Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Darwinian orchid care

      Even as my updates have gotten fewer, I've also been finding less and less time for watering my collection.  Where before I was spending nearly an hour on my orchids every day, now I water everything in one quick go every few days as I remember.  Sometimes 'a few days' means almost a week goes by.

     With this kind of neglectful care, my collection is undergoing a rather harsh natural selection process.  Some orchids seem perfectly fine for now under this regimen of care.  Others, particularly orchids which were in weak health to begin with, have visibly suffered.

     My collection is now reduced by two.  I lost Dtps. Yu Pin Burgundy almost a month ago.  This was the orchid which rapidly lost all its roots due to what I think was excessive cold during the winter.  The phal continued to shed leaves, until nothing remained of the orchid.  RIP.

Infected orchid

     I also threw away my hapless Aliceara Matthias 'Glamour'.  This orchid has been trouble ever since I first bought it.  I had noticed a white fuzz on it a while ago, and recently it appeared to have spread.  I am not too versed in orchid pests, but I'm guessing this is 'scale'.  Regardless, I had the orchid isolated from the rest of my collection for a while.  Today, in a moment of frustration, I just threw it in the trash.  I'd rather have one less young, sick plant to take care of, than risk the rest of my orchids for the chance to see this one flower.


  1. It looks like you have mealy bugs. They are tenacious and can spread quickly. The mealy bugs are a constant annoyance in my collection. Next to repotting and mounting chores, pest control is a pretty close second in terms of time spent. When a plant has a problem, I usually try to clean it and isolate it for a few weeks to monitor it more closely. I use straight alcohol and cotton swabs to remove the pests and drown them in the alcohol. In harder to reach places, I use toothpicks instead. I then use 50% alcohol, 50% water, to a drop or two of standard liquid dish detergent in a 20-oz spray bottle as a sort of preventative maintenance while it's in isolation in addition to normal misting and watering.

    I'm also starting to see scale, and I'm finding that's a bit harder to control, but I'm, so far, following the same regime, but because of they tend to be glued on tighter, I almost always have to use toothpicks to gently scrape them off.

    With nearly 300 plants in the house now, it's a constant struggle trying to keep the pests off.

  2. I eventually give up on "friendly" pest eradication techniques like manual removal and resort to chemical warfare; with scale, I've found only repeated applications of a systemic insecticide really work. I've been using something containing Imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid at the centre of a scandal around whether or not it's doing bad things to bees); it seems to be really getting the scale problem under control; scale (and other bugs) have a nasty habit of hiding on roots and in leaf axils where neither manual removal nor contact insecticides have much effect. I'm using the dosage recommended here: converted into metric units.

  3. I had this moment too. That's when all my vandas moved from glass vases to clay pots with chc so they have to be watered once a week. You could change your media to something that retain moisture for longer period. My phals in clay with sphag can go over a week without watering in the orchid tank.
    Good luck.

  4. I lost a lot of cattleyas to mealy bug. I feel your pain!!! I spray with Bayer Rose and Plant pest spray-it has the Imidacloprid in it and seems to work. Nice to finally find something that will get rid of those little buggers. I now have just a few cattleyas left :( The bugs have not bugged the Phals or Paph's, thank goodness!!!

  5. I'm sorry, but please, don't water your orchids every day. Once or twice a week is quite enough.

    This site is very helpful, by the way.

  6. Why not read up on semi-hydroponics. Lecca and high drainage pots (side, not bottom drain holes). This will allow you to not water for a week, keep the orchids moist but not soaked, and have a lot of drainage and air flow to the roots. I am doing this with lava rock, though it keeps it a bit dryer than with lecca. For phals I put in just a touch of spag moss. The only ones I water "every day" are those that have no roots and I am trying to save. The other ones get watered weekly. In the summer here it is quite arid so I have to give them more humidity. A cool air humidifier is usually all you would need in a typical house.

  7. It is not scale, but mealy bugs! i had this too and no need to panic. i used MOSPILAN. i don't know if you can find it in your country, but it was easy to use. it is a water soluble powder and you need to apply it only two times at a week away. also the living bugs must be removed with a toothpick, before you apply first time the solution. you also can use something else like: Actara, Dantop, Pirinex, confidor, decis, oltifox50, bromofos30, onefon80. Bunt i can guarantee that MOSPILAN works because i used it.

  8. wonderfull orchids, congratulations.Best regard from Belgium

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