Question and Answer

 Date sent: Sun, 5 May 2002 23:15:38 +0400
From: Leonid <>

Subject: cymbidium

Dear Philip,

I would like to describe you the situation with my cymbidium. I noticed that roots grew out of all limits. They went above the
pot, inside and around. It was awful picture. I think that it is sequence of warm weather, fertilization and really good condition for it.
It is constantly flowering and gave me a new spike with buds. Finally I decided to repot it despite the flowers. It was as animal in cell. Awful.
I could not remove it from its pot at all. Nothing could I do. It was deadly inside! I cut the old pot by knife and scissors. I found that every
micron of space was filled by roots. Even Sherlok Holmes could find the beginning and ends. Millions of roots. No rhizoma, no anything. No millimeter of air. Even inside from the bottom of root mass - no openings, just roots. Roots are white, firm, definitely alive. No one dead root outside mass. I did not find any piece of old medium. I think that substrat is completely destroyed or whatever. I did not cut bulbs, roots, leaves. To cut alive roots - it is not for me. And I made the following (God bless me!). I put the whole plant into new bigger pot. The size of new one was about 2 cm wider that the old from each side. It was taller than old by 10 cm. The space between roots and walls of pot I filled by bark, on the bottom I put some wet sphagnum. It was only thing which I could do without trauma for plant. I know that it is against rules and completely wrong. Even now I have no idea of further growth of the plant. I think that for roots there is some space now, but for new bulbs and leaves - no, as it was before. I put the bark very firmly but still not sure that there are no empty spaces inside. So, after "repotting" I put the whole pot with plant into big vessel of water and kept there for 20 min for making the bark (quite dry) wet. Could you describe me the sequences of my "method". Will I loose the plant? What will happen further and what I shall to do in the nearest future?


Hi Leonid

What you have is a very vigorous plant. Most cymbidiums are ephphytes and grow on trees with a thick mass of spreading roots.
When we put them in a port they do not necessarily like this artificial constraint, and some will do their best to escape.

You can cut the roots back and they will regrow, or you can do what you have done.

The plant should survive all right, but you need to watch the centre of the plant. In a large container, if the roots do get too wet they can
die, and you can loose the centre of the plant. I presume it is a fairly large plant to get to this stage. Generally in such a situation, I could
divide the plant into 2-3 pieces and cut the roots back and try and re-organise the roots into a sensible mass. If it is vigorous and
conditions are reasonable it is likely to fill te container quickly with roots, so the cutting of the roots and removal of the surplus roots should
not cause problems. Some species like tracyanum can produce vertical roots out of the mix. These form "trash traps' that catch vegetable matter which roots and provides the plants nutrients in nature.

If you have put it in a larger container, the roots will grow into that new media. Root bound plants seem to be able to continue to grow and flower so if the roots look healthy I would not worry.. You should just water normally. The white outer layer of the roots the velemen, is a spongy water absorbing material, and will hold water for some time, so don'd overwater - which you might think is necessary for a plant with no media. Also watch the sphagnum if you use heavy applications of fertilsier. If there is much it can break down quickly and form a dense mat which can hold waster and prevent aeration to the detriment of the plant.

I trust these comments assist

With kind regards


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