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  #1  
Unread 06-15-2008, 01:18 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
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Exclamation Phalaenopsis slowly losing its leaves...please help!

Hi everyone,

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!

Thank you.
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Phalaenopsis slowly losing its leaves...please help!-img_3947.jpg   Phalaenopsis slowly losing its leaves...please help!-img_3960.jpg   Phalaenopsis slowly losing its leaves...please help!-img_3950.jpg   Phalaenopsis slowly losing its leaves...please help!-img_3945.jpg   Phalaenopsis slowly losing its leaves...please help!-img_3951.jpg  

Phalaenopsis slowly losing its leaves...please help!-img_3953.jpg   Phalaenopsis slowly losing its leaves...please help!-img_3669.jpg  
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  #2  
Unread 06-15-2008, 01:58 AM
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Hi! I cannot advise you on the black spots. But I have a few observations: first, I think you should use a much smaller pot - a pot that will just be able to hold the roots you have. Even if it is a tiny pot, that's ok. You can just stake the stalk so it doesn't fall over. A smaller pot makes the bark dry faster.

Secondly, I think you have to move the orchid to a brighter, sunnier place. Your spot is too dark. This is also what happened to me when I put my orchids inside my studio. My place has always been too dark, even if I spent a lot of money on electricity with my lights on. It just needs sunshine I think. Air movement too.

Maybe you should change your medium too. What I do is that I use just enough lava rock to make the orchid not fall over in the pot. I also use clay pots with holes on the sides. The roots are very exposed. I can even see out of the bottom of the pot. You can try this if you want. Most people swear by bark and say that it dries quickly but that has never happened for me.

I hope I helped you a little. I consider myself a newbie despite the fact that I have stopped massacring my orchids recently.
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  #3  
Unread 06-15-2008, 02:33 AM
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First: The chances of this particular individual orchid making it is rather slim because it has no roots. Stranger things have happened though, so it's not dead until there's nothing left.

Second: Your bedroom is too dark. Grow it near a window that receives indirect filtered light.

Third: Air circulation is important. The plant isn't getting proper air circulation where it is now. Even if the place you move it has adequate light but poor air circulation, it'll still die. Get a small table or computer fan if you must in order to provide the necessary air movement.

Fourth: Even if the roots were still alive, the pot is way too big for it. Grow orchids as potbound as possible.

Fifth: Find a medium that suits your growing habits and routines to successfully grow the orchid.

Some people use large grade wood chips. Others use diatomite, then there are those who use tree fern fiber or osmunda fiber. Figure out what works for you. What I recommend using are large grade wood chips for begginers.

Consider mounting the plant onto a piece of cork bark slab or tree fern plaques with moss if potting never works out for you.
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  #4  
Unread 06-15-2008, 12:34 PM
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Thank you both for your advice so far. I was worried that my room might be too dark. But those pictures were taken at night so it is hard to tell. There is another window in the room that gets morning sun but not for very long. We do have a Box window downstairs in our kitchen where we keep plants. It gets a lot of light but I am not sure how much strong direct light it gets. It is South to South East facing window that has the top "roof" of box covered. So I am thinking that might be better. It would probably be more humid because it is right above the sink and dishwasher.

The plant does have more roots, the part in the picture was just one side of the plant that I took the bark away from so I could show you. Though by now I am not sure how many are left.

So it would be better to take it out and repot it again in a smaller pot? I am interested King_of_orchid_growing 's suggestion to mount it on a piece of cork bark. I have never heard of doing that. Where would I find the cork bark or tree fern plaque? And how would I go about mounting it?

Which do you think I should try first a smaller pot or mounting it?

Thank you for your help!
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  #5  
Unread 06-15-2008, 04:49 PM
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I thought I would post this link for you since a lot of people have had success with this method.

Sphag-n-Bag

That entire website has a ton of great information on it too.

I'm not an expert or anything but if that were my orchid I would probably pot it in a smaller pot. But that's because I think it's easier to water. Sometimes in larger pots like that the middle can stay wet for a long time while the top gets dry so you may water more than you really need too. How often have you been watering? The roots look more dried out than rotted to me but thats just the surface. A west window is usually fine for phals but only if you have it within say a foot or less. Sometimes the sun can be a little strong in the late afternoon so some people use blinds or sheers to dapple the light a little. A south window is good too but you will need to shade the plant from too much direct sun.

Mounting your orchid is a great option too but requires more daily care depending on how dry your house is. You may have to dunk it or mist it everyday.

How many roots would you say you have left? The plant looks pretty good so far but if you don't have many left it may start losing some leaves.
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  #6  
Unread 06-15-2008, 05:19 PM
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Here're pics of my Phals. Left is Phalaenopsis appendiculata. Right is Phalaenopsis modesta.
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  #7  
Unread 06-15-2008, 05:24 PM
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I recommend mounting them. As for the mounts themselves, try Tindara's Orchid Supplies, Orchid Supply Products, Orchid Potting Mix if your local orchid nurseries don't carry them.

I use 10 lb fishing line to tie the plants onto the mount. I recommend using New Zealand Sphagnum moss on the mounts.

BTW I've never tried the Coco Husk Fiber Plaques, if anyone's tried it, I'd like to know how the plants do on them.
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  #8  
Unread 06-15-2008, 05:34 PM
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Don't give your phal direct sunlight -their leaves burn very easily
They like indirect filtered bright light ..in front of a sheer curtained shaded window is ideal
Start them back aways from the window and allow them to adapt slowly bringing them into brighter light in intervals of a week at a time ..
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Last edited by Dorothy; 06-15-2008 at 05:36 PM..
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  #9  
Unread 06-15-2008, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorothy View Post
Don't give your phal direct sunlight -their leaves burn very easily
They like indirect filtered bright light ..in front of a sheer curtained shaded window is ideal
Start them back aways from the window and allow them to adapt slowly bringing them into brighter light in intervals of a week at a time ..
What she said. Mine are pretty far away from the window, but still receives light.

Last edited by King_of_orchid_growing:); 06-15-2008 at 05:40 PM.. Reason: add on
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  #10  
Unread 06-15-2008, 09:41 PM
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Unhappy New Pot, New Room

Hi everyone,

Thank you again for all of your advice. Right now I repotted it in the smallest pot I have (it is a clay pot).

I took pictures of the remaining roots. They still have some green in them, and are fairly hard. I still they do not look good, I know they are supposed to be a greenish white (at least so I thought?).

My younger sister is away at school and her room is not being used. I was going to put it in our box window facing south, but we seem to have a small ant problem and they are in the plants (which can't be good?). So I am going to use her room which is facing west - south west. There is also another window on the wall to the right of the orchid which faces north so the room is much brighter then mine all day. I am hoping this will be a good decision because I can regulate the temperature of the room and make it very warm during the day and increase the humidity. There is no air conditioner in the room, and by leaving the window open today with the door closed, the room already much more humid then the other rooms in our house. I hung a lacy curtain in front of the window to block the direct light...though I think I may need more protection. I also put a fan near it that moves back and fourth. I plan to have the window next to it closed at night because sometimes it gets into the 40's still, but leave the window across the room open a crack to cool down the room a bit.

I am going to go to the garden center on my way to work tomorrow and see if they have something I can mount the orchid on.

Does anyone have any more suggestions after looking at all of the remaining roots? I also want to know if this plant is still too close with too much light?

Thanks again
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