5 September 2019 - Week 12

 

I was going into this update  under the impression that nothing has really changed in the progress of the four candidates.  I am always taking pictures of this group but I see no point in publishing a series of Phal. leaves getting a little bigger every two weeks.  I would get excited if once the new leaf reached maturity, that the second leaf of this year's growth cycle appear and start growing.

 

Earlier today, I decided it was time to do a real good "swishing" of the base of each Phal, perhaps I discover new roots during my cleaning.

 

Each Phal. was completely removed from it's suspension lid and allowed to freely float in my sink.  This would remove any dust from he leaves, loosen up any debris from the base and roots.  I would use a soft bristle tooth brush and very gently scrub the base and rinse further using a hand sprayer on "water pick" setting.  Some cleaned up nicely, others I cannot tell any difference, but it was easy to discover new roots.  Not talking about root growth on old roots, but actual new roots extending from the base.  This is exactly what I want to see.  As these new roots get about an inch in length, I ill remove one or two of the old roots. Hopefully this removal of old roots inspire additional new roots.  These new roots will eventually be acclimated to water culture by being submerged in their suspension pots. They will either take to the constant presence of water by growing below the surface, or skirt the top of the water perhaps eventually diving below the surface.  This will be the actual beginning of their acclimation process.

 

Littlefinger

 

 

A quick review - as we get caught up in tending the needs of the orchid we are bombarded with regards to watering that the potting medium must be of a condition to not retain water, but allow roots and medium to almost completely dry before the next watering.  Roots want to exchange gasses, that is absorb carbon-dioxide from the environment and expel oxygen into the enironment.  If the roots are surrounded in a dense humid potting medium, this exchange cannot take place.

 

Water culture or hydroponics goes against all of the above rules.  The roots are intentionally submerged constantly in water and not only do not complain, but the orchid thrives.  This is literally drowning the roots.  In a potted medium environment, this constant submersion of the roots in water would result in the eventual death of the root and perhaps the plant.

 

According to botanists, orchids were the last major plant species to develop in nature hundreds of thousands of years ago. They got the last pick of real estate and to survive and thrive, they had to acclimate to what nature provided them.  The first step in acclimating is by the roots.  How they function in absorbing nutrients, take in water, perhaps even conduct photosynthesis.

 

The process of acclimating some varieties of orchids to hydroponics or water culture is an extension of what orchids have achieved in the past, but not require the eons of time.

 

So the focus is on new roots, not the old roots.  Young new roots can adapt to any environment that the orchid finds itself presented with.   Old roots have old habits or a preference for the old environment and they cannot adapt.  "Training" new roots is the key to this transition.

 

It help that Phaleanopsis are epiphytes - meaning their roots do not require being buried in a medium for survival but rather they get nutrients from the surrounding environment.  Epiphytic orchids grow on trees, rocks, fences, roofs, anywhere they can get the basic nutrients required to survive.  The roots help anchor the orchid in place without causing any harm to the host.

 

The next stage of Littlefinger is to keep an eye on the two new roots.  Once they are about an inch in length (middle of September I hope), I will cut back the old roots (less than 1- inch in length) and raise the level of the water in the suspension pots providing a choice to these two and future new roots - dive in or skim the surface eventually extending below the surface of the water.  This happens in nature.

 

 

Above, one new root is pointing towards 9:00 o'clock (on an analog clock of course) and the other is pointing towards 3:00 andf 4:00 making this a quarter to 4, pardon the joke.  In the center of the picture above, facing you, I am not sure what that is.  It could be a third root.  pointing to the top of the picture, just behind the root on the right, is the remains of the old spike.

 

The above image was taken after a gentle cleaning of the base with a soft bristle toothbrush and a hand sprayer acting like a water pick to remove any old debris.

 

 

Above is the flip side.  If I never identified this as the base of a Phaleanopsis, it be fun asking others to take a gues at what this is.

 

A closer view of the larger root on Littlefinger.

 

 

Tyrion

 

 

 

 

 

Davos and the Hound are progressing along perhaps a week or two behind their counterparts mentioned above.

 

Mid month I will once again look at the condition of the roots and start cutting back where I can.

 
 

I can always be reached at    if you have any questions related to this or orchids in general.

 

 

hopes of a bulb pushing new growth (A work in progress)

hopes of a bulb pushing new growth (A work in progress)

straight forward potting of an Oncidium, happy roots, dead roots and aerial roots

straight forward potting of an Oncidium  (A work in progress but the images are available)

straight forward potting of an Oncidium  (A work in progress but the images are available)

straight forward potting of an Oncidium, pointing out the rhizome and roots visible in medium against pot

straight forward potting of an Oncidium

straight forward potting of an Oncidium

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