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What do Phal "white roots" mean?

This is a discussion on What do Phal "white roots" mean? within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; Hi, After my phalaenopsis dropped its blooms, I was told to cut its spike down ...

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  1. #1
    baytownboy's Avatar
    baytownboy is offline Member
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    Question What do Phal "white roots" mean?

    Hi,

    After my phalaenopsis dropped its blooms, I was told to cut its spike down to the bottom. I did so. After watering it, a couple of the top leaves turned yellow and eventually fell off.

    I was then told that I had overwatered the plant, and that it was probably going to die, as there was NOTHING now growing out of the center. Further, I was asked to let it "dry out." I did so.

    Then, after buying some sphagum moss, and figuring that my phal was probably already dead, I proceeded to do an "autopsy." I chose to pull out the old moss, which was very tight around the plant, and to replace it with fresh moss.

    As I revealed the phal's roots, I cut off the dead ends. However, the roots which had been green before, were now WHITE. I called a friend who asked me, "Don't you know what that means???" Sorry, I'm a novice, I told her. She said that it means that the phal is thirsty.

    I did a LOUSY job of repotting the phal. I just wanted to speedily wrap some fresh, moist moss around it and put it back in its clear plastic pot. I watered it with a little fertilizer and plan to get some "SuperThrive."

    Can anyone tell me what WHITE ROOTS mean? They looked "moist and alive," not yet dry and dead... but white, no longer green.

    Or should I just dump this poor plant in my orchid cemetery?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Bikerdoc5968 is offline Senior Member
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    White is good...when repotting don't "pack" it tight...you want lots of air. As for the top leaves turning yellow and dying...wonder if water in the crown didn't cause crown rot and your phal may not grow from the top but have to send out basal keiki. A pic would be helpful

  3. #3
    sadie's Avatar
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    It is very common and perfectly healthy for phal roots to look white or grey white with a green tip. They should be round and full looking. If they are flat or look like there isn't anything in the middle then you have a problem.

    It does sound like you got some crown rot--making the leaves fall off. A picture really would be helpful--both of the plant and its roots.

  4. #4
    baytownboy's Avatar
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    Thank you for your insights. I think I may have caused crown rot in this plant, as I didn't know about avoiding this area of my phals when I water them.

    When I can borrow a camera, I'll post some pictures.

    Thank you again!

    Romulus
    Last edited by baytownboy; July 26th, 2008 at 04:49 AM. Reason: clarity

  5. #5
    padams2359's Avatar
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    White roots are very common in orchids. I have found that dens are really white, and stick like in some cases. What you really want in your Phal is thick green roots. I am sure that you have some in there if you look. My Phals are happiest in orchid bark and a sprits every other day, and a good watering once a week. Use a watering can with a long small spout, and water right at the medium. If you are using wooden baskets, water the sides, and not the top. If you get water on the plant, use alcohol and a Q-Tip to get the water out. It is strange that these plants are this way. When they are in the wild, the rain does not come from the bottom or the sides, it comes from the top.

  6. #6
    cindiras's Avatar
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    But Patrick, In the wild, phals grow DOWN the trees, with thier roots above the plant. We actually grow them upside down when we pot them.

  7. #7
    cherublace is offline Senior Member
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    cindiras- didn't know that about phals. so in theory, these can be mounted upside down (or as you say, right side up), sounds like an experiment i would like to conduct. wonder if anyone has grown one "right side up"?

  8. #8
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    Marzie, I posted a photo of one I potted into a slat basket in bark with sphag on top to hold in the bark, then hung it side ways so the plant hung out and down. The flower spike curled down and then outward. It's kinda neat!

  9. #9
    JoeW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cherublace View Post
    cindiras- didn't know that about phals. so in theory, these can be mounted upside down (or as you say, right side up), sounds like an experiment i would like to conduct. wonder if anyone has grown one "right side up"?
    I was at a well known breeder/gh this afternoon and there were several large mounted phals in bloom. The phals were mounted with the roots up and the crown pointed downwards.

  10. #10
    padams2359's Avatar
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    HA! May have to try the upside down thing. I have several phals. One of them is in spike. This is the first one that I have had that has spiked. I was in bloom when I bought it last year. I bought 3 earlier this year, they were from a member's only large box store. They were a very good price ($16.00 a piece), and they were some of the largest spike I ever saw. One was 4 feet, and the other 2 were 3 feet with double growth.

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