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Thread: Phalenopsis question.

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    h.the.cvt's Avatar
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    Phalenopsis question.

    I've had my phalenopsis for around 2 years. It was blooming when I purchased it, and hasn't bloomed since.

    For the first 1.5 years, I had it in succulent soil. Then someone at a plant store told me it needed to be in a pot with side holes and bark medium. So I did that.

    But I feel like it's doing worse in the bark. Most of the roots are dead. He leaves are limp and wrinkly and there's no new growth.

    Should I put it back in soil? I want it to be healthy, but I just don't think it is in the bark.

    Thanks.

    *H, CVT*

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    Can you show us a picture? For a Phalaenopsis to bloom, you'll have to give it relatively cool temperatures for at least a week in winter
    It sounds like you're describing root rot
    You may have been watering the orchid too often, the middle of the media can stay much more moist in bark than you'd be able to tell

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    h.the.cvt's Avatar
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    I don't water it that often. Once every few weeks. I think it may be too dry, actually. I'll post a picture tomorrow.

    *H, CVT*

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    Once every few weeks may indeed be too little haha

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    An orchid fancier with a CP problem chibae's Avatar
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    It's a tough life being a Sarracenia farmer
    My Grow List http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=123776

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    Dalton's Avatar
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    You did the correct thing removing it from the succulent soil. Most orchids, and Phalaenopsis are included, are epiphytes. This means they don't grow in soil. In the wild they'd be found growing on the trunks of trees or in the crotch of branches.

    With Phalaenopsis, you'll see thick green-silver roots. They turn silver when they're drying out and green when they're hydrated. Because these plants live on the side of trees, they don't have soil to hold water against their roots. The thick part you see isn't actually the root, but a sponge-like material that quickly absorbs rain water when it's falling and the roots pull it out of this and it goes silver. The root is actually very thin and if you have rotted roots, you should be able to see the real root where the cover has come off.

    So if you think about it like that, it's easier. If you take regular plant and pot it in soil, then keep the soil saturated all the time, it's liable to rot. If you plant the orchid in soil, even if it isn't super damp, those special roots that are meant to take small amounts of water and keep the plant hydrated, then you can see how it would over saturate them when potted in soil with all that access to water. Your roots will rot, in this instance, from too much water.

    So instead, orchid growers use different types media, depending on their conditions or aesthetic sensibilities. For instance, many growers, myself included, use a combination of orchid bark and sphagnum moss. I've found that when I bought a phal from the store and tried to leave it in the straight sphagnum it came in, it tended to rot on me. I also found that when I potted in straight bark, it tended to dehydrate faster than I'd like to water. When I mix the two together so that they have the air from the orchid bark and the water retention of the sphag, I could water them about once a week and they'd do very well. Other types of media are the little hydration ball made of clay and you can actually mount it to wood with some or no sphagnum moss, though this is more difficult to care for. It does look cool, though.

    I have trouble getting my phals to rebloom, but I haven't really tried or given them a temp drop. They're healthy, though. It sounds to me like maybe your roots rotted from too much water and now the upper part of the plant is starting to show dehydration because there aren't enough roots to absorb water. I just rescued an orchid from a big box store's Oops We Killed It section. It was severely dehydrated, no potting media at all (it had been tipped over), and most of the roots looked rotten. I got it for $5 as an experiment to see if I could bring it back. I took off the spike above the second node, soaked it in warm water for about an hour, trimmed off the truly dead roots (leaving any that plumped up green even if they were damaged further up, repotted it in bark and sphag, placed in a mildly bright spot, and am now waiting to see how it does.

    Just like you can't push a sick person too hard when recovering, I won't fertilize it till it shows some improvement by showing growth. I also won't expose it to as bright a light as I think it'd like when healthy till then. Give this a try with your orchid. Soak it for about an hour, completely submerged (leaves and roots), cut off any truly dead roots, but leave anything that look like it could provide water to the plant. Pot it in a pot with good drainage, preferably clear so that you can see the progress of the roots. You can get the clear containers they put soup in at the Asian restaurants and drill some holes in the bottom and sides. .25" holes will probably work. Water it once a week by soaking it and make sure that if you get any water at the base of the leaves that you twist up some toilet paper and stick the tip down there to wick away the excess water or you'll get crown rot. Fertilize with an orchid fertilizer and move it to bright indirect light once it starts showing some growth. If you have a bathroom that gets descent light, you could put it in there to recover as the steam from the shower will also help it recover. You can also mist it regularly to get a similar effect. Good luck.
    Last edited by Dalton; 03-07-2016 at 12:10 PM.

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