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Phal in Dire Need of Help (or is it too late?)

This is a discussion on Phal in Dire Need of Help (or is it too late?) within the Phalaenopsis ('moth orchid') Information forums, part of the Frequently Asked Questions category; Hi All, I know it's only my first post but I am in dire need ...

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  1. #1
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    Default Phal in Dire Need of Help (or is it too late?)

    Hi All,

    I know it's only my first post but I am in dire need of help with my Phal.

    It had 8 flowers (3 still unopened) when I bought it in May of this year. I've been watering it once in 2 weeks until the flowers started to drop from the bottom upwards. I've been searching for answers and someone told me to cut the flowers of just above the last notch so that a new spike would grow. I did so but, concurrent with the flowers falling off two of the bottom leaves turned yellow (again a bad sign). Now the third (of 5) has turned yellow also. The potting material keeps water for a very long time and I was worried about some of the roots being bad so I decided to clean up the pot and try to repot it before it is to late. What I saw horrified me. The whole stem is black and it only has about 3 semi healthy roots. Please see the pictures and tell me what I can do to save my once beautiful plant?? Help..

    Sincerely,
    Phyrex
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    I'm not a phal expert, but you can save that plant.

    I would get some powdered rooting hormone (I use Rootone). Trim away all the dead roots, stem below the semi healthy roots and the dead leaves. Get some good sphag and wet it, then wring it out till it is just damp. Dust the bottom of the plant up to the good leaves with the rooting hormone, wrap the plant in the sphag (Not tightly) and place in a plastic pot. Put the plant in a very low light area and mist the sphag every day to keep it moist, not wet. Once the plant has some new roots about 2 inches long pot it in a small bark mix and resume normal watering - for bark I would estimate once a week but you will have to figure out the right schedule based on your environment.

    Let us know how it goes.

    Good Luck.

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    Thank you Diane,

    I have a few follow-up questions to your suggestions. I am a complete amateur with orchids so please forgive me for asking seemingly obvious questions to the more green-thumbed forum members.

    When you say "trim away all the dead roots" what do I do with the green ones (picture on the right) that have some black 'holes' in them at the tips?

    What does "stem below the semi healthy roots" mean?

    Something that might not be very obvious from the picture is that the 'centre stem' where the roots grow from (or supposed to) is completely black and I don't know where to start trimming or cutting or whether I should cut here at all?

    What do I do with the stem that's now about 50 cm long but doesn't have any flowers or bulbs on it? Do I cut it back or do I just leave it the way it is and see where it starts sprouting?

    Sincerely,
    Phyrex

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phyrex View Post
    Thank you Diane,

    I have a few follow-up questions to your suggestions. I am a complete amateur with orchids so please forgive me for asking seemingly obvious questions to the more green-thumbed forum members.

    When you say "trim away all the dead roots" what do I do with the green ones (picture on the right) that have some black 'holes' in them at the tips? Trim the root back past the black spots. The root should eventually regrow and branch.

    What does "stem below the semi healthy roots" mean? I mean the main stem (body) of the plant that looks so black in the picture. The part where all the previous leaves and roots came from. Cut off all you can with out cutting off any healthy or semi healthy roots. You can carefully trim off the yellow leaves without nicking into the plant stem - if you want. That makes the rest of the main body easier to see.

    Something that might not be very obvious from the picture is that the 'centre stem' where the roots grow from (or supposed to) is completely black and I don't know where to start trimming or cutting or whether I should cut here at all? Se the note above. Phals all die off from the bottom up. So when you get to a spot with a semi healthy root you want to try and save, that's as far as you should trim. You can always trim a bit more later if the root dies

    What do I do with the stem that's now about 50 cm long but doesn't have any flowers or bulbs on it? Do I cut it back or do I just leave it the way it is and see where it starts sprouting? The important thing now is saving the plant. You save it and you will have years of flowes. Cut the SPIKE as it is called, about 1 or 1.5 inches from the main stem of the plant. Don't try to get more blooms now. Work on getting roots, then move to more light ans work on getting leaves, and then worry about flower spikes.

    Give us updates as things go along.


    Sincerely,
    Phyrex
    Wishing you the best!

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    Thank you very much again Diane, you're a life saver.

    I've just taken the bad roots off but I am not sure how far to take this trimming project. As you can see from the pictures none of the remaining roots, except the arial roots, look very good at all. Before I continue trimming more bad roots and blackened parts I wanted to check here if it's actually better to only keep 2 arial roots (and some small stumps) instead of additional black roots?

    The remaining sprite is also a little blackened at the end is this bad or normal?

    Also, I think the medium used in the store isn't optimum. They used about 10 styro peanuts (light blue), about 20 wood chips (in total less volume than the 10 peanuts) and the rest (in my mind way to much) sphag. The pot is 6".

    Again thank you very much for your help.
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    Black is never good... I'd trim it up a little more. Do you have the rooting hormone powder? It will really help with starting new roots and helping prevent 'damp-off' or new rot.

    I think you will want to create a tent for humidity. Get one of those large plastic food bags and place it upside down over the phal once it is in the pot with the sphag. This keeps humidity up.

    Hope this helps!

  7. #7
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    plants from the big box stores tend to have mostly sphag and then they pack the sphag way too tightly. Then they end up being overwatered when they are bought and die on new growers. I wonder if they grow them this way at the nursery or if it is temporary for shipping. In my mind it doesn't makes sense to have tight sphag and large pots in a humid nursey environment though, since it will never have a chance to dry for a large root system.

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    I totally agree.....good job on the trimming and great advice above. Good luck, these Phals are pretty tough and should be fine soon.
    Show us pic's if it starts taking off for you...
    Connie

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    Whew! Good luck with nursing your phal back to health. I worry over my root-rotted cattleya constantly.

    I just repotted my baby phal I got last week because the sphag it came in hadn't dried at all since Friday! Half the roots were broken and rotting. Repotted it in fine bark & sphag peat with a bit of sphag mixed in. Hopefully this will help!

    Keep us updated! It looks like you have a pretty healthy plant there, outside of the root-issue. I'm betting Connie is right, it will bounce back in no time at all!

  10. #10
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    Would the Phal survive if I only left the arial roots and trim it all the way until about 1/2 an inch under these, or do I need to give the nearly-dead-semi-green roots a chance of recovering? I'm worried that the rot may persist if I keep the three doubtful roots?

    Is the fact that the sprite is getting dark from the bottom up a reason for concern?

    Are the arial roots healthy? Shouldn't they have a greener tip?

    Another n00b question; when I cut the sprite do I cut at and angle or straight?

    Sorry for asking so many questions all the time. I just want to keep it alive and not do it more harm than I already did.

    Thanks again for all the help.
    Phyrex

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