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Phal leave color/deficiency/light and forest of air roots/basal keikis need advice :)

This is a discussion on Phal leave color/deficiency/light and forest of air roots/basal keikis need advice :) within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; ...

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  1. #1
    Moonshine is offline Junior Member
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    Default Phal leave color/deficiency/light and forest of air roots/basal keikis need advice :)

    Hi! i‘m new to this site, looking for some advice on a few plants of mine that have been troubling me.

    I got this phal from a flower shop, it was very cheap because it was out of bloom (or so i thought). when i potted it up, i realized what i thought was one plant with a basal keiki covered by bark were in fact two seperate plants, pottet together in one pot. the roots looked fine, i put it in some orchid mix and both parts seem to be doing fine, growing healthy roots (even if not really airy in that glas vase).

    what bothers me is the colorof the leaves. the bigger plant has pale, almost yellow-greenish leaves, also a little patchy, and the leave edges are white. i fertilized it, put it into a more shaded area, bit all that happened is the leaves turning a little more plump, they were more leathery when i bought it. picures below, any idea if this is just the healthy color of this plant (it really is very pale, way paler than on the pics), or does it lack nutrients? shoud i give it even less light (shaded west facing window)?






    The plant i first thought was a keiki has also grown roots and the leaves are a little darker in color, but also have white lines on the very edge. maybe it is some kind og genetic variation? the white edges are more pronounced, probably in contrast with the darker leave color.

    also, one leave is cutting through the other one. when i bought it, it had still another leave that hat been split the same way, on the same side. is there anything i can do to stop this from happening with every leave on that side or will i just have to accept that it is a one sided orchid?



    And the last one, i was given this beauty because the owner couldnt care for it anymore. despite being a bit dehydrated it seems to be doing great. but. i have no idea how to care for such a large plant. it has 3 basal keikis, the oldest of which is just beginning to grow roots of its own.

    the lower roots had been cramped in a small pot, i cut it away to take a look at the roots inside but i‘m at a loss. they are very tightly curled around each other, and i guess the inner roots are dead because of water logging. i have no idea how to pot this plant. i put it in some kind of open vase for now, burried the tips of a few of the air roots into the medium and spraying the medium and the other air roots once in a while.

    I thought about cutting and disinfecting the stem an inch or so below the lowest basal keiki, to „rejuvenate“ the orchid and to be able to pot it better, but i‘m not sure if the plant can support itself and the 3 babys if i take away part of its root system. also, how do i fertilize it? spray the roots with dilutet fertilizer? spray the leaves? any advice is very welcome! thank you all!






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  2. #2
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    raybark is offline Senior Member
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    First, when referring to a potting situation as "airy", it refers to the overall combo of medium and pot. Even with the impervious nature of the glass container, that coarse bark provides plenty of air flow around the roots.

    The leaf coloration might be genetic, but it cannot hurt to try feeding with Epsom Salts at about a teaspoon per gallon (up to a tablespoon is still OK) to supplement the magnesium and sulfur, as that can help the formation of chlorophyll. Phals are deep shade plants in nature, so your actions so far appear to be in the right direction, including the "re-plumping" of the leaves.

    Do not expect feeding to correct issues unless the plants have not been fed at all for years. They are very slow to respond to changes in nutrition. The Mg from Epsom Salts is a bit of an exception, as the plants react quickly to that.

    As a general comment, it appears you are growing them too dry. Phalaenopsis prefer constant moisture; misting the roots periodically is insufficient, and the way to feed them is to immerse the roots in a very dilute fertilizer solution, soaking them and the potting medium. That will be tough in glass containers; I suppose you will have to fill it up to the top, wait 10-15 minutes, then dump it while holding onto the plant and potting medium.

    DO NOT trim healthy roots to fit it in a pot. Get a bigger pot!

  3. #3
    Moonshine is offline Junior Member
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    hi, thanks for your quick answer. i‘ll try the epsom salts once i managed to convert the units to the metric system maybe i was too eager to see change after starting to fertilize. i bought the plant at the a flower shop, so i dont think they withheld fertilizer completely. but after doing my research i found out they pretty much lied to me about the whole plant („the small plant is a keiki, don‘t repot it, it has bloomed well for us for many years...“) so who knows.

    as to watering: thats exaclty how i do it. once most of the roots turn whitish and there is barely a little condensation at the bottom of the vase (after some 5-10 days depending on the weather and the size of my pots), i put them to the sink and fill the vase with water and diluted fertilizer. i let them sit for a few mins (up to half an hour if i forget them) and then let the water spill trough my fingers, as to not loose the media down the drain.

    it‘s only the big one that i didn‘t know how to water. the air roots were completely shrivelled and the roots in the pot were sogged. that‘s the reason i put it into the wide vase. also, because i didn‘t have a better pot.

    anyway i found a better pot, got rid of some dead roots and repottet it - again. poor chid. i hope it won‘t struggle to much with all the changes i am putting it through. you are right, of course, about not cutting healthy roots. once i thought about it i kinda hated myself for giving this a tought^^ let‘s see if i manage to rehydrate it.

    when i repotted it, i saw what i think will develop into yet another basal keiki. theres some new growth that‘s def not a root, right veneath where an old flower stalk had been. is it possible for a phal to spike twice from the same location abd this might turn out to be a flower stalk? or is it really a keiki? that would be the 4th basal keiki for this orchid. i got scared and took a good look at the crown, but all looks fine up there... do some phals just idk pop up one baby after the other? will they bloom while connected with the mother plant? i cant imagine cutting them free with those air roots all over the place.

    also, i realized almost all of my phals‘ root tips have some kind of fur? white fluffy stuff whereever the roots come into contact with the glass or bark. is this fungus growing? i don‘t think so, as it looks pretty healthy and beautiful, but thought i‘d better ask. my mother‘s phals never showed anything like that. but then, they were dehydrated and didn‘t have all this new root growth going on.

    sorry for all the questions and thanks again for your advice!
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  4. #4
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    JDT is online now Senior Member
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    I am not a phal person in my collection, I will admit I do have a few that are left over from more then 8 years ago, living in Florida I mounted all of mine upside down so that there was no chance of water staying in the crown of the plant. Ray has given you all the information you need as he knows his stuff! I would only say one thing water more then what you are doing, when watering the roots they are going to change to a dark green in color when you see the first signs of that color changing to another color then dark green then water again. I will let Ray answer the rest of your questions.

  5. #5
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    One of the basic keys to success in orchid growing is making sure the roots have airflow around them. They actually do not "need" to dry out between waterings if air flow is maintained. It is when water, trapped between potting media particles, completely blocks air flow, that the roots suffocate and die. I think you might water that first plant more frequently.

    English to metric - in rough terms (and for Epsom Salts, that's certainly god enough) 1 teaspoon is 5 ml, and a tablespoon is 15. A teaspoon/gallon, therefore, is 5/3.78 = 1.32 ml/L.

    As far as the "keiki monster" is concerned (I'm copyrighting that phrase right now), some plants are genetically predisposed to general basal keikies. Personally, I'd tear that sucker apart to make the "mother" plant manageable, and pot up the babies to share with friends. Yes, you're going to do some root damage, but after separating everything, let them all sit out for a day to dry all of the wounds, then pot them up.

  6. #6
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    [QUOTE=raybark;458680]One of the basic keys to success in orchid growing is making sure the roots have airflow around them. They actually do not "need" to dry out between waterings if air flow is maintained. It is when water, trapped between potting media particles, completely blocks air flow, that the roots suffocate and die. I think you might water that first plant more frequently.

    Dear Ray, now I got it! That is the reason why Cattleyas do well in SH though the roots do not dry completely between watering! Thank you so much for the explanation! (but please correct me if I am wrong !)

  7. #7
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    That's correct, Ana. If fact, I'm convinced that the myth that "orchids have to dry out between watering" originated because of misinterpreted observations.

    When we water, some of the water is absorbed by the plant, some is absorbed by the medium, some is held between particles by surface tension, and most just pours through. If you have too fine of a potting medium - including a good one that has decomposed - will become a suffocating mess when saturated, because the very small pores become completely filled. However, if you let the medium dry out, those pores open up again, and thenroots wont suffocate and die.

    So folks "learned" incorrectly that the plants must dry out, rather than the better understanding that they need a better potting medium.

    If you think about it, most of the orchids we grow originate in climates that keep them wet for months at a time, if not constantly, so obviously "water causes root rot" is incorrect. If it was correct, they'd all be extinct!

  8. #8
    Ana Danaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybark View Post
    That's correct, Ana. If fact, I'm convinced that the myth that "orchids have to dry out between watering" originated because of misinterpreted observations.

    When we water, some of the water is absorbed by the plant, some is absorbed by the medium, some is held between particles by surface tension, and most just pours through. If you have too fine of a potting medium - including a good one that has decomposed - will become a suffocating mess when saturated, because the very small pores become completely filled. However, if you let the medium dry out, those pores open up again, and thenroots wont suffocate and die.

    So folks "learned" incorrectly that the plants must dry out, rather than the better understanding that they need a better potting medium.

    If you think about it, most of the orchids we grow originate in climates that keep them wet for months at a time, if not constantly, so obviously "water causes root rot" is incorrect. If it was correct, they'd all be extinct!
    Thank you for the information Ray, I was very confused and wondering "how am I going to let the roots of my orchid dry before next watering in SH?" This recommendation comes in every care sheet for orchids but mostly for the Catts.
    I get it and I think this makes me understand SH better. I also read your website (twice) and it was also really helpful.
    Thank you so much Ray.

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