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Do experts know about cutting phal spikes?

This is a discussion on Do experts know about cutting phal spikes? within the Phalaenopsis ('moth orchid') Information forums, part of the Frequently Asked Questions category; Hi, On June 9th, 2008 I attended a lecture hosted by the Orchid Society of ...

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  1. #1
    baytownboy's Avatar
    baytownboy is offline Member
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    Default Do experts know about cutting phal spikes?

    Hi,

    On June 9th, 2008 I attended a lecture hosted by the Orchid Society of Southern California in Burbank. The speaker was a long time grower by the name of Bob Gordon who has published several books. His topic was "Phalaenopsis Problems and Solutions."

    When I told him that several of my phals had finished blooming, he told me to cut their spikes ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE BASE. He and group members assured me that this would have the phal REST and assure that I'd get bigger blooms next year.

    I did so. And it has now been 6 months, and the only new growths I have are new leaves. There's no sign of a spike, despite the phals being at an east facing window, and they're a having a cool night temperature, and constant air circulation.

    Tonight I read in Liz Johnson's "Easy Orchids:"
    "As soon as the flowers die, cut the stem back just above a node, leaving about 10-12 in. of stem. Ofter, a secondary spike, or flower stem, is produced from this node, and new flowers will appear after 2 to 3 months. Do not 'rest' your moth orchid or change its routine.

    "Unlike other orchids, the moth orchid does not have an annual rhythm; it may produce flower spikes at any time of the year. Should a large, healthy plant fail to produce a flower spike in a reasonable amount of time (8 to 10 months), reduce the temperature by 10 degrees F for 4 weeks to encourage flowering.

    "This procedure does not apply to other types of orchids whose stems are usually cut down near to the base."

    -------------------------------

    So, who is right? Should I have left MORE of the spike on my phals? Did I make a mistake by chopping down to the base?

    And if orchid "experts" are in such disagreement, maybe I should go back to breeding rare tropical fish.

    Romulus

  2. #2
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    I'm no expert, but from reading various forums this topic seems open to debate. I think you'll find most of the posters at this forum lean towards cutting the spike down at the base of the plant like the speaker recommended.
    I've cut all of my spikes down to the bottom except for 1 plant that seems healthy, happy, and is producing 2 sub spikes from lower nodes. My other 15 or so phals are "resting." I just buy new plants to get my flower fix.

  3. #3
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    Romulus, don't get discouraged. The speaker at your society told you the best way to care for your phal. The book also has good advice about the temp drop, but it is not necessary for all phals to have that drop. Some do fine with normal (temps we keep in our homes).

    You did the right thing by cutting the spike all the way off. It is true that you can sometimes get a branching spike if you cut below the node as suggested, but often those blooms will be smaller and eventually will stress your plant.

    Phals DO HAVE a blooming cycle but sometime bloom out of that cycle for different reasons. If you have not seen any spike for 6 months, you will need to remain patient and make sure your plant gets enough light. If nothing in 10 months, then your phal probably requires a temp drop to bloom.

    Growing in a greenhouse, I never had to worry about the temp drop issue, but with a phal a gave to my mom, it had that issue. I told her how to grow it and it remained healthy for over a year with no spike. Finally, I convinced her to put it in her storage room that was only being heated to about 55 -60 degrees at night. She did that for about two weeks and then brought the orchid back into the living room of her home. Now, every March she gets lovely displays of blooms that last for months.

    Have patience and if you need the flower fix, do as Stacey suggests - get something in bloom to tide you over till your phals bloom again. Best of luck.

    Cheers,
    BD

  4. #4
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    My personal experience is that I get larger blooms when I cut the old spikes back to the base. Also I am a firm believer that the "food" and "timing" of the food given your chids makes a difference. I have read that too high a nitrogen content will inhibit spike/flower developement. I change over to a lower nitrogen forumulation in late July and continue until sometime in January, when I go back to a higher nitrogen mix. Dr. Yin-Tung Wang from Texax A & M has written many articles regarding this topic.

  5. #5
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    I'm usually just happy when one survives...when they bloom too it's a bonus!! lol And when I'm short on flowers I do what the other "instant gratification" folks do on here; I buy one in bloom, sometimes two!
    Connie

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    Ditto to the above, it needs longer that 6 months, more like 12 months to a year. A temp drop of roughly 15 degrees will also initiate a spike. Just be patient :-)
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    I am a chopper, at the end of the bloom time on a spike off it comes . Some of mine are early and some later . I would much rather have a sturdy robust plant opposed to a few often smaller blooms . Hang in there it will re spike when ready Gin

  8. #8
    GiovannaD is offline Senior Member
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    I agree to all the above remarks. I'd like to add that you don't really gain much from leaving a spike on a plant with the hope that it might rebloom. Those spikes might produce an extra bloom or two, but bear in mind that they too suck energy from the plant without returning any, like leaves do. Also the spikes you bought the plant with were grown whilst the plant grew in a greenhouse enviroment where the plants are induced to spike either chemically or with temp and light difference shocks, usually out of season. So when you buy the phal in spike with blooms, you should consider giving the plant a year or so to balance out the blooming and growing season.
    I had bought a very robust phal in spike that bloomed for a couple of months, then it spent 18 months of growing leaves but no new roots. Finally this winter it spiked! Along with my other phals that for once, are in spiking synch, as they are programmed genetically to do.

  9. #9
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    Thanks, everybody. I appreciate your input and will heed your advice. From watching the nitrogen in the orchid food to buying an orchid in bloom.

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    Default Hi!

    I also have a question concerning this topic: What am I supposed to do with spikes of phal species or primary hybrids?

    I was told I should not cut the spikes because there may be new blooms coming from the old spikes. Is this something different or should I also cut the spike then?

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