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Old 11-12-2009, 07:44 PM
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Reviving a Rootless Phal

This is Phal. Brother Passat I got from the orchid club raffle table in the fall of '07. It didn't have good roots but had a couple of new short roots so I put it in s/h. It must have been too cold in the phal area because it started down hill. When I removed it there were zero roots left so I decided to try to save it.

I put it in a shallow plastic bowl on a bed of moist sphagnum and placed the bowl inside a plastic bag with the top open. Three times a week I would soak the entire plant in fertilizer and Superthrive water. On occasion I would apply a rooting hormone on the stalk and then place it back on the moist sphag. Within a month/six weeks this is what happened



Note the black dead root from the s/h attempt



There was a third small root on the other side of the plant that isn't pictured.

I continued to soak the plant and it grew two new leaves while in rehab and the leaves never dehydrated even with no roots.

When the roots were long enough I put it in a 2" pot and this is what the plant looks like today, 20 months after the above pictures were taken.



The bottom most leaf is one of the leaves in the first set of pics, still being productive and yes that is a spike.

It was an interesting project but I don't think I would do it again unless it was a very special phal.

Brooke
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Last edited by Brooke; 11-12-2009 at 08:29 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 11-12-2009, 07:56 PM
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That extraordinarily talented green thumb must be on the other hand!

What a great job. How on earth did you coax a spike from it already??!!
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Old 11-12-2009, 07:59 PM
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thank you Brooke
well saved
I think this thread would be good to have for future reference
so I will make this one 'sticky'

thanks Brooke
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Old 11-12-2009, 08:12 PM
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Hi Brooke.
Very well done, I find if you give them a little TLC and warmth, they will respond well.
Your plant has done exceptionally well.
Cheerio
Ron
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Old 11-13-2009, 01:01 AM
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Nice save Brooke. I've never tried a rootless one. Did manage to save one that had two good roots. I find Phals to be pretty tough and forgiving.
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Old 11-13-2009, 01:05 AM
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Brooke - you are the best!
Can you add - was this in a greenhouse with "X" humidity during the process. Many of us only have house/home environments and might need to make some minor alterations to your process if this was done in a greenhouse - or at least expect slower results?
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Old 11-13-2009, 04:02 AM
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Thank you for showing your processes, 20 months is quite a wait, it definitely shows the patients we need for this type of rescue.
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Old 11-13-2009, 07:55 AM
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Mike it was in the g/h but let me add this - a greenhouse is not a magical place all the time. You notice I put the plastic bowl in a bag for added humidity. Yesterday was a bright sunny day and both exhaust fans were running - my humidity level was under 20%.

You will actually have it easier in your home environment under lights because everything you have is constant. You might have faster results because the rootless stage was during the dark days of winter when many days my heater ran all day and night. I put it in the warmest spot I had which is 62 in one area (I laughingly keep that particular area for my warm growers). I also had to shield it in case the sun made a rare appearance so it didn't cook in the bag.

I think the recovery process would have been faster if I had been able to keep it warmer. I probably should have used my seedling mat to boost the temp but my vision is only 20/20 in hindsight.

I wish I had taken more pictures along the way but again, it is that hindsight phenom I'm good about, not the present

I think orchids are one of the toughest plants in the world. Their desire to live even when they are scraps is just amazing. I wish I had chronicled my Coel. cristata that I rescued because it was much easier to grow and bloom than the phal has been. Again, that hindsight thing.

Brooke
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Old 11-13-2009, 10:24 AM
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Great job Brooke.
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Old 11-13-2009, 11:46 AM
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It's a great save, but it sure does take a lot of patience.
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Old 11-18-2009, 10:59 PM
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I need to encourage roots on one of my Phals, but I'm not sure what to buy or where to buy it. The plant is nothing special really, it was just my first and don't want to lose it. Can someone tell me what and where?
thanks a BUNCH!!!
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Old 11-18-2009, 11:58 PM
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Thats an awesome post! There are a couple of special phals to me that I am in the beginning process of what you did and almost lost hope. Thank you for posting the great pictures of progress, Brooke. That makes me want to really work to get these few Phals back into shape! That looks like an aircone pot, would you mind posting a picture of the roots?

I have mine in plastic SEALED bags, but I think I like your idea of opening the top. That way, they could have great hunidity with SOME air circulation. Really, thats for posting this thread, it really shows that orchids are not disposable plants.

Oh, BTW Brother Passat is really cool, its on my wishlist, worth your hard work when it blooms I bet you.
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Old 11-19-2009, 01:40 AM
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That is amazing. I know it took a lot of patience, but doesn't it make you feel good to see it growing and putting out a spike? Great job!!!!
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:29 AM
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Olive the fertilizer was my normal one, Superthrive you can usually find at WalMart and you probably don't need a rooting hormone. I think the soaking the leaves in the fertilizer water is the most important part.

Whalloper I repotted the plant into a 4" air cone a couple of days ago. I will have to see if the roots are visible. I wanted to get it repotted before the spike got too long. With my luck I would have broken it off after waiting this long to see a bloom.

I never totally seal anything without an air supply, even the most recently unflasked seedlings. Air exchange is vital to life.

Brooke
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:48 AM
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Brooke -- you have faaaaaaaar more patience than I...for sure. This is a great thread...thanks for sharing your success story.

I know what you're saying about the g/h. I don't have one yet...but in my research...I have found that things can be soooooo much more complicated vs. growing in our living spaces. Even w/all the potential pitfalls of g/h growing...I am looking forward to the day when I can water and not have to worry about my carpet/floors.
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Old 11-19-2009, 03:09 PM
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Amazing story I am amazed at your patience and the resilience of this orchid, I haven't had that much experience with orchids that are that close to death but I have had to clean some. Great story thank you for posting!
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:20 PM
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Just for you Whalloper - repotted Saturday into a 4" air cone.





Gene it was a long process but it was an interesting one.

Katrina everyone needs a g/h They are really nice but at times they can be a lot of worry. And create a lot of guessing regarding plant care

Brooke
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooke View Post
Just for you Whalloper - repotted Saturday into a 4" air cone.





Gene it was a long process but it was an interesting one.

Katrina everyone needs a g/h They are really nice but at times they can be a lot of worry. And create a lot of guessing regarding plant care

Brooke
Love it, thanks a million! I would love a greenhouse, but my back yard has trees, happily, and sadly
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:27 AM
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Whalloper; I've got trees galore. I've got a few sunny spots and we're putting in a greenhouse.
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Old 12-27-2009, 10:05 PM
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I have just started this process of trying to save a 95% dead Phal.. One of mine, under lights and in a cabinet got some minus centigrade weather and developed a black leaf, with others looking kind of withered because all the roots except one tiny bit of green seem to have died. I hope I can do this as it is a favourite. I am new to this forum so is there any section for growing orchids under lights but not as hydroponics?
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:09 PM
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Welcome to the forum. Many people on the forum grow under lights and there is a subsection for under lights questions, etc. You can post and share info in many sections of the forum.

Good luck with saving your phal. They have a strong desire to live so I'm sure you will be successful.

Brooke
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Old 02-18-2010, 11:53 PM
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Thank you Brooke for posting this it has encouraged me so much to not give up when I have a phal in the hospital
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Old 03-18-2010, 04:46 PM
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Here is an update on my rootless wonder that sprang back to life - in two short years



It has four blooms open now with more to go. I do like it and will keep it to remind me that it can be done.

Would I do it again - only if the plant was very special. I can bloom most phals from flask in the same amount of time with probably less work involved.

Brooke
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Old 03-19-2010, 07:56 PM
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It's BEAUTIFUL!! You have far more patience than I BUT it looks like it was worth the work!! Good job!!
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:36 PM
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Well done! You are one of our Phal Masters!!! Very educational as well!
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Old 03-20-2010, 09:19 AM
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Great job! Great tutorial too.
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:21 AM
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Brooke - great post! Did you just lay your Phals on the moist sphagnum? I have a similiar situation and would like to try to rescue....
No G/H -so I would have to try a resuce under home conditions... Anyone ever try a warm steamy bathroom?
When you say 'bags' - are you referring to the standard plastic grocery bags?
Deirdre
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Old 03-23-2010, 06:29 AM
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Deirdre yes I laid the phal on the moist sphag to keep the base moist and to provide humidity inside the bag. You wouldn't want to pot it up because of the need to soak it in fert water.

I use zip-loc type bags over the bowl.

Brooke
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Old 05-29-2010, 02:50 PM
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very well done Brooke!! I tried to do that awhile back but I guess the Phal was too far gone but that has not discouraged me....lol!!! These tips will help me a lot if I have to do it again. Thank you!!
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Old 06-02-2010, 03:20 AM
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Unhappy leafless phal now!!

Imartiny HI!

You did some work on a lefless phal? I have lost all leaves on one but is not rootless still has a few roots.Can you suggest ways to revive it?Thanks.One here has lost all leaves some deases!
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Old 06-02-2010, 03:37 AM
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...I have lost all leaves on one but is not rootless still has a few roots.Can you suggest ways to revive it?Thanks.One here has lost all leaves some deases!
ZAEEM
Ummm, zaeem, your phal is not leafless. Those three green things are its leaves.
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Old 06-02-2010, 03:16 PM
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Hi, Brooke
I'm doing something similar now. I have a phal with several decent - not great - leaves on it as well as 4 or 5 roots, but no stem. It rotted off. Can't pot it because it just keeps falling over, so I'm leaving it bare root on a damp towel and am soaking it, completely submerged, in fertilized water for several hours, a couple of times a week. Don't know if a stem will grow or not. Reckon we'll see.
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Old 06-03-2010, 03:46 AM
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Kmarch
thanks but this photo is prior to leaves falling off.Sorry all leaves had turned yellow and felloff.I should have sent you the latest leafless photo,which I dont have yet.
Sorry for the misunderstanding created.
ZAEEM
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Old 06-03-2010, 06:34 AM
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E-jag a stem can't be regrown but is formed when the old leaves fall off. Grow a few more leaves and the natural cycle will eventually form the stem.

Zaeem your phal roots *might* put out a basil keiki if you keep them properly watered. As long as the roots appear healthy there is hope.

Brooke
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Old 06-10-2010, 02:31 AM
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Question Questions

Brooke,

I have some questions as I'm two days into Spag 'n Bag as a last ditch effort to save a phal I rescued.

1. Did you set the bowl inside the ziploc bag or did you place the bag over the bowl like a tent? There were two posts about that part that left it unclear.

2. Did you ever cut off the black, rotted part of the stem once you got the phal to a certain point?

3. Can the technique work even when there are no leaves?
My rescue phal is leafless with two so-so roots. The picture below was taken before I cut away the dead roots. I'm doing this indoors with the AC running 75-77.

4. Is it okay to close the bag for part of the day or should it stay open/partially open?
I've read conflicting accounts on if the bag should remain sealed. Would the AC increase the need for humidity and hence a closed/partially closed bag? But then airflow is often talked about as being vital to orchids...

Your photo diary is inspiring and informative. Thank you for posting your adventure.
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Old 06-10-2010, 07:14 AM
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NewBlooms - you can do it either way - over the top or sit the container in the bag. I'm not a fan of sealing something into a totally airless environment but some people are successful with that method.

I didn't cut off the stem until I had enough roots to anchor the phal in the media.

I don't know if your leafless roots are strong enough to "possibly" grow a basal keiki. IF it were mine, I would toss it and go buy myself a new phal to celebrate joining the forum. Welcome aboard!

Brooke
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Old 06-10-2010, 09:49 AM
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Great job & good information.
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Old 06-24-2010, 02:24 AM
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Brooke, I am trying the same thing right now with my first ever orchid. Because of the sentimental value, I really want this one to survive! I put it on top of some sphag moss (there is one root still alive) and put pencils around it to hold the leaves away from the moss. It's only been in the bag for three days so far. It looks funny cuz I originally tried potting it with the one root, and it just kept falling.

My question is how long do you soak the plant in fertilizer for? I am using 30-10-10 fertilizer diluted to 1/4 teasp per gallon. Should I still soak the whole plant three times a week? Should I put the moss in the fertilizer too, or just leave that stuff in the bag and occasionally rewet them. I close the top of my ziplock bag during the day because the humidity is lower. I open it at night when the humidifier is running. This Phal is consistently in 72 F.

Am I doing things right? Please let this one survive..
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Old 06-24-2010, 06:32 AM
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I never really timed the fertilizer soak because I would be doing other things. Soaking every day wouldn't hurt the plant because at this point in time there are no roots to feed it. I would just use water to moisten the sphag, again because of no roots.

Good luck with it - I'm sure you can save it.

Brooke
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Old 07-26-2010, 03:32 PM
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Today I started reviving two phalaenopsis, my first ones. They have little roots, I may post a picture a few days later. Here's the story:
I got them in April, they were potted together, one was mature with two bloom spikes and had 6 leaves, the other wasn't mature and had 3, about 4" long leaves. The bigger one started to grow a new leaf in May, so I decided when it would stop blooming that I would repot it. I repotted them seperately in June, they had some roots that were rotten, so I cut them away, but since I was repotting an orchid for the first time I don't think I did it correctly, so the other time I decided that I would pot them back together again. So I did. But then I did A HUGE mistake by overwatering them, plus starting to fertilize them way too early, at every watering I would use a 200 ppm N strength fertilizer solution (that is strong, FYI). Two waterings (with fertilizer) later I noticed some roots getting yellow and then brown. Today I took them both out of the pot and was shocked: many roots were rotten, I had to cut a lot of them away. I knew they wouldn't be fine potted in bark, so I decided to put them in a zip-lock back in sphangnum moss.
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Old 07-27-2010, 04:12 AM
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Here are some pictures.
The "patients"

The "ICU"


I know it's not the worst case scenario, since they have some roots, but I doubt they would be fine planted in bark...
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Old 07-27-2010, 07:45 PM
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Hi Dido, I'm by no means an expert at reviving phals, but I was told that the leaves of the Phal should not touch the sides of the bag or the moss. This will just cause them to rot. It's probably not good for them to be squished into the bag like that. I think you should blow air into the bag and stand the plants upright if you can.

I am sure an expert at this will come along and correct me if I am wrong Good luck with your phals!
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Old 07-28-2010, 05:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amchu3 View Post
Hi Dido, I'm by no means an expert at reviving phals, but I was told that the leaves of the Phal should not touch the sides of the bag or the moss. This will just cause them to rot. It's probably not good for them to be squished into the bag like that. I think you should blow air into the bag and stand the plants upright if you can.

I am sure an expert at this will come along and correct me if I am wrong Good luck with your phals!
You know what, you might be right. I was having doubts about this as well. Although from what I know rot only occurs when too much water is combined with lack of oxygen. But I'm keeping the bag well aerated: the bag is always open and I poked many holes in it to alow the best air movement inside. We'll see . The trash can is always there. If I don't succeed I can always buy new orchids ! Considering the costs of materials needed for this "reanimation" I definitely could rather buy a new orchid.
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Old 10-25-2010, 05:04 PM
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Great job Brooke! An interesting variation on the sphag and bag method.

Do you think this would work with a P. aphrodite with severe crown rot? I have a new leaf starting, but was disgusted today that I had not checked under the old leaf sheaths- black rot all the way into the rhizome. the "heart" of the crown is exposed, but it still has that baby new leaf, and an old one. annnddd....not really any roots. x.x
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Old 10-26-2010, 06:28 AM
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You are confusing me with terms of "old leaf sheaths" and "rot in the rhizome". Do you mean you had a leaf rot at the juncture with the main stem and you think the rot is systemic now?

If the rot is systemic and you have no roots, I see another orchid in your future.

Brooke
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Old 10-26-2010, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooke View Post
You are confusing me with terms of "old leaf sheaths" and "rot in the rhizome". Do you mean you had a leaf rot at the juncture with the main stem and you think the rot is systemic now?

If the rot is systemic and you have no roots, I see another orchid in your future.

Brooke
I've made a thread in the cultivation forum about it.
You know when a phal leaf naturally breaks off, that lower part that is left? I didn't remove those.
I say rot in the rhizome because it appears that it sank all the way down to the rooty part, as well as into the "heart" of the crown, below where the new leaf is starting.
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