Orchid Is Growing Roots – What To Do With Orchid Roots Coming From Plant
By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
If your orchids are developing crazy-looking tendrils that look a little like tentacles, don’t worry. Your orchid is growing roots, specifically aerial roots – a perfectly normal activity for this unique, epiphytic plant. Read on for more information about these orchid air roots and learn what to do with orchid roots.
Orchid Air Roots
So what are orchid tendrils? As noted above, orchids are epiphytes, which mean they grow on other plants – often trees in their native tropical rainforests. Orchids don’t hurt the tree because the humid air and the surrounding environment provide all the plant’s necessary water and nutrients.
That odd-looking orchid root or stem assists the plant in this process. In other words, orchid air roots are perfectly natural.
What to Do With Orchid Roots?
If the orchid air roots are firm and white, they are healthy and you don’t need to do anything at all. Just accept that this is normal behavior. According to orchid experts, you should definitely not remove the roots. There’s a good chance you’ll harm the plant or introduce a dangerous virus.
Trim an orchid root or stem only if it’s dry and you’re certain it’s dead, but work carefully to avoid cutting too deep and harming the plant. Be sure to sanitize your cutting tool by wiping the blades with rubbing alcohol or a solution of water and bleach before you begin.
This may be a good time to check the size of the pot. If the plant seems a little too snug, move the orchid into a larger container because overcrowded roots may escape and look for space to grow above the surface of the soil. Be sure to use a potting mix suitable for orchids. (Some orchid pros think that a perlite/peat mix is less likely to produce aerial roots than bark.) Either way, don’t cover the roots because they may rot.
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Orchid Care – How to Grow + Propagate Orchids
Orchids are one of the daintiest flowers you can grow in your home. From supermarket flowers to exotic varieties, there is an orchid for every level of gardener out there. Whether you’re looking to care for the new orchid you received or you’re a seasoned grower who is looking to multiply with propagation, this guide covers everything you need to help you manage orchid care at home.
If you’ve ever owned an orchid or wanted to, you’ve probably been told these plants are notoriously tricky. Yes, they do require some special care and are truthfully a little bit higher maintenance than other plants, but you will be well-rewarded for your efforts.
Several varieties of orchids, including the popular Phalaenopsis variety, are readily available from nurseries, growers, and home improvement stores where they are sold in their flowering state.
Although the blooms may last for weeks or even months, getting the plant to create new flowers is sometimes a tricky endeavor. For some, they are left with nothing but leaves for months on end! But with the right type of care, lighting, and temperature controls, a healthy orchid will reproduce flowers several times a year.
How to Prune Orchids
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Orchids produce beautiful blooms, but they require pruning once the flowers fall off. You can easily trim dead stems and roots on your orchid to improve its overall health. You can also prune an orchid to promote flowering. Take good care of your orchid, and it may continue to grow and bloom for many years to come.
Next Steps: Where do you go from here?
A couple options:
#1 – More Free Orchid Tips!
At a minimum, I strongly recommending signing up for our orchid tips newsletter (it’s free!). That’ll give you some additional (more detailed) step-by-step tips you can start using with your orchids right away…
#2 – Get Access to ALL My Articles on Orchids…
If you’d like to learn everything you need to know about caring for ALL types of orchids we also have something called the Orchids Made Easy Green Thumb Club.
The Green Thumb Club includes a number of different benefits – including weekly lessons on all different orchid care topics delivered to you in a special, password-protected members area. You also get the opportunity to get YOUR actual questions answered in my weekly “Ask The Orchid Guy” column, which you can check out here.
The Green Thumb Club costs less than a meal at McDonald’s – and ALSO includes all sorts of ADDITIONAL benefits, including exclusive discounts at orchid suppliers from 20-40% off as well access to our “orchid diagnosis tool” which helps you identify what problem might be plaguing your plant.
Because the club is backed by a full 100% money-back guarantee for a full 30 days, if after checking it out you decide that it’s not for you or that you didn’t get value you out of what you learned – no problem! Simply send us an email to let me know, and you’ll receive a fast and courteous refund. Put it this way: If you’re not happy, I’m not happy!
(By the way, this link here will give you access to 50% off the cost of membership. A little “gift” for reading this article all the way to the end :-))
IMPORTANT: To learn everything you need to know about caring for your orchids, if you haven’t already I strongly recommend signing up for the “Orchid Care Tips & Secrets Newsletter” my wife and I publish by clicking here.
It’s completely free – and the best part? You can even choose the type of information you’d like to receive (reblooming tips, basics of orchid care, etc.) Join over 20,000 fellow orchid enthusiasts young and old and sign up for our free orchid care newsletter today! :-)
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- New pot for your orchid (choose one that’s 1 to 2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot)
- Potting mix (for more on what type of potting mix to use for an orchid, see Gardening 101: How to Care for an Orchid)
- Large bucket or bowl
Place the amount of potting mix you’ll be using in the large bucket or bowl and cover it with about twice as much boiling water. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature, then drain the potting mix.
Orchids are very susceptible to disease as well, so be sure to sterilize everything that will come in contact with your orchid during the repotting process.
One of my orchids had babies! Yes, many orchids grow little baby plants or”keiki.” You can remove these plantlets and pot it up to grow more orchids. Here’s how it’s done.
I have a Phalaenopsis “moth orchid” which is one of the more common orchids, especially for beginners. This orchid and many others (including Vanda, Dendrobium and Catasetum) can be easily propagated by removing “keikis” (Hawaiian word for “baby”) at the right time.
I’m a lazy orchid grower. Normally, you cut off the flower spike once the blossoms have dropped. But I usually leave it on the plant until it dies back totally and then I cut it off. The upside to being lazy is that thee old stalks keep on growing and eventually develop another flower spike rewarding me with extra blossoms!
My phalenopsis has rebloomed on an old spike several times and now it has formed 2 plantlets or keikis. It has also produced a new spike of flowers and to be able to show that off best I think the time has come for the keikis to be removed.
I have been letting them grow still attached to the mother plant since last summer.
They needed to have at least 2 roots and show signs of an active growing tip before I could cut them off and pot them up on their own.
Phalenopsis are one orchid that readily produces these new babies at the joints on an old flower stalk. Often, it is a sign that the mother plant is about to die and is trying to reproduce while she still can. My plant is very healthy, still producing new leaves and new flower spikes so I don’t know why it decided to form these two new plants but I’ll take them. Even after potting up it will be years before they will produce flowers of their own. They should be identical to the mother plant.
Once considered a luxury for only the wealthy to enjoy, orchids are being mass produced and can be found for sale everywhere—grocery stores, drug stores, and the big box stores—along with garden centers and nurseries. These plants are so inexpensive that many people pick up an orchid as they would a bouquet of flowers to brighten their table for a while. The orchid blossoms are long lasting—definitely outliving a bouquet of cut flowers. Some people treat these plants as disposable items. If they are not inclined to try and get the plant to re-bloom they will often just throw it out! Most of my plants have been freebies from friends who know I love orchids and will do my best to bring them back into bloom.
I cut the keikis off and potted them up individually in a little bit of fine orchid bark. Their aerial roots put up a bit of a struggle but I finally got them into the bark.
Here are the 2 keikis in their new pots. I will slip the pots into plastic bags for bit to make a humid atmosphere for the newly separated babies. Once they start actively growing on their own they can come out of the bags and go on the windowsill next to the mother plant. I can now add orchid midwife to my resume.
The plant looks much better now and we will be able to enjoy the new flowers without all the extra stalks and babies in the way.
See the Orchid Growing Guide for more information about orchid plant care and orchid varieties!