Monday, 05 January 2015 23:19

Home Remedies and Old Fashioned Cures for Orchids

Before trying anything "new", please take the time to ask others their opinion or experience in trying something "new". This could spare you in trying something that others tried, and failed. In the meantime, any orchid you might experiment with will also thank you. 


Dolomite Lime: Thanks to acid rain here in the Northeast, our water is most likely acid. Our fertilizers are usually acid. Yet, not all orchids grow on the acid side; many grow on limestone outcroppings. Check on the culture of each of your plant s to grow them to their full potential. For instance, most Paphs and Phrags grow neutral to alkaline. The remedy is dolomitic lime. This will raise the pH and add magnesium, which is necessary. Plants can absorb fertilizer more easily and will grow faster and bloom more consistently. A light dusting on the surface of the media should help.

Epsom Salts: Here is a great source of magnesium, recommended as an additive to fertilizers in the fall for Phals and any other orchid about to set spikes or buds. Add about a tablespoon per gallon of water.


Beer: Some folks swear by beer as an additive to Vandas and Ascocendas, said to grow monster roots, larger than average flowers with more frequent blooming. And that's here in the Northeast. Use the beer right out of the bottle, and let us know the results. (Be interesting to see if anyone tries this, or has tried it and can share any results.)

Cinnamon: That tin of cinnamon powder in your spice drawer is a natural preventative for common minor orchid ailments. Its anti-fungal, anti-microbial properties will help to heal a newly cut or damaged leaf, and is effective in arresting bacterial rot. Remove any affected areas of the plant until you reach healthy green tissue. Then dust with cinnamon. The drying properties of cinnamon mean it is not good on the roots of the plant.


Feeling “Wilty”?

A Tip from Liese Herman Oak Hill Gardens Reproduced from the Oak Hill Gardens August 2011 newsletter.

The temperatures in Chicagoland continue to climb, along with the humidity. Across the country, record heat has been recorded. By the end of the day, after working 10 hours in a stifling greenhouse, I feel hot, sticky and "wilty."

Orchids will also get that "wilty" look. The leaves become rubbery and dehydrated, and begin to droop; just like us humans....This can be caused by hot, dry temperatures and too little water getting to the root system. However, comma, these same symptoms can also manifest themselves if the roots are rotted! This phenomenon can happen quickly this time of year if high humidity accompanies the heat. In hot conditions we have the tendency to water more, presuming the plant needs the extra moisture during hot conditions. However, comma, if it is very humid, and the root system stays wet and is not allowed to breathe, it's as if you are "water-boarding" your plants. Your plants are your friends. Don't treat them as hostages!
The best way to diagnose that "wilty" look is to remove the plant and study its contents. If the mix is wet and mold and the roots are mushy.....rot has occurred. If the mix is dry and crunchy, and the roots are white but dry...more moisture is needed.

In either case, it is best to re-pot the plant in fresh media. Put it in a pot that comfortably holds the roots. If rot has occurred, place the plant in a very small pot. This will help it to dry out quickly and new roots will form.

Similar symptoms will occur on mounted plants. Leaves will turn yellow and/or become limp or "wilty." When this happens, take the plant off of it's mount, pull off any old moss or potting material, and re-mount the plant.

Repotting or re-mounting the orchid seems to give it new life. Usually, within a week or two, new root growth will appear and the leaves will begin to firm up.

I, on the other hand, require quite different care to become rejuvenated. A cool shower and an ever cooler margarita usually does the trick for me!



Massachusetts Orchid Society, August 2011 Newsletter, can be found here.

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