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Brown Leaf Tips

This is a discussion on Brown Leaf Tips within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; Hello All, I have been enjoying your forum ! As many are, I am new ...

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  1. #1
    Tmai's Avatar
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    Default Brown Leaf Tips

    Hello All,

    I have been enjoying your forum! As many are, I am new to growing phrags as well as other orchids. I am delighted to find so much information about phrags, but have yet to find the answer to my question. Please steer me to the right thread if I've missed it, and thanks in advance for your kindness.

    I have a small phrag - over the last month it has developed three brown leaf tips that are very slowly getting larger (the phrag has only four mature leaves now). It has already lost some leaves that turned yellow, twisted, and then turned brown and dropped off. New roots and a new set of leaves are also developing on the plant. It is potted in clay balls in a plastic pot with a 1" water tray in the bottom of the pot (pot is 5" tall, plant is approx 3" tall by 7" wide). I water everyday and feed 2x/mo. The phrag sits outside on a deck rail facing north; it gets direct sun only very early and very late (6 -7am and 6 - 7pm) both times filtered through trees. Humidity in my area has been hanging around 50%. The phrag looks like it is struggling - any advice and suggestions to help it be happier would be much appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Tmai
    P.S. I am also new at forum posting. Please correct me for any etiquette mistakes.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the forum. It's kind of hard to say without seeing a picture. I have brown tips - usually from over fertilizing. Might want to consider reducing the amount of fertilizer you are using

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    thanks, Diane. Here are some pics as attachments - please let me know if I have not done this correctly - first time for pics.
    Thanks for your help,
    Tmai
    Attached Images Attached Images    

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    Hi, that is what it looks like , be sure to flush a lot of water thru it to remove Fert. salts , or might be the top layer is drying out or gathering heat ,looks like it needs more pellets .
    I tried the pellets on one of mine and had to repot into a bark mix that stays uniformly wet . Gin

  5. #5
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    I would say too much fertiliser...

    if you look at the pellets, there are white 'stains'... that is left over fertiliser.. so flush with lots of water and then flush it again... and then just to make sure... flush it one more time... then reduce your fertilising.

  6. #6
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    The white stain on the pellets could be from fertilizer or dissoved solids of the tap water. Nevertheless, it is not good because of the salt concentration in both cases.
    This is a section from a phrag culture site. Hope it helps. I would paste the link but it would get edited out. So do a search on "phrag and fertilizer" and you will find it.

    And a warm welcome to you,
    Trung


    Culture of Phragmipedium Hybrids by Leo Schordje...

    Water Quality. A lot has been written about water quality, and these discussions often get very complicated very quickly. It is true that in the ideal world Phrags enjoy very pure water. If you are raising the species this can become important. Fortunately Phrag hybrids are very forgiving of water quality. Remember you can to some degree make up for poor water quality by keeping the plants wet. Water quality becomes an issue as you dry a plant out. The wetter you grow the less critical the water quality. The nattering nabobs of orchid punditry will tell you that black leaf tips are a sign that the water you are using is not pure enough, or that you are using too much fertilizer. I will tell you that black leaf tips are a sign you let the plants get too dry between watering. Across the country, most municipal tap water is acceptable for raising hybrids. I would not worry about water quality if your other plants are not showing obvious signs of stress. Anything less than 1000 ppm total dissolved solids can be made to work for the Phrag hybrids. Phragmipedium species come from very wet environments such as the splash zones of waterfalls, stream banks, and the tropical equivalents of wet sedge meadows. The hybrids like to keep their roots moist to wet. In the wild the crown of the plant will be up on a grassy hummock with the roots running down into the water of the nearby stream. Stick your finger into the potting mix up to the first knuckle, If your finger feels dry, you should have watered yesterday. Moist pipe tobacco is about as dry as you would want to let the Phrags get. In warmer weather (night temperatures above 60 F), you may if you like stand the Phrags in a tray of water about an inch deep. Change this water once a week to avoid a salt build up. Even though the Phrag may be standing in water, still water the plant at least once a week. When you water, flush water through the pot, wetting all the media, again this is to avoid any salt build up. This way, even with water that has fairly high dissolved solids, you can keep salts from accumulating. When I was growing on windowsills, I would plunge the plants into a 5 gallon bucket of water up to the pot's rim to water them. This is not an ideal technique because there is a risk of transmitting fungi, bacteria, or possibly virus from one plant to another, but it is something you can get away with in a small collection. I did this for many years until I was able to switch to using a hose to drench my plants.

  7. #7
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    Red face Thanks!

    Thanks to all for the welcome! I will follow your suggestions re flushing with plain water to remove fert. salts. and reduce fertilizing.
    Trung, thanks for the direction to phrag culture site. The information is straighforward and Leo's reference to "The nattering nabobs of orchid punditry" made me laugh!
    Gin, I will add more pellets. Should I completely cover the roots up to the crown?
    Thanks to all for your replies. And my phrag thanks you!
    Tmai

  8. #8
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    Thanks, and THANKS! My baby phrag is doing SO much better in just over a week. Guess I was killing it with kindness. Flush, flush, flush, and
    The brown has stopped eating up the leaves and the new growth is, well, growing! Cape Gold Nugget thanks you too.
    Tmai

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    Yes, you can add pellet up until the crown level. When using Hydroton, I always try to bury as much of the roots as I can because it doesn't hold water and has lots of air pockets so the roots can breathe.

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    Tmai,

    As the others have said, it's fert burn. I've mastered fert burn, particularly with my Phrags (to the demise of a couple). The reason I'm so good at it with Phrags is because of how much water they want, and my past watering habits.

    Unless there's caudatum in their makeup (and there's none in Cape Gold Nugget), they almost can't be too wet. You can sit them in a tray of water and they'd love it. Caudatum lineage wants to be a little drier, but not by much.

    What does this have to do with fertilizer burn? Well, a lot, actually, which is referred to in the Leo Schordje quote. If a plant dries out, the dissolved salts concentrate in the leaf tip. Dry plants (relativeto their own particular liking) will fert burn much more severely than happily-watered plants. It's severe in Phrags because dryness that might seem happy to a Phal, or Onc, and certainly to a Catt, is desert-thirst-Sahara-dry to a Phrag, so the fert damage is that much more severe. It will walk right down the leaves till there's nothing left. (been there, done that!)

    As Jason recently posted, Phrag besseae is very fert insensitive, as well. I'd fertilize less and water more for your guy (sounds like you are.) I don't have experience with S/H, so I can't advise you there. For the record, the Parvi and Brachy Paph genera will burn to crisps from fertilizer to the same alarming degree.

    Also figure a way to get great water. I use a shower-head reverse osmosis filter (it cost me $40) and water the plants in the shower. That guarantees excellent water quality.

    Julie

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