Healthy orchid roots are easy to identify and maintain. You will know from the state of your orchid that the roots are healthy and thriving when you fulfill their growing needs and give them the right environment. But how do you identify and keep them healthy?
Continue reading our article for the answer to this and other related aspects.
- How To Identify The Healthy Orchid Roots?
- How to Maintain Healthy Orchid Roots?
- What Are the Benefits of Healthy Orchid Roots?
- How to Distinguish Healthy Orchid Roots From Unhealthy Ones?
- Is It Necessary to Repot New and Healthy Orchid Roots?
How To Identify The Healthy Orchid Roots?
To identify the healthy orchid roots, look at their color and how they appear green and strong; they will look plump. In addition, they will grow out and become longer, as some may also start growing out of their pot and in the air.
You must also keep in mind how not all orchid species have roots that prefer growing under the soil. The orchid roots drawing is common in epiphytes, and such roots are called aerial roots, or air roots, perfectly healthy. They climb on the trees for support and to fulfill their nutrition needs, when they belong to the types that grow on trees with all ease.
The roots not only get their sunlight needs to be fulfilled but also quench their thirst from the rainwater dripping from the leaves and the washed-down nutrients from the leaf surface as a result of rainfall.
Hence, the above-ground roots are healthy too, and as they grow, they will establish well, which is why the plant will thrive in the long run, and this can be a way that you would see the roots of your orchid are healthy.
Furthermore, your orchid has healthy roots when you see the top covering, known as velamen, white or silver in color and spongy. This portion starts from the root’s base and extends to the green or red tips.
In addition, you should not be concerned when you see such roots protruding in unexpected directions; they can grow up, down, sideways, or combine all three. You will even see orchid roots growing from stem; it is common and shows that the root system is healthy, and your orchid is growing actively.
How to Maintain Healthy Orchid Roots?
To maintain and ensure healthy orchid roots, you must monitor the color of the roots, allow the potting medium to dry between the watering sessions, and feed them with a diluted fertilizer in the week following the last watering session as fertilizing a dry orchid can cause fertilizer burn.
– Monitor the Color
By now, you know your orchid’s roots are healthy and happy when green. However, it only takes a short time for the color to change if you do not care for their watering needs. When the healthy roots start turning gray, it indicates it is time to water your orchid.
But if the color shift is more dramatic, like towards yellow or brown, you might have to make more considerable adjustments, like changing the surrounding growing conditions for your orchids. This would be like a sign to you that the plant is going through a stressful time, and so the conditions much be changed, whether it is the watering needs or the surrounding humidity.
– Let the Potting Soil Dry Between the Watering Sessions
Overwatered orchid roots are a common cause of concern, especially when you are a beginner. The roots cannot tolerate standing water, often resulting in orchid root rot. As a result, you must remember to let your orchid’s potting soil dry between each watering session.
The simplest way to check if the soil is dry is by placing your finger in the soil; if the top inches feel dry, it is time to water your orchid; this way, it will stay green and strong.
– Feed Them Right
While the aerial roots absorb nutrients from the air, it is still necessary to fertilize your orchid to keep them healthy. The roots thrive when you feed them with a liquid fertilizer. It would be best to choose fertilizers containing equal amounts, mostly 20 percent, of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium; look for the 20-20-20 on the product’s label. Mix the fertilizer with equal water to reduce its strength and feed your orchids.
Keeping this in mind, you must not feed your orchids when they are dry, as it can cause fertilizer burn; most orchid growers recommend fertilizing the following week after watering them. For more organic options, many orchid growers use crushed eggshells as they provide the perfect amount of calcium. So you may pulverise and sprinkle the eggshells onto the pot’s bark.
What Are the Benefits of Healthy Orchid Roots?
The benefits of healthy orchid roots include optimal absorption of the needed nutrients, acting as an anchor and keeping the orchid steady, and serving as a hidden space for storing nutrients for desperate times like the winters or for leafless orchids that rely on the healthy roots for energy.
– Absorb the Needed Nutrients
Your orchid will have all its nutrients if it has healthy roots, which is the right source to help transmit the exact nutrients to the rest of the plant. They absorb water and nutrition from the soil and send it to the plant. In addition to that, the aerial orchid roots absorb their food and water from the surrounding air, relieving you of the worry of feeding and watering them for a while.
– They Keep Your Orchid Steady
Since orchids are heavy bloomers, they need strong support to hold them in place; this is where the healthy roots come in. The roots twist and turn in every direction, anchoring your orchid plants.
In the case of rock-growing orchids, the healthy roots twine around the rocks for stability, burrowing in the rocks’ cracks or crevices and around the stones as well, and when it grows in a steady way, it would receive the right amount of sun and thrive.
– A Secret Place to Store Extra Nutrients
Healthy roots are a secret place to store the extra nutrients for the harsh winter months when it is in a dormant phase. A few orchid species are leafless and obtain energy and chlorophyll from their healthy roots. Such roots act as temporary storage until the orchid takes in more sunlight and gathers energy.
How to Distinguish Healthy Orchid Roots From Unhealthy Ones?
To distinguish between healthy and unhealthy orchid roots, you should look at their color and appearance. Healthy roots are green, while unhealthy ones are brown. You can tell the two apart by touch; your orchid has healthy roots when firm to the touch, and unwholesome roots are mushy.
The dry orchid roots do not count as unhealthy roots; watering them or giving them a good drench can restore them to their original state. However, the color of the healthy roots must be white to green and should never be bright green, as it indicates that your orchid is drowning.
The not-so-healthy roots can be all white or silver and this is also a matter where you may ask about how to tell if orchid roots are dead. The pale color indicates that the roots are lifeless. For this you should grab a pair of sterile pruning shears and remove them, so your orchid can focus more on growing healthy roots.
Is It Necessary to Repot New and Healthy Orchid Roots?
Yes, it is necessary to repot new and healthy orchid roots, take out the orchid from its pot, remove the potting medium, and trim the unhealthy roots, so the orchid can focus on growing healthy roots, choosing the right orchid pot for the roots to expand and provide orchid care.
– Take the Orchid Out of Its Pot
Take your orchid out of its pot carefully, as the roots are delicate and can snap easily. Invert the pot with one hand while keeping the other hand firm on the orchid’s base. Shake the pot gently to loosen the potting soil from the sides of the pot. This way, your orchid will come out damage-free, and in addition to this, you can roll the pot on a flat surface to help the orchid come out.
– Remove the Potting Medium From the Roots
If you have provided good growing conditions to your orchids, now is the time you will see healthy roots. Gently shake the orchid by grasping it from the stem to remove the potting medium.
Although most potting soil will leave the roots, it is necessary to soak the orchid in water to remove the medium stuck to the roots. If you are worried about the reasons for removing the potting soil being necessary, you must know that here, the motive is the hidden infestations or infections that have yet to attack the orchid plant.
– Remove the Unhealthy Roots
To ensure that your orchid’s roots remain healthy, you should trim or remove the unhealthy roots. The suffering, diseased, damaged roots can adversely affect the neighboring healthy ones. Use a pair of sterile pruning scissors and remove the unwholesome roots. You would see that such roots will stand out because of their color and appearance; brown and flat.
– Disinfect the Roots
To ensure that the healthy roots are infestation and infection-free, you must disinfect them. Spray a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution on the roots to kill leftover and hidden bacteria, viruses, or mold spores. Doing so will keep the roots healthy and away from any pests that you may or may not see, as they can be microscopic.
– Choose the Right Pot Size
As the primary purpose of repotting was to create room for healthy roots, choose an orchid pot at least four to six inches bigger than the previous one. It would be wise to shift to a clay pot as the orchids have big blooms.
Clear containers are attractive as they allow you to see the root development, but they are not the best for your orchids as they can easily topple over under the weight of the heavy blooms. You must also make sure that you sterilize the new pot so that you would stay away from any risk of damaging the plant if the pot has any bacteria.
– Place the Orchid in the New Pot
Add a little fresh potting soil at the pot’s base, just enough to create a mount for the orchid to sit on. Spread the roots uniformly and fill the remaining pot with the potting medium.
Ensure the potting medium is porous so the wholesome roots do not have accumulated water in the coming watering sessions. The porous medium also helps the roots receive plenty of air circulation, which is vital to their health in th long run.
– Take Care of Your Orchid
To ensure that your orchid’s roots remain healthy, you must take care of them. Please, do not water your orchids frequently, as it can lead to root rot. Watering them twice a week during summer and once weekly in winter is best. Remember, orchids are water-forgiving plants and would appreciate under-watering more than over-watering.
In the case of sunlight, not all orchid species have the same need; some require full sunlight the whole day, while some grow better in the shade. For instance, Phalaenopsis Orchids need bright but indirect sunlight, so make sure to locate them in such a place.
In this step, you should be mindful that your orchid’s species to avoid sunburn or orchid death and keep the roots healthy. The mismatched sunlight needs and the orchid species can stress out the roots. Furthermore, for fertilizing, dilute the fertilizer, before application, for optimal; results.
Through our article, you have understood what healthy orchid roots look like, what you must do to keep them that way, and many related aspects, so let’s sum up the key points:
- You can tell your orchid’s roots are healthy by looking at their color; white to green. They are plump.
- You must place your orchids somewhere that best suits their sunlight needs so the roots remain healthy.
- Overwatering your orchids can cause root rot and plant death, so please avoid it. Selecting a porous potting material helps in water drainage.
- Repot your orchids every one to three years, depending on the growth rate, to allow the roots to spread out and remain healthy; congested roots often die.
- When fertilizing your orchids, it would be best to dilute to fertilizer; excess fertilizer or a full-strength fertilizer can burn the roots.
By now, you know everything there is need to know about healthy orchid roots; their appearance, their growing conditions, how to ensure they remain healthy, etc. Contrary to popular belief, you can easily maintain your orchid’s roots; patience is all required.
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