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  #1  
Unread 05-08-2012, 09:58 PM
nmf nmf is offline
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Default Can't tell if my phal can be saved

Hi! I guess I'm not actually a beginner because I am about to ask questions about an orchid I have owned for 8 years but I might as well be a beginner...

I got a white phalaenopsis orchid from Home Depot about 8 years ago. I didn't know much about it other than that it was very pretty and did the minimum reading on it to care for it and it was fine for a long time. It was never a very large plant but it regularly grew new leaves and new spikes with a fair number of large healthy flowers about twice a year. I would re-pot whenever the roots got out of control, cutting off any dried up or mushy roots. I usually used an orchid potting mix that looks a lot like peat moss.

About two years ago, it stopped growing. No leaves, no spikes, no new roots. I never changed my care of the plant. After some inactivity, I did some reading and decided to change the potting medium from the soil-like medium I had always used to a special orchid bark mix. The plant HATED that and lost most of its roots and some leaves. So I switched back to a sphagnum peat moss.

Maybe a month ago, it finally dropped one of its two last leaves. I repotted it and it only had two thick short roots left.

Here's the good and bad news right now - I realized it was in a huge pot since it has now become such a small plant and repotted it into a smaller clay pot tonight (I promise I don't usually repot this frequently, I'm just trying anything to make it better right now). The remaining leaf isn't doing very well but it now has a small new root since I last looked at them.

So I guess my question is - Can a phal with one sad leaf and three stubby roots be saved? Is there a way to speed up or encourage new roots? Obviously I'm not going to be getting flowers from it any time soon but I still want to save it if I can.


And now for something completely different- I finally bought a second phal this weekend. I've been without a flowering orchid for years now and I know my old one isn't anywhere close to flowers.

Anyways.. It's just another one from Home Depot. But I am curious because it is called a 'Just Add Ice' orchid and the watering instructions tell me to put three ice cubes into the pot once a week. Does this actually work? I can see how the slow melting would help the soil absorb the water better but putting ice on the plant's roots doesn't seem very good for it.



Sorry for the rambling. I appreciate any help that's offered.
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  #2  
Unread 05-08-2012, 10:04 PM
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Don't add ice!!!! It's a marketing gimmick. The cold is actually more than it can handle. As for your other orchid, the switch while it was stressed may not have been so good, but you may give it a fighting chance. The new roots are promising, but you need to give the orchid lots of humidity. When this has happened to me, they have all died. Just be prepared. Growing isn't really that hard, but there is a learning curve. I used the same soil like mix for mine until I realized you shouldn't, and I've lost very few since then... Knocking on wood, lol...
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  #3  
Unread 05-09-2012, 01:33 AM
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I am a little confused because you mentioned how your phal regularly grew leaves and flowered for years, then two years ago, it stopped growing and you changed the media of a proper kind.

If your plant grew and flowered fine in not so ideal potting media, I wonder why it would suddenly stop growing. You also said it hated the soil type media. what do you mean by your plant hated it when you also mentioned it grew and flowered???

The lost leaves, do you recall what they looked like?
slowly yellowed and fell off (which is natural) or something else happened?
Your phals roots rotted apparently in such a dense old media.

The good news is that there is still a chance since it has roots, not many but living roots.
As someone mentioned above, high humidity is very important for sick orchid. I would recommend placing the plant with its pot inside some sort of glass container like an aquarium with top open for air flow. place wet moss around the pot on the bottom of the container to raise humidity. do not keep the potting media too wet as this is not good. just moist enough. and just mist every so often. when the media seem somewhat dry, then take the pot out and water well and put it back.
Avoid direct sun, but do place the plant in a bright and warm place.
then just keep your fingers crossed and wait for new roots and leaves to grow.
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  #4  
Unread 05-09-2012, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCorchidman View Post
I am a little confused because you mentioned how your phal regularly grew leaves and flowered for years, then two years ago, it stopped growing and you changed the media of a proper kind.

If your plant grew and flowered fine in not so ideal potting media, I wonder why it would suddenly stop growing. You also said it hated the soil type media. what do you mean by your plant hated it when you also mentioned it grew and flowered???
No, no, nmf said that the plant seemed to hate being moved to the orchid bark mix, not that it hated the soil type media. Personally, I would think that the plant was struggling anyway and just didn't tolerate the move very well.

From a horticultural point of view, I would not put any plant with an ailing vascular system in bright light. Light affects transpiration. A plant with an unhealthy root system can be stressed further by an increased rate of transpiration. So I would keep the plant at lower light levels and I definitely agree about keeping it slightly warmer (temperature also affects transpiration, but you do need to keep this going to some extent) and more humid. More humidity means less water loss, just the same as lower light levels.

Nmf, the only thing to watch out for then is not to water too much because the plant would not need as much water as before.

Once the plant stabilises I'd then move it back to the bark medium. You will probably need to start watering more often then as it will dry out quicker. Once the leaf starts looking 'plumper' and the roots have grown a little, I'd then move it to slightly brighter conditions as well. Again, you'd then have to adjust your watering. Many members here recommend using a wooden skewer in the medium - if the skewer is damp, don't water, if it's nearly dry, or dry, then water.

That would be my experience with sick plants anyway! Things like this are very dependent on your growing conditions, other people might have different experiences/opinions.
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  #5  
Unread 05-09-2012, 10:22 PM
nmf nmf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Mc View Post
Don't add ice!!!! It's a marketing gimmick. The cold is actually more than it can handle. As for your other orchid, the switch while it was stressed may not have been so good, but you may give it a fighting chance. The new roots are promising, but you need to give the orchid lots of humidity. When this has happened to me, they have all died. Just be prepared. Growing isn't really that hard, but there is a learning curve. I used the same soil like mix for mine until I realized you shouldn't, and I've lost very few since then... Knocking on wood, lol...

No ice! Got it! Seemed too easy to be true.

I'm working on a humidity fix for the sick one. I'm prepared for it to die but I still want to give it chance if I can. Thank you for your advice.
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  #6  
Unread 05-09-2012, 10:37 PM
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It hasn't been mentioned yet so I'll add that K-L-N and Superthrive are rooting hormones that can be used to encourage root growth. If you do use this on your phal follow the directions closely and sparingly as it can cause mutations. Hope that helps and goodluck!
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  #7  
Unread 05-09-2012, 10:40 PM
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NYCorchidman,

Thank you for your response and help.

As Natalie said below you, it was originally very happy in a soil-like orchid mix. Then it stopped being happy and I thought maybe the potting medium was the issue. I switched to a bark mix and the plant's health declined much more rapidly than it had been in the soil mix. It's back in a sphagnum peat moss and it is certainly not well but it is at least growing a new root.

The lost leaves yellowed slowly and fell off one by one. I wasn't initially alarmed by it because that's what happened to the older ones when the plant was doing well. But unlike the other times, it no longer grew new leaves.

The plant has been sitting in warm room with medium sunlight. I've moved it to the bathroom to get some extra humidity while I figure out some sort of aquarium for it. Your directions on how to care for it in a high humidity space are very helpful and I will do my best to follow them.
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  #8  
Unread 05-09-2012, 10:46 PM
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NatalieS,

I have always erred on the side of dry being better than wet. But I already have a wooden skewer in the pot so I will definitely use your hint to be sure that I am watering it appropriately.

Thank you for your help!
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  #9  
Unread 05-11-2012, 03:34 PM
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I live in a very...um..."harsh" climate, and I don't have a humidity fix for mine, (one is sick) which might be the reason my leaves are wrinkling (on and off).

I'm thinking about using a plastic tray (they sell them in the plant section, I just can't remember what the proper name for it is) and putting rocks in the bottom to keep the orchid pot out of the water...has anyone else tried it or have any other suggestions?

I've put plants inside ventilated plastic bags as a makeshift greenhouse to save them before, and it's worked very well....would that apply to a sick orchid?
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  #10  
Unread 05-11-2012, 04:32 PM
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pictures would have helped us help you better...your grow zone...the humidity and temperature of the room you put your plants in...is there airflow....is it an east, west, south facing source of light?
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