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  #1  
Old 09-06-2010, 11:50 PM
Lady Tottington Lady Tottington is offline
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moss or bark for phal? Female
Default moss or bark for phal?

Hi friends... well... confession, I recently got over my heartbreak of killing one phal, and in doing so, I bought two more like I have heard many wise people suggesting here

Anyway, one is totally jam-packed-tight in moss, and aside from it's green happy roots, I'm thinking that if they tried to pack any more moss in that little plastic pot, it would explode. Anyway, lucky for me, the other other phal is in bark and looks quite decent and content to stay there. Now here is my question... I know all the hoopla about waiting to repot until after it has finished blooming, but really, that could be a little while, and I'd really like to do so now because of I worry about how tight that moss is around those roots? Should I be? Or should I just live and let live, then repot as soon as blooming is over?

Also, I have seen SEVERAL phals come from growers in moss, should I replant in moss, or get it established in bark with the rest of my chids?

If I do repot now, please please please give me advise how NOT to kill this. My last one suffered a miserable death where it had great leaves atop, but I guess I was slowly killing it's root system. In hindsight, I had it over potted (which is my m.o.) so it's likely that the medium never dried fully, and poof, it began rotting away from the inside.

I have killed my share of phals (at least two) through crown rot, and I promise I have mended my ways from that (*crossing fingers*), BUT, the problem here is that now I feel I may cross over to the other side where I underwater my phals, just because I'm so worried about root rot!

please set me straight, it would do very horrible things for my heart if I kill another phal, when I know people who can't seem to kill theirs when they try to!

I do have one phal that was a keiki from the mother plant that I did kill. Anyway, this pretty one that I seem to not be killing right now, I admit that I am almost afraid to even look at it the wrong way or sideways for fear that it will punish me and die on me just because it can.

Please friends, help a sista out here. I promise not to over pot, I have skewers in my pots, so I will try not to overwater. What are your thoughts on the one crammed in the tiny pot with so much moss that the thing is nearly going to burst?

hugs!
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  #2  
Old 09-07-2010, 06:02 PM
mayres mayres is offline
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Phals can easily successfully be repotted at any time - including during full bloom. My suggestion is that you repot any/all phals as soon as you get them into the media of your choice - that you are comfortable and have learned works with your cultural habits/technique. I've gotten way too many phals (even from reputedly good commercial growers) with less than desired roots - usually planted in sphag. If you do it immediately upon acquisition there should be no doubt going forward that whatever issues develop YOU had a hand in - both good and bad. Amazingly that crammed into the pot sphag media DOES work for some growers, but for the majority of us home growers doesn't seem to be the best option. Have you considered other options besides bark or sphag? I pot all my phals in a coir mix and have been super happy with it (approx. 70% coir, 25% perlite, 5% charcoal). Lots of options will work - you just need to find the best option for your conditions......Good luck...
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  #3  
Old 09-07-2010, 06:09 PM
jrodpad jrodpad is offline
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I think there's no real answer on the whole moss v. bark debate. It's personal preference, growing area conditions, how often you like to water, etc.

It sounds like you may be an overwaterer like me. In that case, you might want to pull away the moss and switch over to a medium grade bark mix. I cannot avoid root rot for the life of me if the phal is packed in moss. I've moved all my phals to a bark/charcoal/pearlite mix that seems to work well.

Here's what I do when I repot: First, I look for clear plastic pots. It helps me to see the roots, so I know when they're wet, moist, dry, when it needs water and when the phal is in trouble. Being able to see the roots allows me to react quickly to whatever's going on. Then, I soak the potting medium for a good long while (24 hours if possible, overnight as a minimum). I've been nuking the soaked material (floating in a bowl of water) for 3-4 minutes first to speed up the soaking process. I have no idea if this actually does anything - it's just something that seems to work for me. You can flush the medium with superthrive or your fertilizer - but I'm not convinced this actually does anything. Once the medium has been prepared, I prepare the potting area - I lay down new paper towels or newsprint, glove up and flame sterilize my scissors. You want to select a pot that is just slightly larger than the healthy root ball of the phal - you don't really know what that is yet because of the sphag, so I try to have clear pots one or two sizes in each direction from the existing pot.

On to the phal. Gently pull the phal out of the pot and take your time removing the sphag. You can soak or hold the root mass under running water to help you loosen the sphag. It is critical that all the old potting medium is removed. Sometimes I use a q-tip without the cotton to help pick away the small bits and loosen the roots. Once all the old sphag is gone, I evaluate the roots. Hollow, mushy, stringy, black or dried up roots get snipped with the scissors and discarded. Green, white, plump, firm roots are left alone. Now I try fitting the remaining root mass into the different sized pots. You want to just be able to squeeze the roots into the pot without breaking them. Crunchy noises mean you're pressing too hard. After I've selected the right sized pot, I mist the roots with a dilute physan 20 solution as a precaution. If the pot is not an aircone style pot, I tend to put a Styrofoam peanut or two in the center. Then a bottom layer of bark mix. Then I add in the phal, trying to keep the aerial roots above the lip.

I slowly and carefully add bark mix around the outside of the pot, tapping, squeezing and shaking as I go to allow the medium to settle as much as possible between the roots. You want the bottom of the center of the phal to just be under the surface of the medium and the medium to be about 1/4" under the lip of the pot. I pack the bark mix in so that the phal is well anchored in the pot - it cannot wobble when I move the pot around.

The first 2 weeks after reppotting is critical as the bark is not yet "worked in". It won't respond the same way to your watering as the other orchids in bark in your collection. You have to check in every day or two to see if it needs to be watered. Use whatever method you use to check the medium to see if it's dry (skewer, weight, sight, etc.). Water when it becomes dry for the first two weeks and then water like similar orchids in your collection (every week, twice a week, every few days, etc.).

If you're afraid of underwatering, you can always mist the aerial roots every morning - just be sure your not soaking the potting medium when you do so and do not get mist in the crown. Only the very top of the medium should get wet when you mist.

Keep an eye on the leaves that are closest to the potting medium. They will respond first if the phal is drying out too much. If you see lines or ridges appearing along the bottom leaves or if the bottom leaves begin to shrivel, you need to increase the watering. It's easy to spot this signal if you know what to look for - and if you catch this early, you should have plenty of time to correct your watering schedule without harming the phal.

Sorry this post got so long - it kind of got away from me - but I've killed my share of phals and worked out these methods through trial end error. These techniques seem to work for me.

Hope this helps.

- J
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  #4  
Old 09-07-2010, 09:31 PM
Lady Tottington Lady Tottington is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayres View Post
Phals can easily successfully be repotted at any time - including during full bloom. My suggestion is that you repot any/all phals as soon as you get them into the media of your choice - that you are comfortable and have learned works with your cultural habits/technique. I've gotten way too many phals (even from reputedly good commercial growers) with less than desired roots - usually planted in sphag. If you do it immediately upon acquisition there should be no doubt going forward that whatever issues develop YOU had a hand in - both good and bad. Amazingly that crammed into the pot sphag media DOES work for some growers, but for the majority of us home growers doesn't seem to be the best option. Have you considered other options besides bark or sphag? I pot all my phals in a coir mix and have been super happy with it (approx. 70% coir, 25% perlite, 5% charcoal). Lots of options will work - you just need to find the best option for your conditions......Good luck...
Thank you mayres! I don't have access to coir mix... is it something I could purchase online? Thanks for the tip on repotting, the roots do look mightly healthy (for now), and I do have a clear pot that I could repot it to. I will do so this weekend, wish me luck!
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  #5  
Old 09-07-2010, 09:38 PM
Lady Tottington Lady Tottington is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrodpad View Post
I think there's no real answer on the whole moss v. bark debate. It's personal preference, growing area conditions, how often you like to water, etc.

It sounds like you may be an overwaterer like me. In that case, you might want to pull away the moss and switch over to a medium grade bark mix. I cannot avoid root rot for the life of me if the phal is packed in moss. I've moved all my phals to a bark/charcoal/pearlite mix that seems to work well.

Here's what I do when I repot: First, I look for clear plastic pots. It helps me to see the roots, so I know when they're wet, moist, dry, when it needs water and when the phal is in trouble. Being able to see the roots allows me to react quickly to whatever's going on. Then, I soak the potting medium for a good long while (24 hours if possible, overnight as a minimum). I've been nuking the soaked material (floating in a bowl of water) for 3-4 minutes first to speed up the soaking process. I have no idea if this actually does anything - it's just something that seems to work for me. You can flush the medium with superthrive or your fertilizer - but I'm not convinced this actually does anything. Once the medium has been prepared, I prepare the potting area - I lay down new paper towels or newsprint, glove up and flame sterilize my scissors. You want to select a pot that is just slightly larger than the healthy root ball of the phal - you don't really know what that is yet because of the sphag, so I try to have clear pots one or two sizes in each direction from the existing pot.

On to the phal. Gently pull the phal out of the pot and take your time removing the sphag. You can soak or hold the root mass under running water to help you loosen the sphag. It is critical that all the old potting medium is removed. Sometimes I use a q-tip without the cotton to help pick away the small bits and loosen the roots. Once all the old sphag is gone, I evaluate the roots. Hollow, mushy, stringy, black or dried up roots get snipped with the scissors and discarded. Green, white, plump, firm roots are left alone. Now I try fitting the remaining root mass into the different sized pots. You want to just be able to squeeze the roots into the pot without breaking them. Crunchy noises mean you're pressing too hard. After I've selected the right sized pot, I mist the roots with a dilute physan 20 solution as a precaution. If the pot is not an aircone style pot, I tend to put a Styrofoam peanut or two in the center. Then a bottom layer of bark mix. Then I add in the phal, trying to keep the aerial roots above the lip.

I slowly and carefully add bark mix around the outside of the pot, tapping, squeezing and shaking as I go to allow the medium to settle as much as possible between the roots. You want the bottom of the center of the phal to just be under the surface of the medium and the medium to be about 1/4" under the lip of the pot. I pack the bark mix in so that the phal is well anchored in the pot - it cannot wobble when I move the pot around.

The first 2 weeks after reppotting is critical as the bark is not yet "worked in". It won't respond the same way to your watering as the other orchids in bark in your collection. You have to check in every day or two to see if it needs to be watered. Use whatever method you use to check the medium to see if it's dry (skewer, weight, sight, etc.). Water when it becomes dry for the first two weeks and then water like similar orchids in your collection (every week, twice a week, every few days, etc.).

If you're afraid of underwatering, you can always mist the aerial roots every morning - just be sure your not soaking the potting medium when you do so and do not get mist in the crown. Only the very top of the medium should get wet when you mist.

Keep an eye on the leaves that are closest to the potting medium. They will respond first if the phal is drying out too much. If you see lines or ridges appearing along the bottom leaves or if the bottom leaves begin to shrivel, you need to increase the watering. It's easy to spot this signal if you know what to look for - and if you catch this early, you should have plenty of time to correct your watering schedule without harming the phal.

Sorry this post got so long - it kind of got away from me - but I've killed my share of phals and worked out these methods through trial end error. These techniques seem to work for me.

Hope this helps.

- J
Thank you thank you jrodpad! I'm glad I'm not the only overwater-er around. I have implemented skewers, but even then, I think I sometimes get a little itchy at seeing the top of the medium dry that I second guess myself

Good to watch the bottom leaves, I have never heard or done that before, but it makes perfect sense. Also, the packing in of the medium is always such a hard thing for me. Sometimes I see "air" spots when I think I'm done from the sides of my clear spots, and try to get something down in there, but it's never perfect. Are some air spots alright?

Also, very key of what you said about checking new medium every day or two! That is so true! I will checking once I repot every couple days and try to keep tabs on it. I don't want to shock my poor orchid after it was so packed with moss that it's unused to this new medium.

Thank you so much J for these great suggestions. I am planning to read & reread your post. I am so thankful, and I hope I can become a phal grower and not murderer

hugs,
LT
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  #6  
Old 09-08-2010, 07:02 PM
jrodpad jrodpad is offline
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LT,

I'm sure that a few air spots wont do any harm - although I always do my best to try to fill em in (advantage, clear pots!).

Some people have suggested that when you change the potting medium the sphag-adapted roots will die off and the phal will have to grow all new roots suited for the bark mix. I'm not so sure that's always the case (though willing to be convinced). I've moved phals from sphag to bark and they seem to suffer little to no root loss. Perhaps we could get a phal expert to chime in on this point.... it's something that I've always been curious about. I have had phals that stall when repotted, but never any that have suffered a complete or severe root death.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

- J
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Old 09-08-2010, 08:09 PM
sii sii is offline
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I've learned the hard way when it comes to potting in moss. I almost lost a couple. After I repotted in bark, some of my little ones stopped growing roots. I don't know if it was a shock/adjustment for them. I've put them into tiny pots and check them almost every day. Since the weather has cooled off a bit, they are close to an open window almost all day. I'm a terrible overwaterer and so now I spray water just above the roots. But I'm no expert by any stretch...
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  #8  
Old 09-08-2010, 10:30 PM
johnblagg johnblagg is offline
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If you do best with bark ...and it sounds like that is the medium you are comfortable with since that is what you have your others in ...then repot into bark.

I never have a problem repotting even when they are in bloom.Take yor time be gental and water sparingly the fist week or so dont let it dry out so much as just a touch dryer untill roots heal from the transfer.
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  #9  
Old 09-08-2010, 11:17 PM
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Lagoon Lagoon is offline
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I've not had any orchid die off from going from sphag to bark, the growth may slow alil but this is just adjustment time in my opinion.
Why go with one or the other anyways? 50% bark with 50% sphag works very well. 50% sphag - 50% perlite (works wonderfully!)

Phals do love coir, if this is an option for you 60% coir, 15% rice hulls, 15% perlite the rest charcoal or add more coir -- isn't this fun

Don't stress out about the LT, this is a hobby and its supposed to be fun
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Last edited by Lagoon; 09-08-2010 at 11:19 PM..
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  #10  
Old 09-08-2010, 11:45 PM
johnblagg johnblagg is offline
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Phals do love coir, if this is an option for you 60% coir, 15% rice hulls, 15% perlite the rest charcoal or add more coir -- isn't this fun



ahh my favorite medium is rice hulls ...pure rice hulls grows wonderfull phals for me and is soo easy to move into and repot later ...wonderfull stuff and LOL for me being in rice country free
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