Orchid Insect and Disease Control-Part 1: Sterilising Tools and Pots

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Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator
Image
Australis
Nov 21, 2017 2:23 AM CST

Plants Admin

First, I want to thank Steve for this next article in the series. I am looking forward to the next one.

I thought I might add a few tips on cleaning tools and pots, since it was touched on in this article. The main reason for sterilising tools is to prevent the spread of viruses - the most common vector is people! Insects can and do transfer viruses between plants, but usually viruses are transferred by an individual not cleaning their tools between plants. Viruses can also be transferred by having virused plants drip water or sap onto healthy plants below.

Tools
When using any sterilisation method, it's always a good idea to give the tools a quick clean first to remove any traces of plant material or sap that may interfere with the sterilisation process.

Small butane torches are great, as Steve said. I use one myself for flaming tools. The important thing to remember is that the tool does get quite hot (the idea is to heat the cutting surfaces above about 130°C, as this guarantees any virus is denatured/killed), so you either want an insulated handle or gloves.

Another option is to soak the tools in isopropyl alcohol or a saturated solution of trisodium phosphate (TSP). These will generally not corrode your tools and can be used on some plastics as well. The catch is that they need to soak for at least 20 minutes.

Pots
You can reuse pots, but first always clean them. Wash pots first to remove all debris and any material stuck to the sides of the pots.

Plastic pots should then be soaked in a 10% bleach solution for 30-60 minutes to kill any viruses.

Ceramic and terracotta pots should be baked in an oven at 130°C for approx. the same period. If you cannot do this, then it is inadvisable to reuse ceramic/terracotta pots except for the same plant, as viruses and fungus can live inside the porous material.

Benches
Something that often gets missed/forgotten is that benches need to be kept clean as well. If you have a known virused plant, sterilise the bench where it was sitting or the hook it was hanging from. This will ensure that the next plant to be placed in that location doesn't risk being infected by traces left behind from the previous occupant. This is particularly important when dealing with certain viruses, such as Odontoglossum Ringspot Virus (ORSV), as it will easily live outside a host for over two years.

General Hygiene
Finally, it's a good idea to wash hands between working on each plant or wear a pair of disposable gloves, especially when you might be unsure about the possibility of a plant carrying a virus.

Some viruses can jump between genera (for example, ORSV quite happily lives in Cymbidiums and Dendrobiums). Additionally, not all viruses are immediately obvious, especially if the plant is well cared for. So it's always a good idea to be cautious when working on new plants or those from sellers you have no prior experience with.
Plant Authorities: Catalogue of Life (Species) --- International Cultivar Registration Authorities (Cultivars) --- RHS Orchid Register --- RHS Lilium Register
My Notes: Orchid Genera HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Traits HTML PDF --- Lilium Species Crosses HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Species Diagram
The current profile image is that of Iris 'Volcanic Glow'.
Name: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Aquaponics Hibiscus Orchids Fruit Growers Tropicals
Hummingbirder Garden Photography Container Gardener Butterflies Bromeliad Birds
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ardesia
Nov 27, 2017 5:05 PM CST
Joshua, I teach Master Gardener propagation classes and have always advised a spray or wipe with isopropyl alcohol to sterilize tools. I have never heard of soaking for 20 minutes. This is the University of Florida's advice.
http://gardeningsolutions.ifas...

Is there new research out there that I should know about?
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator
Image
Australis
Nov 27, 2017 6:09 PM CST

Plants Admin

That's interesting, Alice. I have not come across any other resources that stated TSP was corrosive before (and it hasn't been in my experience).

A number of sources I used commented on the unusual stability of Orchid viruses - a quick wipe or spray with isopropyl often isn't enough. I'll see if I can dig them up and add them here.
Plant Authorities: Catalogue of Life (Species) --- International Cultivar Registration Authorities (Cultivars) --- RHS Orchid Register --- RHS Lilium Register
My Notes: Orchid Genera HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Traits HTML PDF --- Lilium Species Crosses HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Species Diagram
The current profile image is that of Iris 'Volcanic Glow'.
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator
Image
Australis
Nov 29, 2017 4:12 AM CST

Plants Admin

Hi Alice @ardesia,

Found a few minutes to look this up again. There isn't actually a consensus regarding soaking in alcohol (nor the duration of other methods), but enough sources note an extended duration (10+ minutes) that I do not wish to take any chances.
Plant Authorities: Catalogue of Life (Species) --- International Cultivar Registration Authorities (Cultivars) --- RHS Orchid Register --- RHS Lilium Register
My Notes: Orchid Genera HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Traits HTML PDF --- Lilium Species Crosses HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Species Diagram
The current profile image is that of Iris 'Volcanic Glow'.
Name: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Aquaponics Hibiscus Orchids Fruit Growers Tropicals
Hummingbirder Garden Photography Container Gardener Butterflies Bromeliad Birds
Image
ardesia
Nov 29, 2017 7:55 AM CST
Thanks Joshua, interesting reading and very informative. While I personally follow advice from what I would consider reliable sources like those you listed, I am required to teach from research based sources. It has to have a .edu behind the source. The rationale is that if a Master Gardener gives out incorrect information that somehow harms a garden or gardener, the sponsoring university can be sued. Apparently this has happened. Shrug!

Now my disclaimer - sadly, funding for university research in the USA has been cut significantly these days and it is not unlikely that there is better, more up to date, information out there. I have been known to mention that I, personally, often look to professional organizations like the AOS, etc........
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator
Image
Australis
Nov 29, 2017 4:51 PM CST

Plants Admin

Alice, I understand completely. My only suggestion would be to see if the research mentioned by the Elanbee Orchids article is sufficient.
Plant Authorities: Catalogue of Life (Species) --- International Cultivar Registration Authorities (Cultivars) --- RHS Orchid Register --- RHS Lilium Register
My Notes: Orchid Genera HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Traits HTML PDF --- Lilium Species Crosses HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Species Diagram
The current profile image is that of Iris 'Volcanic Glow'.
Name: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Aquaponics Hibiscus Orchids Fruit Growers Tropicals
Hummingbirder Garden Photography Container Gardener Butterflies Bromeliad Birds
Image
ardesia
Nov 29, 2017 9:01 PM CST
Wow, lots of good info there on that site.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.

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