Toxicity Problems

Toxic reactions to poisons can be varied depending on the source of toxicity. Keep in mind that most tropical orchids grow in trees in clean environments in the wild. Hence, they have very low tolerance to toxic substances.

Symptom/Detail Link/Cause Description/Solution
Plant leaves or pseudobulbs are finely spotted Toxic reaction
This usually indicates an airborn contaminant of some sort. Common causes for this reaction are :
  1. Aerosols such as air fresheners and disinfectants
  2. Cooking fumes, especially from frying oil
  3. Smoke from tobacco, incense, etc.
Root tips are brown or black Toxic reaction
Sections of the roots, or root tips have become brown or black recently. If you are potting directly into decorative pots that are not designed for orchids, this can be a common reaction. It stems from the fact that most richly colored glazes are based on metals and particularly heavy metals such as copper, lead and cobalt. When roots come into contact with these surfaces, they absorb these elements leading to the root cells being poisoned. This is often accompanied by leaf reactions as well, as in the example following this one. When using decorative pots, it is best to leave the plants potted in a regular clay or plastic pot, and use the decorative pot for display purposes only.
Leaf tips are brown or black Toxic reaction
The leaf tips have become brown or black recently. If you are potting directly into decorative pots that are not designed for orchids, this can be a common reaction. It stems from the fact that most richly colored glazes are based on metals and particularly heavy metals such as copper, lead and cobalt. When roots come into contact with these surfaces, they absorb these elements. Since the plant has no other means of dealing with the toxicity, it pushes the poisonous elements to the tips of the leaves. This leads to the leaf's cells being poisoned, causing their death, and ultimately removing these elements from the plant's system. However, this process will keep repeating itself if it is not remedied, since the roots will keep drawing these elements up into the plant. This symptom is often accompanied by root problems as in the example above. When using decorative pots, it is best to leave the plants potted in a regular clay or plastic pot, and use the decorative pot for display purposes only.
Toxicity treatments Toxic reaction Remove the cause of the toxicity. If in doubt as to the cause, try relocating the plant into a different room or growing area.
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