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  • 1 Post By raybark

Should I Repot My Phal Or Is It Okay?

This is a discussion on Should I Repot My Phal Or Is It Okay? within the Phalaenopsis ('moth orchid') Information forums, part of the Frequently Asked Questions category; Total orchid newbie here! A couple of weeks ago, I acquired a Phal which was ...

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  1. #1
    Edoro is offline Junior Member
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    Default Should I Repot My Phal Or Is It Okay?

    Total orchid newbie here! A couple of weeks ago, I acquired a Phal which was left over from the annual Mother's Day sale. I was totally new to orchids and it was something of an impulse purchase, so I did a lot of research after the fact, and I'm sort of playing catch-up trying to nurse it back to optimum health after being stuck inside a plastic bag in a pot with no drainage holes inside a big box store for a while.

    It was double potted, with a clear plastic pot inside a larger, showier ceramic pot. I took the plastic pot out of the ceramic pot, which had a small amount of water in the bottom. I am concerned that the potting medium is too wet or that the roots sat in water for too long and that I may need to take quick action to salvage it. There is visible moisture inside of the clear plastic pot, and there are a couple of small mushrooms growing in there. They don't appear to be growing on the roots, but I'm not sure whether this is a relatively harmless thing that happens when you have moist plant matter or if I should be worried.

    I am going to order new potting media very shortly when I get paid, so I will have that ready for when repotting does need to happen.

    The plant is currently in bloom, though some of the flowers are starting to wither. Does it seem healthy? Are the roots too wet/starting to rot or is this a good level of moisture? Should I repot it asap or is it okay to wait until the blooms fall off? Should I worry about the mushrooms? These may be silly questions, but I'm very new to orchids and I don't quite know what I should be looking for yet!

    Thanks! Here are some pictures:

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  2. #2
    raybark's Avatar
    raybark is offline Senior Member
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    It looks great, but could use to be repotted into something about twice that diameter.

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    Edoro is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you! I am glad it looks good. I've been very nervous about its overall health and trying to go very slowly with watering and repotting and all.

    Just a quick clarification - this is a 5" pot. Do you mean I should repot into a 10" pot, or go up to something more like a 7" pot?
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    Mike H is offline Senior Member
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    I'd cut those spikes off when you do re pot.
    Until you do that re pot don't water if you see condensation as pictured in the morning on the inside of the pot.

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    Edoro is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you! I have seen it said over and over again that overwatering is far worse for orchids than underwatering, so I have held off watering it again since I pulled it out of the non-draining ceramic pot. (I watered it lightly once before that the day I brought it home, because it was bone dry and had been sitting behind the service desk waiting to be thrown away for a couple of days! It was a 'rescue' from my place of employment.)

    The condensation is visible at all times - it's one of the things I'm not experienced enough to know yet if it's normal or worrying! I know they like a consistently moist environment, but do not like to be too waterlogged. It's been over a week since I last watered and it has been sitting in a west/northwest facing window, getting lots of bright indirect light and a couple of hours of more direct light in the afternoon (there's a tree in the way so the whole window is not blasted with direct light, and the orchid lives in a more shadowy area of the windowsill during sunset, fyi.) It's also routinely in the 70s and 80s during the day where I live, and probably always between 70-75 in my house. Given that information, does that still seem normal that the inside of the pot has moisture like that, or ought I be concerned?

    (And thank you for the advice backing up my initial thought that I definitely should not water it while it's wet like this.)

  6. #6
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    Orchid Growing 101, Lesson 1: The first thing you must understand about orchids is they, unlike terrestrial plants, do much of their respiratory gas exchange through their roots, rather than leaves.

    That means that the potting medium must be able to retain moisture, but cannot block the airflow pathways to the roots.

    Lesson 2: When we water a plant, most pours right through. Some is absorbed immediately by the plant's roots and the potting medium, and some is held in-between the particles by surface tension. If the potting medium is too fine, too compressed, or too decomposed, those spaces are small and plentiful, so hold enough water completely block those "breathing" pathways for the roots, so they suffocate, die and rot. That, by the way, is the origin of the myth that "orchids must dry out between waterings". It's not the plant that must dry out, its the lousy potting medium! If allowed to dry out, those air flow pathways reopen, allowing the roots to breathe.

    A better choice is a coarser potting medium; one in which the spaces between the particles are too big for the water to completely bridge them. That will mean you need to water more often though, so you need to consider your growing conditions and how often you can/want to water when you choose a potting medium.

    I hope that helps you a bit getting going.
    Last edited by raybark; June 1st, 2019 at 06:52 AM.

  7. #7
    Edoro is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you for sharing your advice and expertise! It's very helpful and helps me feel like I have more of an idea what I'm doing rather than flailing blindly and hoping.

  8. #8
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    Good advice! Here is a video on how to repot your phal and it includes the bark mixture we use.



    cheers,
    BD

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