Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sphagnum Moss Almost Killed My Orchids

This is an update on my orchids, whom I'll call "The Girls."  I had bought six of them and re-potted them along with one I had at home. I watered them with mild fertilizer once a week; I misted them at least once a day for humidity. Then yesterday, I noticed that two of them looked sick. The leaves were wilted and one leaf had turned yellowish. 

I Googled the problem and quite a lot of people blamed the Sphagnum Moss that's wrapped around the orchid roots as the culprit. Orchids do not want to be soaking in water! They want good drainage!

Moss! (That's the picture of the Killer Moss to the right!!!)

I brought the sick orchids outside and pulled them out of the pots. There indeed was Sphagnum Moss tightly wrapped around and wedged in between the roots. The Moss was sopping wet and was clearly causing the distress in the plants.

I bought bark and charcoal because I decided to make a better orchid potting medium.  I took out each plant and removed all the moss from their roots. I teased out the roots, clipped off the unhealthy roots, and re-potted the orchids in my bark/charcoal/peat moss medium.

The seven plants are outside drying off and under observation.

Wow! All six plants would have died because of that stupid moss. The two that are sick may still die, but I'll do my best to keep them alive.

The lesson I learned, dear Readers, is this: you need to re-pot the orchids from the garden stores . Remove that God-awful moss from the roots. Tease out the roots one by one. I dunked the roots in water to clean them out; I hope that was the right thing to do.  And you need to have a medium that has excellent drainage.

I'm going to place these orchids on a tray with pebbles and water, so they are not sitting in the water, but there is evaporation around them; this increases the humidity. I'll follow the rules of watering once a week with mild fertilizer and flushing once a month.  Apparently it's better to err on the side of underwatering.

I'll keep you posted on my orchid growing. The picture at the bottom shows my orchid medium: bark, charcoal, and some peat moss. There isn't a lot of peat moss. In fact, if the plants ever show signs of distress again, I'll just use bark and charcoal. The garden man said bark will do. It's good drainage that's important and the orchid roots need something to grab onto.

Read also
Remembering my Mother and Taking the Plunge (to Grow Orchids)
My cannibal pitcher plant caught a fly
Seymour my cannibal pitcher plant has a flower
Introducing my Cannibal Hanging Pitcher Plants
Pictures of Beautiful Women from Around the World
Garden Pictures from the Philippines and Vietnam
Garden Update: How My Orchids and Cannibal Plants Are Doing

tags: garden, flowers, orchids, epidendrum, phaelenopsis, orchid growing, problems

This is all for now,

1 comment:

Kararaina said...


Try coconut coir - available more cheaply in many hydroponic stores than in Home Depot. Also better quality. I use this a lot for starting seeds, orchids, plumerias. It is very much like what we use in the Philippines, it is made of coconut husk material that has been ground.

- Carol