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Orchid Leaf Problems & Care Advice

This is a discussion on Orchid Leaf Problems & Care Advice within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; I recently bought 3 Phalaenopsis at a nearby Grocery Store. I paid $2.99 ea for ...

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  1. #1
    RedGold is offline Member
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    Default Orchid Leaf Problems & Care Advice

    I recently bought 3 Phalaenopsis at a nearby Grocery Store. I paid $2.99 ea for 2 of them, and $9.49 for the 3rd. When I got the more expensive one home, I noticed some problems with a couple of its leaves. I also noticed a problem with a couple of the leaves on my Colm Wildcat 'Golden Red Star'. Can someone please tell me what the problems are, if I need to worry about them, what (if anything) I need to do to take care of them, and how to prevent them from happening again?

    Also, on the care tag for 2 of the Phalaenopsis it says: Water every 2-3 weeks. Keep evenly moist, avoid wet foliage, best to water in the mornings. The care tag for the 3rd says: Water with 3 ice cubes once a week.

    Which of these is correct? Do different Phalaenopsis require different watering times/methods? How much water is the equivalent of 3 ice cubes? I don't have any ice cube trays, so would have to go buy some. Two of them are in moss. Is it safe to repot them to bark while they are still blooming, or do I need to wait on repotting them? Is there anything special I need to do when I repot them?

    Here are photos of the leaf problems. I hope they are clear enough.

    Phalaenopsis
    Name:  Phal--Leaf Problem 2.JPG
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    Name:  Phal--Leaf Problem 1b.JPG
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Size:  17.1 KB

    Red Gold
    Name:  Red & Gold Orchid Leaf Problem 1.JPG
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    Name:  Red & Gold Orchid Leaf Problem 2.JPG
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Size:  17.4 KB

  2. #2
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    Its a little hard to tell. One of the first things that come to mind is over fertilizing? Oh, please don't use ice cubes! I'm going to let one of the Phal folks answer your questions I'm not a very good grower of them.

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    RedGold is offline Member
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    I haven't fertilized the new one that has leaf problems yet, as I just got it. I have only fertilized the Red Gold twice. I do have the Red Gold in a humidity tray (plastic tray with rocks). I would prefer not to use ice cubes, that is why I asked what the equivalent is in water.

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    Aha! Sondra, I knew you would end up getting more orchids!!

    Cathy was right - don't go for the ice cube watering method. Also, ignore the "water every 2 -3 weeks" instruction. In Albuquerque, you'll soon have dried-out crispy bits of dead orchids. I can understand your not wanting to get the foliage too wet - especially avoid having water sit in the crown (the little cup where the new leaves sprout from), as that can cause rotting.

    If you repot, you do risk losing the blooms, but if you think the roots might be compromised, you might want to do so anyway to save the plant.

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    RedGold is offline Member
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    LOL Patty! I wasn't going to get more, but the price was right. I won't be getting anymore for a while though, as the spot I have them in is full with these and with some knick knacks. I would like to attempt to cross the 3 new ones and see what I get from them color wise, but don't know what to do, or if it would even work. I am worried about the leaves though. I really don't want to lose those 2 plants, and especially that Red Gold one.

  6. #6
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    I'm not sure about the leaves, so hopefully someone with more experience can address what's going on with that.

    Colm Wildcat 'Golden Red Star' really is a beauty, isn't it?!

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    I would say sunburn whether in your care or the shops (phals do not like direct sun), just because you havent used a fert there still could be a build up of salts in the media which can be a hazard for the orchid. This can explain the leaf tips. What is the last photo? If that is a the base ( joint to central area where the crown shoots its leaves ) damp rot could be the culprit.. If its in a see through pot can you see a healthy bundle of meadering roots that are green ( sufficiently watered ) or siilver ( waiting for water). A common prob with phals is root rot bacause the bark media has decomposed and therefore the roots have suffocated and rotted.

    The ice cube method is a novelty gimmick for advertising and selling the phals. Coloured spray painting the flowers is also a novelty sales gimmick.. The plant would shock and halt growth with shock of cold.. Dont do this! Phals tend to collect water in crown which is bad so use caution and if poss position the phal to angle downward and eliminate the risk altogether. Hope this helps you Sondra.

    By the way if the bark has rotted you will have no choice and have to repot. Cheers!

  8. #8
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    ooops... also brown roots with a thin string like appearance in places is rotten. If you have to repot dont pack the plant too tightly with its bark in the new pot. The roots need to breathe a liitle.

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    RedGold is offline Member
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    The last photo is a leaf tip on my Red Gold plant. All of the Orchids are in see through pots, it looks like the roots on the ones with the leaf problems are ok. One of the Phals that I bought, I can't see the roots through the pot. I think the moss may be in the way or maybe it has a different look to its root than the others do.

    The 3 Phals that I have are: White, Pinkish Purple, and Dark Purple. The Dark Purple one is the one with the problems on the leaves. The grocery store had them sitting on a table in the back of the store, near the floral case and their back room doors, so sunlight wouldn't get to them unless it happened during transport.

  10. #10
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    When I take home a blooming phal that is in moss, I don't always repot right away, but I do check to make sure it is OK. I always pull them out of the undrained pots they come in and put them in a pot with drainage. If the roots don't look healthy, I repot. If they do look plump and bright green or white, quite often I remove about half of the moss (they pack them so tight) and stuff some packing peanuts or styrofoam in its place to help with air to the roots. Then as soon as the last flower drops, I repot. For me, a drastic change of media doesn't work--I kill too many roots from the shock of moisture difference. If they were in just moss, I add some moss to my bark mix and plan to repot again into just bark mix within 1 year.

    In moss they take MUCH less watering than in bark. When I water plants in bark, I usually mist those in moss if the moss feels *dry*. Ice cubes are just a way to kill them slowwwly and keep you coming back to buy more--you don't get terribly discouraged because you kept it alive for a while so you are willing to buy another orchid and the wholesaler's have a constant supply of customers.

    The first 2 pictures could be sunburn. If the phal were my orchid, I would cut the end of the leaf and rub some ground cinnamon on the cut. I would be tempted to cut off the whole leaf from the first picture, but I would check the rest of the plant carefully for rot first. Are the roots ok? What does the crown look like? Give the leaf a gentle tug--if it comes loose, you have bigger problems.

    Your colmanara looks like fertilizer burn to me, too. Maybe use less fertilizer in your water--some oncidiums can be really sensitive to too much. I sometimes cut the brown off these, too, just for appearances sake. If you want, just trim the dried part off--it is not necessary to cut into the green.

    Oh, and--Look out knick knacks! When the orchids start moving in by groups of three, I think your days on display may be numbered! LOL

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