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Help! New Phal Grower

This is a discussion on Help! New Phal Grower within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; My family gave me a phal last may - the plant seemed healthy and very ...

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  1. #1
    jharper109 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Help! New Phal Grower

    My family gave me a phal last may - the plant seemed healthy and very strong and the blooms lasted a very long time. So I decided to give it a try and see if I could get it to rebloom. Everything seemed to be going well - a new leaf grew at the base AND a little leaf grew off of one of the truncated spikes. Then all of a sudden (or so it seemed) the leaves got saggy and soft and wimpy - kind of wrinkled. I can't see one green root - they all look dried up and dead. The base of the leaves seems wiggly and not stable. I'm wondering if it's because of over watering but I've been pretty consistent about watering - once a week (fertilizing every other).

    It really doesn't look good - should I throw it out and try to start again?

  2. #2
    Gilda is offline "Master of the Moth and Phrags "
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    If your roots are"dried up"...too little water. Now aerial roots can dry up..., and roots under the mix can be rotten. What medium is it growing in ? If it is in moss or a peat based mix, once a week might be too much water. Unpot and see if it has green ,white firm roots or if they are brown and squishy(too much water) .....if they are brown and dry under the mix then too little water.

    I was given a Hilo Lip phal last spring...wimpy ,limp leaves(plant had rotten roots...I repotted and within 2 weeks ,it didn't look like the same plant...previous owner thought I had bought one...said the leaves don't usually recover once limp.... Don't give up ,but do repot ,and give it some TLC. Good Luck !

  3. #3
    Piper's Avatar
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    Gilda's right on, I just wanted to clarify the limp, wrinkled leaves. Leaves do that when they don't get enough water. That can appear to mean you under-watered the plant, but not necessarily.

    If over-watered, the roots will rot. They essentially cease to function and there's no way for the poor plant to get the water it needs (even though it's sitting in all that water!)

    So the only way to tell if it's too much or too little water is to repot it. That's actually good to do for several reasons: first you have to inspect to see what the real story is, second you need to cut away any dead roots before you repot, and third, the plant's clearly not happy in whatever potting mix it's currently in, so maybe you should change it.

    Unpot the plant and remove and rinse off any old potting media. Cut away any dead roots - either dried up (meaning under-watered plant) or rotted (meaning over-watered.) I suggest sphagnum moss for repotting. Phals love it and it's pretty easy to judge watering frequency with it. Try and get New Zealand sphag - it's the best for orchids. (Calwesttropical.com sells it on-line if you can't find any other supplier.)

    Soak the moss and then pack it loosely around whatever roots remain. You shouldn't need a larger pot, if there were dead roots that you removed. Orchids don't generally like to be over-potted, so as long as the remaining roots fit snuggly inside the current pot, reuse it. I like to use styrofoam peanuts in the very bottom of the pot for drainage, and then simply wrap the moss around the roots and fit it back into the pot, filling in with more moss.

    I wouldn't water it again for at least a week. That should encourage new root growth. I let my phals just dry out completey before I rewater.

    Good luck!

    Julie

  4. #4
    Brutal_Dreamer's Avatar
    Brutal_Dreamer is offline Dreaming with my eyes open...
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    Welcome, Jharper109!

    If the leaves got wrinkled, my guess is that the roots dried up or rotted. Phal leaves hold lots of water. IF the leaves wrinkled, the plant used the water inside the leaves and is drying up. The plant was not getting enough water (no matter how much you put in the pot) because the roots inside the medium are not healthy.

    My recommendation is to follow Gilda's instructions. Un-pot the phal and take a look at the roots. If they are mushy and rotten then remove the ones that seem to come off with your hand. If there are viable roots still on the phal, then repot in new medium. If not, then be happy with the fact that your plant grew new leaves for you and that the blooms lasted for so long. But throw it out and get a new one and chalk it up to experience. Most likely your phal is potted in a moss or a fine medium that stays very damp and it finally rotted the roots. With the base of the plant seeming wiggly, I would suspect that this one is past much help.

    Let us know how it turns out. I will keep my fingers crossed for you!

    Cheers!
    Brutal_Dreamer

  5. #5
    jharper109 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Well, it's gone

    Thanks all for the advice - I did what you suggested and when I removed the spongy stuff (moss?) I discovered not one healthy root. So, I think I should try again. I'd like to try another Phal - any suggestions where to get a good, healthy one?

  6. #6
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    uncasteeb is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by jharper109
    Thanks all for the advice - I did what you suggested and when I removed the spongy stuff (moss?) I discovered not one healthy root. So, I think I should try again. I'd like to try another Phal - any suggestions where to get a good, healthy one?
    Why not try RVO !

  7. #7
    Piper's Avatar
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    I just (these last three hours - my back is killing me) repotted a slew of paphs and phrags I picked up binge shopping this last month. All looked healthy above the pot level. Below...RVO's plants win the culture prize, just beating out _______ (they sometimes ship stuff that needs repotting).

    Nice job, Louis and BD!

    JHarper, I did the same thing to my first phal! Louis would say that you've just become more expert. Less water is needed, but try not to dessicate the next one! Good luck. Learning what the different types of orchids like, and how to read the subtle signs they give us, is the key to successful orchid growing.

    Ok, on that note I'll shut up. There are some AWESOME growers in this forum that intimidate the crap out of me...

    Julie

  8. #8
    LJA's Avatar
    LJA
    LJA is offline OrchidTalk Tech Admin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piper
    Louis would say that you've just become more expert.


    Did I ever mention about this cat I used to have before????

    Welcome to the forum, jharper!

  9. #9
    Piper's Avatar
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    LOL, Louis!

    Thought I'd share my two favorite mini-cats...

    Julie
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  10. #10
    jharper109 is offline Junior Member
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    Default phal problem

    Hello

    I have a new phal - there are 10 white blooms on it...I water it about every 2 weeks - I put 4 ice cubes on the top and let them soak in. The plant is planted in moss and is inside under my kitchen lights.

    When I look in the container - the roots look green and okay.

    But here's the problem...the blooms are very saggy and one of the leaves is slightly wrinkled. I've had problems with this before and am so worried that
    I'm doing something wrong - overwatering or underwatering?

    Can you offer any advice? Thanks so much.

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