Sunday, March 27, 2016

Using rooting hormone to rescue rootless orchid

Rlc (Port Royal Sound 'Big Red' X Chia Lin 'Shinsu #1')
This is my sickest orchid that is still alive after the long drought of neglect.  The orchid is in a sad little state, compared to my last post about it, almost 4 years ago

I've found that severe underwatering is just as capable of killing off orchid roots as overwatering.  A dehydrated orchid will put out new growths, but then lose them before they have a chance to fully mature.  In the picture above, you can see two nubs of pseudobulbs, which lack a leaf at the tip.  The leaves had rotted off when I neglected to water the orchid during a critical period of growth.

Two new growths at base of cattleya orchid

Looking closer at the base of the orchid, I can spot what looks like two new growth starts.  They look a little like purple onions.  I am hoping, that with more diligent care, I can nurse these two growths into maturity.

Normally, it seems that in a struggling orchid, new growths must develop first, and then they can put out a set of new roots.  Old pseudobulbs can provide water storage and nutrients to support the orchid, but do not generally produce active growth.  I am curious whether I could trigger some more growth activity.  I purchased a small amount of rooting hormone, to test out whether it can help spur better recovery for the orchid.
Orchid covered in rooting powder
The instructions on the rooting powder indicated to dip the base of the plant directly into the powder, and then to pot.  I padded the rooting powder along the base of the plant (though mostly trying to avoid the new growths themselves).  Afterwards, I returned the orchid to the smallest size plastic pot that I own.

Now, the onus is on me to remember to water the orchid every 3 days, so that it never experiences extended periods of dryness.  I'll check back in a few weeks to see whether the rooting hormone had any effect.  In the meantime, with two new growth starts, diligence in watering should be all that I really need to assure survival.

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