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Orchid Problems:

Tackling Mold


When an orchid is not happy, it tells you loud and clear. Your orchid will not be the exception – so you just need to hear what it’s telling you and address the issue promptly. Today we will tackle mold… one of the common issues related to orchids and we will begin with a letter we received from a reader of our website.



Brown Mold



“I bought a cattleya, and I repotted it many days ago because it had some mild root rot that I was able to clean off, then plant it into new bark. The cleansed roots were sufficient I thought, so I finished with a good watering and went on vacation for a week.


When I returned I noticed that the surface of the orchid was dry but there were water droplets inside the pot as well as mold! My pot was clear plastic so this was at once evident at a glance. I removed my catt from the pot, but noticed mold growing on the roots – it resembled brown jelly!


I’m trying to understand where this mold came from as I used a newly opened bag of bark from Home Depot. I did notice some white stuff on the bark but poured boiling water over it and dried it before using it. What else could I have done?”

                                                                                                --- Maggie



Well I have to tell you Maggie, that I have found bags of orchid bark for sale which apparently had gotten wet at some time or other and been sitting in warehouses or on a shelf for quite a while – slowly decomposing. The bark was breaking down even as it was purchased. No different than if it had been in a pot for a couple of years. I guess we need to check the bark bags we buy for any signs of algae or mold in it. If the bag is not transparent, pass on it.


But let’s get to a solution to your problem. Hydrogen peroxide full strength on your plant and then rinsing it with plain water should do the trick… your jet hose on the kitchen sink will wash away any affected medium. Do cut off the dead roots with a sterile cutting tool and repot into clean bark, anchoring the plant firmly with no wiggle room.


Also important is to consider what brought on the mold in the first place. Usually this would be stagnant air and/or a sour medium. Increase air circulation this time and that should help the problem also. If you spot mushy roots again, cut them off and sprinkle some cinnamon to the cut edges before this gets out of control again.


Of course there are other problems associated with over or under-watering, too much or too little fertilizer, not enough air circulation, too big or too small a pot (we could go on and on). The general rules of growing most orchids will prevent many of the problems before they ever become problems. Just remember to know your cattleya orchid by doing some reading and you will be way ahead of the game.


Esther Smith, author

Orchids are a common houseplant bringing both beauty and excitement to any home. Orchid care is not especially difficult and many lovers of orchids find that it quickly becomes a part of their everyday routine. Why not read more on this exotic plant here at our website=>