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Hi. Apparently, every orchid I try to grow gets rotten roots. i plant in gravel and pine bark. The roots keep getting mushy and rot off. I know its a sign of overwatering, but how do I get the medium to dry out fast enough, when I have really high humidity? I even have a fan to circulate, and they still rot in my frog tank.

Also, I recently got a Oncidium intergeneric hybrid and a stanhopea. Both have pretty much lost their roots, and it looks like the stanhopea's not going to make it. (then again, there wasn't much to it to begin with).

Is there ANYTHING I can do to save them? There's still a chance I can save the oncidiums. How fast do orchid roots grow back?!?
 

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Don't plant them in medium. Remember, orchids are ephiphytes, so they don't grow in medium. It's probably too humid in the tank for them to ever dry out as much as they would like, even in orchid bark. Use silicone, plastic zip ties, toothpicks, or large staples to attach them to some in wood in your tank, or to the background, someplace that's not constantly wet. Then you'll have happy orchids.
 

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Rotted Orchids

In the constantly humid environment of a terrarium or vivarium, epiphytic orchids need nothing around their roots. They can simply be attached to a limb or corkbark and they will produce the roots to attach themselves. Yours are rotting because they stay too damp in the medium.
 
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You might try different species of orchid. some orchids like it wetter than others. for a vivarium, you want a species of orchid that likes very humid environments, such as the pleurothalids, and bulbophylums. I'm not too sure that oncidiums and stanhopeas are a very good choice for the viv. If you want them to survive, take them out of the vivarium.
To find good orchids for the viv, try contacting some good growers. I highly recommend Andy's orchids- http://www.andysorchids.com and I've heard good things about hoosier orchids.

Look for orchids that prefer a warm and moist growing environment.
Hope this helps!
 

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Plant higher up. Mount instead of potting. If you pot use a medium that dries out quickly. Use muffin fans on your tanks. Join the Pleurothalid alliance http://www.pleurothallids.com Consider using Pleurothallids, Restripia, Masdevallia, Lepanthes, Psygmorchis, ... Research where and how the plants grow in the wild.
 

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I would try adding some horticultural charcoal to your substrate (you said you were using fir bark, right?) for better drainage and to open more air pockets in your substrate. Addtionally, do you have a water feature in your tank? If so, capillary action can cause your substrate to wick up water and remain constantly wet.

I have Oncidiums and Dendrobiums, Cattleya hybrids, and pleurothallids all growing directly in the substrate with no problems. However, the advice you have been given regarding mounting plants is good advice.
 

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Michael Shrom said:
Plant higher up. Mount instead of potting. If you pot use a medium that dries out quickly. Use muffin fans on your tanks. Join the Pleurothalid alliance http://www.pleurothallids.com Consider using Pleurothallids, Restripia, Masdevallia, Lepanthes, Psygmorchis, ... Research where and how the plants grow in the wild.
Michael,

Have you been able to get Masde's to bloom in a terrarium? I thought they all required a cool dormant period to rebloom, and most really don't handle temps in the mid-70's very well. Tell us your secret! :D
 

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I think my "secret" was to research how and where the plants grow. Many Masdevallia are cold growing. Some are intermediate to warm. I've had Masdevalia hirtzii bloom and Masdevallia Shinichi Komoda repeatedly bloom. For most repeated blooms I'd have to go with the Restripias.
 

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Michael Shrom said:
I think my "secret" was to research how and where the plants grow. Many Masdevallia are cold growing. Some are intermediate to warm. I've had Masdevalia hirtzii bloom and Masdevallia Shinichi Komoda repeatedly bloom. For most repeated blooms I'd have to go with the Restripias.
What type of lighting do you use?
 
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I think Michael will have a better answer for lighting a vivarium, but I grow several species of orchids under-lights. For the majority, which include paphiopedilums, bulbophyllums, and masdevellias, I use 3- 2x40watt flourescent bulb units, and I place the top of the orchids about 4-5 inches from the lights. For my laelias and cattleyas, I grow them beneath 2x96watt compact flourescent, placing the top of the orchids about 6-12 inches from the light.
Good air circulation and high humidity will help keep the lights from burning the orchids. But I fully agree with Michael's statement that the secret is to research as much as possible about how and where orchids grow.
 

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Michael Shrom said:
I think my "secret" was to research how and where the plants grow. Many Masdevallia are cold growing. Some are intermediate to warm. I've had Masdevalia hirtzii bloom and Masdevallia Shinichi Komoda repeatedly bloom. For most repeated blooms I'd have to go with the Restripias.
Sorry, I wasn't trying to be a smart-aleck, just charming in my word choice. :D I fully understand about researching plants before using them in a terraria. However, even the Masdevallia hybridizer at Hoosier Orchids could not give me the names of any hybrids that he thought would be tolerant enough to repeat bloom in a terraria without a cool period. I thought maybe you had some mounted to a removable panel that you pulled out during the cold dormant period. Obviously, the Copper Angel parentage in the Shinichi is helping with the warmth tolerance. 8) Have you tried Sunset Jaguar?

Anyway, I will say that many of the sources of information will tell you that certain species or hybrids will not grow under the conditions I keep mine. However, some of my orchids seem to thrive even in terraria that have no fans for ventillation.
 
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