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Old 11-14-2006, 10:47 PM
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Root Rot on a new Phal???

Hi all,

I recently got a new Phal about 1 month ago. As I am new to the care of orchids, I am not really sure how to take care of it. I water the Phal once a week in the morning with room temperature tap water and I put it by a southfacing window where it gets shaded light. The humidity in my room was about 30% but I now have the humidity at 50%. The newest root in the second row of leaves was greenish white when I got the Phal but it has now shriveled at the tips. The other roots at the top of the growing medium has brown blotches all over it now (please see the attached pictures). I don't know what I am doing wrong...or what I need to do. Please help =).

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Old 11-14-2006, 11:26 PM
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Your Phal is doing good, it will loose its arial roots because you are growing it in a lower humidity environment. Your Phal was raised in a greenhouse with 60% - 70% humidity.
the roots on top are browning because of the lower humidity, but are not dying. You may be underwatering, stick your finger into the mix, if it is bone dry, then you have let it go too long between waterings.
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Old 11-15-2006, 03:08 AM
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To test whether you need to water check this post out skewer-use-for-watering-of-orchids

Also, you can mist the air roots if you decide you want to keep them going. Be careful though to do this in the mornings allowing time for them to dry. Mist the roots until you see moisture bead up since the velamin (root covering) will act as a sponge to absorb the moisture.

Also, watch those aerial roots in that they will "stick" to things including nearby pots and they are hard / impossible to detach sometimes without drastic action.
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Old 11-15-2006, 06:19 PM
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Your roots are definately too wet, or like someone above said, the plant is going through a little shock because of a big difference in humidity. Try putting out a saucer of water next to your orchid to raise the humidity some in the immediate area. Brown soggy roots are a sign of overwatering. They should be hard and green tipped.
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Old 11-15-2006, 07:23 PM
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I can see that the bottom most leaf is kind of wrinkled, could be stress of some sort. Be careful not to let the roots get too dry before you water again, it could lead to root rot , since dead roots don't absorb water, they'll just sit in it and rot. Also, check for snails, they are very tiny and like to chew on roots and make brown marks on roots , they are about the size of this @ symbol, sometimes smaller.
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Old 11-15-2006, 11:45 PM
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The roots look just fine to me. I don't think I see any signs of being too wet. However, the important thing is not how wet the roots are at the top of the mix, but how wet the mix stays down inside. Use the skewer method mentioned above, and written up by me. Read it using the link in atcrosby's post. If you are worried about the exposed roots drying too much, or being dry too long, you can mist them in the morning (be sure the leaves are dry by the time the temp starts to fall), but be sure you are not misting so much that you are actually watering the plant and keeping the mix wet all the time.

The wrinkled bottom leaf looks like it is being cast off by the plant. If wrinkling is only in that one leaf, it is not a problem. Leaves eventually get old enough, they must be discarded by the plant.
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Old 11-24-2006, 03:35 AM
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Thanks all for your help. But how about the shrivelled root tip? What should I do with that? Is that normal? And how often should I mist?
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Old 11-24-2006, 11:55 AM
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Don't worry about the shriveled root tip. If the root wants to it will start growing again on its own. I mist my office phals (because it is so dry in there) 1-2X in the mornings. As noted above, don't mist so much that you are continually watering your plant again by the misting or it will never dry out and the roots down in the media will rot. A saucer of water was mentioned for adding a little local humidity. If you place your plant on a good sized saucer filled with rocks and then fill the saucer up to 1/4 an inch or so from the top of the rocks, the rocks will increase the surface area and thereby give you more water evaporation than with water alone. It also gives a place for your plant to drain - of course you never want the bottom of your pot to be in standing water.
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Old 11-24-2006, 07:04 PM
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I always thought the pebbles were to keep the orchid pot dry. I was not aware of increased area for evaporation. Actually many people say there isn't much value in this method to increase humidity. I haven't been able to determine its worth in my home growing situation.
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Old 11-24-2006, 08:54 PM
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Joan - There certainly does appear to be quite a bit of controversy over how much the water/pebble approach adds to the local plant environment. Some claim it is worthless and some claim it is a must and everything in between. I do know in my office environment that is air conditioned (and thus low humidity) that about a quart of water evaporates from 15-20 saucers a day. For those of us who are not fortunate enough to have greenhouses we have to try anthing we can to improve our growing conditions - my thought is that it cannot hurt, and as you suggest, at a minimum it provides a good place for the plants to finish draining after watering.
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Old 11-25-2006, 02:46 AM
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I checked the humidity level when there was no water in the saucers and then again after I had filled them. There was a 10% increase in the humidity level from 50% to 60% and sometimes a little more. I use the glass stones that look like marbles in the trays that you buy to put under pots. They will hold a little more water than a common saucer. Once you get them set up it only takes minutes to fill them with a watering can with a long spout.

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Old 11-25-2006, 03:57 AM
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Excellent! Thanks for the report. Maybe I can let mine run dry and then do a before and after and see how much change I get as well. Good report - its nice to know that MAYBE some of us are doing something that really does make some sense. I know many things we do in life are things we heard were good to do and end up being nothing but fairy tales/old wives tales.....
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Old 11-25-2006, 02:12 PM
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Where did you put the gauge? On the pot top, near the leaves? This technique with gravel and water depends to a great extent on how much air movement you have, and how much area the gravel covers.
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Old 11-25-2006, 05:34 PM
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Desertgal - Okay, I just did the test myself with similar results. This morning I started with dry trays and showed a reading of 51% humidity in the room/area where my orchids are all gathered together. After filling the trays with water I have been monitoring for the last half hour and it is stabilized at 63% for the time being. I do have forced air into the room and also a small fan about 10 inch square or so blowing in the general direction. My guage is placed in the middle of one of my levels/group of plants - at plant height. So, based on your and my tests it would appear indeed that we can affect the humidity by AT LEAST 10% This is certainly not as beneficial (will not raise into the 70-80%+ range) as those fortunate enough to have a greenhouse, but still worth the effort - provides SOME "extra" humidity to our plants. Thanks for the challenge! mike
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Old 11-25-2006, 07:10 PM
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Glad to hear all the positive results with pebble trays guys.
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Old 11-25-2006, 10:10 PM
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If you can get the area at 60% humidity then you are doing great. I use to have my greenhouse at 70% and more, but that just leads to problems, with Phals anyways. I have my greenhouse at 60% and they love it, arial roots grow out of control. 50% is great for in home humidity. More than that in home and you will run into condensation and mold problems on your walls.
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