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Old 06-03-2008, 01:59 AM
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is my phalaenopsis dying?

Hi everyone! I'm new to this forum and hope someone can give me some tips to keep my phal alive. Even though I've done a lot of research about how to care for phalaenopsis one of the plants seems to be have become very sick (they're my first ones). I've had it for a month or so and after opening some buds it started wilting from the top down. After all the buds had dropped I cut the wilted stem at the bottom and re-potted it in a bark mixture (I think the previous medium was spaghnum moss). The few healthy roots it had were very short. After repotting the phal its leaves started turning yellow starting at the crowns (top and bottom leaves). Today it lost 3 leaves. I have always been careful not to wet the crowns, the plant gets only indirect light, and I water it when it's almost dry.
Any help is greatly appreciated. The attached images show 1. the flower in bloom, 2. the roots 1 week ago, and 3. the leaves as they look today :-(.
Thanks!!
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:12 AM
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Hello Leonzio. Sorry to hear you're having trouble with your orchid. Doesn't sound like you're doing anything obviously wrong. Sometimes orchids (Phal. in particular, as I understand it?) have a hard time adjusting to a new home. Some of your roots look a bit mushy but there are also some that look nice and plump. I agree with your choice to move it from spag to bark, as I think this is a safer choice that helps to avoid over watering. Losing three leaves in one day sounds like it is very sick - I would separate the sick plant from the other one in case there is a bug or virus involved; that will help to avoid spreading the problem. Even if this plant doesn't make it, I hope you'll have better luck with the other one.
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:25 AM
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Thanks for your reply! Yes, I will separate it from the other plant then. Do you think the size of the bark mixture could be part of the problem? To me it seemed too coarse (it was the only one they had at Lowe's) for those tiny roots...
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Old 06-03-2008, 09:40 AM
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My first thought was crown rot. But it could be any number of of things that caused it. Have you noticed any bugs on it or have you had any extreme temperature changes? Maybe the buds that dropped were from not enough humidity. But I agree with dipasquo tat separating it from the other one i not a bad idea. Where do you live? Advice can be different depending on where you live and your conditions. You can click on user cp in the upper left hand corner to edit that to include your location.
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Old 06-03-2008, 09:47 AM
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can you please go into your UserCP at the top left of the page and click that and go into your Profile and Update your Location as that will help us to understand your growing conditions and also with giving you the right advice
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Old 06-03-2008, 10:27 PM
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Welcome. I new to growing Phals. too. I hope others can help save your orchid.
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Old 06-03-2008, 11:29 PM
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If you haven't seen it yet - sounds like you might have already done some research into Phal. culture - this is the AOS Culture Sheet:
http://www.orchids.org/culture/phalsBeginner.pdf

I use a medium to large orchid bark for mature Phals (which yours appear to be). Phals grow on the bark of trees in the wild and the roots could be suffocated if the medium does not drain well. Recently I have been creating a mix with a little bit of sphag, perlite, and charcoal, but frankly the exact mix is always a bit of a whim.

Have you used any fertilizers, fungicides, hormones, or anything else on this plant? I am still wondering why it's gone so far south so fast. I know that I killed my first Phal by adding 1 TABLESPOON of fertilizer to the gallon of water rather than 1 teaspoon! Burned that poor baby to death pretty quickly. Now I use 1/2 the recommended dosage in the summer and 1/4 in the winter.
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Old 06-03-2008, 11:34 PM
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The only time I have seen a plant turn all yellow like that in short order was from too much light. Are you sure you didn't expose this plant to excess sunlight? If not, something else pretty dramatic would have to have occurred to cause a plant to yellow this fast and dramatic - something cultural - heat, cold, fertilizer, chemicals, etc. Large sized bark was probably not the best choice for a plant with roots this compromised, but this would not have caused the yellowing of the leaves like this. I don't want to put a damper on your efforts, but I wouldn't hold out much hope for this plant at this point - better to start over with another.......
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Old 06-04-2008, 12:03 AM
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I've only had one plant turn entirely yellow like this and it was a Toulimnia (small, fan-shaped leaves, Oncidium). I first noticed a black spot on the mother plant and suspected it was fungal and this was definitely caused from over watering (had it in sphagnum). Less than a week and the plant was as yellow as your poor Phal.

Yours is in sphag. so my question would be if you did what I did, wrong and that is keeping the plant too wet and possibly causing a fungus to the plant?
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Old 06-04-2008, 12:32 AM
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I agree with Mike, I instantly thought too much light. I didn't want to be the first to say it, but it does not look good whatever has happened. Try this when watering:

http://www.orchidgeeks.com/forum/new...f-orchids.html
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Old 06-04-2008, 12:44 AM
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I've had (and killed) a lot of Phals and I haven't ever seen anything like this! I wish I had more information for you. My guess is that all of the leaves will drop within the week. It doesn't look good for that poor Phal.
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Old 06-04-2008, 02:06 AM
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Hello everyone and thank you all for sharing your tips and for trying to save my poor Phal. Unfortunately it seems to be dying indeed... has only 2 leaves left now... :-(. Would it be of any use to look at its roots and check if there are any good ones at this point?
To answer some of your questions, I haven't noticed any bugs, the plant hasn't been exposed to any extreme temperature changes, and has not received any direct sunlight (if that was the case, the other one next to it would have gotten damaged as well, or do they react differently?). I have used a water soluble fertilizer (recommended dosage) but no fungicide or anything else. It did get the exact same treatment as the other plant until I re-potted the now-sick Phal in the bark mixture. (By the way, it is a Phalaenopsis, right??)
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Old 06-04-2008, 04:29 AM
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Hi Leonzio, and welcome from one Fullerton orchid geek to another Yes, your Plant is a Phalaenopsis. Sorry to hear that it isn't doing too well, it sure has a nice bloom. I know how you feel when you care for two of the same plants the same, and get different results. I have two Phals. and one is doing really well, and my other is a Home Depot special that has been struggling from day one. Good luck with yours.
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Old 06-04-2008, 04:55 AM
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Hi all,
I'm a newbie here, I've never had much luck with phals either. Bought three at Christmas, and slowly tortured them! :-(
A couple months back, I repotted two (one had died) and found lots of slimy, mushy roots. So I trimmed them all back. This didn't help much, as the 2nd one died, and I'm now left with just one, which looks pretty bad. Bottom leaves are wrinkled and the middle leaves fell off. Just left with 2 small but relatively okay-looking leaves at the top. The remaining roots seem okay. They're firm, and when I accidentally cut what I thought was a dead one, I saw it was a strong, green root.
For my potting, I'm using a mixture of bark, charcoal and spaghum moss.
I will follow all the advice given on this thread.

Can I also check whether any other people living in Singapore are able to grow phals well here? I've no problems with dendrobiums, mokaras and cattelyas. But I kill my phals everytime. And I thought they were supposed to be the easiest :-(
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Old 06-04-2008, 06:49 AM
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Old 06-04-2008, 08:51 AM
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Leonzio, why did you repot it into bark? Was the plant showing signs of anything adverse then? How long did the flowers last?
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:11 AM
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Thanks for sharing your stories from all over the world. I wish you good luck with yours too!
As predicted my orchid has lost all of its leaves today :-(. Very sad. Does this mean it died? I just read leela's thread, her plant had leaves but no roots and it survived, so I am guessing as long as they have leaves they can survive, but without leaves it can't, is that right? Do I have to bury it now, or is there anything else I can do for it? (sniff)
Sandra, I don't really know how long the flowers last because when I bought it a month ago it was already blooming. Right after I got it the top buds started wilting and dropping, so I changed the location so it would get more light and the AC would not hit it. The main branch kept wilting, it turned kind of purplish-brownish, buds kept dropping, but then it seemed to recover, 2 buds started opening and one opened completely. A few days later they wilted, too. So I assumed these were signs of something adverse and assumed root rot or an infection. That's when I cut the main branch and re-pottet it in bark. At that time it showed no sign of unhealthy leaves. I chose to use bark because I read they recommend it for newbies like myself.

Now I really don't know whether to re-pot my other phal or not. I'm worried the same thing might happen to it. It's not wilted, but has no more flowers. I have not cut the stem (branch) yet, it's green so I don't know if I'm supposed to. It hasn't grown any leaves since I got it. Any suggestions?
Thanks!
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:54 AM
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What kind of medium is the orchid that appears healthy potted in? If it is in moss, Then I would repot it.
You can cut the old spike about 1/2 inch from the base, or about 1/2 inch above the second node up from the base, and it might form another secondary spike. Different members have differing opinions about that.
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:45 AM
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Yiu Lin, I have been growing my phals on the dry side compared to the instructions that I always find. I use bark mix and terra cotta pots with holes in the sides of them to make it breath even more. I water by dipping the whole pot, excluding the plant, in water for 15 minutes until i hear the bark stop sizzling. I do this about every 5 days. I dont keep the plant moist. When they were in sphag, I would water about every 2 weeks or so, and that almost killed them with root rot and I used the skewer method, my finger, i pulled them out of the pot even to look at the bottom before i would water. So I think the more humid the environment, the less you water because you do not have as much evaporation as someone in a drier climate, and the plant draws more water out of the air. It looks like the humidity in singapore hangs around 10% higher than we do on average so this might be what is going on.

oh ya, and with the yellow phal in the picture, I say toss it and get a new one =D
also, I wouldn't plant a phal in a pot like in the picture, it would probably rot your roots.
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonzio View Post
Sandra, I don't really know how long the flowers last because when I bought it a month ago it was already blooming. Right after I got it the top buds started wilting and dropping, so I changed the location so it would get more light and the AC would not hit it. The main branch kept wilting, it turned kind of purplish-brownish, buds kept dropping, but then it seemed to recover, 2 buds started opening and one opened completely. A few days later they wilted, too. So I assumed these were signs of something adverse and assumed root rot or an infection.
From everything you've described Leonzio, I think you can take comfort in knowing that this wasn't anything you caused. This plant was probably sick before you ever took it home, something was brewing before you took over. I would take this plant back...hopefully, you still have the receipt?

Sphag. is one medium that many growers love for Phals. and just as many growers, don't prefer. It can be a little tricky if you're not familiar with it. Why don't you go ahead and put your other Phal. in a bark mix. You can either soak it for about 24 hrs. or do what I do and boil it on the stove. When it first begins to boil, turn it down to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Then let it cool off, drain then let it cool off some more (for about 1/2 hr.) Put some styrofoam peanuts at the bottom of the pot, fit the plant into a pot just large enough for the roots to fit in nice and snug and start filling the pot. Read up on the skewer method as a measuring aid for when to water. There's a thread here on the forum, a search will bring it up.

I really hope you're able to return this other Phal back to where you bought it from.

Keep us posted on what you decide and the other Phal's progress!
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:53 AM
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Oh dear... my condolences about your orchid, Leonzio. Ah well, it's a good excuse to go out and buy a new one! :-)
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Old 06-05-2008, 09:04 AM
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Leonzio, here's the thread with the instructions for using the skewer method...
http://www.orchidgeeks.com/forum/orc...f-orchids.html
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:28 AM
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A thought has just crossed my mind. I hope you are not watering your plants with sodium softened water.
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Old 06-06-2008, 02:53 AM
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Arrowhead Mountain Spring water - it doesn't say it's sodium softened. Good to know, though!
So I'll follow your advice with the other Phal and re-pot in the bark mixture and using the skewer method - thanks for the directions and links. Norris guessed right about the plant being in moss. I haven't kept track on how often I've been watering it but it seems like it stays moist forever.
Any other suggestions about what pots to use? Lacerr recommends terra cotta pots with holes in the sides. Where could I get those? When I bought the Orchids they both came in plastic pots placed inside the pot shown in the attachment (first post). I would imagine that maybe they don't get enough air that way, what do you think?
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Old 06-06-2008, 03:20 AM
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I get terra cotta orchid pots at Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH). Probably any decent-sized gardening center would have them.
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Old 06-06-2008, 03:57 AM
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Home Depot has some nice pots, and Armstrong nursery has even more selection
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Old 06-08-2008, 02:15 AM
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Thanks! Great that there are more Orchid geeks in Fullerton :-)
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Old 06-08-2008, 02:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandra View Post
This plant was probably sick before you ever took it home, something was brewing before you took over. I would take this plant back...hopefully, you still have the receipt?
I didn't keep the receipt... but it's good to know that it may have been ill from the beginning. I'll keep you posted on what happens with the other phal. I haven't had a chance to repot yet.
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Old 06-08-2008, 07:15 AM
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Some Spring water has a higher salt content. I would use distilled water instead.
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Old 06-13-2008, 01:04 PM
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For mineral content of spring water, you can think of it as tap water without the chlorine. So, any hardish water needs flushing once in a while. Since you pay for this water, you may be unwilling to waste so much pricey water to adequately flush the plant. On the other hand, if you are buying this water in 'large' bottles for the whole family to use, you are probably getting the price down to a level where you can flush often. OR, flush often using tap water, followed by your bottled water to rinse out the chlorine from the flushing water.
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Old 06-13-2008, 02:28 PM
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Hi, I don't read the entire messanger beacause is to long and it was hard to me because i'm french canadian. But, if i understanding what i read you will want to have terra cotta pot, you know it very bad idea, this type of pot have big problems, first the root will grabe on thit was very hard remove'it from the pot! And the other point, with that type of media you to give wather more frenquely!! Use a plastic pot and made some hole on it! For your plant, phal was a hard, cut off soomth root, let green root! Give the plant a bath with superthrive, that will help root regeneration! Don't use peat moss to repot, use some commercial misture with coco and bark, this type of substrat was easyer to use. Use a fertilizer in combination of superthrive, the fertilizer like some it was with a high level a P, that improve root formation! And if you want to have a better chance to save you plant give it the higher level of hygro, higher then 75%. Watering once time a week or least! I hope my english was not to hard to understant? I have a bloom preparation from one phal that put in bader shap! Orchids are hard don't give'up first!!
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Old 06-13-2008, 06:20 PM
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Leonzio- First off, ! I have been following this thread, but haven't chimed in since I'm pretty new to Phals myself. I can tell you that I have 2 rescue Phals that I have been experimenting with. (poor babies) I have found that they like Schultz mix. Sphagnum moss stays way to wet for me. I found that clay dried out too fast with my mix. Plastic pots stayed too wet with sphag.-Maybe clay would be o.k. with sphagnum, but I don't like the combo, myself. The sphag breaks down too fast. I like a plastic pot, with a nice draining mix(as I stated) of bark, charcoal, and porous stone. It drains well, but there's enough moisture retained by the plastic that it doesn't dry out in a heartbeat! I first tried another bark mix that was supposedly endorsed by the AOS- The chunks were too big! It would have been O.K. with a larger plant, maybe, but the roots just dried in the air pockets in no time!

Take into consideration that I'm in upstate NY- Our growing conditions are very different. Good luck! I REALLY want to see you do well! :d
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:13 PM
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Let me give you an update about my white phal. On 6/12 (A month ago) I repotted with skewer, using the same pot (plastic) and a bark mixture. About 2 weeks later the bottom leave was completely yellow and fell off, but I wasn't too worried about it because it had been shriveled for weeks. A week later another bottom leave turned yellow, so I brought it to a local Orchid Supply store. They found it was doing ok but recommended leaving the plant outdoors in indirect sunlight to improve air circulation, so that's what I did. They also said to give the phal a warm water bath by placing it with its pot inside warm water. Have any of you tried this watering method? They also sold me Superthrive vitamins-hormones to add to the fertilizer, which I haven't started using yet. I hope it will grow new roots and leaves soon! It has only 3 leaves now as the second yellow leave fell off yesterday.
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