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Old 06-19-2015, 08:48 PM
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Help with phalaenopsis (overwatering?)

Hi everyone,

Hope this is the right place to post this. My mom has been watering my orchids for the past two weeks since I've been away (I usually soak them once a week). Today I got the following message: "I'm very worried about your phalaenopsis. I soaked it the other day and brought it back inside the house. Today all the leaves are shriveled looking with deep wrinkles. Should I soak it again?"

I asked her to send a picture since I don't get home until Sunday. Not only are the leaves wrinkled and droopy, they have brownish-black splotches with tiny white dots that I have never seen before. Unfortunately I couldn't get a good look at the roots from the picture she sent, but apparently there were a lot of dead roots (which she trimmed off). There were still some live roots though.

Does this sound like a case of overwatering, or something else (rot?)? I'm usually pretty diligent about wiping away any water from the leaves/crown, but I don't know about my mom... It happened so fast, so I'm worried it won't recover. I'm usually pretty hands-off with my orchids, but I've had this one for such a long time (it was my first) and I'd hate to see it die. Any advice at all would be appreciated!

Thanks! Sorry I can't be more detailed, it's hard to give a proper description without seeing the phal in person
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Old 06-20-2015, 12:13 PM
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Definitely a rot of some kind.

You may be able to save the plant by cutting the brown parts off. You need to cut into green tissue between the stem and the brown rot. Use a sharp knife, flame sterilized, or sterilize with bleach then rinsed.

I would put the plant in a shady spot and don't water for a while (at least a week, longer if possible). Keep an eye open in case mor rot appears.
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Old 06-20-2015, 01:49 PM
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I agree with Catt that this is a bacterial soft rot which, at least in phals, spreads so rapidly that it can overtake a plant in just a couple of days. I've had this happen with a phal a couple of times. Leaves appear - and are - water soaked. You've got to cut out all of the rotted portions of the leaf and spray with a bactericide like Physan. Also disinfect the pot and medium. I saved my phals but you can't believe how fast this stuff moves. Good luck!
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Old 06-20-2015, 10:12 PM
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This was really helpful, thanks everyone! I'm going home to my orchids tomorrow morning, so hopefully it won't be too late.
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Old 06-21-2015, 10:01 AM
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Let us know what you find. I hope that your Phal will be okay.
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Old 06-21-2015, 11:50 PM
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Update on this: the rot had spread pretty far by today, so I had to cut away two leaves very close to the base of each leaf and about 3/4 of the last (newest) leaf - so there's probably about four inches of healthy-looking leaf left. Yikes. Kind of sad looking, but this orchid spent about a year with a single tiny leaf (after losing all but one to some disease) so it's no stranger to ugliness . It does have some healthy roots last I checked, but I'll do a more thorough inspection tomorrow. It's isolated from my other orchids right now too. Do you have any tips for caring for an orchid with so little... leaf? I realize it might be a lost cause at this point, but I'd like to try anyway.

Also, I'm guessing cutting the flower spike is a given? It's been in bloom for about 2 months so is nearing the end anyway.

Thanks again! this place is such a great resource.

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Old 06-22-2015, 06:23 AM
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I would cut the spike.

I would also withhold water for a while until you can tell if the rot is still spreading into healthy tissue. Maybe a week or two without water. Keep the plant in a shaded location - not completely dark, but no direct sun.

Before you water again, I would re-pot in new bark medium, and a new clean pot (terra cotta or plastic, with good drainage). Water sparingly when you start watering again, maybe once a week, but water thoroughly when you water. Keep water off of the leaves.

Add a calcium source (CalMag, gypsum, or calcium nitrate) to your water to help prevent disease. Do this once or twice a month, it does help.

Good luck!
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Old 09-02-2015, 12:25 PM
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Hi everyone, thanks to your advice earlier this summer, my little phal is on the slow road to recovery. It won't win any awards for beauty, but there's a new leaf growing in so I'm hopeful! thanks again!
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Old 09-02-2015, 12:32 PM
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That is definitely on the road to recovery - glad you were able to save it!
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Old 09-02-2015, 03:56 PM
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Great to see that it is recovering! I am happy you were able to save it.
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