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Old 07-17-2012, 10:29 PM
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Crown rot? (yellow leaves and crown)

Hi everyone!

I am new to growing orchids, and sadly I have killed three plants in the past two years and all of them have died from this same thing. Now, I decided to post pictures and hopefully get some assistance so I don't lose any more orchids.

Basically what is happening is the leaves on the bottom of the plant are turning yellow. I gently tugged at them this morning and they fell off very easily. I then looked at the crown and it appeared to be yellowing as well. I have attached some pictures.

Also, I was wondering if the second growth on the plant is a new orchid plant? Is there any way that I can salvage it or the plant?

Thank you SO MUCH for your assistance!
Alaina


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Old 07-17-2012, 10:33 PM
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Just some extra info: I water every 10-12 days. I used to use moss as well as bark, but now I only use the bark mixture.

Also, the above orchid plant was a gift from a friend. They potted it differently than me--used a ton of moss. I found that the moss was not drying out and it was constantly keeping the plant moist even when I was ready to re-water. I then found these very tiny white bugs in two of my orchid bark / moss mixture (this plant and another plant). I repotted both of them and then the yellowing happened to the one above. The other plant that I repotted does not have any sign of yellowing.
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Old 07-18-2012, 12:16 AM
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I guess, old crown rot of the apical meristem (right side growth) caused the side shoot. Then because of the root rot, the leaves on the right growth probably started to fall down (to adjust root-leaf balance).

Root rot recovery by Ray:
https://www.firstrays.com/root_rot_recovery.htm

I'm not sure if it is better to separate the two growth (in case of spreading infection), or leave it to get the nutrient from the old growth relocated (in case that it is natural scenescense of leaves).

Watering every 10-12 days in summer is a little long end, isn't it? You probably better adjust your culture condition. e.g. smaller pot, more holes to the pot, clay pot, adjust the component of your mix, higher air flow etc. When I grow them in a new env., I make empty pots filled with different mix to find the optimum (try to target 3-4 days complete drying).
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Old 07-18-2012, 12:55 AM
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My guess is that you're over potting the plants or there is not enough drainage. The bark is staying to wet for to long. It's causing rot.

You maybe able to save that second plant. However, I only see one good root.
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Old 07-18-2012, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
I'm not sure if it is better to separate the two growth (in case of spreading infection), or leave it to get the nutrient from the old growth relocated (in case that it is natural scenescense of leaves).

Watering every 10-12 days in summer is a little long end, isn't it?
Hi naoki, thank you for your response. I'm thinking I would prefer separating the two because I'm really worried that the whole plant would rot. How would I go about doing this?

Also, what do you recommend for summer watering? Every 7 days or something shorter?

I also mist them regularly.

Thanks,
Alaina
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Old 07-18-2012, 07:36 AM
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I should also add that the right side growth has no healthy roots, and the one root you see is pretty much the only healthy root coming from the new growth (I noticed this when I repotted).
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Old 07-18-2012, 07:48 AM
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Hi Alaina!
Welcome to the forum! Unfortunately I am not sure what advice to give you. I have the most trouble with phals as well but am still trying my hand at them!! I can't give up because they are so pretty! I am sure someone else will chime in to help you, GOOD LUCK!
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Old 07-18-2012, 08:07 AM
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Thanks LovePhals!

Here is a quick update from this morning:


There are actually two healthy roots on the second growth, and I noticed a small root about to grow as well. The old, ride side growth is starting to wilt more and not look healthy at all. If anyone knows how I can separate the two, it would be greatly appreciated! I am also going to purchase a smaller pot once I separate the plants.
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Old 07-18-2012, 09:45 AM
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You say you're misting them. I'm seeing crown rot here. I don't think misting would hurt them, but if you don't get the water out of the crown (where the leaves meet) then you're adding to the problem.
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:24 AM
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If the phal that is in bad condition has no roots, how is it connected to the healthy plant? Can you just pull the healthy one out and repot it? If it is connected by the base you would have to cut it with a STERILE blade, but be very gentle and apply cinnamon. Only to the cut you make. Don't get ANY on your healthy roots or it will shrivel them and kill them. Then don't water for prob 3-5 days to let the cut heal.
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:53 AM
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I will never mist my pahls again. The one I misted ended up with crown rot, so I just wont take the chance again. I'm sure there is a way to do it and have the plant be fine, but like I said, mine was not so happy. The roots on your second plant look like great, so if you can give it the right conditions and some TLC, I'm sure it will pull through
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:26 AM
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I realize that you had probably just watered or were washing off the plants in photo 1, and this probably explains why it looks so wet. With all phals, but especially those with crown rot, or other infection, you should be very careful not to get water on the leaves until all hints of rot have ended (months to years of healthy growth).

Instead of misting, a good way to increase humidity around a small collection of plants is to grow them interspersed with other plants that have lots of leaves (and transpire lots of water vapor out through the leaves). If you mist at all, you should not see any water accumulated on the leaves within 15 minutes or so after you mist (otherwise, you are really just watering the leaves with a mister, and that will make things much worse).

I would try to separate your old plant from the healthy one. Use flame-sterilized cutting tools (all-metal Xacto knife, run the blade through a flame until it is hot & allow to cool) to separate the old from the new plant. Before you cut, get a good broad range disinfectant, Physan 20 if you can get it, or ask at your garden center for something that can be used to treat cut plant surfaces to prevent disease (cinammon is often recommended here as a preventative on healthy plants; you may need something stronger).

BTW, once you seem to have things under control, consider switching to an unglazed terra cotta pot at the next re-pot. I find that I have fewer problems with disease using these.

Good luck!
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:41 AM
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If you do choose to separate the new one from the old, make sure you pot down. In other words, not a big pot. Something large enough to handle the root that's left and a bit of medium to help support the plant. You'll obviously have to keep an eye on it, moisture-wise. Not too much, not too little. I use a mix of Seaweed Extract/water with weaker plants like this that have been given to me "dead", and it works well with them. Works well with just about anything, for that matter. There may be some here that know which plants don't like it.
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Old 07-18-2012, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
I realize that you had probably just watered or were washing off the plants in photo 1, and this probably explains why it looks so wet. With all phals, but especially those with crown rot, or other infection, you should be very careful not to get water on the leaves until all hints of rot have ended (months to years of healthy growth).
Thanks Catt Mandu, I will definitely refrain from misting them.

Quote:
If you do choose to separate the new one from the old, make sure you pot down. In other words, not a big pot. Something large enough to handle the root that's left and a bit of medium to help support the plant.
Thank you PaulB, all of your information has been especially helpful. I went to the garden center today, and they had a smaller plastic pot which they gave to me for free. I washed it out and disinfected it and have since re-potted the plant.

I hope I did this properly:


I wet the bark slightly, put cinnamon on the cut (with a sterile blade) as was suggested. I did accidentally get some on the roots but I washed them right after.

I noticed a weird growth on one of the roots before I put it into the bark mixture:



I'm not entirely sure what this is, and if it's normal. It felt a little mushy or stringy after I washed the roots. Should I put cinnamon on it or just leave it be?

How often should I water the newly re-potted plant?

THANK YOU ALL again so much for your help, I'm so glad I posted everything on here. I've lost two orchids to this same problem.
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Old 07-18-2012, 03:37 PM
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If there was any sphagnum moss in the old potting mix, the root may have attached to it. Phals are epiphytic, which means they grow with their roots out in the air, usually attached to tree branches. Their roots will actually grip onto things to hold the plant in place.

Also, I think the new pot still looks too big (too deep) for how few roots the plant has. Instead of trying to find an even smaller pot, you can pull the plant out again and put packing peanuts (not the ones made of puffed rice, but good old fashioned styrofoam peanuts) in the bottom of the pot to take up some of the extra room.
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Old 07-18-2012, 03:43 PM
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Looks like you did a super job repotting your plant. The frequency of watering is so dependent upon environmental conditions and media used. I've seen a hybridizer in my area use a dense peat/coir based media that could only be watered about once per month during the winter months - on the other hand, a large aggregate piece sized media that is not real water retentive may need to be watered every few days - especially during the summer months. I see you are using coco-chunks? I'm guessing this time of year they could go a week or so? If you are unsure, why not try a bamboo skewer placed into the center of your pot? When you think its time to water pull it out and assess how damp the skewer is that was placed in the center. With very water retentive media like you're using, you can generally tall by how heavy the pot is too - heavy = don't water and light = water. At any rate - looks good - keep us posted!
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Old 07-18-2012, 05:14 PM
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Kudos on the great re-pot job!

Your plant should have a good shot at recovery. I would keep the watering on the low side for a while; don't water too often (once a week, maybe less with the coir it seems to be potted in), but when you water, really water it well, and blot any stray moisture out of the crown and off of the leaves, especially where the leaf joins the stem.

Search for the 'skewer method' in the forums, use that to guide your watering.

Good luck!
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Old 07-18-2012, 05:21 PM
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In summertime, provide additional air movement, helps the Phals a lot to dry out and they love it.
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Old 07-18-2012, 06:52 PM
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Alaina, I think your pot is still way too big. You could grow like that, but controlling the appropriate watering schedule could be difficult. I would probably use a pot with half of the size (2.5-3" shallow). The freq. of watering depends on your condition, but for me, it is easiest to control if they dry up within 4 days (in summer) or a week (in winter).
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Old 07-18-2012, 08:15 PM
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Hi naoki,

I have taken your advice and have re-potted the orchids in a smaller pot. I couldn't find a clear one, but it is a smaller plastic pot. When I was re-potting, the roots touch the side of the pot (I don't know if this is a big deal or not). Will the roots just grow downwards instead?


Here is a picture with the old clear plastic pot shown next to it.
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Old 07-18-2012, 08:16 PM
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I agree with the others that the pot is too big and to add packing peanuts if you can't get a smaller pot. Otherwise the roots will not dry out quickly enough. With a clear pot in sunlight you can see if there is condensation in the pot. Wait to water until you don't see any condensation. I would wait a full week before watering to let the wound heal from separating the plants. Don't put anything on that root that has something on it. It looks fine.
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Old 07-19-2012, 12:05 AM
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Roots touching the side should be ok. Indeed, most people would choose a pot just big enough to fit the root ball. Like LovePhals said, you should go easy on watering for the first couple weeks. You can use the skewer method (or go by the weight). I started to use synthetic rooting hormone (DynaGro KLN, SuperThrive etc.) with higher concentration after transplanting, but after reading Ray's comment about the stability, I ordered KelpMax (natural rooting hormone, auxin).
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