Gardeners share what to ‘never’ do to orchids to avoid killing them

Phalaenopsis orchids are among the most beautiful flowering houseplants to grow, and they require only minimal care. This is why they are suitable even for less experienced gardeners who wish to grow orchids in their home but lack the advanced knowledge of orchid care. However, even the less demanding orchids such as phalaenopsis require proper care. In their case, it means not being over-enthusiastic with care given to them like trimming certain roots, according to gardeners.

Taking to the Gardening UK Facebook page, one woman asked for advice on how to tidy up her orchid without killing it.

Katie Jones said: “This is happening to my orchid. I’m looking for advice on how to tidy the roots up and whether it should be repotted. 

“Is it because it’s in a clear pot inside a decorative pot? Can I trim the roots without killing it?”

Alongside the post, Katie shared a picture of her orchid that had six silvery grey looking aerial roots coming out of the houseplant.

Roots that grow above the surface of an orchid are called aerial roots and are not super attractive. They can look whitish grey and never seem to look super green like the roots that are buried.

Quick to comment on the post, gardeners were all in agreement that the woman should avoid cutting the roots.

Marta Pozniak said: “Don’t cut off the roots, just cut off the dead stems after flowering.

“I have my orchids in clear pots and in decorative pots. There’s a new shoot coming through so just make sure you water it, once a week will be fine. 

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“Pour out all the water out from the pot 30 minutes after you watered it. When it starts to flower, feed it. 

“You may want to support the shoot with the stick. I can’t see how big the pot is but I wouldn’t repot it when it’s flowering.”

Damion Taylor wrote: “Looks happy. Please never cut its air-roots just for aesthetics.

“It’s growing the air roots like that for a reason and if they’re the ones that help and feed it’s little leaves and flower stems, it may not react well and you could end up killing it.”

Sandra Parsons said: “It’s flowering so it’s healthy just take dried leaves and stem off please don’t cut the silver air roots off because they won’t survive without it.”

Mary Hall commented: “Cutting a live aerial root of an orchid is almost like cutting an arm off. It’s what feeds them. 

“They often grow aerial ones and get the moisture and nutrients from the environment. 

“Cutting live roots will set the orchid back. If you don’t want it to be in your way, put it somewhere else.”

With these roots looking grey, it is easy to think they are dead or something is wrong with the orchid but this is just how they look. They are normal and healthy. 

In nature an orchid tries to grab onto the trees and shrubs around it – this is why they grow that way. 

Aerial roots also help with photosynthesis and they absorb moisture from the air. This helps the orchid produce healthy leaves, roots and blooms. For this reason they should not be cut off.

If the roots are cut back there’s a good chance households can harm their plant. They could even introduce a dangerous virus.

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