If you take good care of your orchids, then it should be easy to spot if there is a problem.
These flowers are beautiful, so if there are any signs of disease you will spot it on the flowers first. What symptoms should you look for?
- Spotting on the flowers
- Flowers with puncture marks
- Mottled coloring on the flowers
- Bruised Flowers
- Flowers are wilting at a rapid pace
You may also find that the leaves are suffering too and the tell-tale symptoms are the changes in color from green to black, brown, yellow or a reddish color.
Once you’ve established that your plant has an illness, it’s time to find the cause and treat it quickly so that you don’t lose your plant. There are a number of pests which can infect your plants.
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Aphids can cause most of the problems with your plant, as they are a sucking insect and inject their mouth parts into the plant to suck up sugars and proteins. One of the first signs is a collection of tan-colored skins on the plant.
They also cause the flowers and buds to be deformed and the leaves will be covered in honeydew. To treat them, you can either brush them off or spray with water, but do it a few times to make sure you have eliminated all of them. Although these are not orchid diseases these pests can definitely spread them through cuts that they have incurred.
Spider Mites are very difficult to find and you’ll need a magnifying glass to find them. These pests move rapidly, so if you see yellow, green or red specks on the lower leaves or stippling on the leaves, flowers or buds, then your plant is infested. The only way to get rid of them is to wash the entire plant and wipe every leaf. This will ensure that the chance of getting your plants infected is reduced.
White Flies are similar to Aphids in that they are also a sucking insect, although they’re smaller. Adult White Flies are small, white, waxy winged insects that fly off the plant as soon as they are disturbed. They tend to stay close together and often congregate at the top of the plant. Sticky yellow traps, Neem Oil or insecticides should get rid of them.
Mealy Bugs have sucking mouthparts and are a soft-bodied insect. They cause the leaves to turn yellow and they drop early. Females can be up to 5mm and are oval shaped. They’re either white or whitish-pink in color and are generally covered in a white waxy substance. They used to be treated by painting the colonies with Methylated Spirits, but these days insecticides are more prevalent.
Scale Insects attack the sap in the plant and in large numbers turn the foliage yellow and can even destroy it. There are two types of insect, a soft-bodied and a hard-bodied, the most common being the soft-bodied which can measure up to 3-5mm long. They are green to brown in color, oval shaped and have a flattened appearance. Spray with an insecticide to eradicate them and prevent many viruses.
Fungus Gnats are also very common and their larvae grow in potting mediums which are either too warm, too wet or decaying too rapidly. To avoid them infesting your plant and avoiding many diseases, allow the potting medium to dry out between watering. The Fungus Gnat is very small being between 1.5mm-3mm in length. They are dark in color, have long legs, long antennae and have grey to black wings. Yellow Sticky Cards can be used to catch these pests.
Root Rot is one of the most common orchid diseases that can occur on all your plants. If the roots are grey and empty inside then your plant is infected. Remove the plant from the pot, rinse off all the potting medium, and remove the roots with a sterilized cutting knife or blade. Immerse the whole plant in a fungicide for approximately 15 minutes and then let the plant dry out completely. Repot with fresh potting medium and don’t water for 2-3 days.
This is a list of some probable causes of illnesses which can occur, and the main thing to remember is to isolate the sick plants so that you don’t risk the health of your other plants.