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Cymbidium leaf problems

Discussion in 'Issues, Disease and Pests' started by Jamie Melhuish, Mar 25, 2021.

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  1. Jamie Melhuish

    Jamie Melhuish New Member

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    I am new to this forum and am not an experienced orchid grower. About 8 years ago, my wife picked up this large cymbidium that was being discarded by people moving from their apartment. She was told "If you water, it will bloom". It is in a 25 cm pot.

    It has bloomed pretty much every year, sometimes twice a year. Usually 4 or 5 stalks of flowers, maximum last year was 7 stalks. I keep it indoors in winter (Massachusetts, USA) and outdoors in summer. Initially I watered it a bit haphazardly, spraying the leaves and bulbs, and pouring some water (about half a liter) on the plant a couple of times a week. Now I soak the main body of the plant thoroughly once a week. I did not use fertilizer for the first few years, but have been watering with an organic urea-free orchid fertilizer 20-10-20 about 1 teaspoon in 3 liters of water. Possibly a bit too strong a concentration.

    Over the years, some leaves have been dying off, drying from the tips, and black spots appear in places. It has been gradual and only some leaves, but appears to be getting worse. I have not repotted this ever.

    Am I doing something wrong? How can I prevent the leaf die-back? Thank you everyone for any help!
    - Jamie
     

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  2. Alex Shepack

    Alex Shepack Active Member

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    My guess would be fertilizer burn, although I don't have specific experience with Cymbidium. Usually over-fertilizing causes that brown tipping on the leaves. I would consider reducing the frequency or concentration of fertilizing, or potentially watering first with regular water and then fertilizing (so it absorbs less fertilizer overall).

    It is likely worth repotting as well. Some of the problems may be due to root issues in the media (part of which could be from fertilizer build-up).
     
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  3. Jamie Melhuish

    Jamie Melhuish New Member

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    Thank you Alex. It's easy to reduce/stop fertilizer use. I should try repotting too, need to find potting mix/bark. I'm new to orchids.

    The tips browning and the black spots did occur before I used fertilizer, but at less frequency or amount of die off.
     
  4. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    Potting media tend to accumulate fertilizer residues and plant wastes.

    Leaf-tip dieback if often related to those contaminants, but can sometimes be an indication of poor water uptake, due to underwatering or root damage - again possibly related to media issues.

    For that formula fertilizer, 1/2 teaspoon/gallon, applied weekly is more appropriate.
     
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  5. Roberta

    Roberta Active Member

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    If it has been in that pot for 8 years, pretty much guaranteed that it needs to be repotted. You can trim those dead leaf tips. I have found the Cyms tend to have ugly leaves... but after this long in the pot, the bark has probably turned to mud - which will eventually kill off roots. So once the weather has warmed up a bit, pull it out of the pot, rinse well with a hose (this will be messy), trim the obviously bad roots (but when in doubt you can leave questionable ones) You can remove the brown, shriveled old pseudobulbs. If the plant divides itself, do try to keep at least 3 psedudobulbs on a division... the pieces can go back into the pot. Repot with small bark. The plant will thank you! (Depending on how bad the roots are, it could skip a year before reblooming, but it might just pick up where it left off)
     
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  6. The Orchidomaniac

    The Orchidomaniac Active Member

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    You might want to spray the roots with a B-complex pill dissolved in water. It helps relieve stressed plants, in my experience. Hold off on the fertilizer until the plant becomes established again; if the leaves are burning, it should have enough in its reserves to last a while.
    I'd also recommend dividing the plant in a year in order to stimulate new growth.
     
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