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Unread 03-13-2012, 01:07 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2012
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Default Dying Phalaenopsis After Repotting?

New to the forum, new to orchids...

I received a phal orchid back in '08 from somebody, but didn't give it much thought until very recently...

I have spent the last several days conducting research about repotting; asking workers at the local nursery and internet research (including video tutorials).

Yesterday, I attempted to repot my phal plant in a bark mixture (this plant was originally in a bark mixture when I received it.) This morning, I noticed the roots have turned black (the roots that are under the bark.) I think one of my mistakes was that I did not soak the bark over night, but the directions only said to "wet bark first", so that's rather misleading.

I suspect that I was unsuccessful at fully covering these roots. The aerial roots look the same, but the roots right below the leaves are all black now. I tried repotting it again so I could have a better look at the roots, cleanse them, and just try to do a better job. The blackened roots are only black just at the base and are still firm. Everything else below are yellow and firm and there is one green root.

I also can't seem to anchor this orchid very well for some reason. I sift and pack the media down, but when I test for security (picking the plant up in hopes that the pot comes with), it feels like the plant is just going to fall apart. The pot comes with, but I just have a strong feeling that I'm doing this all wrong.

I really hope there is some way that this poor plant will pull through, but, from what I've read thus far, it sounds like its a goner.
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Unread 03-13-2012, 05:26 AM
The Mutant's Avatar
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Okay, here are some newbie thoughts:

If the roots are firm, there's probably no reason to worry I think, but don't take my word on this too serious. And also, a picture or two of the roots in question would be great.

The yellow firm roots are fine - they've probably not been getting enough light to become green.

I've recently re-potted several of my Phals and I didn't know the bark was to supposed to soak, but it seems to work anyway. It's probably not ideal, but at least you and I both know what we're supposed to do till next time, eh?

Let the Phal have a chance to anchor itself into the new medium. It sounds to me you've potted it firmly enough (I wouldn't dare to try and lift any of my Phals to see if their pots would follow). It takes time for these fellows to attach themselves, the more you disturb it, the more stressed it will be and stress is harmful (trust me, I'm disturbing mine waaay to often, I'm trying not to do that anymore).

From what you've written, I think your Phal will do great as soon as it has anchored itself and gotten over the stress of being re-potted.

And as I said earlier; pics!
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Unread 03-13-2012, 07:44 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2012
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Thanks. I don't think I can post pics of the roots because I covered them. What I did was soak some bark during most of the day, then tried repotting it using the soaked bark. There is a mix of the soaked bark and some of the drier bark because I didn't have enough soaked bark left over.

I wasn't able to find a clear pot for repotting, so I don't know how I would take a picture of the roots without disturbing it for the millionth time >.< I feel like I should just leave it alone for the next couple of weeks and see what happens. I sure hope it comes back around somehow.

I feel sorry for this plant being my "guinea pig".
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Unread 03-13-2012, 07:54 AM
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I don't think you should worry too much. It's possible the black colouring you are seeing is due to colour leaching out the bark rather than a real problem. If the roots are firm then don't worry too much about the colour.

Of course it's difficult to tell if that is true without a picture, but I would not disturb it again if I were you and let it try and get settled.

To me it sounds like you've done the right thing and I would just keep an eye out for leaves going limp or something like that. Hopefully everything will be fine and it's just first time neaves.

Note, if you forget to soak the bark, you can actually soak it 12+ hours with the Phal in it. A healthy Phal will not be harmed by a 12 hour soak (or even a little longer) as long as it's fully drained afterwards and not left standing in water long term. I've accidentally left several of mine several times in the past, sometimes even several days (though I don't recommend that). I've also done it purposefully a couple of times when I felt the bark was far too dry and not absorbing water well enough.
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Unread 03-13-2012, 08:00 AM
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I think You're probably fine. When repotting cattleyas growers use pot clips to hold them in the pot. Sometimes they pick the cattleya by the leaves to demonstrate how well the pot clip holds it in place. Pot clips are not used for phals so if you pick the plant up by it's leaves it will pull out of the pot. That's normal. I'm not sure what the black is on some of the roots but I wouldn't worry about it. Now that it's in fresh medium give it normal care and it should be fine.
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Unread 03-13-2012, 08:49 AM
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I've never read that phals can soak that way. That's really cool. I'll remember that. Thanks. I checked the bark earlier using a toothpick and the media appears to be holding water now.

Hopefully, my plant perks up a bit and pulls through. Its been through a lot, actually. I'm surprised its made it this far, ha, ha.
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Unread 03-13-2012, 09:45 AM
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I bet it will.
Remember that they can sulk for a bit after being re-potted and just sit there not doing anything for what will seem like an eternity. One of my Phals that has been doing exactly this for about a month after being re-potted have now started on growing a new leaf and root!

So, the response might be slow but you will get one.

Since you can't upload any pictures for us now, for valid reasons I think, you owe us pictures when it has started to bloom.
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Unread 03-13-2012, 10:50 AM
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I will if it survives lol. If it doesn't, it won't die in vain lol. I've learned so much in the past few days and that only makes me better prepared for future plants.

This orchid has been through a lot. Like I said, I didn't pay much attention to it, so I made many mistakes. Like placing it on a west-facing window sill and giving it too much water.

I'm pretty sure part of it died because part of the plant has a couple droopy, red-colored leaves from when it was burned from being on that west-facing window sill. But another portion grew some time after that incident and its leaves are much greener.

I've also heard that these plants can be pretty forgiving so maybe it will pull through lol.
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Unread 03-13-2012, 11:30 AM
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You sound almost exactly like me. I had eight Phals that had been badly treated (I left them standing in water for example, the only reason they didn't die from root rot is because I only watered them like once a month ), some of which I've had for five to seven years. Now I've also started to care properly for them and as I said; you will get rewarded (if it survives, otherwise you'll have more success with your future orchids).

To show what one of my sulkers is doing now, I'll upload some pictures for you. This guy was planted together with a similar hybrid in one pot. I believe they had put them together so they could sell the Phal as one with two spikes, because they were two completely separate plants. One of them were much healthier than the other (the one in the pics is the one that wasn't doing so great) and I think that if I had left them like that, this guy would have died from all the nutrition being taken by the sturdier plant. The interesting thing about these two is that I can't recall what their flowers look like at all, so I hope one of them will start on a spike this year so I may see it again.

I would say that if your Phal has survived being mistreated it will most probably pull through, because it's a survivor.
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Dying Phalaenopsis After Repotting?-my1.jpg   Dying Phalaenopsis After Repotting?-my2.jpg   Dying Phalaenopsis After Repotting?-my3.jpg  
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Unread 03-13-2012, 01:54 PM
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Your plant looks a lot better than mine still lol. I'm a bit shy to post pics of my repotted plant. Its, uh... Not that great looking right now. I'm a bit embarrassed about it.

But maybe you're right. If its made it this far, perhaps it will pull through somehow.

I have a question: Is it okay to relocate the repotted plant? I have another orchid that I recently rescued from a garbage can. It looks like its in great condition; its in bloom and it looks like one of its flowers is about to open. I keep my plants in my room. The window faces east, but I move them to my desk at night so its a little warmer and so sunlight won't directly hit them the following morning. I also move this plant in the bathroom when I shower so it can receive the steam.

Is doing this okay? Or does the relocating cause stress? I'm not touching the plant itself when I do this. Just the pot. And I try to create as little shaking as possible while moving.

If this is okay for my healthier plant, can I do these things for my repotted plant? Or should I just leave it alone?
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