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  #1  
Old 03-13-2017, 04:32 PM
acaldwell3590 acaldwell3590 is offline
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Phal - issues with fertilizer, pots, and environment, mainly - just issues... Female
Default Phal - issues with fertilizer, pots, and environment, mainly - just issues...

I'm sure there are a million places these questions are discussed but I am so overwhelmed with trying to find answers. I figured I would just start here with all the questions I have and see where it goes.

A quick little background. I have 2 phals. One I've had for about a year and the other I've had for around 6 months and I saved it from death at the grocery store. My first phal flowered once and the flowers died within the month and it now has a Keiki (aww!) The other has never flowered for me, though I figured that's because it was poorly taken care of.

So, I got these plants and recently went and bought new bark for it after extensive research and realized that for many reasons, I am a bad orchid mama. I never repotted them from the moment that I first got them and I never fertilized them. Honestly. these are the first plants I've ever kept alive for any amount of time so really I had no idea what I am doing. Now, I'm OBSESSED with these guys and want to care for them as best I can. This past weekend I went out and bought them new pots with lots of air holes for air flow. I realized that my first phal has quite a few root issues and had to trim but a couple of good ones still (I overwatered I believe) and the other phal was doing well in this regard. So here's question one - do I wait to water them for a bit so they can get used to their environment or water them as per usual? (going to try the bamboo stick method)

Then I found the fertilizer with a ratio of 30-10-10 since I have bark. This is where another question comes in. I know there is a great debate about weakly weekly or monthly fertilizing, what's your opinion? Also when I do fertilize how do I do it? This feels like a stupid question but once I mix the fertilizer do I just pour it into the plant like I water it? (OY!)

Then my final questions come about their environment. Currently, these two sit on my desk. Three walls of my building are glass so I thought they were getting enough light, though I've read some information where I'm not so sure. I sit about 5 or so yards from the window and there are low cube walls (they have a direct shot of the window), what experiences have you had? Also, it's obviously a climate controlled building that never goes below 72 and sometimes goes up to 78 is there something else I should be doing to help replicate nature?

Sorry for such a long post but I am desperate for some understanding and help. I love these guys and want to care for them well.

Thanks for any and all suggestions!
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  #2  
Old 03-13-2017, 04:56 PM
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Dollythehun Dollythehun is offline
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Welcome! I water as soon as I Repot ( with a couple of exceptions). How bright is their area? Could you comfortably read there? I water weakly, every watering and flush when I remember and I fertilize just like I water. I like to soak my plants but, one of the other members is moving me away from that technique. If you bought ceramic pots with holes, be aware that they will keep your plants moister. Hope this helps. But, as you have noticed, we almost all have different methods for the same plants. Partly due to our climates.
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  #3  
Old 03-13-2017, 10:04 PM
jkofferdahl jkofferdahl is offline
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Welcome to the Orchid Board! This place is filled with fine people who are happy to help, and also to learn. Glad you've joined us!

I'm going to try to address (not answer) your questions. I think Carol did a fine job doing so, though there are a couple of points where we might not agree. And whomever posts after me is bound to disagree with some of what I say. As Carol said, we have a lot of different methods, and if what we do keeps the plants happy then it's right. Don't be afraid to experiment some and see what is best for your plants.

When I repot, I used well-soaked bark, so it's already pretty wet. However, if you didn't pre-soak the bark then I'd suggest a thorough soaking of the plants. If you did, don't water them until the media is thoroughly dry.

When I water, I flush the pots rather than soaking them. In my opinion, the potting medium serves more as an insulator to keep roots from drying too quickly because our conditions are less than ideal. When I water, I water the roots and not the medium; yeah, both get watered but my intent is the provision of water TO the roots and not the bark. When the roots are wet is when they also most need air, and soaking them for more them a few moments deprives them of air. In fact, this is why I prefer to either mount or pot in baskets. Further along these same lines, I strongly prefer open pots and open media (if the plant isn't mounted) because they allow for excellent airflow to the roots, and Phalaenopsis roots love airflow. To my way of thinking, if the media is able to dry so that I have to water the plant every other day, or even every day when the plant is active, that's fine. My mounted Phals get watered twice daily when they're active.

Regarding fertilizer, I'm of the "fertilize weekly, weakly" school. I mix at about 1/4 strength. It's fine to just pour from the mixing container onto the roots. Fertilizers can leave mineral deposits in pots after a while, so after every 3 or 4 waterings with fertilizer it's a good idea to flush the pot with plain water. The balance you bought, 30-10-10, is fine for how you are growing. Your orchids will absorb what they want, and store it for when they need it. If you want to get more intense about fertilization, Ray (that's his name here) is the guru.

Phals are fairly low-light plants and yours look healthy. That one is supporting a nice keiki is a good indication! I suspect the light they have is a bit on the low side, however. When you hold your hand 5 or 6 inches from the plant, does it cast a fuzzy shadow or a fairly well-defined one?

Since you have an air plant there I presume that you have a mister. Climate-controlled buildings are usually fairly low on the humidity scale, so a couple of sprays a day may help them.

Unglazed ceramic pots with lots of holes are my preference. I also really like plastic basket-pots (and even use sphagnum in them on occasion). A glazed but very open pot like yours will, I think, still dry faster than will a plastic pot. A plastic pot is just about my last choice for most adult orchids.

Last edited by jkofferdahl; 03-13-2017 at 10:09 PM..
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  #4  
Old 03-14-2017, 12:22 AM
Optimist Optimist is offline
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In this office building, do they always keep the lights on? Orchids need definite dark/light periods. They have a specialized photosynthetic system, and are not like "normal" plants. They also need cooler nights, (62-65) and your "day temps" sound okay, but between 70 and 80F is ideal. Since 70 is the low end, they might think it is winter. Most flower only once a year, the bloom lasting up to 4-6 months. Often after stress or sometimes re-potting, they will not flower that year. Those pots are lovely-- if you water in a green house. When you water, you need to drench and have it flow out. You may need to water over a bucket. When the roots start poking out, and you need a re-pot, you will most likely have to chose between breaking the pot, and good roots.
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Old 03-14-2017, 01:08 AM
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Old 03-14-2017, 06:01 AM
bil bil is offline
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As said, everyone has their own way.

I like to repot immediately on purchase. I have little faith that they will be properly potted.

I pot them up in coarse bark (2") that has been sieved to remove the fine stuff, and I use a wide, shallow pot. (Remember if you use coarse bark you cannot overpot.
I don't soak it but pot it dry and leave for 2 days to let any breakages heal.

When I water I use RO water with the bare minimum of fertiliser in every watering (Go to 'first Ray's ' page and read all the fertiliser stuff). Basically fertiliser is the least of your worries (unless you use to much), and frankly almost any fertiliser will do as long as it is a very weak solution.

I spray the media till water runs out the bottom. I do that once a week in winter, three times in summer.
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Old 03-14-2017, 08:44 AM
acaldwell3590 acaldwell3590 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Optimist View Post
In this office building, do they always keep the lights on? Orchids need definite dark/light periods. They have a specialized photosynthetic system, and are not like "normal" plants. They also need cooler nights, (62-65) and your "day temps" sound okay, but between 70 and 80F is ideal. Since 70 is the low end, they might think it is winter. Most flower only once a year, the bloom lasting up to 4-6 months. Often after stress or sometimes re-potting, they will not flower that year. Those pots are lovely-- if you water in a green house. When you water, you need to drench and have it flow out. You may need to water over a bucket. When the roots start poking out, and you need a re-pot, you will most likely have to chose between breaking the pot, and good roots.
Thank you for the input. They do turn the lights out except for the few runner lights for when people first come in early in the morning. And about the pots - I'm not overly attached I'd be OK breaking them
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Old 03-14-2017, 08:55 AM
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Dollythehun Dollythehun is offline
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Another thought, after seeing your picture, is that there are very attractive plant lights available. I see from your location that winters can be dreary and you may want to suppliment. You can clip one to your cube or they are free standing, as your plants do look a little dark green ( in my opinion). A quick search on Amazon will turn up lots. (And thanks for doing the Walk). Also, to up the humidity, you can add a low light leafy plant, like a pothos, which will give off some moisture (although Phals aren't very fussy).

Last edited by Dollythehun; 03-14-2017 at 09:00 AM..
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Old 03-14-2017, 09:06 AM
acaldwell3590 acaldwell3590 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkofferdahl View Post

I'm going to try to address (not answer) your questions. I think Carol did a fine job doing so, though there are a couple of points where we might not agree. And whomever posts after me is bound to disagree with some of what I say. As Carol said, we have a lot of different methods, and if what we do keeps the plants happy then it's right. Don't be afraid to experiment some and see what is best for your plants.

In fact, this is why I prefer to either mount or pot in baskets. Further along these same lines, I strongly prefer open pots and open media (if the plant isn't mounted) because they allow for excellent airflow to the roots, and Phalaenopsis roots love airflow. To my way of thinking, if the media is able to dry so that I have to water the plant every other day, or even every day when the plant is active, that's fine. My mounted Phals get watered twice daily when they're active.

Phals are fairly low-light plants and yours look healthy. That one is supporting a nice keiki is a good indication! I suspect the light they have is a bit on the low side, however. When you hold your hand 5 or 6 inches from the plant, does it cast a fuzzy shadow or a fairly well-defined one?

Since you have an air plant there I presume that you have a mister. Climate-controlled buildings are usually fairly low on the humidity scale, so a couple of sprays a day may help them.

A plastic pot is just about my last choice for most adult orchids.
First, thank you so much for your input! I really appreciate all of the information you took the time to give! I appreciate all of the different points of view people have about their orchid babies, the more I know the more I'm bound to find something that works for me! As for potting and air flow - oy, I had no idea until last week. My poor little orchids were still in their terrible plastic pots from the grocery store. I'm hoping they will be at least quite a bit happier in these for now until I learn a bit more and decide how to move forward. Mostly I just want them to grow some happier roots. Thank you for the suggestion of misting. My next thought was to get these guys a humidity tray of sorts just to maybe make them a bit happier. The lighting factor is a bit tougher to discern. I have those lovely florescent overhead lights and it's a cloudy wintry mess outside so I can decide if it's low light or just winter. I may end up moving these guys home which will be another can of worms to figure out where to put them.

---------- Post added at 08:02 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:59 AM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by bil View Post
As said, everyone has their own way.

I like to repot immediately on purchase. I have little faith that they will be properly potted.

I pot them up in coarse bark (2") that has been sieved to remove the fine stuff, and I use a wide, shallow pot. (Remember if you use coarse bark you cannot overpot.
I don't soak it but pot it dry and leave for 2 days to let any breakages heal.

When I water I use RO water with the bare minimum of fertiliser in every watering (Go to 'first Ray's ' page and read all the fertiliser stuff). Basically fertiliser is the least of your worries (unless you use to much), and frankly almost any fertiliser will do as long as it is a very weak solution.

I spray the media till water runs out the bottom. I do that once a week in winter, three times in summer.
Thanks for the info! I seem to have gone along the same lines as you with the potting. I wasn't so sure how to do it but I knew it had to be done sooner rather than later. I'm hoping to just keep giving them some TLC and seeing improvements.

---------- Post added at 08:06 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:02 AM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dollythehun View Post
Another thought, after seeing your picture, is that there are very attractive plant lights available. I see from your location that winters can be dreary and you may want to suppliment. You can clip one to your cube or they are free standing, as your plants do look a little dark green ( in my opinion). A quick search on Amazon will turn up lots. (And thanks for doing the Walk). Also, to up the humidity, you can add a low light leafy plant, like a pothos, which will give off some moisture (although Phals aren't very fussy).
Ohh that's a good idea! I also noticed the darkness of the leaves and originally thought this was a good thing. Never assume! This is good to know even if I have to move them home. I don't have the best lighting at home either so that's super beneficial information!
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Old 03-14-2017, 09:27 AM
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Dollythehun Dollythehun is offline
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As you gain experience, you will pick up the tips and as you look at the pictures people post, you will see what the optimum is. That's why it's ok to get so much different input. I recently was given a new orchid...And it took me waaaay out of my comfort zone. But, by extracting a piece from each post, I am more confident.
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