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Old 04-12-2007, 04:15 PM
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Phal. Repotting Problem

I've read so many threads on caring for Phals. but can't figure out what's wrong with this one.

I just repotted several phals. after flowering. Only one seems to be stressed. The top leaf feels like soft leather and drooping. The new leaf starting is splitting as it grows - it almost looks like 2 leaves. Can't figure out why all the others are fine and this one seems sick. No bugs, no rot, good roots, humidity about 50-60%.

The only odd thing that happened recently is our wacky weather. About ten days ago, it was 77F for two days, then back down to freezing - hard on all the plants without a greenhouse. This is about the time I repotted. Since all my other phal. repots have been very successful, I'm not sure what to make of it. Any suggestions? What does the softer, droopy leaf mean?
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Old 04-12-2007, 06:48 PM
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A single soft droopy leaf to me means you might (?) have a disease organism involved - if it is the last leaf, you could have a crown rot problem developing. It comes on fast and before you know it - uh oh! When all the leaves are soft and droopy it is under or usually over-watering and resulting root rot (not likely when you have just repotted). I have actually had a similar experience (don't mean to "scare" you) - I have about 30 phals that are doing WONDERFULLY. A co-worker brought a plant in for me to nurse back to health. I repotted for them and about a week or two later the newest leaf turned soft and disintegrated. I decided to move it to another place to see if the environment might be the problem, and the next thing I knew every single leaf repeated the lead of the new leaf. Now NO LEAVES! I'm embarassed as all get out to tell my coworker that their plant has vanished into thin air! Now what? I'm hoping for a basal keiki resurrection, but it has now been three months and things have not progressed positively. What happened? I'm wondering if there were dormant organisms on this plant that were somehow triggered by the repotting process? Either by a minor injury or more water than normal in the crown area (I changed to a more close mix than the original bark - one that is working great for all my other phals). Good luck and let us know how it goes.................

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Old 04-12-2007, 07:57 PM
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I am experiencing the exact same problem.

I changed the potting mix because I thought it was retaining too much moisture, now the potting mix is back to what it was originally, needing watering about every 4 days (by the skewer method).

But the leaves are still soft, leathery and drooping. Wondering whether to let it go completely dry ths time ???

They are a nice dark green color, not yellowing, so, I suppose while there's color, there's hope.

I also had a new leaf that started splitting from when it was about a 1/4 inch long, why, I don't know, but it is almost at a 45 degree angle to horizontal and a bit firmer than the other leaves with the split at the end of it. Who knows ?

My phal is indoors and under the same conditions it always has been since I got it. Maybe it's sulking for some reason ?
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:47 PM
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I repotted my oldest phal (3 years) in a bark mix in my office environment a month or so ago. It is the only phal I still had in bark. It also sulked major. The leaves turned droopy and the oldest one started to barely yellow, even though I thought it had already lost the two oldest leaves to age (for the year) a few months earlier. Since it had been doing OK in bark for a few years I thought I should just go ahead and leave it there even though I had all my other phals in a mix of coir, perlite and a little charcoal. After about 2-3 weeks of major sulking I felt sorry for it and decided that something must be done! I put it into the same mix as my other phals and now it has firmed up like you cannot believe. Boing! It is like it is a new plant with hard plastic leaves instead of rubber. I think it needed more moisture not less. For whatever reason it appears it was not getting the moisture that it needed in/from the new bark media. The bottom line is, until I find a reason to change I'm stickin' with coir, perlite and charcoal.
Note: this still doesn't explain how I managed to kill my coworkers plant in nothing flat with the exact same media and environment as all my other phals that are doing wonderfully.
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Old 04-13-2007, 12:10 AM
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Sharyn,

What were the roots like on the droopy-leaf Phal?

Droopy leaves usually mean they are dehydrating. This can come from 3 things 1) a bug sucking the juices of the plant out, 2) underwatering, 3) rotted roots - usually a result of overwatering.

Lets try to go through this step by step. Your culture sounds good, so the next thing i'd think would be to look at the roots. What did they look like last time you repotted?
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Old 04-13-2007, 12:14 AM
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Was it just the newest top leaf or ALL the leaves? I thought from your question that you were talking only one leaf?
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Old 04-13-2007, 02:47 AM
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I had a look at my Phal when I got home from work today, as I always do, and noticed that there are two little buds coming off the main stem, so obviously it isn't as bad as first thought.

So if it it throwing new roots, then one would assume that it is not sulking as much as firt thought.
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Old 04-13-2007, 09:34 AM
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Well, this morning things are looking worse. More droop! I decided to take it out of the pot and inspect again, in case I missed something. I'll isolate it from the others. I don't want to get goofy trying to save a $20 plant and risk losing my collection if it's diseased. Potted roots are all firm, cream colored, roots on top are dry. Can't find ANY black spots or mush at the crown or underneath. So I continue to be baffled.

The top leaf is the rubbery leaf - now the second one is drooping even more than normal. Kevin, you might be right about the lack of water. The original media (don't know what) was broken down & holding too much water. It looked like garden potting soil when I dumped it. Since I repotted in bark, perlite & a little charcoal, perhaps it's just not getting enough water, or didn't like the new mix.

The new leaf continues to split as it emerges. I might add that this particular phal. has always had somewhat of a droop to the leaves.

Mike: I tried the coir in another plant. The stuff I had was very finely ground coir - very messy to work with once soaked. I wouldn't mind trying it again but need to find something easier to work with, if there is such a thing.
(I mean coir that isn't like a ground powder).
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Old 04-13-2007, 10:32 AM
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Sharon - more water is my guess. If you are going to stay with the bark soak it really good for awhile each time you water (for awhile) and see if you can get the bark to start absorbing more water. All barks are not created equal. If not properly prepared they will not absorb water well.
All coir is not the same either. And as we have discussed before, everyone has different conditions and takes care of their plants slightly different - so every media doesn't work for everyone. If you want to try some coir again one day, pm me your address and I'll send you enough mix for a six inch pot for free!
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Old 04-13-2007, 10:38 AM
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How long did you soak your medium before planting? Bark based mediums should soak for at least 24 hours to "kick start" them into retaining water. You could fill a bucket part way with water and let your phal soak for 15-20 minutes.
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Old 04-13-2007, 10:55 AM
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I originally soaked the bark for a day or two before repotting, however, this mix is drying out pretty fast and may need more additions to hold moisture. Could be I went from one extreme to the other - media too wet for too long and now too dry. I'll try soaking in the sink for awhile and see what happens. It surprised me that the mix dried out so fast as it's still pretty cold & damp here. If it doesn't improve, I'll start over and add more moisture retentive media. Thanks for your help.
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:15 AM
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Sharyn, this is exactly what happened to my phals as well. Check it out:
I didn't presoak the bark well and although the roots were ok, the top aerial roots dried off. Then I watered them more frequently and misted in the morning and ta da!
Just look at the leaves, the whole plant seems "taller". It even managed to start a new spike off a node AND grow a nice healthy aerial root. Well, switching to s/h did help, but the second photo was taken on the day of the transplant.
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:30 AM
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Giovanna: Thanks for posting your pics. Yup, looks like the same thing with mine. I just put her in a large pot to soak in some worm tea. Wish me luck.
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Old 04-13-2007, 05:29 PM
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It could be the added shock from being in a total mushy environment to a brand new fresh mix with much less water. Looks like you've lost the top-most leave and that's not normal (if I'm seeing it right )..are you seeing any new leave emerging at all.. (can't tell by the photo ) The leaves are very shiny...are you using leave shine product ? I had the same problem last year but it bounced back a few weeks later.
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Old 04-13-2007, 06:37 PM
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prisana: The new leaf coming out is only about 1/2" emerged so far. It's split at the tip, but still growing, probably caused by dryness. No, I don't use anything to shine the leaves, just wipe them off occassionally. Today I sprayed it with worm tea.

I soaked it well today to rehydrate the bark completely. We'll see what happens - hopefully it'll recover like yours.
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Old 04-13-2007, 06:58 PM
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The other thing to try may be a slightly smaller pot and/or a little more light. A smaller pot and a session under a grow light really perked up a phal of mine with a similar problem.

Then again, one of my white phals seems to have naturally droopy leaves - it is, however, healthy and growing (starting its third new leaf since November.) I was worried about it at first, but with nine leaves and a pot full of roots, I think it's okay...
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Old 04-13-2007, 08:05 PM
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Sharyn, I'm pretty sure that your phal is suffering from dehydration. Remember - the roots were healthy even though you found it messy.
We learned that "too wet" is very dangerous, and being afraid of root rot, sometimes we keep our plants too dry.
My phals are potted in sphagnum moss ,there is no danger of starving , but it happened to my oncidium alliance in bark and or bark+others. Now I water them much more frequently .
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Old 04-13-2007, 08:11 PM
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Something I have been forced to learn and had great success with lately is how to treat soft or droopy leaves. In fact, it is what brought me to this forum in the first place! I have read every book in sight about phals. What I do with a plant that has drooping leaves is re-pot it in a fine medium (or sp. moss) and treat it as a seedling. A fine mix is like chicken soup for an ailing plant! Make sure you do not have mites, which often cannot be visualized without a magnifying glass but can cause the leaves to droop. I also have been spraying worm tea on the leaves. It works great and does help perk up the plant. I have had many problems with phals potted in bark, and now ALL of my plants have been moved out of it to other mixes. I will never use bark again; it's just too hard to judge moistness at the roots. Sorry all you old-timers - but Aussie Gold is looking more and more like my potting mix of choice for indoor phals. With that said, I have less then 20 plants. (FOR NOW....) If anything, it is great to have around for sick plants.

Added the following morning......after a little furthur research splitting leaves could also be the shock of going from way too dry to way too wet.
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Old 04-14-2007, 05:57 PM
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Well, whatever it is, it's going fast. Today, I looked under the top leaf and the entire edge turned a blackish color - no spots, just the whole edge all the way around the leaf is black underneath. This happened overnight. I read Fred's post on diseases & rot and this looks like it may be rot. I have no experience with rot. I can't see anything wrong near the crown and haven't any idea what to do. A few more days it'll be ready for the trash
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Old 04-14-2007, 06:47 PM
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SORRY TO HEAR THAT..I also have no experience in rot problems, somebody else hopefully, can give advice.
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Old 04-14-2007, 07:17 PM
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Thanks Maddy. I'm learning by this experience. Checked my orchid books for pictures of rot, but nothing seems to look the same as my particular phal. Nothing has reached into the crown so far. I'm off in my search for more info. If anyone here on the forum knows of a post or pic, please direct me. Or, if you have first hand experience, please advise.
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Old 04-14-2007, 07:19 PM
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If it hasn't gone to the center of the leaf at the crown I would cut off the diseased part if you can. If it has gone all the way to the center I fear you may loose the crown at the very least. The whole plant potentially like I did. I know some might try hydrogen peroxide on the leaf and area. Like Aniko said, I'm not a professional in these areas either - I know some with greenhouses and lots of plants have suggested Physan 2X (x is a number) for disease, but I think it is expensive and those of us with just a few plants might not be inclined to go purchase some? Good luck. mike
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Old 04-14-2007, 08:55 PM
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Mike: I cut off the top leaf which unfortunately included the tiny new split leaf trying to emerge. The second large leaf down is drooping a bit more but it isn't soft & leathery and so far there's no discoloration. I've checked out some fungal problems for phals. Also, found some black rot pics, but nothing is looking like mine. I've isolated it and will just have to play the waiting game.

It's odd that all the other phals. are doing great and this one decided to take a dive! If I had more experience with diseases in orchids, I'd probably have a better handle on what I'm doing.

Thanks to all for your input. I'll let you know quickly if a party or a memorial service will be in order.
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Old 04-14-2007, 09:07 PM
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Dear Sharyn,

Sometimes one can do everything right and still not succeed. It sounds like you're gettng sound advice and that you're taking the advice. A bit of good old fashioned luck sounds needed at this point. I think it's wise to cut the rot off before it gets too far even if it means losing some good leaf too.

Keep us posted! Good luck!
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Old 04-14-2007, 09:16 PM
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Kevin: If this one survives, it's gonna' be one ugly duckling. But I AM learning from this experience. By the way, I took your advice and bought a paph., mottled leaves. Very Pretty! I think this is now my favorite
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Old 04-14-2007, 09:41 PM
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Sharyn I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I took my first one really hard! Like you, all the other plants (all phals) were doing fine and then one day.....instant root rot. This is my biggest reason to not want to move my plants into a dedicated orchid room; I really want to be able to walk by and check them out throught out the day. I have no experience with fungal or bacterial infections. Whatever it is sures seems to be moving fast! Wish I could help.
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