How To Fix Orchid Root Rot

Orchids are highly susceptible to root rot, especially Phalaenopsis orchids. It can be extremely frustrating when you see flowers drop and the leaves wilt from your beautiful orchid. So, what gives? What causes this and can you save your orchid? 

What Causes Orchid Root Rot

There are several factors that lead to root rot in Phalaenopsis orchids. When you purchase an orchid from a store or nursery, they are packed in mediums that are better for shipping and lasting on the shelf that can include infrequent watering. The mediums are typically soil mixed with moss and these retain water. Orchids are air plants and the roots need to dry out and can not sit in wet soil. After the blooms fall from your new plant, that is the ideal time to repot. You want to repot in orchid bark. If you leave your orchids in the original medium, this will lead to root rot. 

In the wild, Phalaenopsis orchids grow on trees, so they grow in the opposite direction than how they are potted. When watering a potted orchid, you need to ensure that you do not get water in the crown of the plant. This is the main cause of root rot. My suggestion is to soak your orchids in water rather than pouring water in the pot and by all means, never use ice cubes!! These are tropical plants and over time, ice cubes will damage your roots.   

Flowers dropping from your orchid is normal, they don't bloom all the time! But if you notice your leaves drooping and turning yellow and falling off, you could have root rot. At this time, you need to take your orchid out and inspect the roots. Gently rinse off the roots in warm water and if you do not see many roots or they are all brown, it's time for orchid rehab. 

How To Fix Orchid Root Rot

There is a way to save your orchid and it's a method called aquaculture. Patience is required, nothing happens fast with orchids. You will need a small and narrow jar, like the size of a kitchen spice jar. Remove all the dead roots from your orchid. Fill your jar with warm water that barely touches the bottom of the orchid. I place mine in an area that gets very bright and indirect sunlight. I then lightly mist the leaves a few times a week while the orchid is in rehab, this is another way an orchid can absorb water. Make sure you do not get water in the crown! 

Keep an eye on your orchid every few days ensuring the water level stays the same. This environment creates humidity around the orchid and promotes root growth. This process will take several months, so be patient! Once there is root development, you are ready to pot your orchid! Make sure you only pot in orchid bark, remember they are air plants! I suggest orchid mediums from

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