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Strange Question about my phal

This is a discussion on Strange Question about my phal within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; About a week ago, I got a new phal in a CLEAR plastic pot, potted ...

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  1. #1
    orchidaddict789's Avatar
    orchidaddict789 is offline Senior Member
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    Question Strange Question about my phal

    About a week ago, I got a new phal in a CLEAR plastic pot, potted in a bark mix (very, very fine and airy, as fine as potting soil, though obviously I can tell that it is not potting soil!). The soil was very dry (poor plant probably was so thirsty that it was screaming) so I decided to water it. However, the water did not fully soak the medium as I observed through the pot. The water immediately formed several "paths" as it quickly flowed down and out the drainage holes. Most of the roots/medium still is dry (by feel and look). It seems like the soil is "water repellent", and no matter how much water I pour in, the water follow the "paths" and the rest of the pot is still as dry as dust.

    Now I noticed that the leaves were not as erect and firm as they were when I bought it. The lower leaves are soft. I'm pretty sure it's not root rot--I see lots of roots. I guess this plant has been dehydrated before I got it and keeps on getting more dehydrated because it's potted in some cheap medium that doesn't even bother to absorb any water! Plus, the aerial roots are wrinkled, so does this mean too dry?

    What should I do to fix the dumb soil? Can I fill a bucket with water and dunk the whole pot in for a few minutes, to force some water into the pot? Though I don't want to do anything that can trigger root rot. I can't repot now, since it has two spikes of total 20 flowers, so I don't want to disturb it.

    Sorry if this is confusing...its quite a strange thing. I'll be happy to make further clarifications if needed.

    Thank you very much!

  2. #2
    Jmoney's Avatar
    Jmoney is offline Senior Member
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    Lily, it sounds that you may have a peat-based medium, i.e. HP or some of the other trade names. It looks like soil but is peat moss and may contain small perlite or the like. People under very controlled conditions can grow some outstanding plants with this stuff, but I do not think it is ideal for more than a small subset of orchid growers. That peat stuff is extremely difficult to rewet when it becomes bone dry, and you'd be walking a fine line between moist and root rot anyway.

    If this were my plant, I would get it out of that media ASAP. Under my conditions, leaving a plant in a peat medium would be a disaster waiting to happen. I would suggest sphagnum moss if you can find it, as the roots would easily be able to absorb the water they need if they are dehydrated. Make sure to pot loosely. If the plant is otherwise healthy, and you pot gently, it should be a minimal impact to the flowers. I don't want to push you into repotting, but that is my advice.

  3. #3
    Gilda is offline "Master of the Moth and Phrags "
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    I use a peat based medium for my orchids and have had GREAT results with it..especially my phals. I think there is a picture under General discussion that I posted showing my phals in this years show.
    It is not for someone that loves to water...but I find it easy to tell when orchids are drying out,and need watering.

    It sounds like yours was allowed to dry out too much but it can be rehydrated, and would be easy for you to see in the clear pot
    when it is wet. Is there styro peanuts on the bottom for drainage? I think that is a if not you might want to repot.
    I have repotted in spike and flower with no problems...just be gentle as Jason suggested. Good Luck!

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