Orchid ID and care

Discussion in 'Orchidaceae (orchids)' started by kiwilynnj, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. kiwilynnj

    kiwilynnj Member

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    My sister-in-law has given me an orchid she has had for a couple of years. This was her first orchid and is my first one also. The only instructions she gave me was to water it once a week by letting water run thru the pot. From doing a little reading I realize I need to fertilize it regularly, and re-pot it --- sometime?, and give it the right growing conditions if I want to see it flower, a.k.a know what kind of orchid it is!

    I did see it flower when my sister-in-law first got it, but all I remember is that it has white flowers. Can any one identify the orchid from the leaves?

    Also it has four 'stumps' where the old growth was cut down. Should I pull these out or re-pot it and divide the plant to remove these old bits? There are three green 'stems' which have had a flower stem cut from them, and one new shoot. (the most right hand growth in the second photo). Should I cut down the old stems which have flowered in the past or leave them until they die down?

    I hope this is understandable....
     

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  2. Cynthia - Prescott - AZ

    Cynthia - Prescott - AZ Member

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    Hi Lynn. I'm new to this forum, but not new to orchids. Your plant appears to be one of the warm growing Dendrobium hybrids. Of course, it could also be a species, but much less probable. If it were a species, I could give much better cultural advice, but if this was bought at a Lowes, Walmart, Home Depot, or the like, it is most certainly a hybrid. Ok, you want to keep this plant at your normal home temperatures year round, and while it is growing, you should not let this plant dry out completely, but don't ever keep it sopping wet. It will always need air at the roots, and just slightly damp is a safe time to water. Now, when the plant is finished growing, and it does not have an active bloom spike, either just starting, or still with decent blooms open, you will want this plant to dry out extremely well, maybe leaving it dry for several days. This is the rest time for the plant and it usually occurs in winter. Once you see new growth, look for the start of new roots on the new growth, then start to water as above. Light: this plant likes lots of light, about 40 to 50% of full sun light of summer. This means that indirect light is not enough, and the plant will likely not bloom with indirect light. Full light in summer may burn the plant, so I recommend a filmy curtain. I bought some nice ones at Walmart here in the States, but don't know what the situation is where you live. During winter, especially far north, you can probably give the plant full sun, but you must feel the leaves when the sun just starts to shine on the plant. If they are luke warm, that's good. If they are hot to touch, you may burn the plant. It is the heat that does damage, and you can give a plant more light if a fan is blowing on it. I have a fan plugged into a thermostat in a window growing area, so when the area gets hot the fan comes on. Works great. Cynthia
     
  3. kiwilynnj

    kiwilynnj Member

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    Thank you so much Cynthia.
     
  4. I overlooked your question about the old bulbs. Generally, you want to keep a minimum of 3 or 4 mature bulbs in a row. Bulbs that are 4 or more back from the new growth can be removed, unless they have leaves, in which case you would keep them, but Dens. don't usually keep leaves that long (4 or more years). If the old bulbs can be removed without disturbing the roots of the rest of the plant, fine. But if they are not going to come out easily, then wait until it is time to repot. Repotting should only be done when the new growth is putting out a flush of new roots. At this point in time, the damage done to the old roots during repotting will be made up for by all the new roots being produced. Repotting should only be done when absolutely necessary, as it will set the plant back somewhat. If the the potting mix has degraded to the point of holding water too long, it is time to repot, except that you must wait for this ideal root growth time. So, until the plant reaches this stage, start stretching out the watering times to allow the plant to dry out well. Dens. usually start a new growth in spring after the good drying between waterings you should have been doing in winter, so watch things real closely in this respect if the mix is bad. It looks like your plant is in bark. If so, you can check the condition of the bark by pressing down on the mix with a finger. If the mix fights back, it is OK, but if your finger goes into the pot, the mix should be replaced in the spring (Dens.only, as other orchids may have their new growths at other times of the year). If and when you repot, remember to place the plant in the pot such that all the extra room in the pot is in front of the new/latest growths to give them room to grow. Growing over the side of the pot is another reason to repot. And always sterilize your tools before cutting any orchid, and I would even recommend using something for your hands before digging into the roots to remove the old bark. Cynthia
     
  5. Cynthia - Prescott - AZ

    Cynthia - Prescott - AZ Member

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    Backbulbs

    I forgot to address the question of the old bulbs. (This is my second attempt to cover this, the last one appears to have been lost in never, never land) The general rule of thumb is to keep 3 or 4 mature bulbs in a row. If the bulbs 4 or more back (4 or more years old) have leaves, you will probably want to leave them, but Dens don't usualy hold leaves that long. Use a sterilized tool to cut between the bulbs to be kept, and the ones to be removed. If the old bulbs can be pulled from the pot with out disturbing the rest of the pot, fine, or wait until repotting time (or, cut the old, probably dead, roots off the old bulbs to free up the old bulbs, leaving the old roots in to pot).

    A few notes on repotting, should you be tempted.

    Never repot if you don't have to (Paphiopedilums excepted). Repotting usually sets the plant back, and there is a specific time to repot sympodials (like Dens and Catts) to lessen the shock. Repot if:
    1) The mix is degraded. For bark, put a finger on top of the mix and press down. If the bark fights back, the mix is OK. If your finger goes into the mix, it is ready to repot. Be very careful with watering until it is time to repot, making sure the pot is drying out, as rotted mix holds a lot more water.
    2) The plant is growing over the side of the pot. When you repot, place the plant with its oldest bulbs against the pot to put all of the extra room in the pot in front of the latest growths to allow growing room. Pot size should allow for 2 to 3 years growth ONLY.
    3) The plant is growing in something you know you can't seem to grow orchids well in. Some people have a lot of trouble with moss, but at least moss is easy to remove without damaging the roots.
    4) The plant needs to be divided.

    The time to repot Sympodials, those that grow accross the top of the pot, is when the new growth is putting out a flush of new roots. At this time, the roots damaged during the the repotting process will be quickly replaced by new roots. The plant has rooting hormes in it at this time, and new roots will probably be stimulated to grow from old roots, plus the plant will have many new roots from the new growth. Cynthia
     
  6. GreenLeaf

    GreenLeaf Active Member 10 Years

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    The best time is when new roots come out of the new growth, and even the safest time is when the new roots start showing their green tips through the tissue near the bottom of the cane. When you can feel little bumps from the root tips trying to push their way out of the cane tissue. You can see little green circles about to poke through. That's the safest time to repot. I've found that young roots, especially about one inch or so, can be easily broken. The green root tips are very fragile, and if you break one then most likely it will not grow, or you will have to wait quite a while for that root to branch.
     
  7. Cynthia - Prescott - AZ

    Cynthia - Prescott - AZ Member

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    OK, so now I know what happened to my first post. This is a bit of an anoyance with the delay. Guess I'll just have to be very carefull with the logging on process. Cynthia
     
  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Well, in my defense, it's only me moderating things and it is the holidays.
     
  9. kiwilynnj

    kiwilynnj Member

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    Thank you again Cynthia and also GreenLeaf for passing on your valuable knowledge. Lynn
     

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