I have a very special white Phalaenopsis orchid that my boyfriend gave me for Valentine's Day that is slowly losing its leaves. Now I am new to orchid care and I have not had one survive - this is my 2nd try. I have been doing lots and lots of reading about it, but I am still puzzeled as to what is wrong. I want to save it because it was so thoughtful of him to get it for me (and I hate seeing things die). There are pictures of everything so you can better understand what it is going on.
I know orchids can slowly losing their oldest leaves. At first I thought it was this because the first leaf it lost was the very bottom leaf. The one after that was the next bottom leaf, and now this leaf that is in trouble is currently the bottom leaf. Both leaves that have fallen off so far had taken 2 or more weeks to slowly get yellow and fall off.
However, this time I am worried because of the black areas at the base of the plant and the dried up roots. It just doesn't look healthy....
I repotted the plant at the end of April when it lost all of its flowers and the first leaf fell off. When I took the plant out of the pot for the first time it had many many soggy brown roots. Now my first orchid died from over watering so this time I wanted to be sure that I did not do that. But it looks like I must have some how. I am really confused as to how this happened because I only watered it once a week.
Anyways, I cut off all of the soggy unhealthy roots and repotted it the bark mixture you see in the photos. The mixture from the store that the plant came in had a lot more moss mixed in and seemed to be holding too much moisture. It is potted in a clear plastic plant inside the pot you see in the photos.
When I first got the plant it brought with it tiny black flies. My boyfriend asked the place he got it from what to do and they told me to soak a paper towel with some ammonia, place it on a leaf of the plant and put the plant in a large plastic bag for about 10 mins. He said that should kill the files and not harm the plant. I did that and I haven't seen any since. That was probably in late February.
The very first flowers on the plant had tiny spots of brown on them, but the rest of the new flowers did not. I also watered it a few times getting water on the leaves before I read that I should not do that.
I have attached a photo of what it looked like before any leaves fell off with it still blooming. That photo was taken exactly 2 months ago in April 2008.
It currently sits next to a west facing window and gets several hours of late afternoon to evening sun until it sets. There is an air conditioner in that window, but never blasts very cold air. I keep a thermometer next to the plant - the temperature stays in the 70's.
I still have the stalk from the flowers which I trimmed back to what looks like the beginning of something - but that has been there since I got it. Should I just take the whole stalk off? It is still holding water but might be taking away from new root growth?
There is also a black spot on the base of the leaf that is probably going to turn yellow. (pic)
I am very worried because I took this plant out a few weeks ago to see how the roots were doing and it had gotten worse. There were more soggy roots and hardly any good roots left. It must have some healthy roots because the leaves seem perfect and the stalk has water in it (one of the pics the leaves look yellowish but that is from the camera flash).
What should I do?? Please any advice would be very much appreciated. I really don't want to see this one die.
You can see now some of the roots seem to be all dried up. I am so confused!