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  #1  
Unread 09-02-2008, 10:11 PM
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Default Phal buds wilting... what can I do?

I bought a pot of 12 inches tall white phal a week ago with 4 flowers already in full bloom and 3 buds growing. I moved into my new room two days ago, and already one of the youngest buds began to turn slightly red. Just this morning the two buds left were still green and healthy when I left the plant by a south facing window, and I came home tonight to find all three buds brownish, droopy, and wrinkly. The 4 blooms are still healthy though.

So I took the porous plastic cup out of the ceramic pot to let it air off a bit, wondering maybe the mixture is too wet. I did figure that my room is a bit dry, so I got a dish of water next to my plant, hoping it would bring up the moisture a bit (My room's quite small.) The mixture inside the pot is still damp since I bought it, so I haven't watered the plant yet. My room's about 25-28 celsius, and there are no fruits in my room. As a newb, I really don't know if the roots look healthy or not, neither can I tell what kind of mixture it's in...

How can I save my plant? Could there be more buds growing from the tip of the stem later? Or is that it for the season? I read somewhere that after all the flowers have bloomed and fell, I could snip the stem somewhere to urge the phal to grow a side branch from another node. Can I still do that with this plant after the current 4 healthy blooms are done?



I really wish my orchid could talk and tell me what's wrong I had always though orchids are hard to keep, but I didn't expect it to get sick so soon...
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  #2  
Unread 09-02-2008, 10:48 PM
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Wow! You sure know a lot for a newb!

BTW... welcome to the board.

I could be wrong on this but I think it might simply be a case of shock to the orchid because of the change of environment. Your lighting and watering sound fine and you gave it humidity so that's all I can think of.
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  #3  
Unread 09-02-2008, 10:54 PM
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You're exactly where I was back in May, when I got my first orchid! That should tell you I'm not even slightly an expert, so take my advice with a boulder of salt.
When I got mine, the roots and media pretty much looked exactly like yours. What I learned was that the sphagum moss the orchid was planted in, was much too damp of a media for the plant. Judging by the look of your roots, I feel it's safe to say there might be some root rot going on towards the middle of the pot, like there was on mine.
I ended up repotting mine in a coarse bark mixture. I had to trim a lot of the rotted, mushy roots, and as a result, cut the flower spike to allow the plant to concentrate on growing more roots. But the good news is, the plant is perfectly happy now with plenty of new roots and a new leaf growing. Plus, the flowers on the cut spike lasted for months when kept in a vase with water!
But before you take my advice, you might want to wait for others to back me up.
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  #4  
Unread 09-03-2008, 01:24 AM
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Hi there welcome to OB! Your orchid is talking to you. You just haven't learned to speak orchid yet. That will come in time.

Mothra has given you excellent advice. Looking at the roots through the side of the pot I can see that they are green. What this tells me is that the medium is still wet and the roots are still trying to absorb the water. Orchid roots are covered with a material called velamin. The actual root lies in the center and isn't really visible. The velamin is like a sponge and soaks up surrounding water from the medium and directs it to the root core which in turn sends it up to the leaves. When the velamin is dry it turns a white/gray/tan color. For Phals ideally you want to let them dry out a bit between waterings. The clear pot is nice because you can see your roots and tell by the color and lack of condensation on the sides of the pot if it's time to water or not. If the roots stay soggy and there is not enough air circulating through the pot because the medium is too degraded and compacted the roots suffocate and die. Keep in mind that most orchids are epiphytes and live up in trees with their roots hanging out all over the place. They adapt well to growing in pots but the roots need lots of air.

I would say that Mothra's assessment is correct. It looks like it is planted in a mixture of sphagnum moss and bark or rock. The sphag is notorious for holding too much water for too long, especially if it's packed tightly in the pot. I would recommend a repot ASAP. Most people use a fir bark mix or coconut husk chunks mixed with perlite and charcoal. I personally prefer the coco but it works for my environment. You'll have to do some experimenting to see what works best for you. If you like to water a lot you might want to use bark. It drains quickly and retains less water than coco. You may have to cut the spike as Mothra did, but in the end the plant will live to bloom next season if cared for properly.

The shriveling buds are what's commonly referred to as "bud blast". You are correct that it is usually caused by a sudden change in environment.
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Last edited by quiltergal; 09-03-2008 at 01:33 AM..
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  #5  
Unread 09-03-2008, 02:32 AM
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Wow! Thank you all for responding so fast and in such detail! I've never been so well treated as a newb

Alright, so tomorrow I shall get potting mix of fir bark mix or coconut husk chunks mixed with perlite and charcoal from local store and repot the same night. And snip off any rotting roots. And possibly buy more orchids in said local store because I can't help it

Any chance I can keep the spike? Would it be okay if I just cut the tip off up to the wilted buds and keep the four healthy blooms in place?

And should I get a few packing peanuts? Or is my pot already too small for that?
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  #6  
Unread 09-03-2008, 10:31 AM
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Phalas can bloom from the same spike, at a different node---I don't grow phalas but I do know that if you don't cut it completely down, that a new spike might grow depending on the health of the 'chid.

Also I hear that there are rooting hormones that some growers use to promote healthy root growth (Dyna-Gro 'K-L-N' and SuperThrive)

Repotting and letting the orchid rest is generally how I assess 'new orchids' although I do mince about anything that they do, worrying---for about a month---at which point I'm generally like FINE! Do what you want, and they generally get happier.
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  #7  
Unread 09-03-2008, 12:07 PM
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If you don't have to cut a lot of the roots, you can keep the spike. You wouldn't even have to cut the buds off, they'll probably drop on their own.
One thing, though. When you get the new potting mix, make sure to soak it in water overnight. This opens up the fibers and allows it to retain water. I neglected to do that, and my bark mix would dry almost immediately after watering. It was a pain to get it up to par. Also, I THINK repotting is best done in the morning. I may have just made that up, but I'm pretty sure I've read that somewhere on this board.
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  #8  
Unread 09-03-2008, 10:59 PM
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You can leave the spike on for now. As Mothra says if you don't have to cut off too much of the rootmass it might be fine. Even so I'd keep an eye on it and the minute the leaves start looking limp and feel kind of soft whack the spike off.

Soaking the medium at least over night is very important. I think Ray mentioned a while back that in an emergency repot situation where you have to repot now and don't have any medium prepared you can always pour boiling water over it in a bowl and let it set for about 30 minutes. Drain and let cool before repotting.
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  #9  
Unread 09-05-2008, 04:39 PM
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Thank you all for the responses! I've never seen such enthusiastic and helpful forum!

Alright, the phal has been repotted the night before last. Indeed, there was a big ball of soggy sphagnum right underneath my plant. The roots were okay though, only a few rotting tips. I soaked the fir bark overnight, but it's still a bit dry, so I try to water it more frequently.

The leaves still look and feel firm and healthy. However, just today, one of the smaller leaves just randomly came off even though it looks quite healthy. The connecting part looks dried off.



Should I whack the flower spike off? If so, where should I cut it?
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  #10  
Unread 09-05-2008, 05:03 PM
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Wow! Did I miss this one, or what? That leaf rotted off at the base. This, on top of what others have stated (the green roots) suggests too much water. Doubt this had anything to do with blasting of the buds, that just happens sometimes, but maybe. Since you can see the roots and medium, I would suggest watching it to see when it dries out. Green roots are an indication that there is plenty of moisture there. You'll want them to turn white or light brown before you water again. When young leaves rot off at the base, that is a sign of too much water in the crown. Don't spray the leaves for humidity (if you are). Don't let water collect in the fan overnight. Use a paper towell to dry out the center after watering. Hope these things help.
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