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The keiki syndrome house

This is a discussion on The keiki syndrome house within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; Not Ray, but there is nothing wrong with growing lots of healthy leaves and good ...

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  1. #11
    Anteater is offline Senior Member
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    Not Ray, but there is nothing wrong with growing lots of healthy leaves and good roots, in my opinion. The plant will bloom when it is ready, and will be better suited to do so with a strong root system and healthy leaves. Moth orchids grow aerial roots regularly, so don't worry about it as long as the roots are healthy.

  2. #12
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    Well, here's a nickel's worth:

    Aerial roots are not an indication of problems with the medium, but are a sign that the plants are putting on enough vegetative mass (leaves) that it feels the need for more mechanical stability (which it would get by attaching to a tree in nature, but cannot in a small pot).

    That is not to say that there isn't an issue with the medium - if you're judging moisture by the top of the moss as you state, then you really have no idea what is going on down in the pot where it counts, and that's the important information. Pull the plants out of the pot and check. If the moss is soppy or so compact that the roots cannot "breathe" freely, repot. If the top only dries out every 10 days, I'd bet you have issues in the pot.

    Your bark/charcoal/perlite mix is a good, all-around staple, but you might want to add about 25% sphagnum to retain a bit more moisture for the phals. Before you use it, pour lots of boiling water over it, as that "opens up" the bark to absorb better. Repeat with lukewarm water about 15 minutes later, and it'll be ready to use.

    With a 20-10-20 fertilizer, I'd recommend 1/2 teaspoon per gallon for feeding every two weeks. Withholding it from the dendrobium might be OK, too, but not the phals if they are actively growing.

    Dr. Yin-Tung Wang, then of Texas A&M, did a study in which he showed that phals need about 10 days to two weeks of an average growing temperature decrease of 10°-15° in order to initiate spikes.

  3. #13
    iab
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    Hi Ray,

    So here we go - last weekend I transplanted all phals in the phal mixture (it contains peat moss together with bark, charcoal, and perlite). You were right - roots that I had seen as perfectly healthy 3 months ago had turned into "hollow tubes"... A few of the phals had lost 50% of their root system, including the "mom" of the most advanced keiki.

    I wish I knew the trick about the "boiling water" although I left the mixture soak for 24 hours before I used it. It is amazing though how quickly the new mixture dries out - I'll probably add some sphagnum to it as otherwise I will have to water every other day...

    The oldest keiki got transplanted on its own. It is doing quite well so far - I'll post pix.

    Anteater - thanks much for your notes as well. The challenge now will be to get the temperature drop right which I do not think will happen in the winter

  4. #14
    iab
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    Hi All,

    Quick update a month later: the large keiki was separated and transplanted; its mom passed away a couple of weeks later due to the root rot. Keiki is still alive but not doing anything in terms of growth which is still better that fading. I am spraying / watering it more often than the established phals as I can see its roots "drying" rpogress. It is about a foot from an east facing window.

    The other keikis though are an entirely different story. Please take a look at the pix - is it possible that they are both developing buds in the center while their leaves are not even an inch long? The moms of both lost their middle leaves so I am guessing that there is no saving them, but wouldn't the keikis fade as well? One of them had a leaf half dryed but then started growing additional roots which are not visible on the pic.
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  5. #15
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    I'm not such an expert, though I have had one Phal for 37 years, so that might give me some status... I almost killed it by never watering it and I live in a very dry climate.

    I water about every 10 days to 2 weeks in the winter and they dry out completely. I usually fertilize very lightly when I soak them in the sink about every other watering. I do use some moss in their pots and pot them on the small side, I pack it all in pretty well to hold them, but mostly they thrive on benign neglect. I have 5 of my Phals in spike right now (though the biggest and oldest didn't set a new spike, but is extending last years). Your plants look pretty small to be reblooming, but I don't run a green house, my babies have to make do with when I remember them! Some are under lights, some are in the East window (where it gets a little chilly in the winter). I didn't know about the temperature drop, but we have hot summers and cold winters and don't completely compensate with the AC or heater, so they likely get some drop - from high 70's in the summer to high 60's in the winter. I'll see about getting some pictures of my plants - when I've gotten small Phals in bloom, I don't expect them to bloom for me for 2 - 3 years while they grow up. I'm not forcing blooms or growth, I'm in no hurry. In the end that seems to work well for my Phals.

    Some of my other orchids don't do so well, I try to work with the ones that like my culture habits and not replace species that need more water, higher humidity or have to be watered a lot more often. I do have a few on my South kitchen window over the sink that I can water easily though.

  6. #16
    iab
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    Hi Carolla,

    A 37 year old phal - that is something!!! I think I have a long way to go - the longest I have had a phal is 2 years and I am barelly succeeding in keeping it alive. Part of the reason was that I kept all phals in moss which worked very well in the summer months but as soon as the temperature dropped, they all got soggy roots... Now I have them in orchiata, charcoal and perlite with some moss on top. I am curious whether they will make it.

    As to the smaller keikis - the growths in the center definitely do not resemble leaf growths so I posted the pix out of scientific curiosity. I do not think it is possible for such small plants to bloom yet the pix would suggest buds... So what does one do?

  7. #17
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    As for the pictures, I'm not sure what the growth is, but the spikes don't come out of the middle, they come out of the base at the side, so probably not spikes.

  8. #18
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    Then I suppose I'll find out as time goes on I'll keep you posted.

  9. #19
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    Hi Irina,

    Bruce seems to be a resident Phal specialist, so maybe he can explain how a Phal gets stuck in "leaf" mode, producing such prodigious growth but no spikes--too much food, perhaps?? In Vandas, lack of blooming is caused by low light. Random sodden thoughts (no pun intended): I agree with Ray that sphag should be banished from Phal culture...terrible stuff, which probably explains your rotted roots/wrinkled leaves. I use a chunkier mix than Teena recommends, but you Northern growers (snowy winters, windowsill) probably need smaller. In the Tropical South, big bark is better bark! The only naturally-produced keikis I've had come from crown-rotted mothers; clearly a survival mechanism. If you eliminate the sphag, dry them out, don't feed for a while, and give a 10+ degree drop in temps from day to night, I can't believe you won't see some new spikes. Good luck!

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by phalspital View Post
    Hi Irina,

    Bruce seems to be a resident Phal specialist, so maybe he can explain how a Phal gets stuck in "leaf" mode, producing such prodigious growth but no spikes--too much food, perhaps?? In Vandas, lack of blooming is caused by low light. Random sodden thoughts (no pun intended): I agree with Ray that sphag should be banished from Phal culture...terrible stuff, which probably explains your rotted roots/wrinkled leaves. I use a chunkier mix than Teena recommends, but you Northern growers (snowy winters, windowsill) probably need smaller. In the Tropical South, big bark is better bark! The only naturally-produced keikis I've had come from crown-rotted mothers; clearly a survival mechanism. If you eliminate the sphag, dry them out, don't feed for a while, and give a 10+ degree drop in temps from day to night, I can't believe you won't see some new spikes. Good luck!
    Usually when a phal orchid is not blooming but growing well it is the cause of one of two things.

    1. (most likely) the plant is not getting enough sunlight to bloom
    2. The plant didn't get a ten degree temperature drop during the fall to initiate spiking. This temp drop must be maintained between day time temps and night time temps for about two weeks.

    I am by no means any kind of phal specialist, but I can bloom the darn things. hahaha...

    cheers,
    BD

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