My Orchid is...Pregnant?! Keiki Worries, Ragged Roots, and Funky Fungus
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  #1  
Old 06-25-2012, 09:06 PM
Sprue Sprue is offline
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My Orchid is...Pregnant?! Keiki Worries, Ragged Roots, and Funky Fungus Female
Question My Orchid is...Pregnant?! Keiki Worries, Ragged Roots, and Funky Fungus

Hello, hello!

After expressing such joy in carefully watching over an orchid my mother got for her birthday in March, she surprised me with one from Whole Foods weeks later!

I examined the roots while changing the dense spongy stuff it came in over to Ferti-lome Orchid potting mix (has bark, peat moss, volcanic rock, and charcoal pieces). I noticed its roots were trashed (As I later read can happen with grocery store plants).

Armed with hope, and the internet as my guide, I sterilized my scalpel, hacked out the slimy black bits, doused the poor thing in cinnamon, and crossed my fingers.

Since then, it seemed okay. It put out a new leaf not too long ago. I had it and my first orchid on the back patio in indirect light when temperature and humidity were right, and inside facing an indirectly-lit southern window on plates with gravel and water when temperatures outside aren't right. I water them once a week and fertilize every couple weeks with Carl Pool Orchid Food.

One terrible week in late May, as the brutal Texan summer was gearing up, I had my wisdom teeth surgically removed. The week and a half of pain-pill haze allowed me to forget my pain and my leafy little friends in the heat without water.

Each lost two blooms, and over the next few weeks, lost all their blooms and their spikes began to decay. Both of big orchid's spikes are dead and gone, but little orchid just has bits of decay at the tips, extending farther and farther down over time.

A few weeks ago, the little orchid started working on a keiki! Albeit, on a dying spike... Initially, I was elated I would be a grandmother. But, I soon read that it could mean the plant is dying.

I (perhaps stupidly) cleared away all the potting mix and found yellow-ish/orange-ish spots on only the bark pieces of the mix. Fungus? Mold? This has actually occurred once in the other orchid before, and has returned despite a repot.

Sadly, I discovered the roots seemed to be worse today. There was no new root growth (my other orchid has had a little bit of root growth in the same time frame) and black wet areas in the middle of roots.

So, from my conclusion, the keiki is born from stress, not great care. I'm heartbroken.

I'm wondering if there's hope to save the momma plant? The keiki is so young it won't survive on its own... I'm not expecting it to live based on momma's current status.

TL;DR
Young orchid has started to grow keiki. It has lost all its blooms and both spikes are dying, including the one the keiki is on. Its roots were in okay shape when purchased and have shown no improvement. There is a mold or fungus in bits of the potting mix. What can I do to save both mother and child?
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My Orchid is...Pregnant?! Keiki Worries, Ragged Roots, and Funky Fungus-keiki-jpg   My Orchid is...Pregnant?! Keiki Worries, Ragged Roots, and Funky Fungus-fungus-mold-jpg   My Orchid is...Pregnant?! Keiki Worries, Ragged Roots, and Funky Fungus-roots-jpg  
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  #2  
Old 06-25-2012, 11:13 PM
Lana Lana is offline
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My Orchid is...Pregnant?! Keiki Worries, Ragged Roots, and Funky Fungus Female
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Welcome to the OB!
Based on your photos, I don't see a reason to worry about health of your plants just yet. The roots are fine. Even though you don't see new root tips, the existing roots are capable of supplying your orchids with water and nutrients. I don't think you'll lose your keiki either. The spike is drying out from the top, and, in my experience, will stay green right above the keiki. If this is the case, the baby will have plenty of time to develop its own roots, provided the mother plant is potted nicely in a good mix, and stays healthy.
I'm not sure about the spots on the old potting mix. I'm sure someone else can tell you what it is and how to deal with it.
Good luck!

I forgot to add, the loss of blooms isn't an indication of plant's poor health. In your case it was probably reaction to the sudden, prolonged drouth.
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  #3  
Old 06-25-2012, 11:26 PM
Sprue Sprue is offline
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Thanks so much!

I guess I've got some kind of new parent worry. My other orchid has a big tangle of green pretty roots so the other one looks sickly by comparison.

Maybe I just need a new potting mix, I'm not sure. I haven't returned little one to a substrate yet to see what people say about the spots.

I'd hate to put it into fresh medium, just to have it get all spotty again, then move it to a new kind of medium (based on what info I get here) within a short span.

Or would it just be better to put it back in new spot-attracting stuff rather than leave it naked in its pot for a day or two?

Being new and clueless sucks.
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  #4  
Old 06-26-2012, 10:25 AM
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tucker85 tucker85 is offline
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I agree with Lana. Your orchid looks fine to me. I'm not sure what the spots on the medium are but I've seen them before on some of my orchids and I assume it's some type of fungus. My opinion is that the spots show that the medium is staying a little too wet. Your other phal is in a natural clay pot which breaths some and dries faster than this orchid which is in a glazed pot. The orchid in the glazed pot should probably be watered less than the other one.

Also both phals are a little over potted. Phals do best if they're in the smallest pot that the roots will comfortably fit in. You can grow them in the pots you have them in but be very careful not to overwater.

If you don't mind spending money, Physan 20 is a good product to control fungus and bacteria in the medium. You can use it at one teaspoon per gallon, once a month.
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  #5  
Old 06-26-2012, 12:45 PM
Rowangreen Rowangreen is offline
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If you get a new pot I'd choose one that's transparent, so you can see the roots, and has plenty of drainage. Then watch the roots inside the pot and water when they start to go silvery. When you water take the plant to the sink and use lots of water and let it run through and drain before you put it back.
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  #6  
Old 06-26-2012, 04:53 PM
Sprue Sprue is offline
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Thanks for all the advice, everyone! I never expected so much help! Eternally grateful.

Both of my orchids are in clear containers with a hole on the bottom located within the other pots (they both came this way.)

My Orchid is...Pregnant?! Keiki Worries, Ragged Roots, and Funky Fungus-2012-06-26_14-25-20_777-jpg

I'm apprehensive to move either of them to different bigger pots since they seem so cozy in their plastic tubs and haven't really grown much since purchase. But hey, I'm new haha.

I found my county's "horiticultural agent" after a rabbithole of a google search and shot him or her an email with an attached picture of the fungusy bark last night. I'll hear back soon.

Of course, it's likely just overwatering like tucker said. Now I'm trying to get a feel for how often I need to water them, since neither are in bloom.

If you look at the bigger one, it's been less than a week since I've watered it, and the roots already look silvery and the medium looks dry. But watering once a week begets fungus.

I also see tiny (like, I mean smaller than a pinhead) soil bugs in the big orchid's material. I remember seeing them growing up when my mom would garden. And last night, when I went to replenish the water on my pebbles/plate humidity thing, a little black beetle crawled out from between rocks. However, it is 103 outside here and I've seen two of those beetles in different locations indoors...Maybe just looking for water.

Can anyone recommend a more natural line of defense against molds/fungi and pests or a precautionary approach? (I've got a wonky autoimmune thing that makes me a sensitive little flower.)
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  #7  
Old 06-27-2012, 06:31 AM
Rowangreen Rowangreen is offline
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You don't want to repot into a larger pot. It looks like yours are a good size. The idea of repotting is to remove old medium that might be breaking down, and to provide more drainage and air to the roots. You could probably improve the pots you've got by cutting some more holes, including some on the sides.

A little bit of fungus probably isn't anything to worry about, for the orchids at least. Same goes for a lot of little bugs you'll find in soil. I think some US growers use a product called Physan. But I think it's banned in the UK so I don't know that I'd recomend it! Fresh medium would help, as fungus and small bugs may be a sign it's breaking down and providing food for them.
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  #8  
Old 06-30-2012, 04:42 PM
Sprue Sprue is offline
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Ah-ha! I think I found part of the culprit: yellow slime mold (albeit the picture I found online is much more severe than what bits I found in my bark.)



I wanted to check on my bigger orchid for distress, and alas I found a touch of root rot (as well as black spots on the roots in random places) along with some more yellow moldy-looking bark.

My Orchid is...Pregnant?! Keiki Worries, Ragged Roots, and Funky Fungus-sm-jpg

I've let it soak for a short while in hydrogen peroxide water and I'll dip it in some fertilizer water after, then maybe dab some cinnamon on the cut bits and let it dry out in a plastic bag with a paper towel for a little while until things start looking better for the rotty parts.

Watering once a week has proved to be too much for my leafy friends, and here I thought I would've avoided the most common orchid mistake

Last edited by Sprue; 06-30-2012 at 06:18 PM.. Reason: Added personal picture to existing linked one
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2012, 05:25 PM
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silken silken is offline
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Maybe you should just buy some medium fir bark and possibly some sphagnum moss and make a new potting mix for these Phals. I agree, one hole in the bottom of the pot isn't much for drainage and aeration as well. I noticed you said your mix has peat moss in it. I don't know how much but peat moss is usually too dense for orchids. I thought your photo looked fairly chunky for the mix but some of the store bought mixes are really too soil like for most orchids. It could be the bag of mix you bought has those mold spores and you will keep getting them from that bag. That's why I think you should get something else.
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  #10  
Old 06-30-2012, 06:29 PM
Sprue Sprue is offline
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Good call! I'll have to go to a gardening place nearby. The mix is really chunky, there's only little bits of peat moss. It's that dang bark that seems to be causing the mold issue. (fertilomesoils.com/orchid.html is the kind of mix I use)

The bigger orchid has 8 holes in the bottom and the tiny one has one in its little half-cup plastic lining.
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