Why orchid roots rot and dry

Orchid roots differ from each other in color - some of them are light shades, others are dark. Some indoor plant lovers claim that this feature can be used to distinguish between living and dead roots. In fact, in many plant crops, the root system can be completely healthy, but naturally dark brown. Conversely, light, healthy-looking roots after cutting are empty and dry inside. The underground part of plants of yellow or brown color acquires such a "color" from the substrate in which it is located, from some nutrients from the soil and from a lack of light. In general, talking about the health of an indoor flower, focusing only on the color of the roots, is wrong.

Key Signs of Orchid Root Problems

  • A viable root is firm and firm.
  • The dead root may have a healthy appearance, but it is easily squeezed out when pressed.
  • A healthy root with a small necrotic area can lead to the death of the entire plant, as it becomes a carrier of a dangerous infection and is not a full-fledged part of a flower culture. Such a root is not able to provide the plant with sufficient nutrition and all the necessary nutrients.
  • One cannot guarantee one hundred percent health of the root part only by the beautiful appearance of the aerial part of the orchid. Root disease can occur at the initial stage without loss of decorativeness and attractiveness of the flower. It is during this period that it is necessary to take measures for salvation. At a later stage, the plant may die.

The main reasons for the withering away of orchid roots

  • Frequent and excessive watering, leading to systematic waterlogging of the substrate.
  • Insufficient lighting in the room.
  • Repeated overdrying of the soil in a flower pot due to untimely watering, especially in the hot summer period.
  • Violation of the basic conditions for keeping plants.
  • Diseases of fungal or bacterial origin.
  • Houseplant age.

How to save an orchid with dead roots

The first thing that needs to be done is to create all the necessary conditions for the plant for full development and growth. If at least one of the points is violated, you need to fix everything immediately.

If problematic roots are found, it is urgent to find living green buds on the underground part of the plant, from which new shoots will appear and the development of a new root system will begin.

To awaken dormant kidneys, it is recommended to use the healing power of ordinary water. The roots of a diseased plant must be immersed in a container of water for 1-2 hours and placed in a bright place (for example, on a windowsill). The air temperature in the room should be about 20 degrees Celsius. After this water procedure, the water must be drained, and the next morning the rhizome of the flower is again immersed in a vessel filled with water.

Daily recovery baths can take a long time - from one month to one year. Experienced flower growers advise 2 times a month, instead of immersing the roots in ordinary water, use a bath with a growth stimulator. The solution is prepared from one liter of water and one drop of a stimulant (for example, "Epina"). In autumn and spring, such procedures are more effective and give more chances for saving the orchid.

Planting a rescued orchid

When new live roots appear, it is recommended to stop all feeding. Young shoots will gain strength in a few days and very quickly add in growth. A plant with roots at least 5 cm long is suitable for planting in an individual flower container. The further development of the indoor pet will depend on proper care and compliance with all conditions of detention.

  • Watering the orchid should be carried out only after the substrate has dried. Irrigation water volumes are moderate.
  • The most suitable substrate for an orchid consists of the bark of coniferous trees, pure sphagnum and charcoal.
  • To maintain the integrity of fragile roots, plants need support in the form of thin sticks. They are immersed in the soil mixture in a pot to the greatest depth, and then the shoots of the flower are tied to the supports.

You can also reanimate a diseased orchid with a greenhouse method. You can make your own greenhouse or purchase it from a specialized store.

Transplant of a Phalaenopsis orchid with rotten roots.

Orchid roots rot, dry - what to do?

Author: Natalia Category: Houseplants Published: June 26, 2012 Reissued: February 25, 2019 Last revised: March 19, 2021

I was prompted to think about this topic by a discussion on one of the forums on how to distinguish dead orchid roots from living ones. Many amateur flower growers claim that dead orchid roots differ from living ones in a shade of color! They say that living roots are necessarily light, and dead ones are dark!
From my own experience, I will say that you should not rely on such a principle, since there are many plants in which the color of the roots is naturally dark, brown.

Drying reasons

The most important reason that the roots of an orchid dry out is the wrong watering regime. Or rather, a lack of moisture. First, the stage of artificial drought develops, which provokes the plant to actively form a peduncle, stems, buds and flowers (see also why the buds of an orchid fall off). Therefore, it often happens that all the roots of a flower have dried up, but at the same time the above-ground part of it is beautiful and healthy.

Important! How to save: if there is a lack of moisture, they increase the volume of water for each irrigation procedure and shorten the intervals between them.

The increased humidity of the environment and excess watering also lead to the drying out of the underground part. Excess water leads to the atrophy of this organ, which leads to either decay or drying out. To remedy the situation, they also change the irrigation regime, increasing the interval and gradually decreasing the volume of water.

Incorrect fertilization with minerals and nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium triad leads to burns of the underground part, salting of the environment. As a result, cells lose their ability to absorb moisture and nutrients.

Poor water quality also causes the orchid to dry out its roots. Water is defended before use, boiled. It is best to use rainwater.

Aging is also one of the reasons for drying out. Over time, the flower renews all its organs, the roots are no exception.

The poor quality of the soil leads to the loss of the substrate of its basic properties. This leads to reduced aeration and reduced access of nutrients to the roots, which begin to dry out over time.

An incorrectly selected temperature regime leads to the defeat of the entire flower and also affects the roots. Extremely high daytime temperatures, improper watering, extremely low night temperatures are prerequisites for diseases of the underground system, which can cause it to dry out.

The discrepancy between the size of the flower and the capacity offered to it. The underground part of the plant is in the development stage for a fairly long period of the year. When new roots do not find room to grow, they begin to intertwine with old ones, which leads to a lack of space. Because of this, old roots become dry, giving way to new ones.

Orchid root rot

Rotting of the root system of an orchid in a pot is a problem almost more common than drying out of the upper roots. The reason for this is excessive watering of the plant and the accumulation of moisture in the substrate.

Despite the fact that orchids are native to the tropics, in nature they prefer mostly arid places. In winter and autumn, they have a conditional period of rest. Photosynthesis slows down, reducing the plant's need for moisture and nutrients. The absorption of moisture decreases, respectively, which leads to decay of the roots.

A rare plant transplant can also lead to rotting. Transplanting an orchid is optimal every one and a half to two years. Old soil will retain moisture for too long, preventing the roots from drying out periodically. It also interferes with normal air circulation. The roots, constantly wet in such soil, rot quickly.

Drying of aerial roots

The appearance of aerial roots in phalaenopsis - flower health indicator.

Their drying is fraught with rotting of the root system in the substrate, which over time can lead to the death of the entire plant or its long resuscitation.

The first manifestations are seen on leaf condition... They can wilt, turn yellow, or change their color.

This state of air roots is reflected in flowering.

The plant can not only not give the intensity of flowering and the insufficient size of the flowers, but simply shed flowers.

This happens especially often among beginners who do not have experience in properly caring for orchids.

And the air roots, which the orchid need to get moisture from the air, generally scare them.

If the external state of the orchid is not very deplorable, then it is possible to reanimate it high-quality irrigation... That is, to provide the root system with the necessary composition of water, without overmoistening it.

If the condition raises concern, then you need to do more difficult resuscitation, which includes the following preliminary activities:

  • Instrument preparation... It is desirable that it be sharp and well disinfected: scissors, a knife or a pruner
  • Retrieving (with a dry root system, this will not be difficult) flower from a pot.


The fact that the roots have died can hardly be determined even inexperienced florist... Their viability is checked immersion in water.

If in 20-30 minutes. their condition and appearance remain unchanged, then you can trim without regret.

Disinfection of slices

After pruning, they are allowed to dry out a little, and then they must be sure disinfect places of cuts.

For such a procedure, finely crushed activated carbon or cinnamon is best suited.

Can process the cuts with brilliant green, but experts advise against doing this.

Zelenka dries up intra-root vessels.

Planting in a new substrate

In any condition of the root system after pruning, it needs to be given time dry well.

If you had to completely remove the roots, then at the beginning the orchid is planted in moss - sphagnum, which is periodically sprayed until more or less strong roots appear, and only then lands in a new, prepared according to all the rules of the substrate.

Why do orchid roots rot

Representatives of the Orchid family are beautiful plants with rather fragile roots. Often, growers are faced with a problem when they begin to die off. Next, we will analyze why the roots of the orchid rot.

By the appearance of the plant, it is almost impossible to understand that something is wrong with the root system. Therefore, you have to examine the rhizomes directly. Only after that it is determined why the roots of the orchid dry out.

Why does the orchid's roots dry and what to do in this case:

  1. Excess moisture. At an elevated level of humidity, the modified shoots do not have time to get saturated with water, since they do not dry out completely.
  2. Incorrect or complete lack of lighting. If the plant does not have enough sunlight, then the flower stops absorbing liquid normally.
  3. The ground is of poor quality or too dense. Due to the increased density of the soil, oxygen does not flow to the root system. As a result, the flower stops developing.
  4. The surplus of introduced nutrients. When using top dressing with a high content of phosphorus or potassium, burns are formed on the shoots.
  5. Insects and diseases caused by fungus.

Why does an orchid dry air roots when transplanted to a new place? This is due to the fact that at this time the root system can be seriously injured. With insufficient processing of damaged roots, they begin to rot.

The main reasons for drying

Why does an orchid have air roots dry? Basically, this phenomenon can be either a consequence of insufficient plant care, or the unfavorable influence of a variety of pests.

So, the main reasons that the roots of an orchid dry are as follows:

  1. Lack of moisture. If an orchid is watered quite rarely - due to the fact that it does not have enough water, we may well observe a similar phenomenon.
  2. Excess moisture. Although phalaenopsis is a tropical plant, it is also not worth watering it too zealously, because it is precisely because of unreasonably frequent watering that the roots either become dry or rot. In addition, the level of humidity plays a significant role - if it is high, the roots also dry out.
  3. Chemical burn. The roots of the phalaenopsis orchid are very easy to damage if too much fertilizer is applied - they shrink and dry out. A plant can get a chemical burn even if it is poured with hard water (directly from the tap). Therefore, so that the roots do not dry out, you need to use only settled water for irrigation.
  4. Injuries. The upper roots of the phalaenopsis, due to their location, are quite easy to damage. It is enough to accidentally make a small crack to dry the damaged root.
  5. Age. Sometimes, if the roots are dry, this may only be a consequence of the fact that the phalaenopsis pulled out all the juices from them. In this case, do not worry - just remove the shrunken roots, and new ones will grow in their place.
  6. Diseases. The last reason why the roots of a flower dry out can be a variety of fungal infections that damage not only the leaf part of the flower, but also its root system, as a result of which the plant may well dry out.

How to restore roots

How to save an orchid whose aerial roots dry up? A dying plant can count on salvation when you perform a certain algorithm of actions:

  1. First of all, we take your beauty out of the pot and clean it of the substrate to see the extent of the problem.
  2. Cut off dried yellow leaves, if any.
  3. We carry out diagnostics and determine which roots are intact and which ones should be removed. To do this, you need to carefully feel them - healthy ones will be dense to the touch, but rotting or dried ones can be pressed through.
  4. Damaged areas must be completely removed by pre-processing the instrument with which the operation will be performed. To avoid further weakening or infections, sprinkle the places of cuts with cinnamon, powdered activated carbon, or just gently grease with ordinary medical brilliant green. You can also use phytosporin for these purposes, in a proportion of 6-8 drops per glass of water.
  5. A small amount of warm, previously settled water is poured into a ceramic or glass container. A damaged phalaenopsis is placed there, paying special attention to those parts of the flower where new roots should subsequently appear. Baths last for several hours.
  6. After water procedures, the flower is taken out and dried.
  7. When the roots grow 5–6 mm, the dried flower is placed in a pot with a substrate and looked after as usual.

These guidelines explain how to save your orchid, but with sufficient care you can avoid these problems. Love your flowers and they will delight you for years to come.

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