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Phrag schlimii--what did I do wrong?

This is a discussion on Phrag schlimii--what did I do wrong? within the Genus Specific forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Phrag enthusiasts, please help! I got my first phrag ...an adorable little schlimii, in the ...

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  1. #1
    OrchidAddict's Avatar
    OrchidAddict is offline Senior Member
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    Unhappy Phrag schlimii--what did I do wrong?

    Phrag enthusiasts, please help! I got my first phrag...an adorable little schlimii, in the mail about three weeks ago. It came in bud, and I've been watching the bud slowly open with bated breath. Then yesterday I saw that the bud had stopped opening and the stem had begun to turn brown...BUD BLAST!!

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    What did I do wrong?

    When I looked online, I read conflicting information about phrags. Some sites said they like Cattleya light; other sites said they like Paph level light. I understand it depends on the species, and I heard that the schlimii was fairly easy to grow, so I compromised and gave it Phalaenopsis light.

    As far as water, I've been drenching the media every other day with bottled spring water, since I've read that they like to stay VERY wet (some even like to sit in a tray of water, I heard), and that they are particular about their water being relatively pure. I thought that spring water would be good, because they naturally grow along streams.

    Because they like to be so wet, I was surprised when I saw what media the plant came in. It looks like a very dry mix. Here's a picture of the potting media. Does this look right to you, or should the phrag be in something that holds water better?

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    As for temps, it's been in the low 70's during the day and the mid 60's at night.

    I would chock the bud blast up to the plant having a bad reaction to shipping, but the bud has been opening since it got here, and just started showing signs of trouble yesterday. I would think it would have immediately blasted if it had been a shipping issue.

    Should I cut the stem all the way down to the bottom on this guy like I would with a paph? I've read that these can be sequential bloomers, so is there any chance this stalk will make more flowers? Should I just snip it below the bud?

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    Okay...thanks for all your help. I know absolutely NADA about phrags, and the internet has been less than helpful with providing information. Why did my bud blast, and what should I do now? I could use some general culture tips.

    Thanks, friends!

  2. #2
    phraggy's Avatar
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    Hi OrchidAddict. Don't think you've done anything wrong it's just that the bud has blasted through being in a different location from where the bud was forming. As a phrag grower I would cut the spike off--it's no use now--and repot in either NZ sphagnum and large perlite (my preference ) or you could use rock wool.
    I would be aware of using bottled spring water because it will contain some additives--I think. I say this because they say that the bottled water took thousands of years to reach the earths surface so why do they give it a BBF date!!!! .I water mine 24/7 withCOLD tap water which they seem to love. Good luck with this lovely phrag I'm sure some other growers will not agree with my method but this works for me. The only other thing is I would drop the night temperature another 4 degrees.

    Ed

  3. #3
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    I'm not an expert on Phrags but I have had Paphs bud-blast like this--either from a change in location like Phraggy said or possibly from low humidity while the bud was forming. I use a humidifier now and have had no more problems.

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    I have had this happen with my paphs and phrags also. I have discovered it to be caused by various reasons. Temp changes, lack of enough light, lazy watering habits on my part, and the change of location while bud is forming. It is common to have damage occur and buds abort when plants are shipped in bud. As far as light for phrags I give mine more than a paph but less than a Catt. Mine get light equivalent to an east window and do well. As far as water I am more particular with my phrags than I am with my other orchids. They get distilled or rain water. Most spring water that you buy have some additives. Good luck. I am sure your phrag will flourish under your care and next year give you beautiful blooms.

    I also have all my phrags sitting in a saucer of water. I have never had a problem with them sitting in water. They seem to thrive.

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    Ron-NY is offline rothaholic
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    I would say just the change in environment was mostly the cause. Sorry it blasted for you!

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    I'll jump on that bandwagon, too!

    Not your fault at all - unless we can blame you for wanting the plant and buying it (in which case, we are ALL guilty!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by raybark View Post
    I'll jump on that bandwagon, too!

    Not your fault at all - unless we can blame you for wanting the plant and buying it (in which case, we are ALL guilty!)
    And I'm sure in your excellent care this Phrag schlimii will put out new growth and next season you will have the spike, buds, and blooms!

    cheers,
    BD

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    I've had this happen with other types of orchids also, getting a plant shipped in bud can be wonderful or a cruel tease.

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    King Kjeldz is offline Senior Member
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    i would put a handful of ProMix or some other peat bases thing as a top dressing to hold a little more moisture...dont cut spike yet u may be surprised still...if it dies back den cut....i grow phrags in charcoal and promix in a ratio of 1 to 2....and u seem to have good water for that one plant i cant afford to water that many plants with spring water lolol..good luck u have a good approach and ask the right questions

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    Quote Originally Posted by King Kjeldz View Post
    ....dont cut spike yet u may be surprised still...if it dies back den cut.
    Yeah, unfortunately the whole stalk turned brown and slumped over. It was undeniably dead...so I chopped it off. Ah, well...

    Quote Originally Posted by stateless View Post
    ...getting a plant shipped in bud can be wonderful or a cruel tease.
    Haha!! You said it!

    Okay, so what I'm getting from you all is that I haven't done anything egregiously wrong with this little guy...it was just a case of bad timing. But there are a few minor changes I could make to give it a better chance in the future. Let me know if I'm wrong on any of these:

    Potting mix: I should either transfer it to moss/perlite or add some sort of top dressing to help it retain moisture. (This makes sense to me...the mix this phrag came in looks oddly similar to what my dendrobiums are potted in. That seems a bit off. My dendrobiums like to dry out quickly and thoroughly, and this mix works great for that...it would seem odd to put a water-loving plant in the same mix.) I think perhaps the best thing to do would be to mix some sphag throughout this mix, or use a thick layer on top for "padding" to keep the moisture in.

    Water: Make sure I'm watering with something that has no added minerals, or just go for broke and try freezing cold tap water like Phraggy does. (Not sure I'm brave enough for that...I've read that you should absolutely NEVER water these with water that has had sodium added through a water softener, and I know we have a water softener in our basement. My other plants don't seem to mind, and I give them a good flushing out to wash out accumulating salts, but I've heard phrags are REALLY picky).

    PHRAGGY: Do you water with softened tap water or hard water?

    Quote Originally Posted by gardenguysorchids View Post
    I also have all my phrags sitting in a saucer of water. I have never had a problem with them sitting in water. They seem to thrive.
    So, I should add a tray of water to sit it in. These like "wet feet," right? They do literally mean "sitting in water" when they talk about the tray, right?

    Sunlight and temps: I'm doing mostly the right thing, except a bigger drop in temps at night might be in order. I can arrange that...I'll just move it to a windowsill and it will get to about 60 at night, instead of 64 or 65 like the rest of the house. The temp drop will be more difficult to arrange in the summertime...I may need to put it outside during the day and bring it in at night...or doesn't it matter much during the summer?

    Anyway, thanks so much for ALL your help and encouragement! It always makes me unbelievably sad when a bud blasts....but then you all cheer me up! You folks are the best! Besides, some of my other plants are in bud, so I'll have some lovely pics of other beauties to post soon! THANK YOU!!

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