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Old 10-16-2008, 04:53 PM
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Plant dead. Keiki alive.

I'm sorry to be posting a new thread. I started my first one with a cry for help about a month ago but then I didn't have time to read all the newbie info and update. Now I can't find that thread --- I'm not too familiar yet with the way this forum is set up.

Then I went out of town for 2 weeks. Now I have a new situation.

I returned last night to find my orchid completely dead. All the leaves are dead, the roots are dead, and the spike was dying from the bottom up. At the top I have the keiki --- the last effort to propagate.

I decided to cut off the spike at a green place and I stuck it in water. Is there any point? The keiki has no roots, just 2 leaves and a third one coming. Should I mix some orchid food into the water?

Once I have some time (I have some stuff in my life taking up my time right now) I promise to read all the newbie info before I get a new orchid. Everyone says Phals are so easy to grow and mine died. I'm really good with plants generally so I feel like a loser. I'm eager to learn and try again.
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Old 10-16-2008, 06:37 PM
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Hey man, don't sweat it. I bet there isn't a single person on here that has a perfect record. I've killed 2 so far and they probably won't be my last deaths. I read somewhere "You are not an orchid expert until you kill 100 orchids" or something to that effect. I don't recall where I read it but I feel it's very relevant. Orchid husbandry takes effort. That's why not everybody does it. Everytime I mention my orchids to anyone, they say "aren't they hard to take care of?". They are tempermental but as you learn more about them and gain more experience, they don't seem as hard.

It's impossible to say whether your keiki will survive. Only time will tell.

Read the beginner care and get back on that horse,

Good luck!
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Old 10-16-2008, 07:03 PM
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this might seem a little more challenging bc the parent plant died before the keiki could put out roots. but i think contact w/ water might encourage root growth, so long as your not submerging the plant to the crown or beyond the base, it might just work.

to be safe, try placing it on moist sphag, it might encourage root formation more.

when my keiki didn't put out roots, i gradually increased the light (warmth) and constantly wet the base of the keiki via tissue. it worked - after awhile a root emerged. now another is forming. so in my experience, if you give it enough light and water, you might just force it to root.
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Old 10-16-2008, 07:13 PM
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Good luck and keep your chin up! I agree with dr_frnkblck and amersault. As Doc stated, folks always say to me "aren't they hard to grow?" I always say, "Not if you give them what they want!" Don't give up on the keiki yet! If it doesn't make it, give another one a try!

Here's a link for the future-> AOS | Phalaenopsis
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Old 10-16-2008, 07:57 PM
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So much encouragement!

Amersault, I have a question. I saved a long portion of the spike, it's in a tall glass and the water is nowhere near the keiki. Are you suggesting that I cut the spike fairly short and have sphag. moss float on top of the water with the keiki sitting on it?

I'm confused about one other thing. My orchid died from root rot back when it started in moss. Then I switched to bark but it didn't recover. Why is it that the roots rot in moss but need humidity to grow? How do you find the balance? I'm confused!

I was out of town house/cat sitting in Chicago. My friend had two gorgeous phals and several others that were dormant. She says she just waters them once a week and they do fine. One was in moss, one in bark. Their place has great light while my apartment does not and Chicago is humid compared to the prairies so maybe she had a leg up that way.

At any rate, the cat is 19 years old and needed insulin shots twice daily and lots of pills. He didn't always keep the pills down but I did pretty well with the insulin and the darling was still alive when his people returned so I'll feel good about that, accept the challenge of this keiki, and get myself a new orchid!

I am looking for a new apartment with better light -- for the orchid and for me!
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Old 10-16-2008, 08:27 PM
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it sounds like you overwatered the plant on both counts. or the roots may have already been irreparably gone before the transfer to bark that it couldn't sustain itself after the repotting.

are you using clay or plastic pots? where are the plants situated?

my plants do well on West or South facing windows. i also water once a week and let the plant dry between waterings. try to limit watering between 5 - 7 days. also, don't let the pots sit in water; or you can add pebbles to the bottom of pot saucers and let the water sit slightly to create humidity as the liquid evaporates.

regarding the keiki, having the stalk in water and the plant suspended above won't do. try laying the keiki on moist sphagnum moss to encourage root growth. you can try to use a shallow plastic cup (transparent) and half-fill it w/ sphagnum then place the keiki on the moss. you'll want to increase light to increase humidity as the moss dries out.

this may take a few weeks but contact on the moist surface plus light should (hopefully) encourage root growth.

good luck and let us know how it goes!
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Old 10-16-2008, 09:27 PM
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Sleek Otter~ I can tell you this. DON'T GIVE UP!!! I have killed my fair share of orchids, believe me. In this hobby you will and it is the learning process. I just pitched another Miltonidium due to soured potting medium. It's depressing, but I will replace it eventually.

I suggest that you get a brand new healthy orchid, start anew and we'll help you with every step to make sure that you get all the growing tools and info that you need to ensure a healthy and happy plant.

Quote:
I'm confused about one other thing. My orchid died from root rot back when it started in moss. Then I switched to bark but it didn't recover. Why is it that the roots rot in moss but need humidity to grow? How do you find the balance? I'm confused!

I was out of town house/cat sitting in Chicago. My friend had two gorgeous phals and several others that were dormant. She says she just waters them once a week and they do fine. One was in moss, one in bark. Their place has great light while my apartment does not and Chicago is humid compared to the prairies so maybe she had a leg up that way.
The key is to know your growing area and the conditions that your plant will be growing in. What kind or type of enviroment that the area is will be vital in how your orchid will be treated.
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Old 10-17-2008, 12:46 AM
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Killing orchids. Ya mean other people kill orchids? I thought it was just me. LOL. I have killed my fair share and, to my dismay, continue to do in one or two a year. Just a knack I guess. I just replace them with another orchid and hope I have learned enough to keep the new one alive.
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Old 10-17-2008, 07:23 AM
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SleekOtter there is still hope for you keiki to grow roots with the spike stem still green. Keep it is bright light, a touch of fertilizer in the water and the roots might form enough to save the plant.

If the roots don't appear but the stem totally dies, keep the keiki in a small container with moist, not soppy wet, sphag in a bright warm location.

Good luck with this one but treat yourself to another orchid for more instant gratification.

Brooke
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Old 10-17-2008, 10:01 PM
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Orchid Joy!

Today I went to the garden centre to buy sphagnum moss. They didn't have any ??? They suggested a flower shop at an Asian market. I once bought a plant there as a gift and it's in my 'hood. Sure enough, they had the moss. But they also sell orchids for half the price of my first one.

So, I got the moss for the keiki.

Then my mum, who was with me, got herself an orchid and I got a new one for me! These are still phals but smaller flowers and double stems. Mine is called a candy stripe and it's a very pretty white and pink. Mum's is white with pink middles and a greenish tinge, very stylish.

It was a very good idea to get a new one so I don't get discouraged working with the keiki.

What I did with the keiki: mum gave me a kind of fish bowl. She put some fish rocks at the bottom (those small rocks from when I had a fish). When I got home I mixed some water with a bit of orchid food and put it into the bowl with a layer of moss on top. The moss is damp all the way through. Then I cut the stem from the keiki and nestled the keiki into the moss, keeping the crown out. I rearranged my plants so that both orchids will be closest to the window and receive the most light. I don't have a lot of light in my apartment --- one east facing patio door is all I have so they get morning sun but not much else. I have my humidifier on --- good for the orchids and for me --- and I think that having the keiki in the bowl will help maintain a humid environment. I have a warm apartment so they'll have that going for them. Apart from making sure the moss stays damp, and occasional verbal encouragement, I'm going to ignore the keiki and hope roots appear.

I'm also going to be really careful not to rot the roots on my new orchid. It's in moss not bark so I'll have to watch it. Our weather is so dry here I never imagined I'd have root rot. The woman at the shop told me to be sure to stick my finger down to make sure it was almost dry before I water. With my first I watered whenever the moss was dry on top, so once a week, and that was clearly too much.

Thanks for all the encouragement. I'm happy to be trying again. I'll be sure to update with any progress with my keiki.
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Old 10-17-2008, 10:16 PM
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Moss can be a trickster to work with, especially for new orchid growers. There is the skewer method that is a real handy method for checking the water.

You also have to make sure that the moss doesn't pack in on itself. This can lead to damage of the roots. Make sure that the moss stays firm enough to hold the plant into place and not to the point that it suffocates the roots. Newly bought orchids with moss as medium can also be overpacked.

Can't wait to see the pics of the new 'chids and the progress of the keiki.
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Old 10-17-2008, 11:52 PM
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moss questions

This new orchid came in moss in a plastic pot. I do have a clay pot. Should I re-pot even though the orchid has lots of blooms? I wasn't planning to re-pot until it was finished blooming.

I did buy some bark today as well. Do people ever do a bark/moss combo?

You know, I don't have a digital camera. I may be motivated to get one just to share my orchid hobby!
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Old 10-18-2008, 12:42 AM
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Well, there are several things I'm going to ask.

1. Does the plastic pot have drainage holes? And is there a liner in the pot?
If there is a liner in the pot or if there is no drainage holes, then you need to repot. The plant needs adequate drainage.

2. Is the moss packed too tight?
If you cannot take a chopstick and remove some of the moss without moving the whole plant, then it's too tight. The moss needs loosened and some of it might need to be removed.

3. Can you see any root damage or root rot?
If you can see any outer roots that are rotting or severely damaged, then most likely the roots in the inside of the pot are going to be the same way.


You can repot a Phal while in bloom. There have been many members here that have done this without losing any blooms or buds. Enviromental areas are also a factor. Moving a Phal from one location to another can cause bud blast and blooms to fall. This is common and normal until the plant acclimates to your home enviroment.

As with using a combo of both moss and bark, I have never done this with Phals, but have done so for Oncidiums. Maybe other members can advise on this.

Bark mix will have to be watered more often until the medium saturates and retains moisture. The Phals that I have in a bark mix are watered on an average of 4 to 7 days depending on the humidity how arid my apartment is. The Phals in moss are watered about 3 to 5 days.
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Old 10-18-2008, 01:11 PM
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sleek otter, this is the process i meant.

read this recent post on Sphag in Bag treatment:

http://www.orchidgeeks.com/forum/orc...hag-n-bag.html

just have the keiki in contact w/ the moss. the roots should begin formation in response to humidity.

once the roots are long and strong enough, you can move to bark medium.

PS

the moss doesn't necessarily have to be live although it is aesthetically better to look at. we're after the humidity factor.
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Old 10-18-2008, 11:24 PM
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This is a helpful link. My sphag is not live but my keiki is in contact with the damp moss in the same way. The keiki in the link you sent is in a warm greenhouse. My place isn't that warm and when I feel the damp moss, it feels quite cool. Do you think that to simulate the greenhouse effect I should cover my "bowl" with plastic wrap?
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Old 10-18-2008, 11:34 PM
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watering

1. Does the plastic pot have drainage holes? And is there a liner in the pot?

Yes, the plastic pot has lots of drainage holes at the bottom. There is no liner

2. Is the moss packed too tight?

It's difficult for me to know. When I look through the pot, which is clear, I can see spaces between the roots and moss. The thing is, the pot is really full of roots. A chopstick would inevitably skewer some roots on its way down. It's a small pot. I don't know if this is a good thing.

3. Can you see any root damage or root rot?

The roots are all a beautiful green colour. Some are near the top and the pot seems full of lovely lush green roots. I just need for them to stay that way. The moss feels damp so I guess I'll just leave it until it seems dried out well below the surface. Then I'll give the plant a good water.

With my last orchid, I just watered whenever the moss was dry on top and I never explored what was under the moss. I was timid. I didn't actually give it lots of water, just a little, but I did so every week. Maybe it never dried out so even though I didn't water lots, I watered too often.

Bark freaks me out. It doesn't seem like a plant should be able to live and take water and nutrients in from bark. Moss seems more like dirt and more natural. I'm going to have to get used to the idea of bark.

I have a colleague whom I've learned grows orchids in my city. I'm going to see him on Wednesday for business and will make a point of asking about medium and watering in our climate. Some time ago when I mentioned killing my phal. he looked disgusted and said they were the easiest to grow. He said he completely soaks the plants in the sink once a week. And I got root rot with my timid watering? Puzzling. I suspect it's more a matter of diagnosing what my orchid wants than knowing what works in general.

Thanks so much for all these tips.
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Old 10-18-2008, 11:56 PM
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Quote:
With my last orchid, I just watered whenever the moss was dry on top and I never explored what was under the moss. I was timid. I didn't actually give it lots of water, just a little, but I did so every week. Maybe it never dried out so even though I didn't water lots, I watered too often.
I think this was the culprit. I think the moss was still wet on bottom when you was watering the dry top. I suggest the skewer method and letting the moss dry out thoroughly, but not completely, until the next watering.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:09 AM
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If your plant is in a clear pot, water the plant when there is no condensation visible on the sides of the pot. No condensation tells you the interior of the pot is dry.

If your friend soaks his pots once a week, it sounds like he grows in a bark mix. Hopefully he can give you tips on bark if you want to switch to that media. If he too uses sphag as a media, he must have great light and air movement in his grow area.

Brooke
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:56 AM
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Skewer it is!
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:02 AM
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That makes sense. He must be using bark.

I'm feeling a bit more confident as I read more on this site. I wasn't treating my first orchid as a unique individual. No wonder it died; I don't like being treated like a number either!

Last edited by sleek otter; 10-19-2008 at 06:28 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 10-19-2008, 04:02 PM
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sleek otter's orchid = number 6
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Old 10-19-2008, 06:28 PM
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Very funny!
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:31 AM
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Really? No other "the prisoner" fans??
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:31 PM
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Sleek Otter, I grow most of my orchids in plain bark and do not have a problem with it.

I was pointed towards the skewer method of watering, when I first joined this forum and have found it an invaluable indication of how much moisture remains in the medium. It will give you a good idea of how often to water at different times of the year.

Personally I do not like sphag, as I find with the UK climate it remains too wet for too long. Also a point worth remembering is that if you let it get too dry it can be difficult to moisten again. Here is the link for the skewer method.

Good luck.

http://www.orchidgeeks.com/forum/new...f-orchids.html
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:45 PM
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Skewer it is. I just have to find one but I don't imagine it will be that hard . . .

So tizzycat, would you recommend repotting into bark now while the orchid is in full bloom? Or should I wait until the flowers have finished?

I'm afraid that if I wait, I'll have no roots left like last time. But it looks so pretty now, I hate to disturb it. Also, my clay pot is quite a bit larger than my plastic pot; I think I might have to buy a smaller pot. I suppose I could repot with bark back into the same clear plastic pot but the clay pot has holes all around which seems good for drainage with bark.
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:46 PM
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Sleek Otter first of all remember that the members here are scattered all over the world, and therefore growing conditions vary; hence you may well get differing advice according to the climate where different members live.

Patti pointed you in the direction of the AOS Phaleanopsis care sheet, we also have a care guide here on the forum:

http://www.orchidgeeks.com/forum/orc...m-orchids.html

You may also find this helpful:

Easy Orchids - Re Potting A Phalaenopsis


That said: If you have root rot problems, I personally would not recommend sphagnum
moss - I think this can be a bit tricky, but appreciate that my preference is dictated by the UK climate and my own growing conditions.

Also I would definitely go for the clear plastic pot as you can keep an eye on what's happening below the surface and as Brooke said - condensation inside the pot is a good indication of whether the medium is still holding some moisture. Also clay pots tend to soak up the moisture and dry out the medium.

If you would rather, you can always make some extra holes in the plastic pot, but make sure you give it a good clean before you re-use it.

Personally I have not had occasion to re-pot a phal while it was blooming, but I would not hesitate if the need arose, as I know lots of our members have done so and reported no damage to the plant whatsoever.

Good luck.
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:57 PM
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I have killed several phals. I heard one lady from our society say if someone tells you they never killed one don't believe them, it's part of learning what your plants want. I still kill some sometimes. It sounds like your keiki has a great chance of developing roots! Good luck!
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Old 11-17-2008, 02:18 AM
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Rootless keiki update

Hi everyone,

Not sure if anyone will see this update in the original thread but I'll give it a try.

My keiki has been in moist sphag in a glass fishbowl with saran wrap on top in the sunniest place I have (that's not saying much) for a few weeks now. No roots but it doesn't appear any the worse for wear either. I guess I just keep waiting?

My new phal is very pretty and I'm enjoying it a lot. I got some bamboo skewers and am using them to gauge the watering. It seems to be about 2 weeks before I need to give any water. Not sure how my friend in town manages not to get root rot by soaking the plant in a bucket of water weekly. But those are his orchids and this is mine. I'm sticking with the skewer method. Right now the moss seems really dry but when I pull out the skewer, it's moist so I know there is enough moisture in the pot.

Hope to post with root news on the keiki someday soon!
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Old 11-17-2008, 01:15 PM
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Sleek Otter. Perfect timing to bump the thread back up as I have now read and learned all about the skewer method and i was just searching. Thanks.
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Old 11-18-2008, 07:27 AM
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Yes, skewer is the way to go!

Last night I bought a condo (my first home!!). That means my orchids will be getting more light! All my plants will be loving me. And I'm so excited -- I need the light as much as the plants!
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Old 11-25-2008, 10:21 AM
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no roots but new leaf!

Still no roots on my keiki but it made a third leaf. I suppose it's a good sign. Well, a sign anyway.

Flowers almost all fallen off my new orchid. I'm kind of bummed. I thought they would last longer. But it's okay because I'm going to get this one to re-flower. No root rot with the skewer method!

New condo deal fell through so no extra light for plants yet.
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Old 11-25-2008, 11:02 AM
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Sleek otter,

Do not worry too much about the flowers falling on your new chid. The change of environment could be the culprit. They will come back Beside, were all flowers opened when you bought it? For some of my phals, it will take up to 2 months to have all flowers fully opened, but of course it depends how many buds are on the plant.
But as a general rule, I found that my phals will be in bloom for a longer period of time when they bloom for the first time in my place.

So be patient and keep going
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Old 11-25-2008, 11:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleek otter View Post
Still no roots on my keiki but it made a third leaf. I suppose it's a good sign. Well, a sign anyway.

Flowers almost all fallen off my new orchid. I'm kind of bummed. I thought they would last longer. But it's okay because I'm going to get this one to re-flower. No root rot with the skewer method!

New condo deal fell through so no extra light for plants yet.
don't worry - the new leaf is a good sign.

when the flowers are done, i suggest you trim the spike so the plant can concentrate its energy elsewhere.

it may take some extra time to grow that root but it will be there. what i did to help mine was to dab the base of the keiki w/ a wet tissue or Q-tip every other day. the moisture eventually encouraged a bump that grew to a root. once the root appeared, i wrapped it with a small amount of sphag. roots are happily growing still
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Old 11-27-2008, 07:46 PM
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new orchid hobbiest

I always repot new orchids, when I buy one or two, because I have had roots rot in new plants which almost killed or did kill the plant before the blooms were finished. I always figure that I will have new blooms when I save the plant.

Killing orchids is not new to me either, a few years ago we were gone all day, it was freezing when we left at O dark 30 but the temperature rose during theday and the greenhouse was not open enough but the fan was blowing that is until one of the fans shorted and blew the circuit braker and then there were none. That is the day that I learned that orchids really do not like real warm temps, lost 54 from that little incident, some specimen plants.

I have found it intresting that when we start this addiction we try to save all that we buy including 'bargin' noids and other plants that we buy. The idea of loosing one is devistating, especially if we paid a lot for it like $25. As my collection grew and my greenhouse did not, no matter how much I fertilized it," I became more selective and trying to save those that have a slim chance of living was out of the question. It is a behavior that we all go through when we begin.
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Old 11-28-2008, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_frnkblck View Post
"You are not an orchid expert until you kill 100 orchids" or something to that effect.
O RLY? walks to nearest orchid dealer.
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Old 11-28-2008, 08:30 PM
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I like to grow them in moss but I take a plastic pot and cut approx 1" round holes all over the pot so it looks like a shotgun blast. I pack the moss just tight enough to hold the plant in the pot, now key point, moss can hold aprox 350 times it wieght when you add water so air is a must. I like to use hanging pots so they keep warm and rising warm air is like a natural system.
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Old 11-29-2008, 02:33 PM
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Watering is also my big problem, as I have to remove them from my dining room window to the kitchen, water & feed them, let them drain, then bring them back to the dining room ---------- my kitchen looks terrible for most of the day,
Those Orchids that are in the clear plastic cups are great for me, as I can pick them up (from the pretty outer pots) and look and see if they need to be watered.
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