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Phal with root and leaf trouble

This is a discussion on Phal with root and leaf trouble within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; I have a Phal with 6 healthy leaves growing in sphagnum moss for the last ...

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  1. #1
    Urveeka is offline Junior Member
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    Default Phal with root and leaf trouble

    I have a Phal with 6 healthy leaves growing in sphagnum moss for the last 10 months. Last week was the first time I added fertilizer to it (Orchid Food 20-10-20) and over the weekend, I noticed that half of the oldest leaf started turning yellow, so I pulled away some of the moss and noticed that the roots are turning yellow with black spots on them!!

    Is this root rot or a disease? Should I re-pot the plant and stop fertilizing?
    Any help/advice would be appreciated.

    thanks
    Urveeka

  2. #2
    JoeW's Avatar
    JoeW is offline Senior Member
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    Hi, Urveeka. It is normal for the oldest Phalaenopsis leaf to wither as you describe. The orchid is directing resources to other areas. I let mine go until it easily falls away. To rule out pest/sunburn/fungal problems, post a plant picture for better advice. Whitish roots and brown spots are not necessarily bad. Trim the root away if the root is reduced to the center wire, dried out like a dead worm or if it is mushy. New root buds should be sprouting from the stalk base at this time of year, so feeding is good. Phal roots need air circulation and to dry slightly so I admire your success in sphagnum. I have found that my Phals do best in a course bark mix. Joe

  3. #3
    Urveeka is offline Junior Member
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    I'm attaching a picture of the roots at the top and the yellowing leaf. I pulled the whole plant out of the pot and the roots at the bottom are still green.

    Should I re pot the orchid?
    Any help is appreciated.

    attached picture
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  4. #4
    JoeW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Urveeka View Post
    I'm attaching a picture of the roots at the top and the yellowing leaf.
    Thanks for responding to my advice. The experts are giving me rope to hang myself here. Re: the photo; I didn't get posting photos right at first either. It is confusing. I would whack the inflorescence down a little lower. I zoomed the photo. Your orchid looks like it may be having problems. The green looks like it is retreating. That darkness on the root looks like black rot. The tiny green root bud to the right is growing out just ahead of a deadly root mess. The first symptoms of black rot are shriveled leaves or pseudobulbs and then leaves will turn yellowish and finally drop off. If you remove the plant from its medium and you find that most if not all root ends are blackening, going brown or brownish and withered, there is a very serious problem. Trim the rot off and treat with a funglcide. I hate sphagnum as it helped me kill my first couple of orchids and so I say repot in a bark mix ASAP. IMHO. Joe
    Last edited by JoeW; August 19th, 2008 at 11:41 PM.

  5. #5
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    Cjcorner is offline Senior Member
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    Several of the hardware stores will carry a Fungicide/Bacterial Agent/Bug killer, mix. If you find Physan 20 that is also good for plants with iffy roots. I make a mixture up and soak the roots for 5-10 min's depending on the size of the roots. Afterwards I hang the phal, catt, etc. upside down so the water can drip off. Also, keep it in a nice windy spot after dipping like this so the plant can dry off quickly. A small fan works nice on calm days. I also soak my new potting stuff in the fungicide or physan, although I mix it a little weaker for this. After the plant dries out, repot into the soaked potting materials and then place the plant in a well ventilated shaded corner to rest for about 1-2 weeks. After it has adjusted slowly move it back into it's normal spot. I have been able to save a few plants with the beginnings of rot using this method. Just know, you must be aggressive and cut ALL black stuff off. I use a pair of long tweezers to pull stuff from the nooks and crannies. A nice stream of water from a hose is good at getting small pieces of material off roots as well.
    Good Luck
    Connie

  6. #6
    Urveeka is offline Junior Member
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    Default

    Thanks for the advice
    I will try and get the fungicide and bark mix tonight.
    This will also be my first time re potting an orchid...
    Just one more question, should I cut the yellowing leaf off as well before I re pot the plant, or should I just let it fall off naturally?

    thanks

  7. #7
    JoeW's Avatar
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    I guess it depends. As Phalaenopsis orchids produce new leaf growths at the top, the bottom leaf slowly gives its resources up to the mother plant and falls off. What you do not want to see is a leaf dying off where the leaf is still green but with a dark sooty or blackish mold at the leaf base. I looks like the top of the Phal is doing well, so as long as you are snipping.....

  8. #8
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    It looks pretty good to me , I would not do anything . Soon it will start a new ring of roots above the old ones . If mine I would wait for that to happen being careful to let the Spag. almost dry but not all the way . Then re-pot so the new roots will (end up in the mix ) any old dark soft squishy roots can be removed , by then the leaf will be almost dead and can be removed so the base of the leaf does not end up in the mix .It is a normal growth pattern , new growth from the crown , bottom leaf or 2 die off and new roots .. happy growing Gin

  9. #9
    GiovannaD is offline Senior Member
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    Looks a bit overwatered to me (black roots and tips) and the sphagnum is a little too compact, which accentuates the moisture retention. I'd try and lessen the watering frequency and maybe loosen the sphagnum mix a bit.

  10. #10
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    I would peel the yellowing leaf off and repot with fresh medium.

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