Q: Just purchased one of your beautiful phalaenopsis...love it. I can't find any mention of the long root-like growths from the base of the plant...about 6" long...can these be removed?
A: The roots of the plant that you see are what help the plant absorb moisture and carbon dioxide from the air. Also known as “air roots” these are perfectly normal and don’t indicate that you need to repot your plant. You should also keep them on the plant as long as they remain nice and plump and are a sage-gray green color. If they turn yellow or shrivel up, you can wait until your plant stops blooming and then trim them off with a sterile scissors or razorblade. Long story short, please try to keep all of the healthy roots on your plant. Try not to stuff them into the ceramic pot (let them come out the top) so they can “breathe.” Orchids like to be root-bound and can stay in their existing pot for about 2 years after you’ve purchased it. Then, the potting medium does start to lose its nutrients and breaks down, so it’s time to re-pot. You can find lots of info at www.matsuinursery.com/repotting.
Q: I have a customer with a nobile dendrobium that has asked me about roots growing from higher branches. It is a healthy plant and he wants to repot it so it continues to grow. Should I just leave this high roots alone, they are healthy, and just repot as I would a normal orchid?
A. Usually when roots start on the stems it means the roots below are not happy. My guess is they still have this plant in the deco pot (which doesn’t breathe as well as a terra cotta). Not much you can do other than repot and keep the roots below warm so they can recover. To get more flowers the plant has to grow new canes. Leave the old ones on.
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