Every single orchid root has a number of important functions to perform. Firstly, the roots attach your plants, wherever they grow.
In the case of an Epiphytic orchid, once their roots are attached on the bark of the tree from where they grow up or even on the clay surfaces of the pot from where they grow in, it is usually almost impossible to remove it.
The second function of the root is to give the flower their needed water and nutrient salt.
The structure of the roots of the terrestrial orchid is quite simple to picture out. The root starts mainly at the bottom of the stem. Usually, the roots are lean, long, fibrous and also almost never branched. Sometimes, as in cases of Paphiopedilums, the roots are densely haired, thus allowing them to absorb moisture from the tinniest particles of their growing medium.
On the other hand, Epiphytic orchid roots are quite more complicated. But their roots serve a very good purpose especially when the supply of water is not consistent and the quantity of nutrient salt is insufficient.
The original features of epiphytic roots are that they have a silvery to gray color. This color is a result of the thing called velamen which usually is composed of single or even of a number of levels of epidermal cells. The velamen functions as a covering of the root system except for the short terminal tip. The velamen takes up moisture from the ambient atmosphere. The velamin is also considered as having the capacity to protect the roots from extreme weather changes.
The third and very amazing function of the epiphytic roots is that they have the ability to photosynthesize on their own. With the other kinds of orchids, the roots depends the function of photosynthesizing from the leaves. However there are certain orchid genus that are completely leafless, like the Campylocentrum. In this case, their roots are responsible for photosynthesizing.
Orchid roots of epiphytic or lithophytic needs a lot of air for it to function at its best. It is very important for orchid growers to understand this because most orchids fail to thrive because the process on how their roots absorb nutrients is not clearly understood. Thus, owners end up over watering them and so their roots begin to rot and eventually the orchid dies.
Generally, the health condition of the orchid is often reflected on the condition of its roots. Therefore, if you happen to be looking for the perfect orchid in an orchid shop, you must thoroughly inspect the plant’s roots as well as its leaves to make sure that the orchid that you will be purchasing is totally healthy.