What’s the difference between a root and spike?
*Above two picture is one of my Phalaenopsis orchid spiking. You can see the small buds growing.
If you have successfully repotted your orchid (it’s on a natural schedule) and Fall has arrived you should be anxiously awaiting for it to spike. By “spike” I mean the beginning of the shoot that becomes the bloom.
The big question is it a SPIKE or is it a ROOT?
It is very easy to confuse a root for a spike. But once you see a real spike you will not confuse them again! They look like little “mittens” or little hands, as shown in the picture above and will grow upwards towards light. And easy way to remember this…it’s cold out (fall) look for “mittens”
You should expect to see these little “mittens” on your orchid by Thanksgiving. Spikes emerge from the same area of the plant as some ariel roots which is why it easy to confuse them (see my post on aerial roots). In the picture below you can see both a root and a spike. Can you tell the difference? The spike is bright green, aiming upwards and has that classic ” mitten” shape…it’s in the middle. The root is growing lower and is smaller and has a dusty green/white color.
Here is another example…In this picture the spike is again bright green, growing up and has the mitten shape. While the roots, below it, are again a dusty green/white color.
In this last pic we see a better picture of the roots. You can see a big, more established, spike/shoot on the left – which is growing behind the stick and is probably in bloom. This orchid has a bunch of ariel roots, they are growing all around this pot. In this case the orchid needs to be repotted soon to push some of these roots down in the soil.
Each spike on an orchid will have at least a few nodes going up the spike prior to the blooms. A node, shown below, looks like a little half envelope going up the branch and each node has the potential to branch off and have its own bloom!
Make sure you have stakes on hand to hold up your new spike. For spiking tips see my post on How to Stake and Orchid.
Hope that helps!
Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at email@example.com with pictures of your orchid.