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  #1  
Old 04-29-2014, 10:55 PM
scr424 scr424 is offline
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Help!  Could my roommate's Orchids be making me sick? Male
Default Help! Could my roommate's Orchids be making me sick?

My roommate has had several orchids for many years and they really are beautiful. They bloom over and over again, but I do not think he has ever replaced the planting medium and he rarely trims any dead material. Sometimes they seem to have a cloud of dust in the aiir around them, and the leaves are very dusty. I looked at the roots and many of them have little dots on them, but some of them do not.

Are there pests which could be making me sick? I understand Orchids are very friendly to people with allergies, but i understand that mites that eat the decaying plant material are not. What do I do?

Thank you!
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  #2  
Old 04-29-2014, 11:04 PM
scr424 scr424 is offline
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Help!  Could my roommate's Orchids be making me sick? Male
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Here are the photos.

Thanks again
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  #3  
Old 04-29-2014, 11:19 PM
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Leafmite Leafmite is offline
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Help!  Could my roommate's Orchids be making me sick?
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Plants are very good for you as they filter the air and remove toxic chemicals from the synthetics in the environment. They also keep the air humid. However, I agree that if they are not maintained, they can cause some trouble with the breathing. I wouldn't ask him to get rid of them but perhaps suggesting a little care for them to help make the plants healthier and look more attractive might help you find the orchids helpful to your health and not harmful.

The potting material might be growing mold if it has decayed quite a bit. You might ask your roommate to pot the orchids in red lava rock or something that won't cause you to have allergy problems. As a bonus, the orchids' roots will not rot due to decaying medium. As for the leaves, they actually don't like being dusty as it blocks light for photosynthesis so rinsing them off now and then under a faucet is a good idea. If there are mites, they will eventually kill the plant. I have just gotten rid of an infestation on some of my plants and orchids by using olive oil cooking spray to suffocate them (you don't want to put this on the blooms but it won't hurt the leaves). I sprayed the leaves, let it sit overnight, then gently washed them off by using a mild soap and then washing them very well (but very gently) until the oil was barely noticeable.

Others will hopefully have suggestions, too. Good luck!

---------- Post added at 11:19 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:14 PM ----------

I didn't see the photos. Yes, those orchids need re-potted and the dead roots removed. I'm not sure how to treat the roots, to be honest. In my opinion, the orchids don't look too happy.
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  #4  
Old 04-29-2014, 11:19 PM
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silken silken is offline
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If you have mould allergies, that stuff in the pot could certainly be affecting you. It looks like possible mould, or if it is moving, then some sort of mite or insect.

I agree with Leafmite, that new media and washing the leaves off will be good for the plant and for you. If the media is very old and rotten, root rot and plant decline will likely follow.
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Old 04-29-2014, 11:20 PM
scr424 scr424 is offline
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Thank you I will get some red lava rock. Are all the little dots on the roots normal? Seems they are only on some of the roots, but they don't look healthy. Also - is advisable to remove any material that does not appear to be fresh growth? i.e. anything dry on top or anything rotten down below?
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  #6  
Old 04-29-2014, 11:23 PM
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I would leave any live material and cut off any dead mushy roots. If roots are alive, they usually turn green when they get wet and silver when dry. But some do get brownish when they are old just due to bark discoloring it or the sun maybe 'tanning' them. Dry and hollow are likely dead. Medium bark for orchids or an open airy orchid mix will work also. soak it first for a while and it will tend to dry out much quicker than the old stuff so may need more frequent watering.
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Old 04-30-2014, 12:26 AM
RandomGemini RandomGemini is offline
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I would also give these plants a good soak in clean water before removing them from the pot.

Wetting the roots first, will make it easier for you to handle healthy roots without breaking them when you go to repot. I hope this helps.

That's definitely mold. If you have allergies... then that's more than likely what's making you sick.
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  #8  
Old 04-30-2014, 08:03 AM
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The potting medium looks like a definite "mold factory" to me.
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  #9  
Old 05-02-2014, 03:23 PM
Paul Paul is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
The potting medium looks like a definite "mold factory" to me.
+2
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  #10  
Old 05-02-2014, 09:10 PM
lepetitmartien lepetitmartien is offline
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Help!  Could my roommate's Orchids be making me sick? Male
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There's two allergy candidates:
- Fungus fructifications (mould)
- There's certainly some acarians at work in the wonderful habitat in these pots, and acarians pooh is a wonderfully allergenic.

For the dust on leaves, you can remove it with a wet cloth, using milk would be even better (it'll be shiny and it'll kill the local mites)
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