HELP--Newbie Cattleya owner in need of assistance!-20130103_215856.jpg  

Last edited by jaxy86; 01-05-2013 at 05:49 PM..
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  #2  
Unread 01-04-2013, 12:43 AM
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I'll try and help. First off, this hybrid is a warm to hot grower according to OrchidWiz. So it is better not to have too cool of nights. 66F is the lowest recommended by OW. That is just a guideline but its parentage is made up of mostly warm and hot growers and all of them like high light.

If your home normally gets a bit cooler at night, that should be good enough without trying to chill it.

I think with the amount of light you describe, you might want to consider buying a light to put it under. A high output T5 fixture is fairly small lightweight and not too expensive and there are other options too.

I like to water my cattleyas well by flushing water thru the pot and then allowing them to dry out before watering again. The bark it is in looks in reasonable condition. Do you know that the roots are rotting for sure? I would be tempted to leave this unless you know that roots are rotting. You can use a bamboo skewer and stick it deep into the pot near the centre and leave it there. When you think it is time to water, pull it out and see if the stick is wet or dry. If it is dry or almost, you can water. If wet or quite damp, it is too soon. If you do re-pot I would recommend a clay pot with side slits also or a plastic pot with a few more drainage holes since I can't see any on the sides of the green pot. The roots like an open, well draining media and to dry out quickly.

I hope this helps.
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  #3  
Unread 01-04-2013, 03:14 AM
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Hi there. Ok....first of all this orchid looks a bit light deprived. Notice the dark leaves. They should be about the color of an olive in the jar. Silken is right. You need some supplimental light like a metal halide light designed for growing plants indoors. These are inexpensive and should provide the necessary amount of light needed by this orchid. Don't worry about the temperature. Orchids can take 100*f down to the 40's with little trouble. Room temps suit them just fine. Next....it is in need of watering. I'm not a fan of the consistency of the media in which this cattleya is potted. It is too fine. Especially if it is being grown indoors. Not enough air movement to dry this mix out fast enough thereby inviting root problems. Also this catt needs to be cleaned up. Take tweezers and a toothbrush and get alll of the papery dead sheath material off of the pseudobulbs. This is a place for scale and fungus to hide and start growing. If you look at the pbulbs you will notice that there are no plump new pbulbs. It was undernourished and then produced a flower bloom. That sapped whatever energy it had stored and this wasn't replaced when the pbulb shut down it's energy acquiring system (root growth) in it's old age. So...first- metal halide light. Second- repot into a little fresher, more course media. Third- water this when it is dry. If you can't repot it right now, then just leave it in this media and water it. But then don't water again until it is repotted or until it is light as a feather. Just lift the pot after you repot it and feel it's weight. It should be light. Water heavily like in the shower for 15 mins. Then pick it up and feel it's weight. It should be heavy. When it gets light weight again, it is time to water. Don't worry about fertilizing just yet. Here is the most important thing you can do for this orchid and yourself. Find the nearest orchid club in your area. Just look on the internet and then go to the next meeting. I know there are a couple within your area. Get yourself and your orchid to the next meeting and learn how to care for this gorgeous healthy orchid. And you will have years of flowers and lots of friends. James
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  #4  
Unread 01-04-2013, 06:23 AM
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For one plant investing in a metal halid lamp sounds like overkill. A bank of T5s should easily do the job. I don't get much light at this time of year either (good windows, but always cloudy) but my Catts are still blooming from the energy they accumulated in the growing season. Late spring-summer you can put the plant outdoors, progressively moving it to higher light.

For now you need to focus on getting the plant healthy and growing again. Personally I repot everything that comes through the door as soon as I get it, spring or not, growth or not. That way I know exactly what's going on beneath the surface, and if the medium isn't suitable for my conditions, I change it.
While underwatering is better than overwatering, in the long run it's no good either. As Silken suggests, use wooden skewer (or one of those stakes already in the pot) to gauge moisture. Regular fertilization is equally important.
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  #5  
Unread 01-04-2013, 03:10 PM
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I'd probably repot it anyways if you can give it warm, sunning condition with some lamps. If not maybe keep up the misting lightly but not watering thing. The bacterial root rot needs moisture to live so if its deprived it should go away if i'm not mistaken. mist the healthy roots to give it water but dont soak it or anything. Best of luck!

Ben
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  #6  
Unread 01-05-2013, 05:13 PM
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Thanks to everyone for the tips. I have a few more questions...

1. One of my new shoots broke off when I attempted to clean the other pbulbs like James said....do I just put cinnamon on this and leave it or is there more to do?

2. One of my pbulbs looks kinda weird...I tried taking off the dead papery stuff but there's a brown portion that seems to be part of the plant....is it fungus? If so what should I do?

3. I just watered it....when should I re-pot? What type of mix is recommended for this Catt?
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HELP--Newbie Cattleya owner in need of assistance!-20130105_145252-1.jpg   HELP--Newbie Cattleya owner in need of assistance!-20130105_155516-2.jpg  

Last edited by jaxy86; 01-05-2013 at 05:50 PM..
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  #7  
Unread 01-06-2013, 12:55 AM
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I should have been more detailed. Sorry. Carefully remove the dead sheath material from the pbulbs but just what comes off easily with tweezers and a toothbrush. It's ok as the stump will probably now produce a bud. What is left on the pbulb like pic two is ok to leave. It is the looser sheath material like what is in pic 1 that harbor thrips, mites, scale, and mealies. I try and peel the sheaths off in strips instead of the entire sheath but that came from lots of experience and more than a couple broken pbulbs. Once this has been cleaned up you can unpot it carefukllly and try and remove as much of the old media as you can. I use a good hard hosing, chop sticks, and fingers but be careful. Take a couple pics of the roots and we can tell you how to proceed. If there are dead grey mushy roots, cut them off. Be careful of any live firm roots. Try not to break them. Wash out the pot it came in as this can go right back into it. Get some new medium (1/2 inch) bark media or any commercial media at a Home store or garden center that is designed for orchids. but this needs to be a coarse mix. There shouldn't be much in the way of fine material in it. If there is a hydroponic store near you then get some LECA or expanded clay pellets to pot the catt in. The catt doesn't need to be potted so the roots are crammed in the pot. Just place the roots into the pot, pour in some media and shake the pot. Tap it on a table. Pour in some more and repeat. Do this until the roots are somewhat covered and then water. Then leave it alone in some bright light. Not full sun but bright shaded sunlight. And keep it warm. 65*f is good.
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  #8  
Unread 01-06-2013, 11:00 AM
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The broken pbulb is long enough to photosynthesize and will most likely produce a new bud this spring. Just carefully take off the remaining sheath material and watch it grow.
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  #9  
Unread 01-06-2013, 06:08 PM
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Unhappy

where in the world do I begin....
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  #10  
Unread 01-06-2013, 06:18 PM
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Wow! Did that thing ever have roots! Go thru with a sterilized knife or I like scissors and cut any hollow or mushy dead roots. Leave any firm live roots. I can't tell if most are dead or not on that. The new growing ones have green tips but old ones that are still alive can be brown. If you are potting in new bark, soak it over night or at least for a few hours. I like to soak the cleaned up root mass in some water that has kelp (seaweed) and or SuperThrive added to promote root growth. Then pot it into a pot that isn't a lot larger than the root mass.
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