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  #1  
Old 04-26-2019, 10:54 AM
Stella1979 Stella1979 is offline
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Default Rot at base of pbulbs on Prosthechea cochleata

Hi I am sort of new to orchid keeping and even have a little trouble navigating this forum, so please forgive any mistakes I make. Please also forgive the book I'm about to write. I'm a wordy person and always feel it's best to give all the information I can when looking for informed advice.

After seeing the plant in bloom at a great local nursery, (RF Orchids), AND doing my research... I purchased a Prosthechea cochleata about 2 months ago. It had 5 pseudobulbs and the dried up and trimmed remains of two flower spikes. I had seen the plant blooming on previous visits to the nursery and I feel it was healthy upon bringing it home. Thought this one would be easy given that she is a species which grows in my own environment of South Florida.

As is my usual, I kept the plant away from my small collection and in the pot it came in for about 4 weeks. It was in a hanging cone-shaped pot and I needed it to sit on a shelf, so while the plant itself didn't need a repot, I needed to repot it so I could provide proper care. At this time, I discovered that most of the interior roots were dead. I trimmed all of that away, leaving just a few roots that seemed the most healthy... though none of those roots displayed growing root tips. Sadly, at least part the root death must have happened during her first few weeks with me because I did see a growing root tip or two upon purchase... though the majority of the dead roots were deep within and some may have been dead from the start. I cannot figure out why root loss may have happened as I treated her to the best of my ability based on advice from the nursery and my own research.

Upon repotting, just like my excellent local nursery, I used hydro balls and charcoal as potting medium, and (as is also my usual go to with new or young plants), I put sphag as a top layer with the intention of promoting growth on young roots as well as promoting new root growth.

The plant lives outside, getting indirect light on a screen porch. I have not measured the light but this plant gets the same lighting as a couple of encyclias and brattonias that do well in that area. They get morning sun through the screen and are shaded before noon.

The plant is watered every 2-3 days dependant on the medium's dryness... In other words, she is not watered until the medium goes very dry. The pot is soaked in a very low dosed fertilized solution at each watering and the pot is flushed with plain water once every two weeks to reduce the chances of salt build up.

I fear that I have caused the rot either from overwatering, (seems unlikely since the pot gets very dry between waterings), or from the soak method of watering. Soaking, of course, hydrates the roots, the pot, and the potting medium. Upon removal from a 15-20 minute soak, the pot (clay and full of holes) drains quickly due to the chunky medium, and the medium and pot dry quickly as well. It's the sphag top dress that maintains a little extra moisture and humidity near the base of pbulbs between waterings.

A couple of days ago, one of the largest growths was flopped over sideways. It was then that I discovered that the base of this pseudobulb and one other dislplayed rot. The leaves and the rest of the bulb looked fine and the rot only reached a couple of centimeters up from the very base. I worry that the rhizome, (which I cannot really see) is rotting.

Also recently noticed and perhaps noteworthy... tiny white jumping bugs on this plant. I cannot be sure, but I believe they are springtails, as they look a lot like the springtails that I culture and keep for terrarium use. It seems unlikely that these insects are the problem, but again, just trying to give all the info. Are there detrimental insects that plague orchids in a tropical environment, which also resemble springtails in both how they look and how they move?

Upon unpotting her this morning, with the intention of using a sterlized cutting tool to remove these two growths... which was pretty sad given that other than at the very bottom, these growths appear plump, green, and healthy. Well, a tool was not needed. When gently seperating the pbulbs to try to get a look at what's going on below the rot... these two sick growths pulled off of the plant very easily. Now, I'm even more worried about what's going on below the visible rot. Does it sound as though the rhizome is suffering rot? Idk but I really thought things were going well with this plant since she started a new growth a couple of weeks ago.

Based on good advice, my plan was to remove the rotted pbulbs, then treat the plant with Captan Fungicide and afterward, to apply cinnamon to open wounds, (which I also cannot see.) This is still the plan for later today, (when I'll have a babysitter since I prefer not to do this kinda stuff when I may need to give quick attention to the kiddos.) In the meantime, I am hoping for all the good advice I can get.

My goals are simply to save the plant, including the newest, tiny growth which seems about the only good thing to have come from my care. My questions are...

How would you treat this?

I am afraid that the plant has only one halfway decent root... I know that moisture is the best friend of rot, so don't want to keep her wet but...

After rot treatment, how to best promote new root growth and keep that tiny new growth in good shape moving forward?

In the last year, I've done pretty darn good with Phals, Dens, Catts, Encyclias and Bratts, with a small collection totalling about 30 plants. I love them all very much, but the Prosthechea cochleata is one of my very favorites, if only because she is a local girl and I would very much like to see those jellyfish blooms occur under my care. Please help!

Lastly... I am trying to include photos in this post, but so far, have only had success in uploading them to my gallery. Please have a look if you have the time.

Thank you!!!!

Last edited by Stella1979; 04-26-2019 at 11:06 AM.. Reason: To give a better title
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2019, 10:56 AM
Stella1979 Stella1979 is offline
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Prosthechea Cochleata rot-2019-04-25-17-32-44-jpg

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Prosthechea Cochleata rot-2019-04-26-10-19-39-jpg

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Prosthechea Cochleata rot-2019-04-26-10-20-04-jpg

Prosthechea Cochleata rot-2019-04-26-10-21-08-jpg

M'kay... got them here but... I've seen full size pics on the forum and these appear as thumbnails. I'm learning, or trying to. Believe it or not, I actually moderate another forum yet my skills there are not translating to this forum's format. Please bare with me.

Last edited by Stella1979; 04-26-2019 at 10:58 AM..
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  #3  
Old 04-27-2019, 01:30 AM
aliceinwl aliceinwl is online now
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I have next to no experience with these (I just got mine in March), but based on my general orchid experience, the section with the brown pseudobulb bases is a goner.

The other section looks viable. You could try a 24 hour soak with a product like Kelpmax to stimulate root growth. This seems to be working for my recently purchased Cattleya types that lost their roots to rot because they were potted in sphagnum.

Otherwise, your care sounds similar to what I'm giving my Prosthechea cochleata. Mine didn't have the best roots (I bought it potted in sphagnum), so I staked it upon repotting to prevent any wobble. I potted mine in a small clay pot (about 3 inch diameter) in some of my Cattleya bark mix from Repotme. I watered mine via soaking for the month it was in the house but switched to letting the water run through when I moved it outside. Due to small pot size and coarse media, I water mine almost daily. I have it hanging in a location that gets a few hours of morning sun.

I imagine I'm a bit cooler and a lot drier than you are. Maybe the top dressing of moss was staying too wet? The white jumping bugs sound like springtails which are harmless but like consistently moist areas with decaying organic matter.

---------- Post added at 10:30 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:15 PM ----------

Hopefully an expert will chime in, but if it were mine: I'd do an overnight Kelpmax soak, repot the rot free section in a smaller pot, and stake or clip it to provide stability. I'd leave off the top dressing, water when dry, and cross my fingers.

Last edited by aliceinwl; 04-27-2019 at 01:20 AM..
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:47 AM
Mountaineer370 Mountaineer370 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stella1979 View Post
[ATTACH]138017]
M'kay... got them here but... I've seen full size pics on the forum and these appear as thumbnails. I'm learning, or trying to.
I'm sorry for the troubles you're having with your Prosthechea cochleata. I'm no help there, but as to the photos, many people's photos appear as thumbnails when I see them in a post. All I do is click on them and then they will open much larger. I'm using a desktop PC, so I don't know if it's different when using a phone or tablet, etc.
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  #5  
Old 04-28-2019, 12:07 PM
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The rot-free section with the new growth looks like it will be fine. New growth leads to new roots. As Alice said, make sure that when you pot, it is stabilized - so that new roots won't be damaged by movement. Two stakes on opposite sides of the plant (barbecue skewers work well) should help. These are tough, vigorous plants. I think it has a very good chance of surviving. The rot on the bad part no doubt was in process before you got the plant - it takes awhile for that sort of thing to develop. If there were bugs in the media, it was broken down and should have been potted much earlier - like well before you got it.
Clicking on the thumbnails yields good-sized pictures on my PC.
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Old 04-28-2019, 01:42 PM
Stella1979 Stella1979 is offline
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Thank you so much everyone!!

Well, I was desperate and reached out for help on Insta, where an excellent home grower in Mumbai has given me great advice before. She suggested the fungicide and then to sphag and bag. The idea of bagging the plant made me nervous, particularly with rot on the mind. But, this whole thing was so unexpected. I had done research, including reading here to find that Prosthechea cochleata is a hardy plant, and bought it from one of the best places around. I'm positive she came home with some dead roots but the media she came in was in good enough shape... yet something killed those roots before I got her.

I appreciate the kind words and advice but I still just unsure if I gave her rot or not.

Anyway, the rotted portion was thrown away and the remainder was treated with a fungicide. Couldn't find any open wounds and didn't want to risk cinnamon anywhere else. I wouldn't/couldn't seal her in a bag though. So, I sterilized a large jar (used to be a closed terrarium), dropped in a 2-inch layer of sphag, then lightly misted it with a very low dose of seaweed water. The lid is vented and the moss dried out as of this morning, (a day and a half later) so I misted it again, then used paper towels to gently dry the plant and the inner walls of the jar. Only the barely wet moss is providing humidity. She's also getting less light in the jar because it won't sit on the shelving. So, no good morning light... just bright shade early that gets deeper in the afternoon.

She doesn't look any better yet, but she doesn't look worse and I cannot see any sign of rot on the remaining pbulbs.

I am tending to agree that the top layer of sphag she had in her pot is/was a bad idea. I surely don't mind watering her daily if that's what she needs. I am also getting pretty good at stabilizing orchids.

Do you guys think I should let some new roots sprout before removing her from the jar?

Is the whole idea of jarring her just crazy after dealing with rot? I promise, the jar is not wet, but it is higher in humidity. The other trouble with the jar is that I cannot stabilize her here and she did move around a bit when getting dried after the misting today.

If I should remove her from the jar and stake her in the pot, I will use hydro balls and charcoal only, in which case, she will definitely completely dry out in a day. My Catts are potted like this, dry out by the evening on watering day and then stay dry the following day. The Dens are also potted similarly and are happy with water every day.

Eeek... I hate to say so, but I am soo afraid of keeping the Prosthechea too wet after rot. But, I've also read how a healthy plant is a very big drinker. So... if she goes in a pot, should I water her like the Catts or the Dens?

Also, should I be feeding her now with so few roots? My usual water recipe contains 130ppm Jacks balanced NPK, 30ppm seaweed extract, and 40ppm CalMag. I add about 15ppm magnesium every other watering and also sprinkle garden lime on top of pots every six weeks or so, (whenever the previous stuff has been gone for a week or two) for added calcium and magnesium. All of my other orchids have done well for me so I do think they like the routine.

So... shall I treat the Prosthechea cochleata feeding program just the same as everyone else or offer her less due to few roots? Some advice says not to fertilize rootless orchids, but she is trying to grow that new growth... I hope.
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Old 04-28-2019, 02:06 PM
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Don't feed until you get some roots - the plant will push roots based on the reserves in the pseudobulbs. Pot it up. I grow mine in medium bark. But then, you have more humidity (and maybe the potential for rot) than I do. If you have had good success with the clay balls, go with what works for you. Just stake the plant so it is stable and let the new roots grow. (From your picture, you have more than enough decent roots to hold the plant, but stake(s) may help. I think the good air circulation in an open pot is more important than the humidity you're trying to achieve in the jar. I really don't think that the rot that you saw was the result of a few days or a few weeks. Orchids do what they do over a period of months, not days. So you won't get instant feedback on any regimen, either. If you don't expect instant response then you won't be disappointed... Patience.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:58 PM
Stella1979 Stella1979 is offline
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Hi everyone. Thank you all so much for the advice. Things are going well with the Clamshell Orchid so I thought I should update.

The remaining roots are hydrating so I've started a minimal fert routine with her because... the new growth is advancing faster than I thought and she's pushed out another nub! Yay!!

Prosthechea Cochleata rot-2019-05-15-11-01-43-jpg

I have another rescue case on my hands and think things are going well for that one too. A long-distance dear friend of mine is getting married next month. She was born and lived in the Philippines until she was 5 years old. I cannot attend her wedding but... her Mom is an orchid collector who lives near to her and my friend is just starting to get her feet wet with orchids. I thought a plant that would remind them both of their homeland would be a touching gift. Unfortunately, (depending how you look at it), one growth on the orchid was broken off during transport to me. My friend's plant was/is still large, mature, and quite capable of blooming... so I kept this single fan of Paphiopedilum Philippinense var. roebelenii for myself. She has a few roots so I do hope she will be happy with me.
Prosthechea Cochleata rot-2019-05-15-11-00-07-jpg

Last edited by Stella1979; 05-16-2019 at 01:19 PM..
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:59 PM
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Looking at the setup... I suspect the sun heated the LECA and cooked the rhizome.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:09 PM
Stella1979 Stella1979 is offline
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Interesting observation and one I had not thought of, so thank you for pointing that out.

I do not yet have years of experience under my belt so I really do hate to disagree but I thought I could point out my reasoning to see if sun heating LECA is something I should be on high alert for... of course, I do try to stay on high alert anyway, but for the sake of discussion and my own understanding, here goes.

The issue occurred when the Prosthechea cochleata was potted in LECA and charcoal with a top layer of sphag giving complete cover... so the LECA did not receive sunlight, it was always shaded by the sphag. Add to this that pots are well ventilated and I'm in coastal Florida only about a mile from the ocean. In other words, it's pretty breezy here most of the time. Because I am a life long Floridian and know how harsh the sun can be... my girls are on a covered porch that allows for direct sun (through the screen) only for a few hours in the morning. Even light lovers are in bright shade before lunch.

Cats and Dens are potted with the same medium and they do not have sphag top layers... I have not witnessed burning on any of these plants who have already been through one summer with me. Also, the Cats get a bit more sun than the others... though maybe these light loving warm growers are less sensitive... then again, Prosthechea cochleata grows in the wild in my area.

The Clamshell was potted in LECA and charcoal at the time of purchase and she had been living and blooming in what I think of as the Den house... a fairly bright greenhouse mostly full of thriving Dendrobiums.

Lastly, when attempting to address this issue, I concluded (assumed) it was the top layer of sphag and the moisture it retained near the base of pbulbs that brought on the rot. After the advice I got here I determined the best move was to stake her in her pot without a top layer this time. Now, I know it's only been 3 weeks, but she's grown in that time and there has been no more evidence of the rot issue. Can't say she's thriving yet but she appears to be doing well. Perhaps this is because she's become accustomed to life with me and perhaps the issue is not fully gone... time will tell.

So, given all that, does it still seem likely that the loss of two growths is due to LECA overheating the rhizome?

Last edited by Stella1979; 05-16-2019 at 04:11 PM..
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