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  #1  
Old 03-26-2021, 09:30 AM
Mountaineer370 Mountaineer370 is offline
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A couple of days ago, I received a very nice order of three Phals from Hausermann's. They are Phal. Star April's Coming, Phal. Jiuhbao Venus, and Phal. Fuller's Sunset. All have nice spikes ranging from 12 to 18 inches. All arrived in those thin four-inch nursery pots that have just one hole at the bottom. All are packed tightly in wet sphagnum moss.

At some point, I would like to transition these to Orchiata bark as with most of my other Phals. I know that will be a big change for these plants, but I have never had good luck nor developed a level of comfort with potting in sphagnum.

For now, I have simply removed all of them from the nursery pots and dropped the entire root ball into a four-inch clear plastic slotted pot. It's a snug fit for them, but I think they are all getting a little more air flow now.

I was thinking of keeping them in their sphagnum for now but maybe loosening it up a bit to allow for more air and for me to be able to see the roots on the inside and have a better idea of when and how much to water. Maybe over time, I will pull out a little more of the sphagnum and replace it with a few chunks of the Orchiata here and there.

The last thing I want to do is shock these plants. They are all beautiful and healthy, and it's such a treat to have new plants for the first time in a long time. I'd like to make sure the spikes continue to develop and produce nice flowers. The April's Coming is showing actual bud development. The other two aren't quite there yet, just little nubs.

The last time I got a new Phal. was one from Trader Joe's last fall, and when I repotted it, the flowers dried up pretty quickly afterwards and the remaining buds blasted. I have had better luck repotting other Phals I have bought from shows in the past, but the ones that did the best were already planted in some kind of bark. These are three large plants in tight sphagnum, and I'm a little worried. What does everybody think? What would you do if these were your plants to keep them healthy and give them the best chance to adapt to my conditions?

I grow strictly indoors, on my dining room table, in front of a big window with sheer curtains when needed, and two supplemental fluorescent lights. My house stays at around 69-74 degrees all year round, and my humidity is very low in the winter but is picking up now, into the 30s. Due to the low humidity and the fact I use Orchiata, I'm having to water several of the plants about three times a week, which I don't mind, but I will probably be able to start spreading that out as summer comes on.

Edit: Maybe I should have put this in the repotting forum? Mods, feel free to move it if that would be a better fit.
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Last edited by Mountaineer370; 03-26-2021 at 09:43 AM..
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Old 03-26-2021, 11:14 AM
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Use the Advanced Search feature to look up posts containing "sphagnum" and "moss" from username dollythehun. She explains it.

I would leave them in the moss for now. Let only the top inch get crisp dry. Then run water quickly only over the top. The water will diffuse through the moss, leaving it just damp.

Our society just had a talk on growing Phals in moss, but I haven't transcribed my notes yet.
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Old 03-26-2021, 12:34 PM
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I have had good success with sphagnum by watering from the bottom, filling the saucer with water when the top get almost crispy. All the water gets sucked up quickly, so the plant is not sitting in water for long. Very similar to watering African Violets from the bottom.
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Old 03-26-2021, 12:41 PM
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I buy good quality moss, AAAA long-fibered, and pair it with a basket pot. In this way, even when the moss is sopping wet, there is air-flow to the roots.
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Old 03-27-2021, 07:22 AM
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Dollythehun Dollythehun is offline
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Cheri, ditto the above. I've tried to grow them in bark and moss. Like Leafmite, I use a good quality moss, mix in a bit of coarse material except I generally use clay pots. Clay breathes and because every plant is potted the same, I have a level playing field. It also keeps my plants upright. I drizzle the top with water, and I try to use rain water if I can (because my well water is horrible.) Sometimes I bottom water. Point being you can control the amount of water applied. You just want your moss damp.

You could repot now but, it's akward to work around the spike w/I damage. Good luck w those beauties. You'll be fine!
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Old 03-27-2021, 08:14 AM
Mountaineer370 Mountaineer370 is offline
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Thanks everyone. I will leave them in the moss for now. They are healthy, and I want to keep them that way. Any changes I make in a future repot will be carefully thought out. Maybe I will end up mixing bark with moss as I believe some do. I know some of the commercial mixes we can buy often have bark, Perlite, charcoal, and varying amounts of moss mixed in. Or maybe I will find that they are doing very well for me in the moss, and I will get used to it and leave them that way.

Two follow-up questions, please. Dolly, you mention that you use clay pots. I like clay pots but don't use them unless I need a heavier outer pot for one that has a heavy flowering spike or otherwise is wanting to tip over. My biggest reason has been because I have seen orchid roots attach themselves to the insides of clay pots where they can be very difficult to remove without damaging them when you repot. Have you ever encountered this issue?

Second, I have a little "brick" of sphagnum moss that came as a free gift with some other orchid supplies I ordered in the past. It is "Spagmoss" brand, by Besgrow and says it is a premium type from New Zealand. It doesn't say how many "A"s it is rated. Anybody familiar with this and would it be okay to use? It's a compressed brick, and the instructions say to hydrate it in warm water and it makes eight liters. When you hydrate moss like that, if you don't use it all, how do you store what's left? Or is it possible to just break a small amount off the brick if that's all you think you need?

P.S. They're fine for now, but I'm talking about in the future, if I repot them in moss or need to add moss for any reason. I have taken them out of the flimsy plastic pots with only one hole at the bottom and dropped them into the heavier clear plastic pots I typically use. They fit pretty good with just a little extra space around the sides on a couple of them. As long as they're doing okay, I'm planning on leaving them that way for a while.
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Old 03-27-2021, 09:04 AM
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Once in a great while my phal roots stick, generally it's not a very big problem. It's more of a problem with my catts. I try to soak them in warm water first pot and all, and then if I need to I just break the pot. If there is some pot sticking to it I just pot it up the way it is in a bigger pot.

That's probably pretty good Moss if it's Besgrow. Again, I don't know what everyone else does but I break off the size of the piece I think I'll use and moisten it squeeze it out good and pot with it. If I have any leftover I throw it in a plastic bag and try to use it at a later date. It usually doesn't sit around very long before I need it. It seems to work fine.
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Old 03-27-2021, 10:52 AM
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For managing sphagnum (I also use Besgrow) I hydrate the whole bale, I get 1 kg size if I can, 500 g if not. (I go through quite a bit of it) I hydrate the whole thing in a 20 gal (80 L) trash can with lid. Then it's always ready to go. I haven't had any problem with algae or other things growing in it, I typically use it up in about 6 months. One does need to be careful if working with it dry - the dust is easily inhaled, some people get an allergic reaction to spores that may be i there.
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