Monday, January 18, 2010

Nonstop rain and more snail damage!

While December was relatively dry, January has been quite wet! It’s as if all that December rain was saved up for January and it has been raining nonstop for almost 2 days now. If it’s not a slight drizzle it’s a big downpour! In this kind of weather, snails in the shade house have free reign over my orchids because I can’t sprinkle snail bait without all of it being washed away.


Slugs and snails of all shapes and sizes come out and attack new shoots, leaves and root tips. Big snails, small snails, tiny snails, screw-shaped snails, round snails, transparent snails, only snail missing is a square snail! My phalaenopsis species orchids suffer the most as these pictures tell…



This new leaf would have been a really beautiful shiny broad leaf if it weren’t for those damn tiny monsters!



Reason why many of my species phals do not have perfect foliage.



The older leaves of this Phalaenopsis bellina were damaged by snails when the leaves were still young and just emerging. This is if the bacterial infection doesn’t consume the entire leaf and spread to the crown!



This new leaf on a Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi has also been damaged from the underside. If only I could set up a waterproof time-lapsed camera in the shade house! I’d really like to see how exactly do those buggers create so much damage.



This poor Phalaenopsis corningiana has lost its crown. The rot started from similar damage done to a new emerging leaf like in the first photo above. Thankfully the infected part has dried up and the plant has stabilized. If it remains healthy, it should either put out a new shoot or keiki from the side in a few month’s time. I will then have to be vigilant and prevent snails from damaging the new growth.



This snail is feasting on an infected P. bellina leaf. I showed it no mercy!



Severe leaf rot on a P. bellina leaf. This is usually due to poor air circulation and too much rain! This poor plant lost its crown due to snails and infection several months ago and is just putting out a new keiki. To kill any hiding snails, I was once advised to take entire phal mounts (plants and all) and soak them in a bucket of water added with a a spoonful of salt. I have never done this for fear it may harm the plants as well. Anyone tried that before?



Paphiopedlum stonei. Nice and healthy but look at what’s on that new leaf.



A cone shaped snail and a transparent one that looks like a hybrid between a regular snail and a slug. Paphs do not suffer too much from snails “grazing” on them because their leaves are much thicker and hardier than soft phalaenopsis leaves.



A tiny cone-shaped snail on a Rhyncostylis gigantea leaf.



Too late for this leaf. The damage often start as small spots which quickly turn translucent and infected and spread through the entire leaf. If I fail to remove the affected leaf, the rot may spread to the crown and kill the entire plant.



The silhouette of a tiny voracious monster!



Tiny monster revealed. These tiny round snails are by far the most numerous from my observations. They are very hard to kill because being so tiny, they often do not run into a snail bait. This one is on an Aerides odorata leaf.



This used to be one of my most beautiful and biggest P. bellina plants. Same story, damaged new leaves, subsequent infection and crown rot. After many months, it has recovered enough to produce a new crown. However, look at what’s hiding under one of the leaves, about to chomp up that juicy succulent new leaf…



A damn snail! Gave it no chance to move any closer to that new leaf before crushing it into goo.



This P. bellina is one of my most cherished plants. That newly opened flower will be damaged overnight if the tiny snails find their way to it.



My Paphiopedilum lowii is not spared from the little monsters. There were several snails in this pot and on the plant!



I have had this Phalaenopsis modesta for more than a year now. It has never had the chance to flourish properly due to constant damage by snails and other pests. I tried moving it to a sheltered area but it protested. I then shifted it to a shady place under a  tree and it seemed happy for a while but then the snails arrived. It has gone from a 5 or 6 leaf plant to a single leaf plant and now it’s starting to make a comeback. I’ll have to keep an eye on it.



And finally, the shocker! Rot and infection that started from seemingly minor snail damage can quickly spread through entire plants and entire mounts. This one had 4 or 5 phals on it. Look at it now…



And just as the stems, which were still green and healthy, were about to produce new growths, a slug comes along and chomps up the root tips and new shoots! Slugs are hard to kill as they can’t be crushed easily. Easiest way is to sprinkle a bit of salt on them.

Yes, growing orchids is a lot of hard work. One can see why I’ve given up adding more to my collection. However, I have invested a lot of time and $$ into my existing collection so I’m not giving up on them yet!


Marta said...

Sorry to hear about the difficulties. We have slugs here but not as bad. We can control them by picking them off. We have a product that we use in the yard but not the greenhouse. It is called Sluggo. It is iron phosphate and is pretty effective. We haven't used it in the greenhouse. We use more toxic chemicals since the greenhouse is closed and pets and animals can not get in. We've also tried copper stripping along the benches but they seem to get around it.

Hope the rain ends soon and you get control of the slugs.

sarawaklens said...

Saw many dead snails yesterday cause I placed snail bait the day before. :)

doc said...

bro need advise to grow lowii and stoneii in kuching

sarawaklens said...

Doc, both species are rather difficult for the beginner. If you are new to orchids, it's best to avoid them as it is sad to lose rare orchids. you can use bricks and charcoal and keep them out of the rain during the rainy season as orchids often suffer from crown and leaf rot in wet, tropical climates.

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