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  #1  
Old 08-03-2020, 02:55 PM
bunnylotus bunnylotus is offline
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Someone help me save my Cattleya! (Black rot or what?!) Female
Unhappy Someone help me save my Cattleya! (Black rot or what?!)

I originally made this post in the Cattleya alliance group, my apologies as I think it is probably best suited for this subthread! Anyways, please read below and let me know what you think pictures attached as well!!

***

Okay, I'm embarrassed to have to describe what has happened but here it goes...

I purchased this Cattleya as a birthday present to myself from a nursery in Chicago and have since discovered and made some critical rookie missteps that have hurt the plant.

1) I tried to give it more sun / humidity. Our house gets 'ok light' but really not good enough for a Cattleya, so I put it out on our porch and... forgot about it. At the time it was in the morning and it was in the shade / indirect light, but we live in a high humidity warm climate, which I read can be good for these plants in the summer....again...if you don't forget about it. Well, the sun shifted and it scorched a whole bunch of leaves and the pot it was in, (black plastic) was so freaking hot when I collected it. IDIOT!

2) I probably should have repotted this plant when I received it because I have since discovered that the potting medium was so freaking old, rotted and decayed, and the root system was SO SO suffocated/tighlty wound around itself snd I now suspect that it has root rot.

3) In my attempt to inspect the plant I accidentally knocked a new growth and the new leaf broke off. WORTHLESS! I put cinnamon on the wound and it has dried up, but the pseudobulb is still there and it has an eye on it, so heres hoping.

Well, when the sunburn incident happened I took it inside, cried and cursed at myself lol, and then went to work. I sterilized my scissors and cut away any of the black dead leaf tissue (into healthy tissue below the scorch of course), and then used cinnamon to seal the cuts. Some of the leaves, which used to be huge, didn't have terrible spots so I left some of them alone so that the plant would still have leaves for photosynthesizing.

But...the stupid black spots and yellowing just kept spreading. Either on a leaf after I had already cut into or on one of the big leaves that I had left. So I removed some more of the leaf tissue. :-(

That clearly hasn't helped or stopped the issue. And then the plant got two new growths, (YAY), which haven't really grown or changed much in the past week - two weeks - (not yay?) - and I noticed that one of the new growths has some black / brownish parks on it...wondering if its from scrapes or any of the sap and now it's got some slight coloring on the leaves...praying this whatever it is hasn't spread!!!

Anyways, after seeing that I said screw it what is going on, and decided to remove the orchid from the pot and inspect the root system. Well, that's when I discovered the horrible potting job with the dead decayed sphagnum moss dead decayed plotting bark - so many dead roots brown black and mushy/stringy. I was watering the plant every ~10 days trying to get it to DRY completely before watering, but clearly since this thing had been packed so tightly my guess is between that + sunburn it was retaining water much more than I knew....

So after about 3-4 hours last week I tried to remove AS MUCH dead medium as possible and cut as many dead / mushy roots as possible - with a sterile blade. Because there were also so many roots in the pot and it was IMPOSSIBLE to trace to the source on the rhizome I couldn't really cut them all out of fear of cutting a lifeline to one of the healthy / live roots up top. You'll see the attached pictures for reference. Anyways, I let the guy air out for about a week and then tried to give it some water today hence why the roots look wet in the photos.

I noticed now that part of the rhizome base (probably the original base and pseudobulbs) are black at the tip and are yellowing...GREAT! Obviously not ALL of the rhizome and pseudobulbs are yellow/black as you can see by the newer growths and other bulbs up top. But this concerns me greatly. And I just have no idea as to what to do.

I so desperately want to save this plant. It is my only cattleya and is probably the nicest thing I own. I'm so mad at myself for all of the missteps but I know I have to chalk it up to experience now. I just hope that in that I can still save the plant. Does anyone have any idea as to what is going on with the orchid? Is it savable? Is it dying? Do I need to remove that part of the rhizome / yellowing pseudobulbs? I also really don't want to cause more trauma to this poor plant.

I'm currently waiting for a new clear pot to arrive and leca medium so I can place it in a bigger and more comfortable air medium so this whole over packing situation doesn't happen again. It's supposed to arrive tomorrow.

Anyways I welcome all feedback and next step advice from all you Cattleya/orchid experts. I have about 20 orchids in my house, but this is the only cattleya and I really want to nurse it back to health. Please take a look at the photos and let me know what you think I should do!

Thank you all so very much!

bunnylotus

p.s. this Cattleya is the - Thi-Ti 'Sweetheart' (Miniature) 6" - I purchased when it was not in bloom, but it was/is a mature plant. If I can save it I know the flowers will be stunning - key word if :-(
Attached Thumbnails
Someone help me save my Cattleya! (Black rot or what?!)-img_4747-jpg   Someone help me save my Cattleya! (Black rot or what?!)-img_4748-jpg   Someone help me save my Cattleya! (Black rot or what?!)-img_4749-jpg   Someone help me save my Cattleya! (Black rot or what?!)-img_4751-jpg   Someone help me save my Cattleya! (Black rot or what?!)-img_4746-jpg  

Someone help me save my Cattleya! (Black rot or what?!)-img_4745-jpg   Someone help me save my Cattleya! (Black rot or what?!)-img_4744-jpg   Someone help me save my Cattleya! (Black rot or what?!)-img_4750-jpg  
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  #2  
Old 08-03-2020, 03:47 PM
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I do not think you will have too much trouble saving it. I would remove all the dead roots and, once you get your new pot and medium, just stake/wire it in place on top of the medium so that it doesn't wobble. Set the pot in the place where you wish it to grow (somewhere humid) and spray any new roots each day until they bury themselves into the medium (upon which it is time to start watering). As the orchid might be stressed and you have said that it is in a growing stage, make certain that it has a good, steady supply of Calcium to help those cells form strong enough to resist infections.

I do not cut the leaves unless they feel mushy. When that happens, I cut them about six inches below the infection and then treat the wound and area around it with isopropyl alcohol. I have burned leaves in the past...it happens. I also failed miserably with bark and had to rescue rootless Cattleyas (I use red lava rock and basket pots now). It is part of the learning curve, sometimes. My first Cattleyas were mostly from a florist and in terrible condition when I bought them but, fortunately, most Cattleyas are tough and they do recover.

Good luck!
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Old 08-03-2020, 04:12 PM
bunnylotus bunnylotus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leafmite View Post
I do not think you will have too much trouble saving it. I would remove all the dead roots and, once you get your new pot and medium, just stake/wire it in place on top of the medium so that it doesn't wobble. Set the pot in the place where you wish it to grow (somewhere humid) and spray any new roots each day until they bury themselves into the medium (upon which it is time to start watering). As the orchid might be stressed and you have said that it is in a growing stage, make certain that it has a good, steady supply of Calcium to help those cells form strong enough to resist infections.

I do not cut the leaves unless they feel mushy. When that happens, I cut them about six inches below the infection and then treat the wound and area around it with isopropyl alcohol. I have burned leaves in the past...it happens. I also failed miserably with bark and had to rescue rootless Cattleyas (I use red lava rock and basket pots now). It is part of the learning curve, sometimes. My first Cattleyas were mostly from a florist and in terrible condition when I bought them but, fortunately, most Cattleyas are tough and they do recover.

Good luck!

Thanks for your comment! To me most of the roots looks dead to me still, would you agree? I'm really afraid of cutting more of them in case any of them are attached to the roots up top that are still green / silvery. Do you think I should still try and remove them?

Also what do you make of the black / yellowing rhizome pseudobulbs? Is that normal? I'm not really familiar with Cattleya's so I wasn't sure if that happens sometimes to the older part of the plant. My concern was that it had rotted from being buried in that potting medium and roots for so long, and being wet etc. etc.

And yes I really didn't want to cut the leaves, but I REALLY burned the plant, I mean it was mushy dead black nastiness. And it was creating these yellow rings around it etc etc. At first I tried to leave some of them thinking they plant will just naturally shed the leaf if it goes bad, but then with the mush I got afraid of infection. And of course the sunburn was not just at the tip of a leaf but right across the middle. I wish I had a picture of it when I brought it back inside. It was, well, a sight, lol.

How long do you think it will take for it to start to bounce back / perhaps grow new roots? A few months?

Thanks for your help~!
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Old 08-03-2020, 08:54 PM
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You can probably safely remove the two yellowing pseudobulbs if they bother you. Some people keep these removed back bulbs and stand them up in a jar and see if they develop new growth (or turn brown). I have had to remove dead/dying pseudobulbs on Cattleyas that I have gotten in bad condition (my early days of orchids). It is not a problem for the orchid.

I find dead roots by touching the root near the top and, if it is flat instead of plump, I just pull it off. Just sit down at a table with good light and take your time so you don't accidentally get any living roots. I remove all of the dead roots so that there isn't any rotting material in the new potting medium to cause harm to the new roots.

If you have living roots that are long enough to go into the medium, just let the root area heal by not potting up the orchid for a day or two. I like to stake/wire my rootless Cattleyas on top of the medium (I use lava rock) as it keeps the rock from hurting the tender new growth and it provides maximum exposure to air which prevents rot.

Your orchid has quite a few healthy pseudobulbs and it is getting new growth with new roots so I think your orchid will recover quickly as long as it now gets good care...you should either have flowers when these pseudobulbs mature or with the next set of pseudobulbs.


You did the right thing by removing the mushy parts. Do not get stressed by it. Everyone makes mistakes with their orchids when they are first starting. I made plenty in those early days (the reason I can give advice now). I now know everything not to do.

One mistake to avoid...moving the Cattleya around once it has been potted in its new medium and before the roots are well established. Even if it is wired/staked well in the pot, the LECA might move around and hurt tender new roots. If the new roots are brushed and cut from the medium, they might get infected. Once the roots are established enough that you can remove the wires and stakes, moving the orchid should not be a problem.
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Old 08-03-2020, 09:28 PM
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I never remove roots unless they fall off in my hand. I can't really tell what's dead most of the time. If they are slimy and black I know they're dead.
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Old 08-04-2020, 07:07 AM
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What I suggest is a bit unorthodox but has worked every time for me.

Take your bare root plant, exactly as shown in your second-to-last photo, hang it up outdoors somewhere in the SHADE where you will remember to water it a few times a week. Second best option, put the bare root plant in an empty terracotta pot outdoors (also SHADE).

Don't trim any more roots for now. Don't cut any more leaves unless you see that disease or discoloration is spreading from bad tissue into healthy tissue.

A plant that is left like this will eventually develop new roots anywhere and everywhere it is capable of making roots. It will take a few months.

This process is very simple and has always worked for me.

When you have a bunch of new roots a few inches long, you can repot into very coarse bark or other coarse media. If you divide at all, don't divide into pieces that are too small (each piece should have live roots and new growths).
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