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New Here, Need Some Help

This is a discussion on New Here, Need Some Help within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hello, I got a Phalapeonis (unsure how to spell) Orchid for my girlfriend for our ...

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  1. #1
    MrSanta172 is offline Junior Member
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    Default New Here, Need Some Help

    Hello,


    I got a Phalapeonis (unsure how to spell) Orchid for my girlfriend for our anniversary (I got it so the number of flowers was the number of years we have been together). She has always wanted one but we could never stummble upon them. I finally got one from a local floral shop. They said that it could be potted in regular potting soil. So upon getting home, I repotted it in normal potting soil. As the days progressed I noticed that a few of the flowers were beginning to wilt.
    As a researched orchids more, I have come to find out DO NOT POT IN POTTING SOIL. So I am guessing this is the problem. So today I went out and got a bag of orchid bark.
    Currently, it is in a thin transparent plastic container, within a wood pot. The plastic container didnt have holes, so I cut a few.

    So a few pedals are wilting and also, the roots that are visible on the top of the soil are dry and cracked. What is my next step? This orchid is very, very meaningful to us and we do not want to lose it.

  2. #2
    Diane's Avatar
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    I am guessing you have a Phalaenopsis Orchid, also know as a Moth orchid because of the blossom shape. (rounded, fairly flat, with a distinct 'lip'.) You can look in the photos section of this forum and see examples of phals to see if that is indeed what you have.

    You were right to get it out of the soil and into bark. Did you notice the condition of the roots - were they green or white and firm? Those are live roots. If they were brown and squishy then they were dead roots. If you had some of the dead roots, you should take the plant out of the pot, and with a clean, sterile blade, cut off all the bad roots. Repot the plant, being sure the bark comes up to the bottom of the 1st leaf. How much light is the plant getting? Phals should not be placed where they get direct sunlight, but they do need good light from either a window or a grow light.

    The plastic pot with lots of holes is good, is there any airspace between the pot and the wooden container? Many growers put those foam "peanuts" used for packing in the bottom of the pot to ensure proper drainage. This plant does not like being smothered by soil or water. So try to arrange it so the plastic pot gets some air movement. Water the plant when it dries, depending on the bark mix you got, that could be very often, like twice a week. Stick your finger down into the bark up to your knuckle. If the bark is not damp, water it. Make sure that all the water drains out of the holes before you put it back in the wooden container. Figure that if you have it in a 6" pot, then you would need to pour about a gallon of water through the bark each time you water. Don't let water get into the spaces between the leaves and the main plant, this will cause rot.

    the dry, cracked surface roots mean not enough moisture - not just watering, but humidity. These roots should be cut off along with the other dead roots, and when new roots appear, mist them daily with a spray bottle.

    Your plant has been through a lot - and Phals don't like to be moved to a new environment, let alone being repotted twice - especially one in bloom. So be considerate - if you really want to keep the plant and get blooms again next year, then I would cut off the flower spike now. Flowers get all their energy from the plant, making the plant weaker. However, I know how hard it is to cut off good flowers. So - if the leaves are firm and not brown on the tips, then you can probably save it without cutting off the flower spike. The flowers normally open from the bottom of the spike first, and they are the first to die. So if you are losing the lower blossoms, thats normal.

    There is a lot of information, but for now, the important things are the water, the moisture and the light. So - if it is in the direct light of the sun, move it to a bright spot near a window but not in the sun, clean up those roots and repot making sure it has very good drainage. Water it as described, and a daily misting won't hurt! Also check the web for the American Orchid Society - they have information on growing all the different types of orchids

    Good luck, let us all know how it goes.. PS what part of the country do you live in (I'm assuming you are in USA)? Local climate can make a big difference in how fast a plant dries out, etc.

  3. #3
    MrSanta172 is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks a lot.


    It is a Phalaenopsis, I just couldnt remember how to spell it. I will try what you have advised me, I would hate to have tocut the blossoms off, we just got her

    I am located in Michigan, so it is very cold out right now. I didn't want to set the orchid directly in front of the window just in case there was a cold draft. I have it sitting on a desk directly in line with 2 windows.

  4. #4
    Diane's Avatar
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    Ah - running the heater all the time then.... best to mist twice a day when the humidity is low... just a couple quick spritzes.

  5. #5
    bench72's Avatar
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    Hi MrSanta,

    Welcome to the forum.... what a romantic and lovely purchase this new plant is!

    Diane's advise is quite thorough, so I'll just add that when you're spritzing the plant, make sure that no water is left in the center of the plant.... and if you do have a heater of sorts that the plant is not in direct path of the hot air...

    cheers
    tim

  6. #6
    Brutal_Dreamer's Avatar
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    Hi there MrSanta!

    Welcome. The only thing I can add is that if you do cut the spike off, you do not have to throw it away. Orchid blooms are tough and will last in a vase for a fairly extended time compared to roses, etc.

    Cheers!

    BD

  7. #7
    MrSanta172 is offline Junior Member
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    alright, the Orchid is replanted in the bark, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

    Are Orchids root constricting plants (do they like small pots?)

  8. #8
    Piper's Avatar
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    Hi Mr. Santa, and welcome!

    I wanted to point out that Diane lives in Southern CA where the sun is much stronger than in Michigan. I'm in northern MA and I give my phals full sun most of the day and they love it! I move them in from the windows a bit in the summer, when the mid-day sun might be too strong, but otherwise I say, 'bring it on!'

    Don't let those aerial roots freak you out. Phals love to grow some. They look like you've neglected your plant, but it's just what they do. If you mist them, they'll be even happier!

    You mentioned a heater... Be warned that propane heaters and fireplaces give off ethylene gas as a byproduct of incomplete combustion. It will cause plants to prematurely drop healthy flowers faster than you can blink. (Ripening fruit also gives it off - don't put your prize phal next to that pretty bowl of fruit!)

    And yes, phals - as most orchids do - like to have a snug-fitting pot. I wouldn't say constricted, but 'over-potting' (ie, where the roots are swimming in a much larger pot) signals the plant to put all its energy into new root growth. It will slow down leaf growth as a result, and flower spikes won't even be considered. The root mass should fit comfortably into the new pot, with a little room to grow, but not too much. That way when you repot in a year, it should be getting crowded and time to bump it up again a size.

    Good luck! Post some pictures - we'd all love to see such a meaningful gift!

    Julie

  9. #9
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    Tindomul1of9 is offline Senior Member
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    Hey guys, I just smooched off this post to learn about phal care. Thanks for asking about it, and thanks for all the cool info.

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