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  • 2 Post By raybark

moisture meter question and is this Phal dying?

This is a discussion on moisture meter question and is this Phal dying? within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; ...

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  1. #1
    SMS is offline Junior Member
    Real Name
    Shelley M. Samuels
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    ones that keep blooming
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    East Bay, CA

    Default moisture meter question and is this Phal dying?

    I have scoured many posts, apologize if these questions are answered somewhere already.

    Ques 1: is it harmful/useful to use a house plant moisture meter to test for orchid moisture saturation? I had been doing this for a while, and realized that the meter often reads differently than just using a finger gently. Also, the meter seems like it might injure the plants with aerial roots.

    Very pertinent because of current phal I am concerned about. Plant was fairly healthy with two flowering spikes. One spike dried out, so I changed the location of the plant. The other spike dried and all blooms fell off the plant, so I cut back both spikes. Meantime, several leaves have been yellowing/falling off the plant. And, when I checked the plant today, the top seems very dry, in fact the roots on top look almost dead, sort of black/greyish. The top feels barely moist a bit below the surface; where the moisture meter reads” very wet”
    I suspect I overwatered then shocked this plant, but not sure what to do, or how to tell if it is worth saving at this point!

    Thanks for sharing your expertise in advance!


  2. #2
    raybark's Avatar
    raybark is online now Senior Member
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    Ray Barkalow
    My Grow Area
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Buckingham PA


    Plant moisture meters aren't really well-suited for orchid culture. They are actually electrical conductivity meters, and rely on a continuous moist path between electrodes to make a measurement. In soil, that's fine, but in chunky media like those we use for orchids, they are of little value.

    Orchids do the majority of their gas exchange through the root system, rather than leaves like terrestrial plants, so "overwatering" an orchid is more accurately described as "suffocating the roots". If your soil moisture meter is giving you a high reading, that's probably exactly what's happening.

  3. #3
    Brutal_Dreamer's Avatar
    Brutal_Dreamer is offline Dreaming with my eyes open...
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    Bruce Brown
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    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Cattleyas & Slippers
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Member's Country Flag


    Hi Shelly. I hope your phal will survive. Maybe if you post a photo someone here can offer advice of how to get it back on track. It sounds to me like this orchid needs to be cleaned-up and repotted.


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