Fear not! Those are just their normal roots. If you shop at Calverts (and who doesn't!) , you probably have an orchid or two (or 6!) sitting around just hanging out being dormant. No, it's not dead, just resting before it decides to flower again. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to help it make that decision!
Most orchids, in their native tropical places, are epiphytes, which means they grow on other plants or trees for support. Their roots settle into cracks and crevasses, getting their nourishment from whatever falls on them ...rainwater, leaves, bird poop.....yummm. But after a while in your home in their pot they may need to get a freshening up of their root environment. If your orchid looks like this, it's time to repot.
In our discussion today we are talking about phalenopsis orchids, or as we at Calverts like to call them, "phal" for short. They are at the top of the list of orchids that are easy for beginners to care for and rebloom. All you need it a bright window, a little orchid food, consistency in watering, and PATIENCE. A neglected orchid could take up to a year to first bloom. Honest, you don't have to fuss over them. (You can talk to them if you want. Couldn't hurt. )
I like to use either long-fiber sphagnum moss or orchid bark, or a mixture of both. The moss/bark combo is good because moss is lightweight when approaching dryness, making it easier to tell when to water your orchid. Let me give you some basic steps that I use to repot an orchid. First, soak your medium in a tub of water. Gently work your orchid from its pot--sometimes it helps to soak it first. Cut back the long flower stems to just right above a joint, about the second joint from the bottom. Do this because sometimes your orchid will spike from the same stem. Then over some newspapers or the trashcan ( makes it less messy) pull out as much of the old moss as you can. You will find some shriveled or blackened roots, which will be soft, badly discolored, or appear as "strings". These should be trimmed away. (If all the roots are shriveled and rotted, it's best to let that orchid go on to plant heaven.) After your orchid has had its trim, it will usually go back in the same plastic pot. But first I like to give that pot some extra aeration, since that is what orchids prefer. Cut some extra slits out of the bottom of your grow pots. You can also trim back excessively long roots, just leave a nice quantity of healthy ones. If your skin is sensitive,wear "beauty shop" gloves as you wring out small handfuls of moss/bark and make a mound in the bottom of the pot. Gently spread the orchid over it, and then continue to wring out material and work it around the roots. It helps to soak the roots of your orchid a short time to make them less brittle. You want to get it packed between roots to hold the plant in, but not too tight. When you are done, the plant should sit with its bottom leaves just barely above the top of the moss.Water your orchid to settle it in its new home. Some sources say you should let it rest in a shady spot.(You may sing it a lullaby if you wish.) But unless you have ginormous windows, I've found I can just put it near a bright window (within 2 feet) and wait for things to happen.
I like to feed my orchids Schultz's orchid food about once a month. In between, I either use something like fish emulsion or sea tea, or plain water. Never let your orchid's moss dry out completely. Lift your orchid after you give it a good drink and you will be able to get a feel for how heavy it is wet, and how much lighter it will be when it needs a drink. Some say the moss should be like a rung-out sponge. Mine work out to need water every 7-10 days, depending on the time of year. You don't have to mist them, ( but they like it!) but do get water on any wild roots snaking out of the pot. They are often the happiest roots.
Give it a try--you'll be addicted!
And here for your viewing enjoyment, some re-bloomers!
Mon, April 1, 2013
by Tami filed under