Phal Repotting Problems
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  #1  
Old 05-10-2009, 02:09 PM
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RosieC RosieC is offline
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Default Phal Repotting Problems

A long explanaition here I'm afraid, I don't know what it is, but I just can't work out what I'm doing wrong when repotting Phals.

I've read everything I can, watched the demos someone posted a few weeks back, my plants seem to sicken and in the worst case, of one I did this time last year, almost die (it's only just starting to grow new roots now after loosing almost all of them). The one I did a few weeks ago also looks like it's roots are now dying as well.

Does anyone have any advise based on my experience with my latest one today. I want to know if anyone can spot anything I'm doing fundamentally wrong.

This phal had arround 14 leaves, right back to tiny leaves which could have been it's seedling leaves still left on as they were joing right back at the very base with no stem below. I pulled off those smallest two leaves as in the past I've had problem keeping the smallest ones like that above the medium.

It has masses of roots with lots of actively growing root tips all over (must be at least 20 new roots tips coming from the sides of other roots as well as long roots just growing from their main tip).

I was planning to repot arround a month ago but did not get a chance and it has started two spikes and a new leaf. I decided to go ahead anyway and I'm glad I did in one way... the bark was really compacted and solid and more like soil in most places. The center of the root mass was completely solid with no air gaps at all.

Anyway I softened the roots in water and eased them out the pot, it was difficult as the roots were really tight. There were 4 root tips sticking out the bottom and only one got broken, the others pulled out through the holes easily (eventually).

I then had to try and remove the old medium. It was very difficult as the root mass would not easily pull apart and I did not want to break them. I slowly and carefully poked out the old bark which was really broken down. Some roots got snapped although I did not cut them off because the thread in the middle still held them together and I've had ones like that before which still seem to have worked as roots.



I then rinced the root mass to remove the last of the 'soil'. The roots were in very good condition (before I got my hands on them). There was very little which was not green/white and firm. A couple of bits near the bottom were hollow, and some arial bits which look like they used to go down into the bark, which have been dried up and dead for months. But all in all they were very solid and green and nothing much to remove. (This photo taken before any were removed at all).

I mixed some Listerine in the sink with luke warm water and gave the roots a dunk. I did not have a spray bottle so I thought this might at least get some Listerine all over (this is the first time I've done this step). I then rinced the roots twice with plain luke warm water.

I tried not to disturb the shape of the root mass too much as I feared breaking too many roots. Because roots seem to die on me after repotting, I want to damage as little as possible.

Somewhere along-the-line I broke a leaf at it's base, about 1/3 of the way up the Phal. It only broke at one side, right where it wraps arround the center, and it broke at a point that looks like it was dried up after being wrapped arround an emerging root. I decided not to worry and left the leaf to see what it does.



Anyway, I then fitted it back into it's pot (just) but then I couldn't get any of the bark/CHC/perlite mix down amongst the lowest roots.

This is where I got stuck, I could get the roots in the pot with no medium, or I could get medium in the pot with no roots.

I got it in by putting a tiny bit of the finner mix in the bottom, then trying to shake it and manipulate the plant in. I then poked bits of medium in as best I could amongst the roots. I get dropping the medium on the floor and I got really frustrated.

I broke some roots in the process and that really worries me Those breaks have not had listerine and I don't think it's a good idea to soak in that now as surely the bark and CHC will store it and I won't be able to wash it all out.

The other thing that worries me is that there are big voids amongst the roots. Is that a problem.

It's in... although sittnig a little high, and with these voids. And the test about holding it by the leaves and seeing if the pot stays on... well the pot stayed on before there was even any medium.



So fundamentally am I doing anything wrong. Can anyone advise why I keep getting sick Phals after repotting.
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  #2  
Old 05-10-2009, 02:51 PM
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I can give you a few pointers on how to loosen the roots out of the pot with as little damage as possible. There's still the possibility of damaging roots though.

1. Like you're doing already soak the plant thoroughly in water to soften up the roots.

2. Squeeze the pots to loosen the roots from the sides of the pot.

3. Get a knife and cut the pot away from the roots of those that are growing through the pot holes.

4. Shake the plant while holding onto the strongest part of the plant (usually the middle of the stem) to loosen up any medium.

5. Rinse the roots in running water to further loosen up the media from the roots.

6. Get a bucket of water and shake the plant in the water to loosen any more debris.

7. Rinse off the roots again.

8. Inspect plant for dead roots and cut them away. If they're too deep in the root mass, leave them alone.

9. If you feel the need to disinfect the roots for anything, you can use 3% hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is strong enough as a disinfectant, but gentle enough to prevent the roots from dehydrating.

10. If you want to loosen up roots, gently do it one by one.

11. Clean the media of any debris. I do this by soaking in a bucket of water and picking out the large solid chunks. The soft mushy stuff and any debris I leave alone.

12. While the roots are still wet, place in an appropriate sized pot and gently put the plant in.

13. Put media in and shake the pot up and down to get the media in.

14. After all the media is in place, gently pull the plant up and down to make sure any media gets in between some of the roots.

15. Water the plant from the top of the pot.

Notes:

1. If any breakage occurs, that comes with the territory. Just try and limit the amount of damage done.

2. If there's any media stuck onto the roots that doesn't want to come off the plant easily, leave them on. When the media decomposes more, it'll come off.

3. Try not to bend the roots too much, they may be pliable when wet, but there's a breaking point too.
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Old 05-10-2009, 02:53 PM
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BTW you can pot up a size for the pictured Phal.
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Old 05-10-2009, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by King_of_orchid_growing:) View Post
BTW you can pot up a size for the pictured Phal.
Thanks King,

Reading your other steps, I think that was my bigest mistake in this case. I tried to get it back in the same pot and because the roots were so healthy and did not need cutting back it was really too small.

If I get chance I will get a new pot tommorow and I will re-do it with that.
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Old 05-10-2009, 03:06 PM
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In my first re-potting (which went really wrong), I think I cut away too many healthy roots to fit them back in the existing pot.

In both that and the one a few months back I did not disinfect in anyway, and all the cut ends which I can see are dying, and I'm not sure about the rest of the roots either, I'm not happy about how they look through the pot.. People here had talked about spraying with Listerine, so I thought I would try some this time.
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Old 05-10-2009, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by King_of_orchid_growing:) View Post

11. Clean the media of any debris. I do this by soaking in a bucket of water and picking out the large solid chunks. The soft mushy stuff and any debris I leave alone.
I think this was also a problem in my first re-potting.

The medium was nowhere near the quality of the new stuff I've got this time. It was full of soft mushy debris when it was soaked in water and even the 'good' stuff was not that good (now I know what to look for).

I threw that away and got new stuff a few months ago. The new stuff does not leave ANY mushy stuff in the water after soaking. I keep over-estimating how much I need because it does not disappear in to the water like the old stuff.
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Old 06-04-2009, 04:37 PM
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Default Update

Well this Phal is still doing OK.



Initially all the little growing root tips, which had been there before repotting, seemed to disapear. But now I can see quite a few re-apearing.

The roots do not seem to be dying off as they did on the previous two I repotted. I'm keeping a close eye on them but so far so good.

It's new leaf is still growing, although I've noticed in the above pic that the previous two top leaves have got a bit of a suntan so I've moved it away from the window a bit.

But what I am most pleased about is that one of the two spikes is showing signs of growing not one, not two, but three side branches, they're only little just now but I've been watching them carefully and I'm now convinced that's what they are. The next node above this point is forming a nice bud and the ones above that are not far behind.



So it's still early days, but it does not seems good so far.
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  #8  
Old 06-05-2009, 12:03 AM
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Congratulations Rosie, that phal looks wonderful!
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  #9  
Old 06-05-2009, 04:29 PM
lostonthebeach lostonthebeach is offline
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Looks like all your hard work is really paying off. The plant looks great !!
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