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Paph. cell collapse

This is a discussion on Paph. cell collapse within the Orchid Ailments / The Compost Pile forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I have seen it on a Phal . I thought it was because of heat ...

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  1. #11
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    I have seen it on a Phal. I thought it was because of heat collected on the surface of the leaf , like Matts death rays from the patio . The area never did turn brown . Gin

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    That is a common occurence in one of my Paphs but I always assumed that its because of the strong light its getting. Since I moved it to spot further away from the window, the younger leaves now look better. The older leaves still have those sunken/pitted spots though looking like the plant have mites problem.

  3. #13
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    I didn't expect this many responses--that's great.

    I'm trying to piece together some sort of commonality between all of these to see if maybe we can come up with some plausible cause. I honestly don't think that excess light by itself causes the sunkenness, because high light levels that should normally be completely tolerable for the plant, rather than bleaching out the whole leaf as it normally would, instead makes the sunken areas start to turn brown and suddenly noticeable. The rest of the leaf still remains green, as if light levels were completely appropriate.

    I've personally never seen this on the Phals here, just on two Paphs I've got: one of those OZ "sanderianums" that are really PEOYs, and a Lebaudyanum. But I think it's really telling that the Phals can get it too like Matt showed, since both genera require constant dampness for best growth.

    Tanya mentioned mites, and it's true: spider mites cause similar pitting, a small "crater" in the leaf around the puncture where the insect bored in. The difference though is that those pits are tiny, rounded, and discontinuous, not at all like the broad, unbroken expanses you see here. Tom told me that in Lance Birk's latest book, he called similar damage "false spider mite damage," but didn't cite a cause. Julie, I imagine the spider mite "test"--where you rub a white tissue across the underside of the leaves to see if any tiny dark dust or dots collect--didn't turn up anything for you? Tom suggested spraying for them anyway, quoting the old adage that "he who doesn't have spider mites is only he who doesn't own a magnifiying glass."

    But here's what I'm getting at: what really strikes me about this is how straight the sunken areas look. Not like random pits or craters at all like you might see from insects, but rather sharp-edged, almost crystalline, like some kind of fractal, geometric "lake" embossed in the leaf. On my plants here, the undersides of the leaves look completely untouched. So I'm just wondering if, Paphman, you aren't onto something when you mention wet-dry cycles on plants that aren't used to getting any. We know that fertilizer burn on leaf tips can result even if you haven't used fertilizer on your last watering, but have let a plant dry out too much before watering it again. The fertilizer salts already in the plant rush to the tips of the leaves.

    What if this is similar, from fertilizer already in the foliage? What if you take Paphs and Phals that are used to constant, consistent moisture, fertilize them heavily for optimum growth but keep them damp, and then suddenly give them a little dry spell for whatever reason? Would the fluid inside the cells, losing their concentration of water, suddenly turn super-concentrated with fertilizer salt, enough so that it might start to precipitate out of solution and damage cells in that fractal kind of pattern?

    Here's a scan from a Chaos and Fractals text I've got. The images obviously aren't the exact pattern on Matt's and Julie's leaves here, but the similarity at the boundaries and edges is just too close in my opinion to be called coincidence. (Never mind the repetition they talk about in the pic--it's the coastline edge that's important: when salts precipitate out of solution, they form aggregates in fractal patterns.)
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    My head is still spinning after that post, but I can say to support the wet-dry cycle theory that when I repotted these two Phal.s, having noted a few rotted roots I thought maybe I'd been overwatering, so I purposely let them dry out a bit more than I had been doing. Maybe it screwed with it's ability to uptake and distribute water? That or it is my undeniable curse to grow a Phal. properly (which seems so ironic to me considering everyone says they are the easiest orchid!) I honestly can't remember for sure, but I think after I repotted them I may have used rain water instead of the spring water, which would have been the first time for these, so maybe some change in the water's contents triggered it? However, my other six Phal. are fine?

    Matt

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    Was just kinda thinking out loud--didn't mean to be confusing!

    Matt, did you also let your other Phals dry out some as you did this one? If you did, and they were watered and fertilized the same but they're not showing these signs, the stuff I said up top is wrong.

  6. #16
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    Louis...it wasn't confusing at all, just a lot of information to think about. I don't keep any records of watering, but I do recall that I treated these two a bit different since they had just been repotted and I'd noted the root problems. My other Phal's were repotted earlier this year and had no severe root problems like these two when I pulled them out of their pots, so I didn't change my habits with watering them. Because these two phal's were potted together, and had not been repotted since I was gifted them 1 1/2 years ago (they've been in constant bloom the entire time, so I didn't mess with them) , maybe they just didn't like the change...something like post-traumatic stress for an orchid? Perhaps they were energetically bonded, and responded to the separation, deciding if they couldn't be together, life was not worth living? I really don't have a clue. I was sorry to see them go, too, because they were nice bloomers. Life goes on...

    Matt

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