Help! Persisting Mold in All repotted Phalaenopsis and Cattleya
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  #1  
Old 11-02-2020, 07:28 PM
nuriko1set nuriko1set is offline
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Help! Persisting Mold in All repotted Phalaenopsis and Cattleya
Default Help! Persisting Mold in All repotted Phalaenopsis and Cattleya

Hello! I am a very new orchid grower. I have a couple of phal. and Cattleya. I am having mold problems in both.
The Phal. is an Equestris 100B, and it came as a very small plant in a 2.5" container. It was already in spike, which has grown quite nicely in the past 3 weeks. However, after i watered it for the first time, I notice white mold under the top root, just a day or two after I watered. So I panicked and repotted. It was originally in sphagnum moss, so I got some NZ sphagnum moss and re-potted it quite loosely. I did trim a couple of rotten roots and to disinfect, I dunked the roots in Hydrogen Peroxide, which I now know is very bad for roots. After i repotted it, it was good, until I next watered it. And again, the afternoon that I watered, mold developed again. So i repeated the process over, repotted, disinfected with hydrogen peroside, etc. And surprise, again, I have mold. So that's when I read about water culture, and thought maybe I need to let it air out side the potting mix. I soaked the roots in water for a day (which i read something is Semi-water culture), and of course the roots became COVERED with white mold. There were very few roots to begin with, as it is a very small plant. I'm sad to say it seemed to have come with healthy roots, and I've destroyed them all!
Please advise me on what to do. I am almost at the point of to giving up on this plant, but really really don't want to. I am currently airing it off right now. I have read about creating a small bag situation where the moisture encourages more roots to grow. Also, I am looking at KelpMax and would like to try to use it to encourage more root growth. I feel that the existing roots are now destroyed, should I trim those off first then try the bag method? If I don't trim, I feel that I should use some kind of disinfectant to clean the mold? I don't think I should use Kelpmax with the existing bad roots, please advise!

And it seems that it a repeated pattern with my Cattleya that I've repotted. I want to say it was the hydrogen peroxide? Since I used it on every plant. I repotted the Cattleya loosely with medium bark mix of perlite, lava, bark and coconut husk. It seems to dry out very fast, also in 3" container with a lot of air holes. I also run a small fan fairly close to the orchids. They are under a grow light as well. So I feel that I've done everything fairly ok, and really couldn't figure out what I've done wrong. I was afraid of watering too much, and feel that the Cattleyas were really dry before I watered. I used to water once a week, but dunking and soaking for half an hour. The pots seem to dry very quickly and the plants looked dehydrated (getting slightly more wrinkly pseudobulbs. So this week, i watered it twice, as the humidity is decreasing from around 50% to around 40% very quickly. I am in the middle of the east coast and have fairly dry winters. I am planning on getting a humidifier to help the aerial roots. It's aggravating to me that the aerial roots of new plants that have just arrived are plump and in great condition, after it's been with me a few weeks, they start to shrivel up, while the inside roots are molding. I am so envious of plant growers whose aerial roots are so plump and healthy.

For the Phal. I realized that things went south after I watered the first time, which I did by running distilled water through the medium (moss), so the next time I watered, I used a water can with a thin sprout and watered near the perimeter of the pot and used a limited amount of water, not even enough to run it through the media. I also have been fertilizing all the orchids with a 20-20-20 at 1/4 teaspoon per gallon, and using only water every 4th week.

Please advise me as to what I'm doing wrong and what else I can do. Thank you so much!
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  #2  
Old 11-02-2020, 08:07 PM
Orchidtinkerer Orchidtinkerer is offline
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We all have to start somewhere - your experience sounds like all the things most people have done at some point.

If the root is going moldy it doesn't necessarily mean it is beyond saving but it most likely is a sign it is. If they are soggy when you sqeeze the roots then they need to be cut off.
Once they are cut off you need to tug on the ends of every root to make sure there aren't any that are loose.

If the plant is strong enough it will eventually produce more roots if it is kept humid enough.

The trick to growing orchids well is figuring out how to keep them humid at all times without them getting too wet. This is something that is impossible to teach over a forum but what you need to get right next. You need to understand what a wet root looks like vs a dry root which turns a silvery color. The roots can never be permanently wet. But they can also not be completely dry for too long either. I try to achieve a half dry state where half my roots are dry looking, half are wet. That is a good equilibrium and best way I can attempt to describe how to keep roots happy. I personally have never bothered to learn how to grow in moss which is an artform if you ask me. Get it too wet and adios plant, it won't dry out fast enough. If you can get the humidity level right in moss it can be ok as it has antibacterial properties and holds water for a long time but if you get it too wet which is easily done then it is hard to dry out again.

It sound like the Fan is just making things hard for you, I use fans as a last resort if I really need them due too high temperatures or too low humidity.

Most of my orchids do fine without a fan so don't just use a fan as standard if it is going to dry your orchids too much, use a fan when it is needed, know when to use a fan and when it might be doing harm by drying the plants too much. Most homes do not need a fan or even a humidifier for that matter. But that is a separate topic as I don't like using something if I can avoid it - I actually use several dehumidifiers around the house to keep humidity from building up too much. I have a few hundred plants, they transpire a lot.

As a last point I will mention that you are feeding far too much. Use 1/4 strength, not half and use it every 4th watering instead of on 3/4 of the time.

A sick orchid is far harder to look after than a healthy one so if you feel up to saving this one go for it but it might be easier starting with a new one and try to keep that one from losing all its roots.

Last edited by Orchidtinkerer; 11-02-2020 at 08:27 PM..
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  #3  
Old 11-02-2020, 10:33 PM
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OT has mentioned all the important things.

OT made a good point ----- air-flow when needed. If the growing conditions don't require it, and air-movement dries up the orchids real quick - then air-flow probably won't be a good thing, such as in locations near the Rocky Mountains .... or some real dry low humidity desert region.

If fungus or mold does happen to grow easily, then consider bath-room condition. If after a hot shower and the doors/windows are kept closed ---- then the walls are going to start getting black stuff on them real quick after a while. But opening windows and doors to dry things out quickly ----- can cut down on that kind of thing, or prevent it. Same with towels on a rack in a room that stays humid and no air-flow. Nasty stuff is going to grow on the towel unless it gets the air-flow and dry out in good time.

Check out some of these links that contain some details that could be useful to you later - mainly regarding taking care of roots of orchids.

Click Here and Click Here and Click Here and Click Here and Click Here and Click Here
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Old 11-02-2020, 10:39 PM
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One thing that could be killing root is that peroxide. Roots have microscopic hairs (lots of surface area) and the peroxide destroys them. It can take a long time for an orchid to recover from even one peroxide attack on the roots... to do it repeatedly is likely to kill it. I know there are plenty of YouTube videos that recommend it... don't fall for that! The solution to fungal problem is to let roots go through a natural wet-dry cycle. (For Phalaenopsis not completely dry, but gently damp) When watering, water well - let the water run through the pot, which pulls air into the root zone and flushes out junk. (Like, hold under faucet, then let drain) Then wait a few days, and repeat. If you're getting repeat fungal infections in multiple plants, it sounds like you are getting cross-contamination from something else. Finding the source may take a bit of detective work. Sharing water is a major no-no.

How often to water needs to be determined by observation, and awareness of the plant's needs. Cattleyas should dry out more between waterings than Phalaenopsis. Orchids in the Oncidium group, and Paphs, don't want to dry out at all.. So Catts should be potted in big bark or other coarse medium, Paphs and Oncidiums in small bark, Phals somewhere in between. Sphagnum has some benefits, but it can be tricky to get it right... for most new growers, bark is more forgiving.
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Old 11-02-2020, 11:32 PM
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I definitely follow what Roberta mentions about hydrogen peroxide. I won't put that substance on roots of orchids after having noticed that it really can set the plant right back. I haven't killed an orchid with it before ----- but notice that the orchid can do pretty much nothing for quite a long time after applying hydrogen peroxide on them ------ not for treating disease ----- it was on healthy roots and healthy plants. That was my 'observation' of it, a lot of observation on it. There was a time I purposely sprayed all incoming orchids, roots, stems, leaves and all with hydrogen peroxide - prior to potting. Took quite a while for the orchids to start doing something. But if I don't do that root treatment ----- generally much different behaviour. The orchids generally just keep doing their thing, and start growing right away in my good tropical conditions --- no stoppage ---- eg. roots sprouting, new shoots sprouting etc.

I also believe that hydrogen peroxide can kill roots of orchids.
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Old 11-03-2020, 12:29 AM
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With regard to roots that look bad, don't be in a hurry to cut. Even if the outer part of the root is rotted, the "core" can still, in a limited fashion, transmit water. (They're not great, but without some roots, the plant has no way to take up water) Also, those "stringy" old roots serve to stabilize the plant in the medium - very important that it be held firmly in place so that new roots have a chance to grow. If the plant wobbles, those very fragile little root tips can get damaged and stop growing.

Kelpmax can be very useful to kick-start new roots. At this point, don't worry about the fertilizer... fertilizer is "vitamins" not "food" and won't revive a sick plant. Get the plant on the road back to health first.
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Old 11-03-2020, 03:31 AM
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Plants growing in houses with lower humidity will never have bright, fresh, fat roots like those on plants grown in a humid greenhouse.

Mold grows on dead plant material, not living material. You need to figure out why the roots were dead.

I suspect you are underwatering your Cattleyas. Once a week in an open mix, with a fan on the plant, means they are probably underwatered. You noticed the wrinkled pseudobulbs. If the mix is very open, and the roots have plenty of air, you can water much more often. The admonition to let Cattleyas dry out completely between waterings applies more to people growing in very humid climates, or in very humid greenhouses. Growing in a low-humidity home, it is better not to let them go bone dry.
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Old 11-03-2020, 04:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roberta View Post
One thing that could be killing root is that peroxide. Roots have microscopic hairs (lots of surface area) and the peroxide destroys them. It can take a long time for an orchid to recover from even one peroxide attack on the roots... to do it repeatedly is likely to kill it. I know there are plenty of YouTube videos that recommend it... don't fall for that!
I really don't understand where that peroxide craze comes from, and why people refute simple science, in the name of "I've always been doing it".

I've been told I don't know sh*t because I said to someone on Reddit that peroxide wasn't the solution to their problem.

Amazing how some persons ask for help and insult you when you provide it.
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Old 11-03-2020, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Fakename View Post
I really don't understand where that peroxide craze comes from, and why people refute simple science, in the name of "I've always been doing it".

I've been told I don't know sh*t because I said to someone on Reddit that peroxide wasn't the solution to their problem.

Amazing how some persons ask for help and insult you when you provide it.
A perfect example of why I don't post about orchids on Reddit, or only rarely on FaceBook. If I wanna be slapped in the face, I can easily do it myself.
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Old 11-03-2020, 01:47 PM
Orchidtinkerer Orchidtinkerer is offline
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I don't think the slap in the face phenomenon is exclusively linked to reddit or facebook. Seems to happen all over.

I'm back on this forum after a different forum got annoying. The annoying people come and go. I find it interesting how orchid growers "like" to disagree far too much though.

I just used some Hydrogen peroxide this morning to get rid of some mold. It does work fine without doing any damage but I dilute it.

What rubs me up the wrong way is laziness to find out any better and laziness to change existing practices. I see it on this forum all the time too.
At least if someone is being lazy I would appreciate them being honest about it, being lazy is fine but being lazy and claiming to be a good orchid grower just rubs me up the wrong way as growing orchids is something anyone can do, it just requires effort so for someone to come along and say they know best when putting in minimum effort - it just won't work and is basically "fake news". I have gotten annoyed with people like that.

I've also come across racists and I've been banned on a foreign forum for being foreign.

I know I prefer orchids, plants and animals in general to people, it's why I started growing orchids and I would guess it is similar with most other people, you need to be a little bit antisocial to grow orchids - or at least a lot of orchids so I understand there might be disagreements but I have seen too much disagreements from orchid growers, sometimes I have seen jealousy and also sheer boredom that has led to pointless arguments.

But this is going way off topic and could even cause an argument in itself which I hope it doesn't.

I do always have to ask myself "am I going to offend anyone with this post" as someone always seems to get offended about something these days
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