An Orchid Buyer's Guide for Beginners
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An Orchid Buyer's Guide for Beginners
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Old 10-09-2016, 07:01 PM
Marlena Marlena is offline
An Orchid Buyer's Guide for Beginners

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An Orchid Buyer's Guide for Beginners Female

Originally Posted by RandomGemini View Post
I would argue, that "rescuing" when you are learning, saves you time and money in the long run, because if you can save a 7$ plant from a hardware store, the skills you acquire in doing so, will be priceless when it comes time to save several 30$ + species orchids.
I would agree here, as I have gotten several rescue plants from my local grocer for VERY cheap - sometimes only $2 and most have done really well and I learned a lot. Which I am now using on plants from an as is sale.

---------- Post added at 06:01 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:58 PM ----------

I would like to second King of Orchid Growing. We have a good local orchid place, but unfortunately she too often plants everything in pots too large and only uses moss, so I have to repot a lot I get from her. However, even so, they all do superbly well, so she does have some secrets.
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Old 03-07-2017, 04:36 AM
ButterflyJak ButterflyJak is offline
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An Orchid Buyer's Guide for Beginners Female

Really helpful thanks, might of saved me from buying a beauty that has just died!
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Old 04-25-2017, 05:34 PM
crowhillcorriedales@gmail crowhillcorriedales@gmail is offline
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An Orchid Buyer's Guide for Beginners

Originally Posted by King_of_orchid_growing:) View Post
Hi guys, I decided to post this thread to discuss the critical importance of fostering the habit of inspecting any orchid upon purchase. Learning this habit early during the beginning of picking up the hobby will usually lead to:

1. A better understanding of where the plant you decided to put money on is currently at health-wise.

2. Sometimes be able to make visual comparisons of your newly acquired plant's current state of health to those of other plants that other people on the web have been able to successfully grow for years. This will allow you to understand just how bad the situation is.

3. Help you determine the correct course of action to circumvent any problems that may have arisen during the inspection.

4. Should you not know what to do, you can now take prompt action to ask any forum members from any forum out there on the web regarding how to now proceed in taking care of your orchid, and hopefully get a prompt enough response to make proper corrections in orchid culture.

5. Far fewer losses of plants.


*** Note: I wanted to make absolutely clear that an orchid's flowers are the plant's genitalia and reproductive organs.

Flowers = Plant Genitalia and Reproductive Organs

This is why, inspecting flowers alone is worthless in determining an orchid's overall heatlh.

Q: What am I looking for when I purchase an orchid? Where should I look?

These are often the questions people might have running in their heads.

Here's where, (and I'm going to list where to look according to the order of critical importance first):

1. Roots. (This is your top, #1 priority, always)

* You are looking for any rotting material or dead roots. If there are a lot of dead roots, but still some that are alive, it is suggested to remove the roots and clean the orchid up as best as you can.

If the roots are all dead, what can be done is, leave the dead roots on the plant and use it as a way to anchor your plant into the pot or onto a mount, (whichever method you choose to grow the orchid with).

2. Stem. (A plant's true stem, not the plant's inflorescence, this can often be confusing for those looking at a Phalaenopsis for the first time. A plant's true stem will have the leaves attached to it via the plant's petiole.)

* Make sure it is not rotten, (soft, watery, and mushy), or blemished. These are a sign of disease, and could easily mean that the orchid is on its way out.

* There is a visual difference between natural pigmentation and spotting as a result of an immune response from the plant towards a pathogen. Make sure that the spotting is not coming from an immune response.

* Make sure there are no bleached or yellowing areas. There are a number of causes for this.

a) Sunburn. (bleaching or patches of dried scorch marks, sometimes black patches)
b) Natural old age.
c) Over exposure to light. (yellowing)
d) Disease.

It is usually difficult for newbies to visually be able to tell the difference between the causes, but eventually, with time, people can get somewhat decent at being able to discern the subtle differences.

3. Leaves.

* You're looking for the same thing as for the stem.

* Make sure there is as little mechanical damage done as possible.

4. Inflorescence (aka "spike").

* Look for the same thing as for the stem.

5. Buds.

* Make sure they're intact and not about to prematurely yellow or dry out. This is a sign that the plant has been stressed in some way. The kinds of stress are numerous.

6. Flowers. (This is dead last in priority folks, not your first!.)

* Same as buds.

* Also look for any unusual markings on the petals and sepals, as this could tip you off as to whether or not there could be a viral problem with the orchid.

There you guys go. I wanted to let you guys see a stand alone posting that dealt only with this particular piece of advice to let you guys understand that determining the health of an orchid goes FAR BEYOND just inspecting for flowers.

*** Special note: No matter what your current level of experience is, nobody can circumvent this routine. I just recently had to do this for all my newly acquired purchases.

In fact, the story goes, I just purchased what was sold to me/labeled as a Warscewiczella discolor x self from an online vendor. When I received it, most of the plant's leaves were mush, but the plant was still alive and recoverable. Initially, I thought that it might have had something to do with being delivered in the heat, because the roots on the top portion of the plant above the potting media looked good. I also had suspicions that there might also be a problem going on with the roots because the potting media was looking really old (the wood chips were black).

Here's the kicker, though…

I also purchased other closely related orchids at the same time, and had received them at roughly the same time, during our short heat wave, and they came in without brown mushy leaves or brown mushy spotting.

But when the Warscewiczella discolor x self was kept in intermediate temperatures for nearly a week, and things continued to slowly get worse, I had to look at the roots.

When I knocked the entire orchid out of the pot, sure enough, the potting media had broken down so badly, that it was starting to become dirt. Although the roots didn't look all that bad at first, this would've caused a huge problem because of sanitation.

Luckily I caught the problem in just a nick of time before the point of no return, and corrected the issue ASAP. Hopefully it will recover nicely.

Like this story is indirectly saying, always make visual inspections of the ENTIRE plant. Not just flowers.

Here's the photo of the Warscewiczella discolor x self all cleaned up. You can still see the damage though. In hindsight, I should've sucked it up and took photos of the entire process from beginning to end, (I was exhausted yesterday).

Next best thing…

Got a photo of the trash with the amount of damaged leaves I removed from the plant. This'll give you an idea of just how bad it was.

Btw, Warscewiczella discolor = Cochleanthes discolor.
Thanks for the good advice
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Old 06-24-2017, 02:19 AM
ElviraBaldwin ElviraBaldwin is offline
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An Orchid Buyer's Guide for Beginners

That's amazing. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-11-2018, 03:03 AM
paulinanyc paulinanyc is offline
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love this!
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Old 06-26-2018, 05:28 AM
Runwayman134 Runwayman134 is offline
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An Orchid Buyer's Guide for Beginners

Great information! Thank you!
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Old 05-17-2019, 02:17 PM
CZF CZF is offline

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An Orchid Buyer's Guide for Beginners

I haven't got through all the responses, but I thought I'd chip in as I am a newbie and my mistakes are fresh in my mind. Sorry if I am repeating anyone.

I'd suggest joining an Orchid Society if there is one near you. I'm learning a lot, and getting access some much nicer plants. You also get the help from experienced growers.

I was whining about how Phal's are supposed to be one of the easier orchids to grow, but how they are one I struggle the most with. The advice I got from someone who has been growing orchids for decades and is president of the society I am a member of, told me not to beat myself up. He said the orchids most people buy at garden centre's have been forced under computerized greenhouse systems, growth hormones etc. They are mass produced, and don't do well outside of their completely managed lifestyle to transition into a regular home.

He suggested buying from people that grow themselves with hardy stock grown under more normal conditions, that will have an easier time adapting to life in your home.

Also, no matter where you buy a new plant - QUARANTINE IT for at least a month. I made that mistake and ended up with a lovely mealybug infestation, which I'm cautiously optimistic that I've eradicated after a 2-1/2 month battle.

I'm not sure if this is good advice or not, but along those lines, I always repot new plants, even if it means they bud blast and you have to wait for new buds. After my mealybug ordeal, I am not taking any chances on brining in pests in the media and almost always there have been rotten roots when I've repotted, so was worth doing.
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