Thursday, November 23, 2006

5 Ways to Avoid Problems if You Must Buy that Big Box Store Orchid

As I mentioned in another post, think twice before buying orchids from chain retail outlets. However, here are five things to look for if you must have that Big Box Store orchid:
  1. What is it growing in? If it is in soggy, mushy moss, or spongy material pass it up. If on the other hand it is growing in bark and seems to be firmly held in its pot it may be a winner.
  2. Look at the roots. Orchids are often grown in plastic pots, however they may be held inside another ceramic pot, so see if you can find the plastic pot underneath in order to examine the roots. If they look green and plump, or white and plump, you’re on the right track, if they are brown and soggy, this means they’re rotten, so forget it. Often if the leaves look wrinkled, this can be a sign of rotten roots, as well as dry ones. Either way the orchid is not getting enough moisture from the roots to the leaves.
  3. Check the tags to see how much information they give you. Is it just labeled “Orchid”? or does it say “Cattleya”? Is it just labeled “Cattleya”? or does it say “Slc. Jewel Box”? The more specific the better.
  4. Check for insects. I will cover insect infestation in more detail in another post. Look for any sort of spots, any gooey substance, or anything crawling, or moving on the leaf surface.
  5. Finally, look for signs of disease. This will usually manifest as discolored streaks on the leaves. A number of gashes, or cuts on the orchid can also make it susceptible to disease.

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