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Nutrient Deficiency? Or something else?

This is a discussion on Nutrient Deficiency? Or something else? within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; The two bottom leaves of my phal are a little yellow, but I don't think ...

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    orchidaddict789's Avatar
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    Default Nutrient Deficiency? Or something else?

    The two bottom leaves of my phal are a little yellow, but I don't think the yellowing's due to old age. The yellowing is blotchy, so it reminds me of nutrient deficiency (though I'm not sure). I don't know what exactly is wrong with it, I mean, it receives fertilizer, light, etc., and does not have root rot. Here's a pic...any ideas what's wrong?
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    I would check to see if there is any rot starting in the leaf axils.

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    Quote Originally Posted by uncasteeb
    I would check to see if there is any rot starting in the leaf axils.
    Hi, I checked the leaf axils carefully and I see no rot. Must be something else...

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    Lily, the blotchiness of the yellowing is usually a dead giveaway for mineral deficiency. You might try using Peter's CalMag on your Phals to fix that up. It doesn't look too bad in your pic--I've seen a lot worse!

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    The strange thing is that my phals all receive the same care. They’re in the same location, get watered at the same time, get fertilized at the same time with the same fertilizer, etc. Plus, that yellowing phal even shares a pot with a larger, perfectly healthy companion (it’s not my fault—they were potted together when I bought them). That picky phal

    Where can I find Peter's CalMag? At any garden center or somewhere else? I've never heard of it before.

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    Lily, it's the same kind of situation as the Phal here with the keiki. None of the other Phals are exhibiting the same kind of behaviour, so I assume it's something to do with the particularities of that plant. However, micronutrient deficiency usn't ruled out because that particular plant might be needing more minerals given the growth it's trying to sustain. The same situation may be true of your plant as well, even if the one potted beside it looks fine. If your one Phal is preparing for a "growth spurt" and it's not getting enough minerals, it will pull reserves from its own self--typically, its lower leaves. Same concept as with people who are losing weight: the body will begin to use up its own stores of energy to make up for expenditure.

    The yellowing and dying off of lower leaves is totally normal with all orchids, but, with monopodials, if almost all of the lower leaves are yellowing in that splotchy pattern and dying back, leaving, say, only the last new leaves at the top, the plant isn't getting enough nutrients to sustain itself fully, and is using itself up trying to keep growing.

    Just about all of the chain stores with garden centers carry Peter's fertilizer, but given the current season, they might not have any in stock. You can always google for it if you don't mind paying some shipping, or, as an alternative, you can add calcium and magnesium seperately yourself by mixing it into your fertilizer solution. Epsom salts at 1 tablespoon per gallon of water will supply the magnesium, and you can add calcium carbonate by getting calcium supplements in the vitamin section of any boxstore: just dissolve a tablet or two of that in your fertilizer mix and you'll be set.

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