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Old 06-29-2009, 12:58 PM
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Crown Rot?

Hi everyone
I bought this small phal. noid at the grocery store for my girlfriend a couple of months ago.
It was a little beet up and packed very tightly in moss but it was very pretty and purple, (a color we didn't have yet).
I wasn't going to do it because I feel like I'm encouraging something like puppy mills when I see them in those conditions.
but she was having a bad day and I wanted to surprise her, so I did it.
We re potted it right away. And sure enough the little sad phal of our orchid family picked right up.
It held its flowers for about a month and a half and really looked good.
When the flowers finally started dropping the leaves started to droop a little also.
That was about 3 weeks ago.
Since then the leaves are still drooping and one has fallen off.
The other 2 leaves are green but kind of limp.
We decided to give s/h a try and figured he would be a good candidate.
But after reading some threads about rot I'm not so sure.
We've never seen crown rot before and couldn't find any pics on the forum.
So here's a couple pics. of our sad little guy.
What do you all think?
Is it saveable?
Will the s/h help it?
Or does it need some other treatment?
I'm going to hit with some hydrogen peroxide just in case.
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Old 06-29-2009, 02:15 PM
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I'm actually on the fence with this one.

Because I see the base turning black already, it is only a matter of days before the 2 remaning leaves will succumb and turn yellow and die.

You will have a leafless phal (in which case you can try the sphag and bag method to try to promote new leaf growth)

I know it is very disappointing to have a phal you really like struggle for dear life, but with the pics you have shown, you will have to have patience and persistence if you choose to save the phal.

I have lost a phal in the past due to crown rot, and it looked similiar as what your pics are showing.
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Last edited by englandfx; 06-29-2009 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 06-29-2009, 02:15 PM
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The pictures look to me like *old* stem rot on the phal at the base of the leaves. I say *old* because it's black and crinkly (ie hard) so it doesn't seem on the outside to be rotting now. However, there's no telling whether active rot has gone inwards into the stem. If it has, the plants a goner.

Crown rot is simply soft rot in the crown of the plant. (The crown is the center part of the phal where new leaves come in.) Once that growing point is destroyed by rot, the only way the plant can live is by putting out a new shoot from below. However, they often do if you wait long enough. You'll recognize it when you see it-- it's black or brown mush right where the new leaves start.

I can't tell if you have have crown rot, the angle of the picture doesn't really show the crown.

What to do?

1. S/h. This isn't a cure-all for sick plants by any means. Some people succeed with it, some don't. Full disclosure: I'm one of the didn't-succeed ones. Every phal I ever put in it completely rotted out. I think transferring it to s/h now, while it's obviously seriously stressed, will probably kill it since it has to generate new, s/h adapted roots to survive and it's barely making it now.

2. It may not be worth trying to save it-- that's an individual thing. I have some that I nursed along out of a condition like you have, others that I just threw out. Depends on how beautiful you think the thing is. If it's going to live, it will put out a tiny new leaf in the crown.

3. Losing leaves. You may be losing leaves because of that old stem rot. It may have destroyed the area where the leaves are connected to the stem. Can't be sure from the pictures, but you may be able to tell if you give it the eagle eye. Also examine the leaves that fall off-- is there black all around the place where it was attached to the stem? If so, that old rot broke the connection between the stem and the leaf and the leaf is dying because it can't get any nourishment.

4. Wilting leaves -- this could be the result of that old rot -- the leaves dying because they can't get nourishment from the stem. Or it can be a sign the roots are compromised. You can take it out of the pot, look at the roots. If they're good, it may be worth trying to save it-- lots of plants that look like that but have good root systems put out a new crown from below. If there are no roots, give it up. If there are some good roots, you have a chance. Then it's up to you whether you want the experience or the bother.

If it were mine and I wanted to save it, I would do a "sphag n bag" on it. I'm sure there are lots of posts on this, maybe even a sticky.

Last edited by mehitabel; 06-29-2009 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 06-29-2009, 02:57 PM
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It wasn't until I read a couple of posts elsewhere this morning did I even think about crown rot.
We just figured it didn't like the bark it was in anymore so yesterday we decided to give s/h a try.
Even though you guys aren't sure whether it is crown rot or not, you seem sure that the plant is probably a goner.
I don't like to give up too easily so I'll keep trying different things until it's a dried up husk.
I don't think I'm going to try the spag n bag it was only about 5 bucks.
But I hate lose one.
We got attached to them all so I'll just keep trying little things until I'm satisfied one way or another.
Thanks for the advice.
I'll post and update in the future when I see some results.
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Old 06-29-2009, 03:02 PM
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I just thought of something else...
If it is crown rot, is it contagious?
If I reuse that s/h media can I possibly infect another plant?
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Old 06-29-2009, 03:06 PM
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When u think of rot, bacteria comes to mind, and bacteria is pathogenic and hence can be contagious if that living bacteria is spread through the use of the same media.
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Old 06-29-2009, 03:17 PM
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Milk, for your question about re-using s/h media, contact Ray of First Ray's. He inventedthe s/h method, and is very generous giving advice about growing in s/h. Years ago, when I was using s/h, he told me he thought it safe to re-use leca that had been soaked 24 hours (or sometimes longer) in a solution of Physan 20, and that he did it regularly himself.

But contact him yourself with your question, see what he has to say.
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Old 06-29-2009, 04:40 PM
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Yeah I guess if it's bacterial it's pretty likely to be transmittable.
And if it's fungal it's also likely that spore will remain.
I've seen First Ray's site but I haven't searched it too much yet.
Thanks for the advice. I'll check with him.
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Old 06-29-2009, 05:19 PM
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I like what I read somewhere earlier - a phal is not DEAD until it has no spike, no leaves, and no roots. There is always hope.....
Hydrogen peroxide on the black tissue is a good idea.
I agree with mehitabel about the switching to S/H now - probably not the best timing.
If it were mine I'd want it in some sort of moisture retentive mix - if you don't like sphag I'd try a coir mix of some kind.
Again, if I had this plant and wanted my best chances to see that I had life a few months from now, I'd cut the spike down to the first node and apply keiki paste (granted I already have some and would not have to purchase any) to promote a keiki to carry on. You may get a basal keiki if you can keep up good culture. If you are SUPER LUCKY you might get a new leaf out of what looks like a missing crown - I have actually seen it happen and have a post somewhere on this forum of such a phenomena.
Any way you look at it, the process of retuirning this plant to good health, EVEN IN THE BEST OF SITUATIONS, is going to be not days, not months, but YEARS. Do you really want to spend the time and effort to baby it when there are so many healthy plants available at minimal cost - that is the question to ask yourself..........
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:51 PM
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Well it lost it's last leaf the other day.
When I looked closely at what remained of the plant,
the center was all black.
It wasn't long after we got it that we first noticed the black spots beginning.
We just thought it was a normal coloration on the plant.
Especially since it started to perk up around that same time.
But now we know better.
At the first sign of anything like that we'll be sure to take action.
None of the other plants are showing those signs so were hopeful it hasn't spread.
Thanks again for everybody's advice.
You all are always very helpful.
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:09 PM
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It wasn't a total loss. It no doubt cheered your girlfriend at the time and you were able to enjoy the blooms for about 6 weeks. No bouquet of cut flowers would have lasted anywhere near that long.
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Old 07-09-2009, 06:01 PM
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I have never heard about putting Hydrogen peroxide on orchids , and I don't want to miss out on anything .Can someone tell me what that does on an orchid?
I may have crown rot on one of my phals I didn't know I could put that on there.
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Old 07-09-2009, 07:57 PM
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orchidlover H2O2 kills bacteria. So I'm guessing that is the reasoning behind using it for bacterial infections. Just don't forget that one of the by products of the reaction is water, so when I use it, I usually wait about 15 min for the reaction to complete then tip the plant to drain out the remaining water.

I have used it for crown rot before, and I have about a 50% success rate of saving the plant.
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Old 07-09-2009, 08:43 PM
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Milk, so sorry for your loss - whether a simple houseplant or exotic orchid, it always makes me sad when a plant dies.

Quote:
I don't like to give up too easily so I'll keep trying different things until it's a dried up husk.
Milk 06-29-2009 02:57 PM
In the spirit of this and as proof that it's possible (not always probable, but possible) to recover from this kind of rot, I had a similar issue to Milk's on the first orchid I ever took into care. After doing some research I knew I had some kind of rot, whether root, crown, or "other" I was not sure - but, in addition to unpotting and directly checking the health of the roots, there were three things that all the posts I read about rot agreed on:
first, remove as much of the rot as possible with sterile tools
second, a hydrogen peroxide bath for all effected areas (bubbles good )
third, a dusting of cinnamon on what black areas remain and also in and around the crown (trying to avoid healthy roots).

The roots on mine were sad, and she was down to three sad, wilted leaves from six when I took the above actions. After two months of good culture (she had been in someone else's well-intentioned care for a while), kind words, a bit of luck, and I believe, the plant's will to survive, the rot had stopped progressing, a fat new root emerged above where the rot had stopped, and about a month later a new leaf peaked out of the crown!!!

I know there are many posts on this forum about the benefits of H202, one in particular that discusses the science behind its benefits really well. Just wanted to share yet another successful experience with it. Now all my orchids get an H202 drink periodically, not only for the rot prevention but for the extra oxygen. It's in no way a cure all, but has proved a useful tool in keeping my babies healthy.

Thanks to Milk for posting the first pictures that I have been able to find of this kind of rot - still don't know what kind it actually is, but at least I'm no longer alone
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Old 07-10-2009, 12:33 AM
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Thank you Renee, I don't know for sure that is what it is, but the roots are very healthy, and I know this was a mistake but I took two of them in from a good friend to place in ICU The other one is doing real good. It has a brand new leaf coming out and looking good.They were both sitting side by side in the same section of her G/H she just doesn't do good with orchids and thought maybe I would do better. She told me it was slugs and they had ate the middle out of it. I have had it about 2months , and it doesn't look like it is going to make it , I was going to put it in Spag and a bag to see if it could be revived , but it has alot of good roots. I had seen those horror film about crown rot and I was worried this could be what this is. When I read Milk's Thread, buy the way Milk thank you very much for telling me about the H202, the horror film didn't mention there was hope . When Mike said he had heard as long as there is leaves, roots or stems don't give up, I went WOW!! I still have hope... I don't want to fudge in on Milks thread but I really appreciate you writing this because it has helped me and probably alot of other orchid growers. Thanks Debra
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Old 07-10-2009, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayres View Post
I like what I read somewhere earlier - a phal is not DEAD until it has no spike, no leaves, and no roots. There is always hope....
Milk, Don't give up.

My phal almost died last winter. It got sick two leaves turned limp and soft. The top and bottom leaf fell off eventually. I don't know what caused demise of my plant. I assumed it was a goner as the top leaf fell off. I sprayed some dragon's blood on its wound. And I left it in a shady corner and forgot about it's presence for a long time.
Lately I found a new leaf emerged from the center. Oh the phal is alive !
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