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Phal buds failing - not a disease

This is a discussion on Phal buds failing - not a disease within the Orchid Ailments / The Compost Pile forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; It's curious that the AOS page listed pests like aphids last. I guess they saved ...

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  1. #31
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    It's curious that the AOS page listed pests like aphids last. I guess they saved the most important cause of this problem for the end.

    ---------- Post Merged at 07:57 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Dorsetman View Post
    Flower buds also yellow and fall for other reasons. One is traces of ethylene in the atmosphere - not enough for us to be aware of, but for plants, a very different matter. I don't know if you use heating ( sorry if that sounds a daft comment - maybe no-one needs it Cal ?) but if you do, the traces of exhaust gas from the heating appliance, boiler, furnace, whatever, could be the answer. As a child in UK many years ago, before anyone had central heating in UK, we had a a "gas fire" where the flames heated ceramic lattice shapes so that they glowed red and gave off radiant heat. Long before even seeing my first orchid, I couid not grow african violets (saintpaulia) in the house ; traces of whatever in the exhaust gases killed the plants stone dead. Many years later, I set up a new greenhouse for paphs, and installed a so-called greenhouse heater burning natural gas ; My paphs grew each leaf smaller than the last. The annual repotting involved buying a set of ever smaller pots.It took a few years before another orchid enthusiast , also an industrial chemist, gave me the answer. I threw the gas heater away, and put in an electric fan heater - and all was well.
    We do have gas heat, and the heater downstairs was leaking (and has now been replaced). So that is certainly a possibility.
    As to water, according to my water board here, my TDS is well within range (average 120, range of 105-142), plus I run orchid water through an aquasana filter which has a carbon unit and an ionic unit, so that should be pretty clean.
    Here in California, where we are very drought-conscious (2013 was the driest year in 500 years), I choose not to use RO, as it wastes 90% of the water.
    I also collect rainwater, which should be a good thing, and I have many thriving orchids, but there is the possibility I'm not being careful enough about that: it runs off the roof, and it's possible that it is collecting broken down chemicals and bits from old breaking down tar roof shingles. Also, the barrels are plastic greek olive and pickled pepper vats. Last year I used them with a perfunctory cleanout and didn't see any harm; this year I scrubbed them thoroughly but don't think I got every last molecule of oil or olive/pepper aroma out of them. I would ultimately like to clean and filter this water a little better, but to this point it doesn't appear to have harmed my Phrags, my Paphs, my Cyms, my Catts, my L anceps, my AU Dens.

    My final diagnosis on the bud failure is carelessness on my part. I take the plants in and out from warm to cold (I wait till it's >45 degrees F to take them out, but still); I had been watering them with very cold water, another temperature shock; and I haven't (shame on me, I know, I know) made enough effort to keep the buds and inflorescences dry when watering (I tend to water the leaves, for a foliar feeding effect, especially when I'm feeding with seaweed but really any time).

    So, I've shocked the plants, and the buds suffer. Probably not pests or broken down potting media or poor roots, but still basic culture.

    As to the leaves growing smaller, I've only noticed this on Phals that bloom over and over, multiple times per year, in my bright southern exposure window. And, to this point, only on very hybridized plants (check out Blue Nanta page for this Phal, it'll make you dizzy). That's why I mentioned putting them "in the dark" by which I mean a lower light situation.

    And, very experienced orchid growers - the ones who do it for money - routinely cut spikes to direct plant strength into leaf and root growth. We hobbyists want those flowers, but they take a lot of energy.

  2. #32
    Chris in Hamilton's Avatar
    Chris in Hamilton is offline Senior Member
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    Always a good idea to let your roof and troughs get rinsed out a bit before you start collecting the water. How would you react if someone kept forcing you back and forth from the sauna to the frozen lake. Joke's aside, 45 F is very cold for Phals. Bright southern window is a key. The plant would have no reason to grow large leaves in a high light situation so it could divert any spare food to more frequent blooming. I used to have a decent collection of mini Phal. in a south east window. Bloomed like crazy and grew well but the leaves were small and reddish. The ones that remain are in a north west window and the leaves are pretty much regular hybrid size.

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