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-   -   Repotting Phal (http://www.orchidgeeks.com/forum/newbie-questions-63/repotting-phal-2900/)

Woods 06-17-2007 11:01 AM

Repotting Phal

My mini-phal has just finished flowering. I have trimmed the stems close to the base and would like to repot. There are lots of arial roots which are very dry and parts of which are black, but they turn green after watering. Should I trim these? I found a section in easyorchids.co.uk about repotting phals and it suggests you trim any broken or dried arial roots.

Here are my questions:
Should I leave the roots as they are or tidy them as I repot?

Are there any links to repotting through this site that I have overlooked?

I also remember reading that you can put some stones/pebbles at the bottom of your pot to help the water to drain. Anyone tried this?


mayres 06-17-2007 12:08 PM

Anne - Yes, any roots that are without substance dried (thin and dehydrated/wrinkled like paper) or rotted should be removed when you repot. When you feel them if they are hard/thick - I would attempt to coax as many of these as possible down into the media. If you have lots of roots it certainly would not hurt to trim a few sections here and there as you choose. You certainly could leave any you like as aerial roots - of course they do this in the wild - obtaining moisture and nutrients from their natural humid environment. Most people I know put styrofoam peanuts in the bottom of their pots for drainage - I have done this with all my phals as well. If you ever do this be careful not to use the wrong type - some of them react with water and turn into "goo". The jury is out on whether or not colored ones are OK too. I stick with the very firm white type. Good luck - mike

orchid126 06-17-2007 04:17 PM

Be sure to soak the roots in warm water for an hour or more. This will make them more pliable and they will be less likely to snap and break. Packing peanuts are good in the bottom for drainage. I've also used diatomite and lava rock for stability as phals get top heavy. You can even use clay chards.

kmarch 06-17-2007 07:38 PM

I would second orchid126 on the root soaking before repotting as it does make the roots more "bendy" and less suceptible to snapping. I would qualify "warm" water though, we're not talking like bath water here, I'd use tepid feeling water, that feels neither decidedly cool nor warm to the touch. I try to water with this temp of water too.

Woods 06-19-2007 03:35 PM

Thanks everyone.
Mike - how long & how many times should I soak the new bark before I repot? You mentioned this in the other post about the bugs.

I don't know where to get hold of the packing peanuts - would small stones be ok to use?


tom499 06-19-2007 04:22 PM

stones are fine. you could use polystyrene, or anything that wont break down easily and allows quick drainage of water at the bottom of your pot.

Soak the bark for a good few hours at least, im not sure it will kill tiny bugs living on it (if there are any) but i good soak gets the water into the bark, where it can be retained and slowly released. Failure to soak bark properly causes it to dry out very quickly. you must also never let the bark dry out completely as this happen here also.

Cutting back less happy roots is a good way to stimulate growth of new roots. after repotting, skip a watering or two, as long as the bark stays moist, this helps to stimulate the plant to grow new roots into the fresh medium.

nenella 06-19-2007 05:24 PM

Hi there,
I have often read that you should add a few drops of washing up liquid to the water.. when first soaking ...? apparently this helps the bark retain moisture more easily ??
I havent tried it myself though... anyone else heard or tried this before?

Sharyn 06-19-2007 11:11 PM

Woods: Here's an interesting photo/instruction on repotting orchids. Many of tips you'll find on the forum are illustrated.

nanella: I haven't heard of adding dishwash drops to the bark, however, I sometimes add a little Superthrive hormone to the soaking bark. Normally, I soak the bark for 24-48 hours. I found that soaking this long makes the bark retain enough moisture and the roots do not dehydrate after the repot.

PhalPal 06-20-2007 12:40 PM

nenella- Soap is a surfactant and actually helps to make the water 'slippery' allowing it to be absorbed more easily. If you have it in France, Dawn brand dishwashing liquid works the best for this purpose. And just a drop or two will do it!

Woods 06-20-2007 04:10 PM

Thanks again everyone. That's a great site... really well illustrated. I'm waiting for a repotting kit to arrive from easyorchids.co.uk (they provide small packs of bark which is handy). Once it's here I'll get started repotting.

Nenella - I have been to La Rochelle on holiday... it's a beautiful area. Lucky you!


Woods 06-23-2007 04:46 PM

Hi all,

I have the repotting kit and have been soaking the bark. I plan to soak the roots tomorrow before repotting. Does anyone have any tips on how to drain the bark before putting it into the new pot? I have it in a large bowl at the moment.



Sharyn 06-23-2007 05:39 PM

Anne: I'm not sure what you received for repotting, but you can drain the bark into a colander. If you have other media, like charcoal and perlite, rinse them off and add to your bark mixture. Any leftover media, spread on a paper plate, dry and use for the next potting project. Good luck. :)

Woods 06-24-2007 05:02 AM

It's bark I have. There are lots of large pieces. I had thought about using a colander but felt I would loose all the small dust like pieces and only be left with the large bits of bark. Do I want to get rit of that anyway and stick to the large bark?


Sharyn 06-24-2007 08:21 AM

Anne: If it's plain bark, don't worry about the dust and miniscuel pieces. However, I wonder if we're both talking about the same thing. You mentioned this is from a potting kit. What ingredients were sent to you for repotting? Does the bag of bark mention other ingredients in with the bark, like peat, or coir, etc.?

Woods 06-24-2007 08:49 AM

Sharyn - the kit included a pot and small bag of bark. No label on the bag. I used a slotted spoon to get the bark from the bowl of water.

I repotted earlier after soaking the bark (just over 24hrs) and soaking the phal. It looks like it should water more evenly than before... fingers crossed. I trimmed off quite a few broken roots and some that were yellowish. I also managed to coax the aerial roots into the pot. I'll let everyone know what happens.

Thanks for the advice.

mayres 06-24-2007 03:01 PM

Keep an eye on the condition of the leaves. If they start to show indentations/softening in the least bit then your roots are not getting enough moisture from the bark. You may need to soak the bark, roots, pot and all for a time when watering to get enough water absorption for awhile - depends upon how well your particular bark holds water from the start. Good luck. mike

Woods 06-24-2007 05:04 PM

Oh, forgot to mention I have a new root. I noticed it during repotting. It's short but looks good.

Woods 07-28-2007 05:18 AM

Hi all,
Got a bit of a problem. The bark did seem to hold water but I went on holiday for 3 weeks and left my usual watering instructions. I got back a couple of days ago and the leaves do not look good (soft and wrinkly). The top two are OK but looking wrinkly underneath.

The bark was dry so I soaked it for 15 mins. Now it's a few days later and there is still moisture at the base of the pot. The top dried out the day after soaking. How soon should I soak it again and for how long?

Cynthia, Prescott, AZ 07-28-2007 12:06 PM

When you repotted, did you press the bark well into the pot? The rule of thumb is that you should be able to lift the entire finished product by just holding onto the plant and lifting gently. Pressing the bark well into the pot helps to wick moisture thru the mix. Not perfectly, but better than being loosely placed in the pot. The leaves should eventually firm up, but the rinkles may be permanent.

Woods 07-28-2007 01:12 PM

Thanks for the reply. Yes, I pressed down on the bark and kept adding more as I repotted. I was surprised at how much bark could fit into the pot. It had looked OK (I didn't try lifting it though!). When I returned from my holiday it had dried out and now the bark seems really loose.

Should I replace the driest and loosest bark (on top) with bark that I have had soaking? Then I could soak the plant when it next needs to be watered to avoid overwatering it.


mayres 07-28-2007 04:03 PM

Anne - I would just soak the media you have already potted up with the roots, pot and all for 30-60 minutes each time you water until the media seems to be retaining moisture. It is not uncommon for the uppermost bark to look dry fairly quickly - hence the need to either use the skewer method to know what it is like underneath or learn to test the amount of water retention by the weight of the pot and plant - which is pretty much what many of us eventually get to. At some point you may (?) want to consider some alternative media for your phal(s) that does a better job of retaining moisture - many of us on the forum have found a more closed mix to be beneficial. Good luck - mike

Woods 07-28-2007 05:11 PM

Thanks Mike. Only soaked for 15mins at the last watering... will give it longer next time.

Woods 08-07-2007 10:17 AM

Update on repotted Phal
Hi all,

Have followed advice and soaked phal. It is recovering well. There is a new leaf, new roots and maybe a spike.

There are photos on another thread.... 'Phal Leaf and Spike'


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