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Phalaenopsis roots rejecting media - why?

This is a discussion on Phalaenopsis roots rejecting media - why? within the Orchid Ailments / The Compost Pile forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I have had quite a few cases this past many months of Phalaenopsis roots, in ...

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    Delila is offline Member
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    Default Phalaenopsis roots rejecting media - why?

    I have had quite a few cases this past many months of Phalaenopsis roots, in fairly new media, apparently rejecting the media. What are your primary suspicions as to what may be causing this?

    The main symptom is that roots grow down into the media an inch or two, then stop and die. The plant then usually puts out aerial roots above the media, but these are not enough to sustain the plant so I get wilting and failure to thrive.

    This has happened in recently re-potted Phals, but also in quite well-established Phals that were doing OK months earlier.

    I'm using clear plastic pots with aeration holes, filled with 95% bark + 5% sphagnum moss.

    (I've rescued most of these ailing Phals by transferring them to wet, live sphagnum. They all turn around and just thrive in that. I'd love to keep them all this way, but Winter is coming...yikes!!)

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    78Terp's Avatar
    78Terp is offline An Avant Gardner
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    How is your water quality? High in minerals?

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    ksriramkumar is offline Senior Member
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    From what you explain, looks like the bark is not treated and could be a cause of roots to die, you could test the pH of the water collected from the pot to ascertain if it is very acidic to cause the roots to burn and die. if you happen to have a picture of the roots, do post.

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    I use rain water + weak fertilizers (various) and seaweed. Occasionally I use plain tap water that's on the softer side.

    If I can find one that needs watering I'll test the pH of the run-off tomorrow, and I'll see if I can find anything worth photographing.

    (It's nearly midnight here now, but please keep adding answers so when I wake up tomorrow I'll have something to read ...)

    Thank you and

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    When you say on the softer side. That is not water softened with salt?

    If so, that would likely be a problem.

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    ksriramkumar is offline Senior Member
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    From symptoms of what you are narrating. I suspect that the problem could be any of this or a combination of this

    a) water is hard
    b) water is softened (sodium based softer)
    c) bark is acidic
    d) fertilizer dosage being used is not correct

    This is based on my limited knowledge and may be there are more causes. I suggest that you use only rain water and observe the behavior and we could rule out one after the other.

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    Pictures would be good. I know people who grow their phals in a mix 75% moss 25% bark, some even 100% moss, You can try letting tap water stand for 24 hours to evaporate the chlorine and such, but water softeners are killers.

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    I can definitely rule out:
    - Hard water. Our water supply is on the softer side, as I mentioned. Also I rarely use it. I use 90% rain water.
    - Water softeners. Don't use them. Don't need to.

    My chief suspects are...

    - Something to do with fertilizers types. Though I use them very weakly ... perhaps sometimes I didn't bother measuring accurately?

    - Something in the bark. I bought some Orchiata bark last August. Supposed to be excellent, but it was dusty looking - like it was older or had gotten too damp in the bag. Some of the plants (don't know which ones) will be in that bark, or have some of it mixed in. Maybe there's a not-so-symbiotic fungus in there?

    I will try testing the pH later. Currently I have them all sitting out in a nice fresh rain shower for a rinse by nature .

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    Take care of the good roots you have until this is figured out!

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    You said it happened in newly repotted plahls and some established ones. How long ago you repotted those established one? Are newly repotted and established ones repotted in exactly same bark? Did you buy this bark recently or you always had this bark? Is your established one were in the current bark for about a year?

    How often do you water?

    You said your media is 5% moss. How well it dispersed in a pot? Is it small pieces everywhere or big chunks in random places?
    What could happened that if moss present in chunks in random places it could hold too much water so when roots got to that place they are constantly wet and maybe there is not enough air so they are suffocating.
    It will be more true if your bark is of small size.

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