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Is there a way to save a broken spike?

This is a discussion on Is there a way to save a broken spike? within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; The red is a good thing. Secondary pigmentation without leaf (or in this case, root) ...

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  1. #11
    Desdinova is offline Senior Member
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    The red is a good thing. Secondary pigmentation without leaf (or in this case, root) damage is an indication of near ideal light.

  2. #12
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    Just some thoughts on how to get your "root monster" to bloom!!

    First of all, your phal looks VERY healthy, so that's good! But it looks like it needs to be repotted to me. (I say this knowing everyone has different ideas about when to repot, but I've generally found my phals to be happiest when most of the roots are contained). I see that you've got the plant secured so it doesn't fall over, and if you put it in a bigger pot it will feel more secure, and you won't need to tie it down. So that's the first thing I would do if I were you.

    The next thing I would do is adjust the fertilizer. Have you been fertilizing with a typical orchid fertilizer? If so, they're generally high in nitrogen, which encourages foliage growth, but not flower formation. If you have been regularly fertilizing with a high-nitrogen formula, you may be shooting yourself in the foot, because you're basically telling the plant to grow, grow, grow more leaves! LOL That's great for plants that need to build up new growths before they'll bloom again (like paphs), because it will help those leaves grow in faster and therefore lessen the time to blooming, but phals don't need to grow lots more leaves before blooming again.

    You can switch to a "blossom booster" formula if you like, or you can take a break from fertilizing altogether. If you've been fertilizing regularly for quite some time, it might help your plant to have a rest period so it can save up its energy for flower production.

    This is how I generally get my phals to rebloom:
    When the spike dies all the way down, I chop it off at the base of the plant, then I move the plant into a lower-light setting for about a month. During this time I don't really fertilize, and I water a little less. This gives the plant a rest. Then, after about a month, I'll move the plant back to a higher-light setting, water more frequently, and fertilize. After a few weeks, the increased light and water usually triggers the plant to throw out a spike.

    It seems like you've already moved the plant to a lower-light environment, right? Then you noticed the leaves were growing in darker, so you moved it back? This is exactly what I do to encourage spiking, so I would leave the orchid in the higher light and lay off the high-nitrogen fertilizer. A blossom-boosting formula with less nitrogen would probably help.

    Lastly...don't lose hope! I don't think you've been doing anything wrong...I've just found that sometimes phals need a little "kick-start" to get them to spike after a period of leaf-growing or root-building (which it looks like yours has been quite busy doing! LOL)

    And don't despair about that spike. The very first time I rebloomed an orchid, it was quite by accident...the plant had gotten knocked over and the spike had snapped. Wouldn't you know...within a few weeks it grew a whole new spike from the node right below the break. Then it bloomed! I was amazed...that was how I learned where to cut the spikes when the flowers fall off!

    Good luck, and make sure to share pictures of those pretty blooms when they finally arrive!

  3. #13
    King Kjeldz is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miller View Post
    No comment other than that tape job is the cutest thing I've seen all week! I bought a NOID a week or so ago and broke one of the spikes, luckily it had another.

    Miller
    OMG haahhahahhaah i think u should just watch orchids in spike....let someone else care for them and after the blooms fade....then u should be allowed to handle plants......Mr.Miller how many spikes have you broken????

  4. #14
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    Thank you everyone! I now have a new set of challenges not really related to the initial question but I've nearly killed of my entire collection =( I have learned my west facing location doesn't seem to be the best place to grow orchids (any type it seems since I think i shocked my jerry lawless which is suppose to like a lot of light..

    I finally invested in a light meter. I've learned inside my apartment the best light ive recieved is 380 LUX which is around than 38 foot candles \o/ So I moved my entire collection outside. (Probably wasn't the wisest idea seeing it is this week ended up being one of the hottest weeks of the year. We hit a good 98F yesterday... probably too hot for even my succulents)

    Anyways outside my light meter measures 580 LUX most of the morning and then around direct sun it hits over 2000 LUX (I'm planing to measure the number exactly today)

    What I'm about to show you will make all of you cringe.... I think all of my plants except my least favorite (the epidendrum ellipticum) seem to have developed some form of sun burn. I can't say i didn't see this coming (I noticed the wrinkling leaves on the big phal Thursday night and i took it out of the pot to check and make sure I didn't have root rot... the roots were fine.) Friday and most of the day Saturday I wasn't home due to a family emergency. And I came back to this horrible scene (brace yourselves):

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    Name:  LargePhal-08-12-12.jpg
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    I feel like a serial killer right now. =(

    So what should I do? Bring them back in with low light? Leave them out and hope the new leaves kick in before the plant dies? I've put one of those light diffusers (the stuff I use to make my humidity tray) in front of the plant and again the light meter is reading now 300 lux.

    I'm about to replant every plant at the end of this month since the nursery recommended to wait 30 days before I re pot. Orchid Addict do you have any suggestions on moss?? I read somewhere that moss is suppose to be green when wet but the sphagnum moss i bought from the nursery a year ago stays brown. Its the only moss they carry.

  5. #15
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    Ok...don't panic...take a deep breath. Orchids are tough plants and I don't see anything here that can't be fixed. As long as you get them into happier conditions, they'll bounce back.

    I'll address the phal situation first...

    In your initial post, you asked about light levels, and you mentioned that you had been keeping your phal by a window, and that the plant's leaves were light green. Light green leaves are the ideal color for phals, and as long as the plant wasn't getting any sun damage, I'd say it was quite happy there. I know you measured your light with the meter, and therefore concluded the plant wasn't getting enough light, but I would disagree. If the leaves are light green with no sun damage, it's getting JUST the right amount of light. In this case I would let the plant speak for itself. The plant was happy in that light, so I would ignore what your light meter said and put it back in that spot. I've never seen phals happy outside in the heat, so I think you will give your plant the best chance of recovering quickly by putting it back in its "happy spot."

    As for what to do about the damaged leaves...in the closeup it looks like one of them has a mushy spot on it, yes? That tissue has gotten "cooked" essentially, so you will need to remove the damaged area as soon as you can or the plant will be vulnerable to infection. In fact, as I look closer at your photo, it looks like the top two leaves on the left side of your large phal will probably need to come off. I can't tell about the ones on the right...it's difficult to see. But anything that's soft definitely needs to go.

    Your other orchids seem to be mostly okay (I can't quite tell if that's a soft spot in the closeup of the one in the bottom pic, but if you've got another soft spot on a leaf you will need to remove the damaged part). You can do the "wait and see" method on the leaves that are yellow in places, and definitely keep an eye on the little black spots on that one plant (oncidium?), but as long as the yellow and black spots don't spread, I'd say you can leave those leaves where they are. But definitely take off the mushy stuff, then bring your phals indoors and put them back in that window they liked so much.

    As far as the other plants, I can't quite tell what they are...I'm guessing Oncidium and Cattleya? If so, these both like bright shade and can tolerate some direct morning sun, but direct afternoon sun can burn them. It's always a fine line to walk between giving plants high light but not baking them with too high temperatures. Your plants are definitely showing signs of sunburn (spots), as well as excessive heat exposure (soft stuff), though, so something needs to change.

    Unfortunately the light meter is only going to tell you so much...it doesn't take into account the heat generated by the high light levels, so it can be misleading. For example, if you had a plant growing under a very high output LED, your light would be high but your temperature would be intermediate. In direct sun, you have both high light and high temperature.

    Plants that are intermediate growers (or even intermediate-to-high) are going to be uncomfortable in excessive heat and blazing sun, and your poor phals will just cook. For this reason, many people who grow outside put up a cloth or sunshade so that their plants aren't being hit with direct sun. I see that you have a light diffuser up, but that may not be enough. You may need to hang a cloth to shield the plants more. Running a small fan in the area will also help, because the air movement will keep the leaf surfaces cooler and keep your porch from essentially becoming an oven.

    So definitely bring in your phals, but your other plants could be left outside with a fan and a sun shade.

    As for your moss question...

    Live moss will turn green when wet; but as far as I know the dried stuff you find in nurseries just stays brown. Sphagnum is just fine for your phals...don't worry about it not being green. You could also use bark if you're not comfortable with sphagnum. I have all of my phals in bark, and they're quite happy.

    I hope this has been helpful. If it makes any difference, you can take comfort in the fact that you're not the only one who's had massive "oops" moments. I once accidentally left a phal too close to a window and half a leaf turned black. It was pretty awful looking. I took the dead part off and the plant merrily continued on as if nothing had happened. I also had a phal Bellina that lost its entire root system from fungus. It just went ahead and grew some new roots (in fact, I didn't even realize the old roots were all dead until I saw all the new root action, so I took a peek into the mix and found that everything else was black!) But both of those phals just happily continued on with what they were doing, despite the damage. The Bellina didn't even lose a leaf! They're tough plants. Someone once said, "As long as there's green, there's hope!" Keep reminding yourself of that as you nurse these plants back to health.

    Oh, and if you'd like more advice on exactly where you should put your non-phals, you could start a new thread under "general orchid culture" or "not in bloom" and ask the members here what to do in your conditions. There's lots of people here who grow orchids in very hot areas, and they will have a wealth of information for you about how to care for plants outdoors. Take a picture of your growing area and post it along with the exact names of the plants you have, and you'll get lots of help on how to set it up so your plants will be happy!

    Good luck!

  6. #16
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    Thank you very much Orchid Addict I'll bring them in right away and chop off those leaves wow fungus I don't want that! The orchid with the tiny black spots is an oncidium jerry lawless it came to me like that from the nursery, when I called they told me it was normal. The bottom picture the spot is not soft its still firm but just changing to a brownish color so i was thinking that was sunburn starting.

    And Ill definitely take a look into the general orchid culture forum =)
    Thank you so much for all the advise!

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by phristova View Post
    Thank you very much Orchid Addict I'll bring them in right away and chop off those leaves wow fungus I don't want that! The orchid with the tiny black spots is an oncidium jerry lawless it came to me like that from the nursery, when I called they told me it was normal. The bottom picture the spot is not soft its still firm but just changing to a brownish color so i was thinking that was sunburn starting.

    And Ill definitely take a look into the general orchid culture forum =)
    Thank you so much for all the advise!
    Ahhh.... so glad to hear the spots were already there. That's good news! The way you had photographed that leaf, I thought the spots were an example of overexposure to the sun. That leaf should be just fine then. The plant can recover from a little yellowing. I accidentally over-sunned a dendrobium that I thought could handle the same sun as its antelope neighbors, and it turns out it was a more tender plant. One of its leaves was about 50% yellow by the time I noticed the damage. It took a couple of weeks for it to recover, but it's pretty much back to all green now. Just keep an eye on the yellow areas...if any of them start to turn black, you'll want to remove those areas, or they'll expand and eventually the whole leaf will die.

    The fungus situation does indeed suck. I live in Pennsylvania, so we get some damp, rainy days, and fungus sets in unbelievably quickly. But I just got some Physan in the mail yesterday, and I treated all my plants today, so I should be fungus-free from here on out!

    Wishing you great success with your orchids! Oh, and I'd love to know where you got those mesh panels to use for your humidity trays! I've thought of trying the DIY humidity tray method, but I'm not the best with building stuff. You look like you've got a great setup! We're not allowed to mention the names of stores here on the forum, but if you could email me a description of how you built your humidity trays and where you got the supplies, I'd love to know!

    I'll try putting my email below...sometimes the system automatically deletes stuff that breaks the rules of the forum, and I'm not sure if I'm allowed to put an email address in here, but I'll give it a shot. My email is:
    MisadventuresInMotherhood(at)gmail.com

    Anyway, I wish you the best of luck with your orchids! I'm sure we'll see each other in other threads too...you can go ahead and call me Jenn! Have a great week!

  8. #18
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    Moving plants from low light to high light should be done gradually over a period of few weeks. Instead of moving back the plants inside, why not keep them there and put a shadecloth? Also I do not recommend cutting of the sunburnt leaves right away.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halloamey View Post
    Moving plants from low light to high light should be done gradually over a period of few weeks. Instead of moving back the plants inside, why not keep them there and put a shadecloth? Also I do not recommend cutting of the sunburnt leaves right away.
    Just out of curiosity, why would you wait to remove the sunburnt leaves? I've always heard that badly sunburnt leaves should be removed asap so that the plant doesn't get an infection from the damaged part. I wait and see with leaves that are yellow...but if it's black or mushy I would think that should go. My philosophy has always been...if it's dead, take it off. Let me know if I'm wrong though... I'm always learning!

  10. #20
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    IMHO, If the sunburnt leaves are not mushy, but dry (the dark bit): I too would tend to leave alone and see what happens...as Halloamey says above.
    If It's mushy then yes cut that part off with sterilized cutting tool & dust the cut edge with cinnamon. It may not 'look' nice but at least you're helping the plant recuperate; as this way retains more leaves which it needs do It's thing and grow.

    By the way Do not sprinkle cinnamon everywhere but onlyput on the 'freshly,(fleshy cut part of the leaf) Cinnamon is a dessicant and will dry the tissue of the plant it touches.
    Good Luck! & keep us posted.

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