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Serious root problems, droopy/brown leaves, and white spots, help

10 years ago

Hello all,

I have been reading this forum for some time to help me care for my orchids. But I finally am seriously stuck. I know I have a root problem, but every solution I have seems to affect the health of the plants in another manner.

All issues started last spring/summer when we have decided to repot all out indoor plants (which normally my mum does every 2 years or so with no problems). We have 8 and a half orchids (one is pregnant), a lot of unidentifiable plants that are next to impossible to kill and that keep insisting on having babies, 2 cacti and a palm looking plant.

The peat we repotted them all into along with one orchid that I bought then (from the same place!) was infected with something the internet told me larvae. Essentially white looking crawly things that then darkened and turned into little flies. My mums eye sight is not great and it took awhile to persuade her we had a problem. We had a similar issue about 4 years ago (I was plant sitting something that looked like it died and it infected mine) and through gradual dryness and small watering and repotting all plants returned to normal.

This time the problem was mega! We had so many flies it was horrific (mum wanted to throw all out!) My solution was to get the liquid oxygen to mix in water (as advised on ratio) and water rarely (that should give strength to orchids and kill the larvae), yellow stickers (all covered in flies!), cover soil in denim cloths (just in case that helps) and food drips (for orchids) as to give more strength to the plants. The flies are now coming down in the amount. They are still here, but just a few from time to time (5 stuck on stickers in my room in a week and I kill about 1 or 2 every day). Not as bad. And I can't see larvae in the soil. I could normally spot it crawling on the surface if it did not have enough water in soil.

I do not care how the other plants are taking it, just the orchids. The ones that are impossible to kill are still alive with a few brown leaves from time to time, mum's palm looks extremely weak (she is not too happy about what) ... but I really want the orchids to survive (especially the pregnant one - it has a keiki which scared me about a year ago when I discovered it but google helped to identify it).

I own 5 and a half and water less than the other 3 (they are mum's). All are either phalaenopsis or a hybrid of the species. I used to own a different species too (but those died in the last epidemic).

3 of mine seem to be dealing with the issue okay.

1) flowered (new stem grew out in the midst of the epidemic), has string deep green leaves (despite being the closest to the sunlight), only shrivelled roots light green (obviously from lack of water). This was potted in problematic peat. Was originally in moss.

2) and 3) okayish, sprang new stems on old ones (as these have not lost them - most of the orchid lost the stems pretty quick), leaves are deep green and a bit droopy, shrivelled roots slightly off light green. These are still with original bark chippings. I bought the plants within the year and decided not to repot.

4) pregnant. Deep green leaves, some are droopy. They are different to other orchid's not as spread out, as in thin but the same length (were like that from being gifted to me). I can't see the mother's roots, but baby seems fine, long 2 roots, and shorter 2 roots. Stem started growing but dried out at the top I cut it down just below the dry out and the tip dried out and hasn't regrown yet. Has 2 long, 3 short leaves.

5) my last orchid is horrific. It has lost all its leaves, and just recently its last stem (had originally 2). This orchid was the one bought along with peat and already infected. It was repotted then and goes through the feeders in a week (others take just under recommended month). The pot it is planted in does not properly fit in the decorative pot so water tends to drip down there (below the inner pot), and I pour it out from time to time. I wanted to get a plate instead, but mum said it should be fine (after all she has more experience in plants ... though not orchids specifically - 2 of the 3 she has are from me I think).

6) was doing okay until recently and even was getting ready to flower on a new stem (it did not have a stem for about 2 years); now the leaves are shrivelled, and browning and with white dots (I have a feeling it is rotting), the flower bulb started drying out and dripping with something.

7) leaves are small droppy and browning, no stem. Very similar to orchid 6). They are both on the landing. Until recently I was in charge of watering them and they had similar tiny amounts of water as my 5. But mum watered them last time (and she tends to give more water). Another feeling I think the pots are bigger than the roots (my mum had them for a few years and felt that when repotting came they needed space) ... hence for a few years they did not flower or have stems - concentrating on root growth. They were doing okay though, as with leaves until the epidemic. Now mum dug around the peat and cannot even find roots! Again similar to number 5), number 7) went through loads of feeders.

8) Shrivelled but still green roots. Drooping/shrivelled leaves, has started growing a small stem, but it is rather shrivelled with the buds. Might dry out.

We are planning on possibly buying some bark (not sure we want to experiment with the peat again!) for the 3 in the worst state. If the roots are still alive. My guess potsize they have went many down. We do not want to have a full repotting session yet as it is still cold/cool here and it will be risky repotting all of them.

Am I going in the right direction? What advice can people give about saving them? I specifically don't want to loose the baby! As that is new to me, and I read it needs to be repotted either when roots reach certain length/amount (check) or it flowered (it hasn't) or the stem went brown (it is deep green close to brown and has been all the time so I do not think that is the case). So I am deciding against repotting for now ... until the larvae issue is gotten rid of.

Watering? Can someone recommend the proper amount/time? I read winter should be once a month, summer once a week. So I am not down to per month. Is liquid oxygen okay? Can anyone recommend anything? Chemicals etc? preferably purchasable in the uk. I read about phyton 27 for repotting, but it is american and too expensive to get shipped to here. Should I start spraying the plants from time to time?

I know the issues are telling me I have a huge root problem (which I knew already) as the larvae eat them. But to what degree should I start worrying about droopy leaves, dried roots, or brown in case of 7), all leaves falling off. I want to get rid of larvae, but not kill the plants in total. What about the brown leaves and white spots? Is that rotting?

Please help. Any advice reassurance would be appreciated.


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