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Root Rot on Phals in S/H

This is a discussion on Root Rot on Phals in S/H within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I switched 2 of my phals to S/H and neither seem to like it. The ...

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  1. #1
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    Default Root Rot on Phals in S/H

    I switched 2 of my phals to S/H and neither seem to like it. The stronger of the 2 plants had white fuzz growing on the roots (mold?) after 2 weeks. I dumped the water out and let everything dry out for a week and sprayed it with Garden Safe Fungicide 3. The white fuzz went away and I just added more water to the pot to see what happens. Any suggestions for helping the plant adapt? I'm not ready to give up on the S/H yet.

    The 2nd plant also grew the white fuzz. This plant may be on its last legs anyway. It only has 2 leaves left. I pulled the plant completely out of the hydroton and most of the roots were squishy. I cut off all the dead roots, sprayed it with the fungicide and put some rooting hormone powder on it. I left the plant sitting on the table because I don't know what else to do with it. Should I try sticking the plant back in hydroton or switch it back to sphag?

  2. #2
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    Stacey, I had a similar experience when switching 3 phals to S/H, did my research, the phals were good candidates as they were growing new roots but they never seemed to like it.
    Anyway, long story, one died and I pulled the other ones out of S/H.
    Ron (Ron-NY) from the forum advised me to put the surviving Phals in loose sphag in clay pots and they bounced back almost right away, new roots, new leaves and a spike!
    Maybe some Phals are better suited for S/H than others, maybe I should have persevered but honestly I am so happy with the growing method Ron suggested.
    (Thanks again Ron!)

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    I am finding that phal roots tend to rot when you first put them in S/H. I am putting my new phals in small 10 ounce plastic cups of LECA, with the drain hole only about 3/4 of an inch up on one side. I plant the phal with it facing out over the side of the cup (yes, sideways) so only half the roots go into the clay pellots, the others become air roots. This seems to help with the adaptation. I do mist the air roots, but only every couple of days. Humidity in my bird/plant room runs about 50 percent.

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    I think there may have been some outside contamination. After putting the weakest of the 2 back into sphag, I was cleaning up the S/H pots and there was MOLD growing all over the white price tag labels. I didn't think about removing them, although now I know I should have.

    The stronger phal had significantly LESS mold growing on the stupid price tags. I scraped off the tags, flushed out the hydroton and I guess we'll see what happens??? Poor orchids. I seem to be killing about 1/2 of them!

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    Cindi- Do you ever reposition the plant so it's directly in the leca? If so, how long do you leave it sideways?
    I'm wondering if part of my problem was having the roots going too deep into the pot? Maybe some of my roots were sitting directly in the water and it was too much of a shock?

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    The older roots tend to die off at first, but new roots will develope and be more addapted to the environment of s/h. That's why its best to switch when you have active root growth. Use a fungicide in the water for awhile and give it time. Don't water heavily, but do mist to keep the top roots from drying too much. I about a month you should see improvement. I switched three of different parentage and yes some take to it better than others. Couldn't tell you which or why, but I used cheap box store phals to experiment. I'll try to post before and after pics when I get time. The root growth was dramatic.

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    Thanks for all your suggestions. Today was just a bad orchid day. I gave the phal I'm keeping in S/H a physan soak. Unfortunately, when I picked up the pot to rinse it out, I dropped it. GRRR. Hydroton went flying everywhere and the physan solution splashing all over me!
    On the bright side, the roots are still green and healthy looking.

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    I like keeping an eye on those roots. I use clear or nearly clear plastic containers for my plants in S/H. When the root growth pushes the plant up out of the cup, it is time ti reposition them or to pot them in a larger, taller container. As my phals get larger (YES! A miricle! Some of the phals get very large), they go into larger around continers. I have a phal Amabilis in a two quart continer laying on its side across the top of the pellots and over the edge of the pot. The planted roots were placed near the center of the pot when I put it up, now they have grown to the side and down to the reservoir. Some of the roots turn to the side when they reach the water level, some go down into the water.

  9. #9
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    Hey all! I grow in S&H exclusively, so let me see if I can help:

    White fuzz on the surface of the media is due to insufficient air circulation. Please get a fan or something on your plants; stagnant air will lead to mold in almost any situation where there is humidity and a surface for the mold to grow on. Get the air moving, and you'll be fine! Trust me, I've been there. The mold won't hurt the plants, but eventually it will become a nuissance and is easily fixed with more air moving around.

    Roots of ALL plants put into S&H will eventually die back. The roots were accustomed to living in bark media (or whatever it was in ) and are not accustomed for the S&H media which is more uniformly moist. Your plant will go through a root "dye-back" period while it regrows new roots that are suitable for the S&H humid environment. This is totally normal and to be expected. During this time, you must keep the plant in a lower light environment so as to not stress it while it is regrowing new roots. I recommend keeping the plant in a lower light area for 6-8 weeks while it recooperates.

    Hope that helps!
    ~Becky

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    Thanks to Becky's advice, i have taken the plunge. She has been instrumental in this process. i started out with five no root wonders, now i have about half of my 'kids in s/h. Two are doing awesome and the root growth is way cool and they are really thriving. the other three are still there, but i think they were past the point of no return - but i'm still hopeful. i have super high humidity and still several of my plants were shriveled (bulbs and leaves). all of those that looked shriveled (sp?) went into s/h yesterday (about seven orchids). the only ones i haven't tried are phals. but as mentioned, the roots die off first before you see new ones and its a really freaky process. if you are a worrier, get ready you will worry, but i bet they will be fine. of course i am worried about those recently transferred but i sure they will plump up and look better soon. In fact i'm confident which is really odd because did i mention i'm quite negative?

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