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To Save or Not To Save this orchid

This is a discussion on To Save or Not To Save this orchid within the Phalaenopsis ('moth orchid') Information forums, part of the Frequently Asked Questions category; I think it wouldn't be too much of a hyperbole to say that I am ...

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  1. #1
    windoffthefifthocean's Avatar
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    Default To Save or Not To Save this orchid

    I think it wouldn't be too much of a hyperbole to say that I am experiencing as much angst with regards to my first orchid tragedy as Hamlet once did to the tragedy of his life.

    I got a beautiful phalaenopsis orchid as a going-away gift last October. It was fine until April or so, when I noticed a slight yellowing of the leaves. I took the plant out of the pot, only to discover that several of it's roots had succumbed to root rot.

    I cut off the rotten roots, doused it in cinnamon and re-potted it in cedar bark in a new pot, which I placed on a stand on top of a shallow dish with rocks and water. I placed it in a south-facing window. I started fertilizing it properly and being more careful with the waterings. It looked good for a while; my orchid grew two monstrously huge leaves and even had some new root shoots.

    A couple of days ago, I noticed that a white mold had started growing on top of my potting medium. I took out my orchid to see if it had affected the roots, and they were all gone.

    I'm left with a root-less plant with 4 huge leaves and a 5th small new leaf; do you guys think it has a chance? The leaves themselves look fine.

    Also, what do you think of willow tea as a root-growth stimulant?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Welcome to OT!

    I would try to save it, gifts do mean something for me and I would do almost everything to try to save them...

    You probably had some sort of fungus growing in your substrate. Was the white "mold like" thing spread throughout the substrate?


    When you write "careful with waterings", what do you mean?
    Did you ensure that the media dried up even in the centre before watering?
    What about the pot? ordinary clay or plastic, enough ventilation/drainage?

    You saved it once and i bet you can do it again!

    /M

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    There are leaves now because of you, so there will be roots if you work at it.

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    Don't give up now!! Welcome to OrchidTalk.

    cheers,
    BD

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    Hi Thank you for the encouragement!! Operation orchid-saver is now in progress.

    Yes, the mold was spread throughout the substrate, so I guess I'll need to use a different medium (than cedar bark) in the future?

    With the waterings, I would wait until the medium was dry an inch down from the surface. The pot I used was plastic, with lots of holes in the bottom so decent drainage and ventilation. I also filled the bottom of the pot with stones before putting in my medium to help with ventilation and drainage; do you think that could have had something to do with what happened?

  6. #6
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    Thanks! Will do

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    I made some willow tea a year ago to save an orchid that was badly eated by a dog. One leaf, no roots. It came around. I'm just not sure if it was the willow tea or my persistance and patience...

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    The willow tea shouldn't hurt but I would recommend utilization of the sphag-n-bag method for recovery.

  9. #9
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by windoffthefifthocean View Post
    Hi Thank you for the encouragement!! Operation orchid-saver is now in progress.

    Yes, the mold was spread throughout the substrate, so I guess I'll need to use a different medium (than cedar bark) in the future?
    As for your potting media, I don't think your instincts were wrong with the bark. And I don't think you're necessarily doing anything wrong as far as watering goes...you may just have an environment that's particularly mold-friendly. Fortunately, there's some things you can do to improve your chances of it not happening again.

    I've had issues with mold in the past during the cool winters we get here in Pennsylvania. I've found that, even with letting the bark dry between waterings, bark alone just offers a welcoming environment for mold.

    I've found that adding LECA pellets to my bark mix helps quite a bit. I use about a 50/50 mix of bark to LECAs, although it's hard to tell exactly because I just sort of dump in a handful of one, then dump in a handful of the other and make sure I spread them around in the pots. I have found this to be tremendously helpful. The LECA pellets don't seem to support mold the way the bark does, and they don't stay damp very long.

    I would also use a clay pot for anything that's mold-prone...the clay allows for more gas exchange because it "breathes," which plastic does not. Even though you have slits in the plastic, it still may not be enough to allow air circulation throughout the media. Your media might be staying wet in a place you can't see or touch, and you may not even know it.

    So anyway...there's my two cents...I have about 30 phals, and I haven't lost one in years. Just switching to a clay pot would be an improvement, and adding LECA pellets to your bark mix would add an additional safety net to protect against mold. You'll just need to be aware that they will dry out much faster in the summertime when potted in this fashion. I have to water my phals every couple of days in the summer, but I'd rather water more frequently than worry about mold.

    I hope that helps, and I wish you good luck on nursing that orchid back to health!

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    I agree in general with Jenn! good advice with mixing in a "drier" substrate like LECA.

    I would also dig a hole into the centre of the pot, through it you can feal with your finger if the media is dry, moist or wet.

    There may be a need for a fungiside or similar product to prevent growth of non wanted things. I think it was fungus and not mold as there are fungus that form this kind of stringy fluffy 3D webs throughout the media.

    Just take the advice you feel suits you and continue what you have done and I think everything will be fine.
    Just look out a little extra for the white stuff as I believe it killed your new roots!

    /M

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