Orchid roots drying out is a severe problem caused by several reasons, like improper watering, low humidity, sun exposure, heat stress, and injuries. These factors can hurt the orchids even more if you don’t do anything.
Luckily, you can fix dehydrated roots by doing simple things, which we have discussed here; this is why you should continue reading to learn all about the little details.
- Why Are Orchid Roots Drying Out?
- How To Keep Orchid Roots Hydrated?
Why Are Orchid Roots Drying Out?
Roots usually dry out when you don’t add adequate water. Also, environmental factors like temperature extremes and low humidity can sometimes dehydrate them, even if you water them appropriately. In addition, exposing roots to direct sunlight and injuries can also lead to rapid water loss.
– Adding Insufficient Water
Orchids don’t like to grow in a moisture-less medium, as water is necessary to maintain the appearance of their parts, including the roots. Therefore, the signs of dehydration are visible when you don’t water enough, and you will see the roots are looking dry.
Moreover, how you water also impacts how long the roots stay wet. If you are misting or pouring water, the roots can remain moist for a long time. In such a manner, you should also keep in mind that if you water the orchid with ice cubes, these roots can dry quickly.
– Low Humidity Levels
If you check and see that the orchid roots dry on top, then you should try to check the humidity levels near the plants using a humidity gauge or hygrometer. It is because the chances are the moisture level is limited in the surroundings.
Low humidity forces the orchids to evaporate faster, and now what happens is that the water starts to leave rapidly, leading to drought stress. When this happens, leaves and aerial roots dry out quickly. You may also see wrinkling or curling of leaves in this situation, in addition to look dried out.
Furthermore, the ground roots absorb more water to keep the orchid hydrated during humidity stress. As a result, the potting medium will become moisture-less quickly, leading to dehydration.
– Exposure To Direct Sun Rays
Not putting the orchid plant in the right place can cause its roots to dry out faster. This plant likes indirect light to stay healthy and hydrated. But if you shift it to a spot where direct sunlight falls, roots will dry out within a few hours after watering.
The reason is that direct sun rays heat the orchids. As a result, water starts to leave the surface area. In addition, you will see yellow spots on the air roots, leaves, and stems if you put the orchid under the sun.
– High Temperature (Above 85 Degrees Fahrenheit)
Scorching heat during summer can hurt the orchids in many ways, including drying their roots, significantly when the temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Just like in the case of placing orchids under the sun, high temperatures can also force the water to evaporate quickly.
You must be keen that the temperature is a bit above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and orchids still face heat stress. It happens when inexperienced gardeners make the mistake of placing the orchids near a heating or radiating source.
The heat problem is a headache for mainly outdoor gardeners. The temperature is usually less severe indoors. If you are wondering why the roots of outdoor orchids are getting dry, we suggest you use a digital thermometer and check the temperature.
– Poor Water Retention Properties of Potting Medium
When you are growing orchids, it is simple if you overlook this detail, as the ground roots begin to dry out abruptly. All the above-discussed stresses damage the aerial and potted roots in almost the same way. But another reason roots under potting mix dehydrate quicker than needed is poor water absorption properties.
Potting media like bark and coconut fibers are ones that have low water retention capability. That is why the water you add drains out within a few hours. Similarly, those who choose Styrofoam, rock, or perlite as substrates will also notice the signs of dryness on the ground roots.
You can confirm the dryness by carefully digging the medium with a trowel and touching the roots. In such a case, you must search for the water absorption properties of the medium or substrate you have added to pinpoint the reason behind root dryness.
– Root Injury
If you examine well and check how your orchid roots yellow in color and looking dry at the same time, then chances are they have been hurt or injured. It usually happens after you repot the orchid or shift the pot from one place to another. Similarly, pruning carelessly can also damage the roots. You should look for signs of cuts or wounds on unhealthy orchid roots to confirm.
Furthermore, diseases like root rot can also rough the root’s outer surface. Orchid roots white to green in color, are healthy and free of diseases. So, if you notice discoloration, you know the reason behind the quick drying is a wound or illness.
Dead orchid roots look brown and black. Furthermore, such roots feel soft or soggy when you touch them, and again the rotting of the root is also as an injury, because they get to be damaged. It is a sign of death if you don’t see roots growing. But if the roots are white to green in color, they are healthy.
How To Keep Orchid Roots Hydrated?
To keep the roots hydrated, place the orchids in a cool area and give adequate water. If the problem is with humidity and temperature, ensure the orchids stay free from these two stresses. Furthermore, give the roots some time if they are sick or injured.
– Water in the Right Amounts
The main thing that fixes root dehydration is watering. For the right approach, it is best that you add around one-fourth cup to moisten the roots. You can mist the air roots and flower spike or spray directly on the growing medium.
Pouring the water is also an excellent way to keep the roots fresh. However, many unintentionally add more while doing so. In such a case, you should be sure that you stay away from excessive liquid, as it can lead to orchid root rot, and this is why so be mindful of how much water you pour.
You must also remember how dry roots are healthy roots which is the reason that you should water them instead of removing them. Also, find out the reason behind the dryness and fix the problem. Insufficient watering, low humidity, temperature stress, etc., cause the roots to get rough and dehydrated.
– Grow Orchids in Cool Area
Remember that direct light and high temperatures can cause water to evaporate, and you can prevent these two problems by finding a sun-free spot with proper ventilation. East-facing windows are the most suitable ones indoors. It is because morning light enters through them, which has low intensity. Plus, the air circulation is also optimal there.
Areas near west and south-facing windows are generally warmest. We suggest you use curtains or shade cloth if you can only place orchids near west or south-facing openings. Also, install the vent system if possible to ensure maximum air passage.
Choosing a cool spot outdoors is a challenge, so try to put the orchids under their shade if you have grown trees in your outdoor garden. The shade of the roof, awning, or wall are suitable sites too.
Provide shade using a shade cloth if no spot is free from the sun. You can also make a mini growing tent or greenhouse if you have extra money. Place the orchids in it and use fans to cool off the orchids on hot days.
– Raise Humidity Levels To Reduce Evaporation
If the humidity gauge shows the moisture level is below 40 percent, you should take measures immediately to stop the roots from drying out. The most effective one is turning on a humidifier because the function of this machine releases water vapor into the air, which raises the humidity within a few minutes.
You can also mist orchid aerial roots daily to tone down humidity stress, but spraying the roots with a regular nozzle can hurt them. In this case, you use a fog mist nozzle as it emits fine water droplets. Also, keep the humidity gauge near the orchids when you aim to mist to ensure you don’t over-spray the plants.
However, many think spraying orchids every day is a hard job, and for them, the easy solution is humidity trays. Fill these trays with water and put the pots on them. Ensure the water does not enter the pot, or the chances of root rot and other fungal diseases will increase.
Furthermore, keep the humidity measuring instrument beside the orchids to know the moisture situation. So try to take off the pots when it shows above 50 percent reading. In addition, when it comes to fixing shriveling roots, you must ensure the humidity and temperature stay ideal near the orchids. Also, misting the roots every day can make them healthy again.
– Repot the Orchid Carefully in Sphagnum Moss
You should also not let ground roots stay dry; keeping this in mind, it is best that you change the potting medium and use one with better water retention properties. Moss is the first choice in this situation as it can hold moisture longer than many other media. You can also choose a commercially prepared premium orchid potting mix.
Ensure every root uniformly spreads when you plant the orchid in the new pot. If these roots tangle, they won’t be able to absorb the water properly and will stay dehydrated. Use any stick or spoon to straighten the roots when you put the orchid. After this, cover the roots, give water timely, and witness the change yourself.
– Allow the Roots To Recover From Stress
If roots face any injury or disease attack, give them time to restore their health. The wound will heal on its own. But if the roots are infected, cut the sick ones to stop the spread.
After this, apply the appropriate fungicide or bactericide to control the infection. The roots should get healthy within a few weeks. You will then see the impact of watering on the roots. That’s all about how to keep the roots hydrated.
Roots should stay hydrated if you want orchids to remain healthy; you can do some things to address the problem, which are:
- Incorrect watering, high temperature, low humidity, and poor water absorption properties of substrates can cause them to dry out quickly.
- Maintain humidity above 40 percent and temperature less than 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make sure to place the right amount of ice cubes around the roots, not too much, or too little.
- Give dry roots some time to recover and with the humidity and watering you will see them thriving again.
It’s that simple, and the roots will stay hydrated and happy if you follow every step carefully!
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