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Aerial roots of orchids: diseases and methods of recovery


Aerial roots are a kind of modification of the root system and are located in the aerial part of the plant. With their help, rainwater and oxygen are absorbed from the air. This type of root system can be found in many tropical plants, provided there is an insufficient amount of mineral salts in the soil layers.

General information

Aerial roots perform a variety of functions. In many plants, this version of the root system is a support formation and supports the ground part.

In epiphytes, a root system of this type develops with the aim of collecting moisture from the atmosphere, which is due to the special conditions of the plants' natural habitat and the lack of water in the bark of the trees on which they live. The air root system is equipped with a special type of sponge, which is called "Velamen". This cover is made up of cells that greedily absorb moisture and work on the principle of capillaries. The aerial root system of epiphytes never penetrates into the soil layers.

Interestingly, in some exotics, the aerial root system is represented by green assimilating roots that perform leaf functions and sometimes take on a flattened shape.

The structure of aerial roots of orchids

The airy root system is represented by rather thick cylindrical or flat roots, which are covered with spongy tissue. This shell is called velamen and its principle of action is similar to a sponge that absorbs and stores moisture, as well as nutrients. Thus, the plant extracts the necessary moisture from rain and even fog.

On dry days, the casing serves to protect the root system from drying out and is a spacious reservoir for moisture. Under the velamen are vascular-type bundles that deliver water to the leaves.

Dry velamen can be white or silver-steel. Wet roots have a green tint, due to the presence of symbiotes or chlorophyll. Chlorophyll allows orchid roots to participate in photosynthesis.

The root system of phalaenopsis

The main indicator of the health of phalaenopsis is the state of the root system. By its appearance, one can recognize the stage of active growth of the plant, which is accompanied by bright green staining of the ends of the roots. The old velamen has a pale green color.

Dormant periods in phalaenopsis are rare. As a rule, the root system grows constantly. If, for several months, bright green roots do not appear, the care of indoor orchid should be adjusted.

Rotting of the root system of the phalaenopsis is the most common problem that gardeners have to deal with. As a rule, root decay is the result of excessive moisture in the flower pot. Water stagnation can be avoided by controlling the irrigation of the substrate and adjusting the number of drainage holes in the pot. In addition, irrigation water cannot be left in the pan.

The presence of several empty or dry roots on an orchid is a normal and completely natural phenomenon. The dried parts of the air root system should be cut off and the damaged areas treated with powdered coal. Trimming should be done as carefully as possible.

Massive drying of orchid roots can be an indicator of insufficient moisture. You can fix the problem by installing a container with wet expanded clay pebbles next to the plant.

How to distinguish healthy orchid roots from rotten

Signs of root system problems

Orchids are gentle and rather capricious indoor plants that need special conditions and troublesome care. However, even if all the procedures are carried out in accordance with the requirements, one may encounter the problem of excessive growth of the air root system or with drying or, conversely, decay of the accessory root system. Quite often you have to reanimate indoor orchids. Often, plants remaining without air roots are subject to resuscitation.

Prerequisites for root rot are the following violations of the orchid growing regimen:

  • abundant and too frequent watering;
  • significant amounts of moisture during a cool temperature;
  • unsuitable or depleted planting substrate that dries out and holds water for too long at the root system of the phalaenopsis;
  • watering an orchid that has a damaged root system after transplantation.

At the first signs of pathological changes in the root system of the orchid, immediate measures should be taken to eliminate traumatic factors. If the disease has gone too severe and neglected, then more radical measures are required to restore the healthy state of the indoor plant.

Air Root Treatment

If it is noticed that the root system of a room tropical plant has damaged areas with decay, they should be removed with sharp scissors or a knife. The instrument must be disinfected with alcohol-containing products or regular boiling water, after which it must be dried. It is allowed to ignite the tool on an open fire.

With a sharp and clean tool, you should perform the most thorough trimming of the dead tissue of the root system up to the unaffected areas. At the next stage, all sections of the sections are sprinkled with powdered pharmacy activated charcoal or charcoal crushed to a dusty state.

For several days after the manipulations, it is strictly forbidden to water the orchid. The houseplant at this stage should fully recover after the pruning procedure. Watering can cause further spread of decay to healthy plant tissues.

It should be remembered that orchids are characterized by a high level of vitality, and the loss of even almost the entire root system, provided that the correct therapeutic measures are taken, will not lead to the death of the plant.

The only condition is a thorough drying of the phalaenopsis and its landing after trimming, not in a substrate based on the bark, but on sphagnum moss. The plant must be periodically sprayed from the spray with clean warm water. After a while, the flower releases new roots. When sufficiently strong roots appear, an indoor orchid can already be relocated to a regular planting substrate.

We also offer you to learn about how to care for the noble orchid Dendrobium Nobile.

Tips & Tricks

Experienced gardeners, as well as those just starting to grow indoor orchids, from time to time encounter problems with the root system of plants.

Orchids: Removing Rotten Roots

In order to minimize the likelihood of rotting or drying out of the root system, one should observe the regime and volume of watering the flowers, as well as strictly monitor the integrity of the root system and correctly choose the planting substrate. In addition, compliance with the temperature regime is of no small importance. The drying of aerial roots in orchids is much less common. This situation develops with insufficient irrigation measures and is easily corrected when the irrigation regime is changed.