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Resources for Identifying Orchid Ailments

CONFRONTED WITH pest and disease problems on their orchid plants and flowers can obtain a diagnosis and possible solutions from several sources.

Two resources within the orchid community are commercial growers and local orchid societies. Employees and members are often willing to examine an infected specimen and suggest controls. Ask an orchid-nursery employee or officers of a local orchid society to determine if it is permissible to bring an infected plant to a nursery or meeting or show. If it is, slip the plant, or the infected part, into a paper or plastic bag, or wrap it in newspaper, to prevent contaminating other orchids. (Avoid leaving a bagged orchid in a car during the heat of summer or on a cold winter day, or it will be cooked or chilled, respectively.) Information on local Affiliated Societies of the American Orchid Society, which hold meetings and orchid shows, is available from Affiliated Societies, American Orchid Society, 6000 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, FL 33405; telephone 561-585-8666, fax 561-585-0654, website

Many states have County Cooperative Extension Services that will make identifications at no cost or for a nominal fee. They are often listed under the name of your county in the white pages of the telephone directory. If there is none near you, an alternative is to mail the infected orchid to the central extension office in your state (see attached list). Each of these offices can direct orchidists to a County Cooperative Extension Office.

If it is necessary to mail a sample for examination, ask for packing and mailing instructions to the symptoms will not be altered during shipping. Paper is recommended. Avoid plastic, which often causes plant tissue to rot during transit.

Botanical gardens and horticultural societies may also be able to offer advice or recommend sources capable of identifying orchid ailments.

To receive an accurate and detailed diagnosis, submit a sample of the plant and/or flower and a written description that gives:

  • the plant's name
  • where the plant was obtained
  • whether it is a seedling or a flowering-size specimen
  • day the sample was collected
  • when the problem was noticed
  • which parts of the plant are affected
  • if the plant is grown indoors or outdoors (describe the location)
  • soil and watering conditions
  • exposure (amount and kind of light received)

Click here for a list of Pest and Disease Identification Services
(Listed by State)

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