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Old 11-17-2019, 02:32 AM
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Default dis-mounting orchids

I looked in the forum but didn't see this subject listed; that said, I'm sure it's been discussed, but I must've not used search terms that got results. Therefore instead of answering again if you just want to share a link to the right discussion, I'm perfectly fine researching further. (Well, I have yet to ask Google, but figured starting here first is best.)

Has anyone had success removing orchids from their mounts (such as when purchased mounted) for transplanting into a terrarium? Given how many are sold mounted in the first place - minis, at least - I'm assuming that's what's happening when people are using them in terraria. I have some minis on pressed-cork and a couple on treefern fiber slabs. I'm concerned about tearing apart too many roots, even taking my time and being as delicate as possible. Would making sure it's well-soaked first help? When I've teased roots out of potting medium for potted orchids, when they're grown through chunks of fir bark or coconut husk, wetting first seems to help. Or, can/does one instead delicately excise part of the mounting medium to preserve the roots that won't come off easily?

I also have a Pleur. grobyi "ball" (mount that's now been completely covered all around) that I want to divide, and since it's on treefern, whatever technique works for the above is what I'll try for that.
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Old 11-17-2019, 02:45 AM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

I'm hoping the orchid experts here will chime in, but I'll give my 2 cents.

P. grobyi can be moved to a new mount easily -- it seems to grow new roots readily. I've split mine, and I just yank a growth off and tie it down onto a mount.

Other genera can be much more finicky -- some of the non-terrarium orchids (Cattleya) I grow will not recover unless repotted only in a couple-week-long window each year.
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Old 11-17-2019, 04:04 AM
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I suppose it depends on if you’re removing Pleurothallids only. Either way, absolutely soak for a couple minutes. Makes roots more pliable. Pressed cork or tree fern, I’d sorta dig them out of the rest of the material. Then manage the debris off roots.

Using a pair of forceps to wedge under then pry up. Another useful tool in unmounting from cork is the plant label. Slide between roots and cork and twist for the spatula affect or push for that long root.

The grobyi, Socrates is right. Not too much an issue re establishing a division. If you massage it down to the rhizome you can usually find a division point. You might lose a few growths your first time doing this, but grobyi grows fast.

Last edited by DPfarr; 11-17-2019 at 04:07 AM.
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Old 11-17-2019, 04:15 PM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

Ok, thanks! The candidates for moving to terraria (sooner or later, and not all the same tank) include these with their current mounts:

Pleurothallis grobyi - treefern
Pleur. leptotifolia - wood slab
Pleur. ornata - split branch, on the raw/interior side of the wood (so, not smooth bark)
Pleur. recurva - treefern
Angraecum distichum (it's still reaaallly tiny) - pressed cork
Holcoglossum nujiangense - pressed cork
Macroclinium aurorae - treefern
Ornithocephalus manabina - pressed cork
Phymatidium tillansioides - pressed cork
Trichosalpinx chamaelepanthes - treefern (this will prob. get divided like the grobyi, 'cuz it's large)
Zygostates alleniana - pressed cork
Dendrobium subuliferum - wood slab
Dendrobium cucumerinum - branch w/ natural bark
Phalaenopsis parishii - branch w/ natural bark
Centroglossa macroceras - pressed cork
Bulbophyllum exiguum - branch w/out bark
Haraella odorata - branch w/out bark
Pteroceras semiteretifolium - pressed cork
Mystacidium capense - pressed cork
Schoenorchis tixieri - branch w/out bark
Masdevallia wendlandiana - split branch
Barbosella gardneri - wood slab

I have a few other mini/compact orchids I'd like to play with in terraria, but they're at least ready-to-go in that they're bare-root or potted. (Tolumnia divisions; Leptotes bohnkiana; a couple more Bulbophyllums; Grosourdya muscosa; Oncidium cheirophorum)

It's always more than you think it is when you list them...yikes.

The pressed cork guys are from J&L Orchids, in case anyone is familiar with their mounts. The rest are from Andy's Orchids.

Anyway, I'm about to start planting one of my two larger tanks, and am quickly discovering that this is one of the hardest parts, in addition to of course being the most fun. What do I put where, aesthetically? Trying to plan, but itching to just get some stuff growing in there. The orchids will take the most consideration, though, as they of course will be harder to move later, as I intent to mount them on branches in the tank(s).
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Old 11-24-2019, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

I'd say, just try to keep smaller orchids near the front and taller plants in the back of course, to avoid overshadowing and clutter in the foreground. Also, try to plant sparingly and wait for a month or so just to make sure the space won't become too "busy" when factoring in plant growth.

Also, yeah, just remember to soak your orchids for a bit before removing from their mounts and stuff. Neofinetia falcata and Zootrophions that I've had were pretty tolerant of mishandling when I transplanted them, but they're pretty robust plants anyway!
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Old 11-26-2019, 01:11 AM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

Yeah, I'm trying to plan very carefully before planting to visualize more mature sizes and prevent plants from blocking each other from view. Though in landscape design, a bit of hidden mystery makes you want to explore. The problem here though, of course, is that you can't move around much to view it better! In my other tank that's a step behind in the plant-readiness stage, the arrangement is such that you can view the 'scape from three sides, so that will truly be fun (and easier) to plant. I was imagining it would take way more than a month of plant growth needed in terms of figuring out who might run over who, but if establishment is that much faster, I'll take it. I realize it greatly depends on species. Either way, with mounts I want to make, yes - it's "measure twice, cut once."

I was assuming moistening the mount thoroughly was the best way to prep things for being delicately pried off, so it's good to hear another confirmation.

I'm debating putting a piece of my Neofenitia clump in a tank at some point (a different one that will probably stay a teeny bit cooler), but am not looking forward to separating that rat's-nest of roots from its basket. Seriously should have repotted that thing years ago. It's doing just fine, but has something like a dozen fans and so many roots that I'm literally going to have to cut the basket into tiny pieces and pull it out. Good times! It hasn't bloomed regularly for me, but I suspect several reasons for that, all my fault of course: I'm not giving it the ideal temperature drop at night (or even seasonally); I keep using a higher-N fert. on it, rather than switching up with some "bloom-booster" ratios; I'm also not good about changing my lights photoperiod, though I'm trying to be good about it this season. Not sure if that matters with Neos, but I imagine they get seasonal photoperiod variation in Japan. Still...it's alive and otherwise "happy," so that counts for something.
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Old 06-29-2020, 01:54 AM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

Sharing some pics if someone discovers this thread who has the same question. I haven't divided the grobyi yet (waiting for tank design inspiration) but did successfully remove several orchids from their pressed-cork or wood-slab mounts. Firm metal tweezers and gentle prying, as described above, worked very well and was easier than I expected. Pics are of a couple of Bulbophyllums and a Masdevallia.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Bulbophyllum thiurum.jpg (55.2 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg Bulbophyllum thaiorum Red Form.jpg (69.4 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg Bulbophyllum thaiorum Red Form 2.jpg (54.8 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg Masdevallia wendlandiana.jpg (51.8 KB, 9 views)
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Old 06-29-2020, 03:27 AM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

I like to float mine, plant down, mount up, in water for 15 to 20 minutes before breaking them down.
I've had good results by firmly, but carefully, grasping the crown of the plant. Basically, where the roots meet the stems. Grasp the crown and gently rock it in little circles, gradually loosening it.

You can be rougher on the roots than you might think, and still have success. I prefer small starts, so when I get an orchid in, I will often break it down into multiple divisions, right then and there.
I also really go into the rootwork, removing virtually every bit of sphagnum, and cutting away all the dead roots.
You might be surprised to see how much rot is locked up inside an orchid root mass. As long as I'm in there, I perform surgery, hacking away all the old stuff, and making space for crisp, new, white roots to lock it firmly to it's branch/wall.

Do not overlook the rather nontraditional method of using super glue gel to attach orchids. I've yet to see other people doing it, but it works great. I used to farm live coral, which is much more sensitive than orchids, and I used a LOT of BSI Thick superglue. (any true superglue will work, but the thicker, the easier it is to work with.) It never harmed even the most delicate of corals, so I gave it a shot in my viv. It allows me to mount orchids in places that would have been impossible any other way.
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Old 07-02-2020, 12:47 AM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

Mine I couldn't twist because their roots were weaving inside the crevices of the pressed cork, though I suppose the cedar-slab ones could have been removed this way. I'm pretty sure I did do a cleansing of the roots while bare-root too, since I'm used to removing dead roots any time I unpot an orchid. (I find it quite therapeutic, actually, like weeding outside!)

I did see your superglue mount video at some point months ago, and it's something I intend to try in a future build or as I put more plants into this one. I think they recommend this type of adhesive for Tillandsia mounting too, which is another pet project (for who-knows-when). Looks like Gorilla Glue in the vid?
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Old 07-02-2020, 01:34 AM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

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Originally Posted by Chlorophile View Post
Mine I couldn't twist because their roots were weaving inside the crevices of the pressed cork..........
Looks like Gorilla Glue in the vid?
Mounted on corkbark is tougher. Hardly any sellers use cork bark anymore.

Yes, I did use Gorilla Super Glue Gel, but only because my hobby shop was out of BSI Extra Thick. (Bob Smith Industries, but they go by BSI)
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Old 07-02-2020, 05:31 AM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

The Gorilla Glue super glue gel actually bonds just fine, but it separates in the bottle. It takes an insane amount of shaking to get the thickeners to mix in, every time you use it. I've use hundreds of bottles of BSI extra thick, while farming corals, and it's the best choice I've found for orchids, too.
BSI is, hands down, THE glue of choice by coral farmers. Most like the gel, but the extra thick gives a better bond.
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Old 07-06-2020, 03:35 AM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

Yeah, the only commercially-mounted mounts I have are pressed cork, treefern, cedar slabs, and assorted "sticks" (Andy's). The only natural-cork surfaces I have mounts on are those I mounted myself. (Just a few Tolumnia and a Leptotes, neither of which are being moved to a terrarium.) But I've found that the pressed cork has enough nooks and crannies that most fine-rooted orchids work their way in there so they have to be picked out. It's kind of meditative work, though, so I don't mind it.

Re: BSI E.T. - sounds like good stuff; I'll have to look for it. Since I think in your video you advised not to get it wet for awhile after mounting, I'm curious how that works for use on coral? Don't live coral need to stay submerged?
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Old 07-06-2020, 02:10 PM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

Chiming in with my agreement on the use of BSI. I've been using it for years on orchids and corals. It works beautifully. I also agree that soaking prior to trying to remove the orchid is the way to go.
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Old 07-06-2020, 03:27 PM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

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Originally Posted by Chlorophile View Post
Yeah, the only commercially-mounted mounts I have are pressed cork, treefern, cedar slabs, and assorted "sticks" (Andy's). The only natural-cork surfaces I have mounts on are those I mounted myself. (Just a few Tolumnia and a Leptotes, neither of which are being moved to a terrarium.) But I've found that the pressed cork has enough nooks and crannies that most fine-rooted orchids work their way in there so they have to be picked out. It's kind of meditative work, though, so I don't mind it.

Re: BSI E.T. - sounds like good stuff; I'll have to look for it. Since I think in your video you advised not to get it wet for awhile after mounting, I'm curious how that works for use on coral? Don't live coral need to stay submerged?
When you use it on corals, you would put a drop or two on the base of your coral. You submerge the coral, live side down, glue at the very top. If you reverse it and dip it glue first, it tries to run up the side, and gets all over the flesh. Now the salt water immediately skins over the glue. It skins it over enough, that you have to gently sort of swirl the glued end onto it's underwater mount. You have to break that skin and get it to stick to the mount. Hold for a few seconds, and you're good to go. The skin prevents any bleeding. Plus, if you can see the nasty, stark white, superglue at the bottom, it's not a big deal. Soon enough, the flesh of the coral will colonize the glue, spreading down onto the mount, till the glue is buried and incorporated into the corals skeleton. It even lays down a new "skeletal" system over and around the glue, attaching the coral far more securely than the glue alone could.

When you use it orchids, it behaves differently. There is no salt water to skin the glue over. Instead, if you mist it with fresh water, the glue thins and begins bleeding into the sphagnum. The problem there is that it turns an obtrusive, pure white, which looks out of place on a reef, or in a jungle. In the jungle, your mounted plant does not grow over the sphagnum. Instead, it tends to grow outwards, away from the sphagnum. You are going to see that sphagnum for a long time.
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Old 07-07-2020, 02:57 AM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

Aha, ok, I understand now. Thanks!
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Old 07-07-2020, 04:17 AM
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Default Re: dis-mounting orchids

It will not affect your bond, however. If you mess up and have some bleeding, leave it how it is, and hide it. Use a half inch piece of sphag, with a single drop of glue, and use that to cover up the residue.
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