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Help! Phal root problem!

This is a discussion on Help! Phal root problem! within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; The first glance at my phal would suggest that it's super healthy--hard (and firm) green ...

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  1. #1
    orchidaddict789's Avatar
    orchidaddict789 is offline Senior Member
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    Question Help! Phal root problem!

    The first glance at my phal would suggest that it's super healthy--hard (and firm) green leaves, spike with five huge blooms, and some visible aerial roots. Since I've got an awful reputation of overwatering my orchids, so my worries got hold of me and I became tempted to check the roots. The plant came easily out of its pot, and oh no, it had plenty of roots. Plenty of ROTTEN roots, all hollow with the outer covering slipping off leaving "strings". Some are brown, some are yellow, but they all look so, so unhealthy. Fortunately, there are one or two good roots, but their tips are rotting also.

    As unhealthy as the roots are, are they completely dead and useless? If so, should I cut them off? (The thought that after I cut off the roots, I'll be left with only a few aerial roots...scary. I don't want to stress out the plant!)

    It's currently potted in sphagnum moss, in a plastic pot. I water once every 10 days or so. It's near a bright window.
    I've had the phal for about 3 months.
    Good thing the leaves aren't soft and floppy yet, but I'm afraid in time, it will. What are its chances of survival? Anything I can do to help it? I definitely don't want to lose it, because I like it very much!

    Any suggestions?

    from an orchid newbie

  2. #2
    Gilda is offline "Master of the Moth and Phrags "
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    Your phal is surviving on the arial roots.
    If you are a chronic overwaterer, I would repot it in a bark mix(soak your bark at least 24 hours). I still prefer moss or a peat mix,but that is my preference.

    Clean off the brown rotten roots by pulling the outer layer off,leaving the wirey stem (that gives some support to the orchid )while it grows new roots.

    I dust the remaining areas with a powdered rooting hormone(some also contain a fungicide, which is good). If you soak the arial roots and get them pliable,you might be able to get them in the mix.... I have done this with no ill effects! If not leave them alone and keep them misted.

    Place it out of direct bright light for a few days. It is not beyond saving.

    I received a violecia ,that only had 2 one inch long roots..pitiful leaves and it is growing a new leaf and I can see new roots do not give up and GOOD LUCK!

  3. #3
    Liz's Avatar
    Liz is offline Senior Member
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    I have a little experience with very sick, root rotted phals, and I found this technique on another forum. I would ditto everything Gilda said... cut off everything rotten... but I also add a dusting of cinnamon (or other fungicide) and I use sphagnum instead of bark. I'm currently nursing three badly, badly root rotted phals (which miraculously have been hanging on to life from early in my short orchid growing experience). They had no roots left after I cut away all the bad ones. On April 19, I took the rootless nubs, dusted them with cinnamon and rooting hormone, wrapped the nubs in sphagnum, and kept them in lower light for a while. It's really important to keep the humidity up, since there are no roots to keep the plant hydrated. The other forum suggested putting the plant, pot and all in a plastic bag, but I thought that was too drastic and mildew-inviting. So, I misted them daily for a while, but now they're on a humidity tray and I added a supplemental grow light two weeks ago. I am simply thrilled to announce that one of them is definitely growing a new leaf already, and the other two are definitely not continuing to die slowly. (How's that for positive thinking?)

    Don't give up, and be glad you decided to check it now, before the leaves started to show signs of decline.

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