Orchid expert shares ‘critical’ advice to avoid root rot – signs your plant is suffering

Orchids: Importance of drainage discussed by plant expert

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Orchids are ornamental plants that are famous for their colourful and fragrant blooms. However, caring for orchids can be a challenge, especially if you’re a gardening amateur. Root rot is one of the most common problems with orchids.

Your orchid can be saved if it has root rot, if it’s caught early enough.

Signs of root rot

Your orchid’s leaves may start to droop and your flowers may start to drop off if your plant has root rot.

Another way to diagnose root rot is by pulling the plant out of its pot.

If the roots look mushy and dark in colour then it’s likely your orchid has root rot.

How to save your orchid from further damage

Take the plant out of its contaminated potting mix.

You will also need to remove the infected soil from the root ball by pulling it away from the roots.

Ensure the tools you are using are disinfected.

You will also need to remove all of the bad roots that are infected with the rot.

Cut off any black roots or any that are really soft.

Your plant may not be salvageable if the majority of the roots have root rot.

Treat any remaining roots with fungicide to help kill any remaining bacteria and mildew.

Be careful where you discard of your contaminated soil and roots as putting them in the garden could damage other plants, according to Orchid Bliss.

Then, lay your orchid down on some newspaper and dab the roots with a paper towel to make them as dry as possible.

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Allow the plant to lay like that for around 12 to 24 hours so it can dry out.

Next, disinfect the pot the plant was in and ensure it’s clean before putting in fresh potting mix.

Ensure the new potting mix is porous – airy yet firm.

You can buy orchid-specific potting soil which is ideal.

Put your orchid in plenty of light but not direct sunlight.

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How to stop your orchid from developing root rot

Root rot is mainly caused by overwatering an orchid.

Leaving it standing in water for long periods of time can lead to root rot.

Potting mix that is decomposing and is too acidic can also damage the roots.

If your potting mix is too compact, this could also suffocate the roots.

Most importantly, ensure your orchid is in a pot that has plenty of drainage holes.

The holes will allow excess water to leave the soil.

A pot that is too wide can also make an orchid stagnant in the middle.

Eileen, from The Home Depot’s garden centre, said having adequate drainage is “critical”.

She said in a YouTube video for The Home Depot: “You need to have a pot that has holes.

“We’ve got a clay pot here that does have some holes in the side.

“Your plant will need to be inside of a pot that does have water drainage, but you can place it inside of a decorative pot that doesn’t have a hole.

“But you always want to make sure that your plant has adequate drainage. That is critical.

“The roots cannot sit in standing water or they’ll rot.”

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