Orchid with burned looking roots

Asked November 16, 2015, 4:58 PM EST

I have a phaleonopsis orchid that I've had for about 5 years. It hasn't bloomed in about 2 or 3 yrs. It used to look a lot better than it does now, though; but it has seemed especially under the weather for the past yr or so. Not sure why. I water it about every 10 days with distilled water. The pot gets light when it needs to be watered. Every other time I water, I use a 12-6-13 fertilizer that was given to me to use by a local orchid grower at the local orchid show about a yr and a half ago. I haven't fertilized for a couple months now, though, that it's fall. Normally I fertilize about once a month in winter. I mist it every other day. I use Super Thrive occasionally, especially when repotting. It's in a loose bark mix, in a 4 in plastic pot, and sits on a humidity tray most of the time. When I water it, I hold it over the sink and pour a full watering can through it. Last week, I flushed out the pot under the tap thoroughly which had not been done in awhile. It got sunburned once a few yrs back when I put it outside to get some rain, so I haven't done that again. I almost didn't think it was going to survive the sunburn. It really hasn't been quite the same since. We've always had trouble keeping a healthy root system. It has had a couple accidents of falling out of the pot over the years. The last one was a yr ago. It was fully repotted at that time. Roots looked good at that time. My daughter's cats lived with us over the summer this yr so the orchid spent most of the summer in an upstairs bedroom (to keep it safe from the cats) where light was not optimal and there was a window AC unit that was run all the time. It was in an east window. It now spends its days in an east window downstairs on a windowsill and its nights in a darkened room with a fan (just circulating the air, not blowing directly on it) that I try to keep as cool as possible since it's fall now. As you can see from the attached 3 pictures, the orchid's roots look very dry, almost burned. They've looked that way for awhile. I broke an air root once about 6 mos ago, so trimmed it and used cinnamon on it, and I thought perhaps that caused the root to dry out, but it has gotten worse since then and more of the roots look that way now. (The plant always has lots of air roots and acts like it's trying to escape the pot all the time.) I'm reading about fertilizer burn today and wondering if that could be the problem, although I have used the fertilizer in accordance with the grower's instructions. Do you have any idea what the problem could be and what to do for this orchid?

Summit County Ohio orchids horticulture

2 Responses

You have sent very nice pictures but it is so hard to give any diagnosis just looking at pictures. I am attaching a link to the C.Wayne Ellett Plant and Disease clinic in Columbus, Ohio. It is my suggestion that you send a sample of your plant to them for an accuate diagnosis. There will be a charge for that service. They have all the information you need to send the sample on the site. I am also attaching an article from the American Orchid Society.

https://www.aos.org/Default.aspx?id=217

http://ppdc.osu.edu/submit-sample

I wish you the best with your Phaleonopsis Orchid.

I did forget to mention. Pay close attention to the Orchid Society's recommendation not to use distilled water.