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This is a discussion on Phal aphrodite floppy leaves within the Genus Specific forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hi, guys. I bought a Phal for my girlfriend a few weeks ago. The roots ...
I bought a Phal for my girlfriend a few weeks ago. The roots were in good condition when I repoted the plant. The leaves on the other hand don't seem to be quite right: the colour is a light green (same as the 3 flower spikes) and they are very soft, like rubber sheets. It sits in indirect light, filtered by white mesh textile window covers. The flowers are also floppy. The plant is being misted daily and watered when the bark goes dry.
I have around ten Phals and all of them have darker green, strong, rigid leaves. All of them are doing excellent, throwing spikes like crazy.
Could this leaf condition be a result of the repoting? Is it a symptom of some nutrient deficit (been using the same fertilizer I use for my plants)?
I've found that leaves typically go "floppy" on a phal when the plant is in the beginning stages of dehydration. It usually happens right before the crinkling. Was the phal in sphag before, by any chance? When phals are repotted, it takes a while for the root system to adjust to the new media...especially if it's going from sphag to bark, because sphag holds moisture for so much longer. If an orchid is in a tender state, switching media can actually really throw it for a loop.
Now, if you've gone from bark to bark, then that's not likely the problem. However, I notice that you have your phal in a clay pot. I've found that bark in a clay pot dries out ridiculously fast. The only plants I put in clay pots with bark are plants that really need to dry out quickly and completely...but my general rule is that if a plant is in bark, it's in a plastic or glazed pot. (I know there's a lot of controversy about glazed pots, but the glaze is glass-coated, so it will not harm your orchids. I had a chemist confirm that.)
Otherwise, I reserve clay pots for sphag-potted plants.
My gut feeling is that this plant is in the beginning stages of dehydration. That would explain the limp flowers too. How long ago was it repotted? It may need to be watered more frequently for a while until it adjusts to its new conditions. And when you say you water it when the bark is "dry," do you mean completely dry? Phals like to be watered when they are almost dry, meaning there's still some dampness in the pot. Bark in clay dries out really fast, so you may be waiting a bit too long in between waterings in an effort to not overwater.
I have too many phals to count. Each plant is unique, and I've experienced first-hand how some phals are perfectly happy in one culture, while others are more finicky. This might just be a finicky plant that needs a bit more watering. If you'd like to give it a good boost, buy some SuperThrive (you can find it online). I'd take the plant out of its pot, confirm the roots are still looking good, then give the whole plant (except the flowers of course, although if they're going limp I suspect they're going to drop off soon anyway) a good soak in some lukewarm water with a couple of drops of SuperThrive in it. The leaves will be able to absorb some of the nutrients directly from the water, and it will also help them to rehydrate.
I'd recommend misting your leaves in the mornings too until the plant perks up. Just make sure there's no water sitting on the leaves at night, and be extremely careful not to let water collect in the crown of the plant (where it will cause crown rot).
I hope this helps! Limp phals are so sad-looking! Keep us posted, and feel free to pm me if you need further clarification about the SuperThrive or anything. I have lots of experience with phals, so hopefully these little tips will help you nurse this one back to plumpness!