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Old 08-15-2006, 06:55 PM
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What color are roots supposed to be?

Hello, bought 4 phals last month in sphag. The sphag never dried, so after 2 weeks got worried, checked and found blackened roots. Dunked in peroxide and left in air while rescue supplies (phal mix, smaller pots, Physan) were on their way. Repotted on Friday (after dunking roots in diluted Physan) in wetted phal mix. Since yesterday, I can see some of the roots and they are green. I see references to white roots. What color are they supposed to be? Also, this phal mix dries out very fast, so I've been misting it (not the plants) in the mornings. I see the humidity beading on the insides of the clear orchid pots. Should I? There is plenty of air space visible.
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Old 08-15-2006, 10:49 PM
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Phal roots that have rotted from excessive periods of water will be squishy/mushy - in extreme will be totally sloughed away with only a central fiber left. If your roots are dark brown or even near black - yet firm - they are probably OK. If mushy or dried up they should be removed when repotting. You may have noted another product for treating plants with compromised root systems - Superthrive - a good root stimulant - found at lots of places (even Walmart!). It is not uncommon for it to take 2-3 weeks for some medias to dry sufficiently before rewatering depending upon their environmental conditions - you just have to adjust your watering accordingly. The normal color of healthy roots is a faded milky white/gray color or even light tan. If they are in a translucent pot they may have green tints from the light. The tips (growing portion) of the roots are normally green too. I think misting air roots is OK, though if you mist too much you could potentially in effect continuously water the plant - which would not be good. Phals in general are not misted my most people. Visible beading inside the pot is a good indication that you have moisture inside which is normal. As it gets closer to needing to be watered you should see it gradually disappear and the pot should get markedly lighter. Many people find a bamboo skewer a helpful tool to indicate when you need to water - when you pull the skewer out and it is still damp - do not water. Enjoy! mike
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Old 08-16-2006, 01:51 AM
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The clear pot will allow algae to grow in the pot at the mix/pot interface. This is not good, so I suggest that you get another solid color pot of the same approxomate size to slip the clear one into. Then you can pull out the clear pot to look at the moisture content any time you want.

The only way to make sure roots are alive is to gently squeeze them between your fingers to see if they are firm. If they are very dark brown to black, they may be dead and petrified, so some will be firm that are really dead.

I do lightly mist my Phal leaves, but only early in the day so that the leaves and crown are dry by the time the temperature starts to fall.

Cynthia
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Old 08-16-2006, 07:29 PM
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I have 2 conflicting responses here: green is OK and green is not OK. Now, of course I cut away the bad roots before repotting in the new pre-soaked phal mix. I also ran diluted Better-Gro orchid food once through the wetted mix. Should the roots be exposed to sunlight? I read that the roots can photosynthesize; to do that they have to be green (i.e. contain chloroplasts). Is green always algae or is green sometimes chloroplasts? I don't think a bamboo skewer will help with this medium, it's pretty coarse, as in you can see the BIG spaces between the chunks of bark, etc. Beading of moisture and feeling the weight of the pots will help more, I think. And why are clear pots sold as orchid pots, if light on the roots is bad for orchids? I feel sometimes as if there is a secret orchid language that is impenetrable. For certain, the language that says phals are as easy as African violets must be in a code I don't understand. Yet my vanilla plant is growing and growing like nobody's business. In 2 or 3 weeks, by my calculations, I'll be able to cut that new plantlet off the main vine and plant it.
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:33 AM
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I believe Cynthia is not talking about the roots themselves but a concern with algae growing in/on the translucent pots. On the other hand my thoughts are that lots of commercial growers use them so they can't be all that bad? I agree that putting them in another pot for show would help keep the light away from them if that is a concern - for me it has not been to date. In the wild, phals grow on trees exposed to the light all the time so the light cannot be bad for the roots per se. You might just keep an eye on the potential algae situation and see if in your circumstances it becomes a problem. Trust me - green roots are OK, especially the tips. As your plants grow they will typically have lots of aerial roots besides those that you put in a pot - obviously they will get just as much sun as the plant gets - which is perfectly normal. If you think you are getting conflicting information ask again as you did - we're all trying to communicate with each other what has worked for us - and to some degree we all do it a little different depending upon where we live and how we choose to try and grow different genera of orchids. One thing I will suggest - both Cynthia and Jerry definately know how to grow orchids! They are doing their best to keep the rest of us "in line". I have a bamboo skewer in a few phals that are in course bark and for me it does give an indication of what is going on 4-5 inches down - you might be surprised. LOL Secret code we all have eh? I used to think that it was harder to be misunderstood in writing than it was in person - but now I'm not so sure. It is always a challenge to try and answer a question in as few sentences as possible and attempt to really hit what the person is wanting to know - sometimes we make a hit (or even a home run!) and sometimes we hit a foul ball. Keep pitchin' 'em in there. Good luck with your phals.
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Old 08-17-2006, 10:06 AM
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Thank you, I will certainly keep asking. On one phal I can see a root that is above the level of the medium. It is a grey-green, more grey than green. When I water it, it turns more green. I read somewhere that this is a good sign. Do you agree? So far, the clear pots and coarse medium give me a very good view into the interior - I can see the humidity beading and I can see many of the roots as I lift the pots to examine them from every angle (these are small, in 2 inch pots). So far no algae building up on the pots themselves; I will be on the look-out for it.
My next question has to do with what constitutes bright indirect light. These are outside on my patio. This area is shady most of the day, getting maybe 2 hr of direct sunlight in late morning, shade for most of the afternoon, and light filtering through the trees in late afternoon. Is this enough light for the phals? The descriptions of the green colors of the leaves I read is somewhat subjective, and then these are a bit stressed and under recovery, that might affect the color of their leaves somewhat, no?
Thank you in advance for your help.
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:28 PM
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Yes - grey-green to more green when watering sounds normal to me - mine are the same. Good healthy roots have a milky/gray thin layer around them with a more green tip. When misted or watered that layer becomes more translucent and you see the green underneath. I believe phals with insufficient light have deep dark green leaves. A good amount of light and the phals will have more of a medium green. The more light you can give them without going across the "line" the more your phals will grow and flower. The leaves of some will start to turn red-dish tinted as you approach too much light. Like any plant, increases in light should be done gradually over days to prevent burn. On the surface the environment you describe sounds pretty good. Happy growing.....mike
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Old 08-17-2006, 01:03 PM
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Green is not important. Algae is important and is not OK when it gets very thick. I have found it can smother roots as it coats them and keeps them wetter than the surroundings. Sun light is fine on roots, but not necessary. Some photosynthisis can be done by roots, and a light green color, getting a darker green when wetted, is probably chlorophyll. But the amount of photosynthesis in the roots is going to be very small compared to what is done in the leaves. Very dark green that stays wet and slimmy is algae. Those that propose clear pots are only seeing the good side of such practice, whereas there are plenty of people that have had bad algae growth using such pots. I think the bad outweighs the good, except in the case of using a second pot to shield the sun and allowing you to still look into the pot for moisture. If algae grows, you won't be able to see anything. In the end, orchid growing is an experiment for each grower and you have to find out for yourself what works for you, just so long as you don't kill the plant in the process. Clear pots probably won't kill your plants. Work on getting the important things right. A tiny bit more synthesis isn't going to make much difference. I feel that root health and avoiding virus are the #1 factors in growing orchids, with enough light close behind.

Some people with your kind of mix put the skewer up against some very sensitive part of their face like the lips to see if it is cool (wet mix). I don't like the idea of running a bunch of skewers against your lips because of the possibility of cross contaminating the skewers with virus. But a few touching differing parts of your lips or cheeks is probably not a problem.

For light, your situation is probably OK, but feel the leaves when the sun shines directly on them, especially on hot days. Luke warm or a little warmer is OK. Hot to the touch is not. Cynthia

Last edited by Cynthia, Prescott, AZ; 08-17-2006 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 08-19-2006, 12:23 PM
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Although not as technically versed as Cynthia and Mayres, my experience with Phal roots are that green is good. I have seven phals with extremely long roots each continuing to thrive despite my ignorance on the subject.

The roots that are grey-green and trun green when white are normal. This is a sheath covering the roots that in nature wouldbe used to capture the surrounding humidity. Misting them is no different than a bit of rain falling on them. New roots tend to start out green and then stay that color if in a clear pot. I use this to check on the health of my root system and have found them quite helpful.

Cynthia does raise a valid point on algae by physan works. If I start getting concerned about the algae level in the pot, I just place it inside a dark container (usually a clay pot) until the algae dies off.
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Old 08-20-2006, 02:33 PM
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Well I did the scientific thing, and put the clear pots in dark pots for the past fews days. The roots turned silvery white. I still see no green anywhere else in the pots. I guess the roots were photosynthesizing and now they are not. My next color question is the leaves, since everyone's description of healthy phal leaves differs- bright-emerald, light grass-green, etc. if someone has a photo already in the gallery with a good color (and yes, I know monitors vary but the intensity should be approximately right) for healthy phals, please LMK.
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Old 11-14-2006, 12:22 AM
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Thank you Atcrosby for mentioning the darker pots until the algae dies. I've had this problem,especially in the greenhouse and tried the hydrogen peroxide solution, and physan to control it.Doesn't work well enough or fast enough. I don't want to overdo it with either of these methods. Until I acquire enough new mix to repot them all[Imade the clear pot error] to keep me from overwatering and now need a lot of medium for repotting, as I have a lot of them. I'll try this and repot as I can afford to. Thanks! Lucinda

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Old 11-14-2006, 01:08 AM
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For good prices on Orchid mixes, check out the internet for the mixes you're after. Some places like http:www.repotme.com and http://www.quarteracreorchids.com/ sell individual components so you can create your own mixes. This may be a more economical approach since you can get this stuff in bulk. I have discovered small amounts of diatomite mixed in with bark seems to be a hit with my oncidium alliance plants.

You might check ebay as well since they tend to have sellers who carry these items as well.
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Old 11-14-2006, 01:35 AM
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orchidsinjersey - here is an example of a phal with nice grass-green color. http://www.orchidgeeks.com/forum/new...like-this.html A little darker green than this would be OK too.
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Old 11-14-2006, 02:27 PM
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Mike, your picture seems to have a very strong yellow caste. This is the problem with color in pictures, and nothing to do with monitors. The lighting on the plant when the picture is taken is the first problem, and I have trouble in my greenhouse, from shadecloth and time of day, to reflections from green leaves, I never get the same color caste twice, and indoor lighting varies considerably, and none of it is like daylight. Then there is the color sensitivity of the film, or digital camera white balance that never gets it right, and then there is the difference between the two monitors, the one used to balance the color, and the one that views the picture. I just accept that when I convert from raw to JPG, that I adjust color so that the green in the leaves looks as natural as possible, which may not be the way it really is.

OrchidsinJersy, I would not worry about the color of the leaves. There is more difference in the genetics of Phals affecting the color than the light intensity that they receive, unless the lighting conditions are severely off, then you will see a dramatic difference. But the conditions you report sound more than adequate for light, with the direct light being a possible problem in warm weather, so keep feeling the leaves during that time when the weather starts to warm up again.
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Old 11-14-2006, 03:32 PM
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Cynthia - yes the variations in BOTH lighting, software and monitors makes it VERY difficult to tell the TRUE color - this was pointed out by the original question as well. My monitor at home looks pretty good on this, but it is not an expensive one either - so might not be the same as yours/others. In reality this plant has a nice light green versus the deep green indicative of plants that might not be getting enough light.
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Old 11-15-2006, 05:02 PM
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OrchidsinJersey, there are two kinds of roots. Aerial and those in the media. Aerial roots are silver green, get greener when wet, and if they have bright green tips that means they're actively growing. So in that respect, green is good.

Don't worry about what color the roots are in the medium. What you should be concerned with is texture--are they mushy or firm. If mushy, remove them. If firm, let them be. In this case, firm is good.
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