Just inherited 4 orchids - ID and care assistance, please! :)

Discussion in 'Orchidaceae (orchids)' started by tstradling, Aug 16, 2007.

  1. tstradling

    tstradling Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I just inherited 4 orchids. I don't know their variety, but know that they were all purchased at Home Depot / Lowes type stores in the US. I was told that they used to bloom annually, but have been dying off and no blooms since moving to north Florida from central Florida. They have been living in an air conditioned home where the temp never varies, and the previous owner tried moving them to different spots for light. They were never fertilized. I'd love to revive them! Is there hope? I know that regular fertilizer is a must, as well as proper light and humidity with stones and water under the pot. Can anyone please identify them and point me to care instructions for the varities (i.e light location?)? I have a covered outdoor screen room that faces southwest where current daytime temps can get to 100F (38c). Would any of them be better there than air conditioned indoors? Thanks a bunch! :)
     

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  2. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    #1 is a Dendrobium, #2 Paphiopedilum, #3 & #4 are Phalaenopsis.

    All will benefit if placed in an outdoor screen room for the summer. They will require more frequent watering though if placed outside vs. inside.

    #1 - bright indirect light, some sun - must almost dry out between watering
    #2 - low light, full shade - never dry out
    #3 & #4 - moderately bright light, no full sun - inbetween the previous two for water.

    Fertilize at half strength & they all probably need to be repotted. #1, #3, & #4 is coarse orchid mix and #2 in a fine orchid mix.
     
  3. tstradling

    tstradling Member

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    Thank you for the quick and excellent advice! :) You recommend half stregnth fertilizer. Is that every time I water? Do you think they'll perk back up and bloom again one day? Should I remove the dead or dying leaves from the Paphiopedilum?

    Thanks again.
     
  4. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Whatever the fertilizer container tells you for strength, cut it by 1/2 or even 1/4, then follow the recommended frequency. Orchids are not heavy feeders and are sensitive to excessive salts. Remove dead leaves only, leave the dying ones until they are done.
     
  5. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Definately cut the fertilizer down and increase the light as much as possible. Most professional growers recommend something closer to 20% of the recommended amount.

    Looks like the first one is a Dendrobium, the second an Oncidium and the last a Phal. I can't tell for certain the third one. They need some help, but you already know that.

    Do you know for certain these have bloomed since they were brought home from the home improvement stores? Unfortunately, many plants sold in those kinds of centers are forced to bloom using hormones. It cuts several years off the growing time and saves the original grower and the store money, i.e. Bigger Profit faster. But regretably many of those hormone fed plants never bloom after the first bloom cycle.

    Here is a good set of instructions for orchid care. I wrote it with the help of numerous orchid experts from South Florida and Hawaii, most of them professional growers who grow multiple thousands of orchids.

    http://www.exoticrainforest.com/caringforyourorchids.html
     
  6. tstradling

    tstradling Member

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    Sounds like there is some contention over #2 being a Oncidium or a Paphiopedilum. Would they require different amounts of light?
     
  7. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    You can determine which it actually is easily. Just look at the base of the plant. If you see what appears to be a "bulb" known as a pseudobulb it is an oncidium. Otherwise, likely a Phal. But you should know there are countless genera of orchids, not just the 4 or 5 many people often believe. That pseudobulb holds the water for the plant. My guess is, if this one has a pseudobulb, it will be nearly flat. The plant appears to not be holding moisture. If the plant were healthy that pseudobulb would be filled with water and quite plump.

    Almost all the orchids we love to grow in our homes come from a rain forest. Certainly different rain forest receive different amounts of rain. But most receive a lot of water! As a result, these plants are used to being watered all the time. Virtually daily in their wild state. A lot of people believe they can convince the plant to "do" without as much water. But if you go to a professional growers place of business in South Florida you'll see they have large overhead misting systems that spray the plants several times a day. I know of several that do it up to 6 times a day. They are trying to duplicate nature.

    One problem your plants may be experiencing is bad potting media. It needs to be changed annually in most cases. If you use ground coconut media mixed with charcoal you may get away with every 2nd or even 3rd year. But off the shelf potting media decays quickly. And to make the situation worse, excess fertilizer can build up in the media and "poison" the plant. That is why knowledgeable growers recommend a reduced amount but given more often.

    Generally, only certain orchids will do well in reduced light and with reduced water. In our atrium we water them every single day during the summer and 3 days a week in the winter. Most prefer a little drying out during the winter. That corresponds with the rain forest since it does not rain as often in the winter.

    I have an associate who owns an orchid nursery in Panama. He tells me the ground is absolutely muddy all the time from all the rain. Orchids receive a lot of water in their natural habitat. Others will try to give you different advice and you'll just have to decide for yourself what is best for you. But it make good sense to me to at least attempt to try to duplicate the natural condition any plant expects.
     
  8. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    My apologies. The second is certainly a Paph. I've got several eye diseases and have to view these photos with a set of visors. I don't always see things as "clearly" as I'd like. One of Hawaii's largest Paph growers helped with the writing of this article. It may be of some help in determing how to care for the plant:

    http://www.exoticrainforest.com/growinstrucpaphs op.html
     
  9. arcticshaun

    arcticshaun Active Member

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    I agree with the identification of all 4 rescues. I always recommend repotting orchids when they first come into your care. It gives you a chance to assess the health of the roots (your plants will have 3 different types of roots) which will let you know how to care for them in the short term, as well you will know how old your media is for the next repotting (I put the date of repot on my plant tags). In terms of root health your dendrobium is probably the hardiest (fine spaghetti like white roots with green tips) your plant can grow a completely new root system on a new growth if given proper conditions. Your Paphiopedilum has the most sensitive root system (furry brown roots with whitish tips) more sensitive to root rot and mineral salt build up, err on the side of caution with fertilizer until plant recovers. Your Phalaenopsis orchids may have two kinds of roots (exposed aerial roots as well as roots submerged in the media) but are usually silvery white when dry (greener when wet) with bright green tips on the ends. Phals and Paphs can sometimes regrow impaired root systems using the spag and bag treatment and can then be potted in orchid media (bark, charcoal, spagnum moss, coconut husk, leca etc). Remember orchids should be potted into containers based on the size of the roots not the plant (some of mine are in almost ridiculously small pots set into larger clay pots for stability). Good luck.

    Shaun
     
  10. tstradling

    tstradling Member

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    Thanks, everyone for the help. All 4 are now living outside on the back porch for the summer. It is hot here in Florida, but they get water and light food every 2 or 3 days. The Dendrobium gets some sun a few hours a day, the rest are under the shade of the roof and get no direct sun on them. Hopefully they'll bounce back!

    All the best,
    Tim
     

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