How Orchid Roots Help in Producing Magnificent Blooms

Updated March 20, 2013 by Carl Harrison


Orchid roots are the most important part of the plant, because the strength of them is going to determine how bountiful your blooms are going to be. They are known as either fine or thick-rooted depending upon the type it is. An example of a one of the finer plants is an Oncidium, while the popular Phalaenopsis is thick-rooted.

Trimming The Base of Your Plants

You should trim this part of the plant whenever you repot it. You can just use your hands to remove any old planting mixture that might be intertwined. You will easily be able to tell the difference between the brown, dead parts of the plant or even the mushy ones and the nice, green healthy ones. Be sure to cut off all dead and rotting debris. The goal is to have air circulating continually around them. This will enable the plant to have more flowers and longer lasting ones. Always repack the pot with fresh new planting media.

How These Plants Work in Their Natural Habitat

When you think about the roots of your plant, consider outdoor types. No outdoor varieties grow out of the ground in the way that a regular flower or vegetable plant does. In the rain forest for example, they are found growing along trees with their base attached to the tree bark. Some of them grow as lithophytes along rocks, while others spread out along the ground. But even these ground-dwellers have shoots that run along the ground and not into it.

All of these outside types receive water from rain but none of them have roots that reach into the water and draw it up into the plant. The base of these plants soak up rain water that is passing by and a skin-like covering on this part allows them to store water for when it is dry. They can get very dry and shrivel up but will do it all again the next time there is rain. High humidity in a tropical environment can give moisture to the orchid base but they are never in water.

Over Watering Can Be Avoided by Using These Simple Steps

That is why so many of them die from being over-watered. Many people think that they should water their flowers once a week like they do most of their other plants, but this, for an orchid is very unhealthy. That’s because they do not drink up the water. Just like the outside plants they have little hairs on their core which take in the water they need when they are dry and thirsty. But any water that is not immediately absorbed by the plant is not going to be absorbed at all.

Problems That Can Arise

This water is going to sit in the planting medium and make the plant unable to get the oxygen it needs. Then the plant will rot and it will get sick and die. Plants do dry out at different rates, but basically what your flowers need are one day of a little liquid water and then 20-29 days of humidity without watering. By then the base will be dry again and they can use a little more water. This is something to think about in winter. In the heat of summer they need to be watered more often but still try to not overdo it.

Selecting a Good Medium That Will Provide Support for these Roots

The kind of pot and potting mixture you use is going to help determine how fast your particular variety dries out. Sphagnum moss retains a lot of moisture while bark only holds a little. That is why fir bark is a good choice for many of them. The planting medium should have lost all of its liquid water and most of its absorbed water before the roots should be watered again.

The example that is often given of lifting your orchid to see how heavy it is really works. Then lift an empty pot filled with just planting medium. If it is time to water your blossoms, the weights will be similar. If your plant is heavier, wait. And, remember that it is better to give them too little water than too much.


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