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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:12 pm 
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Hi I'm hoping someone can advise me on this phal. I posted last week and was advised to check the roots. I've done that and they don't look good. It recovered from crown root last year and has recently produced two really healthy new leaves. It is producing buds at the moment having flowered continuously throughout. It also has what looks to me like a new flower stem starting. I'm not experienced at looking at roots. Are they in as bad shape as I think they are? Sorry light/colour on the root photos isn't good, can't seem to improve it. The colours are warmer than they are showing. I'd be grateful for any help. Thank you.


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File comment: The aerial roots - dead, dying?
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File comment: New leaves
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File comment: There are also brown patches on some of the aerial roots
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File comment: Roots
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:44 pm 
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Sometime Phals will have live and healthy roots growing from what looks like dead or desiccated roots. Some growers say leave them, others remove them. So long as they are not rotten this will likely be optional to the grower. However if the desiccated part is black brown rather than pale it might be starting to rot, in which case it will be soft and should be removed.

The main check for roots that are still plump is by gently pressing them between your fingers, you will feel a healthy root as quite firm whether wet or dry, a rotten root will squish easily and you should feel this even with gentle pressure. When a rotten root is found, you need to cut above the rot (into the healthy part of the root) with sterilized cutting equipment, preferably with one clean cut. After you have removed all the rotten roots it will be best not to water the plant for a couple or more days to allow the cut part to heal up as well as deterring the rot from coming back.

I have brought back Phals with 3 leafs, and 3 roots less than 3 inches each, and I am far from being close to an experienced grower - so - As long as there are still healthy live roots there's still a chance for recovery. It may take time and patience but it's a great feeling when you start to see it heading in the right direction. ;)

Here's an AOS link that may help, on the lower sections of the page there are good before and after photos of what can be done, and shows just how few can roots remain without killing the plant.
http://www.aos.org/orchids/additional-r ... art-4.aspx
You may want to also search Youtube for a good instruction video showing how to deal with rotten roots, there's quite a few - though I advise always watching more than one as advice & methods can vary.

Other than that, I am sure others here can help :)



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:56 pm 
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That is great Michele, you are a star! Will indeed have a good search on Youtube. As you say, it is so satisfying to bring a plant back from the brink but I have never tried it with an orchid. Having seen this one come back from crown rot, I really don't want to lose it! Can I ask you one more question? I am a bit baffled by orchid compost. When you buy an orchid it seems to have been planted in almost pure bark, which I understand is what they like. But when you buy orchid compost (have tried 2) they seem more peat than bark even when they say 'with added bark' on the packet. This phal seems to have suffered from having too much moisture around its roots and the compost I had repotted it in was heavy on peat it seemed to me. What do you buy? Oh, one more, finally, I noticed when I took it out of the pot that the roots varied from dark green, to light green to white. Is that all good if they pass your plumpness test? Thank you!

PS Great article thanks :D


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 11:08 pm 
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You're welcome, glad to help as other have helped me :)

I think the Orchid Compost you have purchased may be aimed at Cymbidium Orchids (though could be wrong). It can be difficult to find suitable bark other than at specialized nurseries and suppliers. Basically not all orchids are necessarily grown in the same mix, and depending on conditions even different growers may have better results with one sort of mix over another. Phalaenopsis grow on trees in the wild so you want to avoid soil mixes for them as they prefer getting air to the roots. I tend to use bark, medium to large sized chips for Phals, others use mixes of bark, and sphagnum moss. It really depends on what works for the conditions you can provide. Phals can be mounted but Humidity must remain adequate and they would need to be misted daily.
Here's a good link with a list of Vendors, some specializing in just the accessories such as potting mixes including packs of bark.
http://www.orchidwire.com/Vendors/1/United_Kingdom.html

As for the white roots, if they are firm and otherwise look healthy they are probably roots that grew into the mix and adjusted to the lack of light, it is the chlorophyll that makes roots go green (if I remember correctly) and so the white (grown in the dark) roots have no need for chlorophyll to be present. At least that's my understanding :)



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 11:30 am 
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Thanks a lot again Michele. Via your link I have discovered there is an orchid grower not too far from me with an open day next Sat! He also does specialist compost and says you can phone for advice. Do you think it'll be ok for my phal to leave it popped back in the pot loosely with some of the old compost until then? Do you think it'd be better to wait until I have the new compost before cutting it all back? Don't want to risk letting infection into new cuts. Have watched a vid on Youtube, it was really helpful thanks, will watch more.

Makes complete sense what you said about white roots. They are right in the centre too where they wouldn't have got light.

Looking forward to the open day. Not going to take my credit card though!!! I haven't never seen an extensive display of orchids :-D

Thanks so much for all your help. :-D


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 1:58 pm 
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Glad to help and I hope you enjoy the Open Day, you may want to ask him about any local Orchid Societies or Clubs near you, I know there are some that have open shows which can be free and open to the general public.

Not taking a credit card is a good idea, set a budget and take cash :lol:

JulesA wrote:
Do you think it'll be ok for my phal to leave it popped back in the pot loosely with some of the old compost until then? Do you think it'd be better to wait until I have the new compost before cutting it all back? Don't want to risk letting infection into new cuts.

Using those bits of the old mix which seem fresher loosely around the roots just to "keep it going" in a pot shouldn't harm it especially if in a week you will be repotting with fresh mix. So long as the cut roots have a chance to dry up a little at the end (seal up as it were) it should be ok.
They can also be put bare root in a vase and should be fine for a week, but like with mounted ones you may have to mist and check the roots daily. Just make sure you remove excess water in the bottom of the vase (especially if the roots touch the bottom of the vase) before it goes dark, if you try this method. Also you would need to make sure that vase does not act like an oven on the roots, avoid strong hot light, make sure area is ventilated well enough etc - They may like it warm but not raosting ;) I personally do not use vases with Phals as a permanent growing method but rather as a stop gap, though there may be others out that that have had success growing Phals in vases.
Either way should work, it's just dependent on what will work best for you over the next week :)


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 9:15 pm 
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Hi again Michele, thanks yet again for all the info! I'm panicking now because I have just realised that the beautiful new leaves and the older ones are starting to go limp! Oh no :-( I feel helpless to help it! I've watched a lot of videos as you recommended. Can I clarify, are you suggesting that I cut the roots back now and not wait? The only thing that will help it now is growing new roots I guess, so will I lose all the leaves do you think?

I will ask about local groups - thanks, good idea.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 10:47 pm 
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Hi Jules, just going to jump in, medium is a personal thing, but i would like to suggest trying chopped coconut husk to you. I really love it for all my orchids. It holds more water than tree bark, meaning no need for sphagnum on the plants that like more moisture, it rehydrates quicker and more easily, and doesn't decompose as quickly. Its quite a rough cut (about 2cm), so lets lots of air circulate, and best of all, it literally changes colour as it dries so no more guess work about when to water, i do mine when there is just a thin strip of dark left. Plus its a sustainable alternative being made from the by-product of other industries. I buy mine as mini disks from Ray Creek but they may have it at your local store at the open day.

I've presently got 2 recovering phals in my care, one I want to tell you about came to me literally on deaths door, sat in water, no root system at all not even a dead one, and dessicated leaves from being in an unshaded south facing windowsill. I hung it in the bathroom for a few weeks, as in tied a piece of string around the leaves and attached it to the window, no pot or substrate at all to allow it to dry a bit and so i could keep an eye on it, they are naturally epiphytes after all, spraying regularly until new growth was showing and presently have it in coco husk, initially i just had to rest it on the bark to let it root itself in, keeping it slightly moister than normal for phals and its thriving again. One thing to note, it did have a hissy fit going from open air to pot but after a week or so got on with it. Some orchids do take a few weeks to recover from things like repotting. Just make sure it has what it needs and trust the plant, they have a phenomenal survival instinct!

I also use it on Colmanara - loves it. Cymbidium-loves it, my own Phals- so happy it gave me a second flush of 12 flowers after the first!, Brassia - doing ok, my first orchid and it also came with root rot and broken down media so it recovery but lots of new growth so thats a positive sign, miltoniopsis - doing ok, honestly may try something a little finer due to fine root system but will go with with a finer coco.

As i said in the beginning, substrate is a personal thing and no right answer to what to use proving it has the right properties for the individual plant, it's just what works for you, this worked great for me as a beginner mainly for the watering point about being able to see how dry the substrate is as to when to water, and think from what you have said it may be a good answer for you too.

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Coming soon - Neof. Falcata, Zygopetalum, Paph. roth.



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 11:33 pm 
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Good call Bex,
Forgot to mention coco-husk, and yes it can be very good on it's own or mixed in. I like it for my Dendrochilums :D

JulesA,
Don't feel helpless, if it has roots and the top leaves are still green then there's still hope ;)
Phals will lose their lower leafs as the grow new ones anyway, when they have suffered a bit it is not uncommon for their lower leafs to die away. Leave the withering leafs on though, as the plant reabsorbs some of the nutrients back to help produce newer leafs once dried they are always much easier to remove and there will be no moist cut area so little possibility of secondary infections. Like I said before I have recovered a 3 leaf with 3 roots (less that 5 inchs combined) phal successfully before now - it just takes time :)
Currently I have a rescue plant which would be dead if left at work, down to 2 leafs and 1 good root but not dead yet. It had a lot of root loss due to rot, and leafs gone because of too much light. Still not convinced I can bring it back, but going to try anyway - It's still has life :)

JulesA wrote:
Can I clarify, are you suggesting that I cut the roots back now and not wait? The only thing that will help it now is growing new roots I guess, so will I lose all the leaves do you think?

If rotten cut them back, if over desiccated you can cut them back. From the pictures you should have plenty of viable roots stock left. Cutting back should also promote new growth and now is the time you want to promote that growth before winter. Because you plan to get the mix next weekend, your plant should cope till then even with a cut back.
As long as the lower older leafs are the ones that are dying back you should be fine, once the plant is re-potted with fresh mix and you keep to a regime that works for you the plant will pick up.

The Open day will likely be good because you will get a chance to talk to orchid growers who live relatively close to you and may find that what works for them is likely to work for you :)



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:05 am 
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Thanks Bex and Michele, really appreciate your help. :-D Like the sound of coconut have to say. Plus really like the sustainability! Hadn't applied my brain to where the bark was coming from yet. But as coconut shells, as you say, are a by product that is great.

Think I know about 500% more at the beginning of this week than I did at the beginning of last week! Yes, my knowledge level was super low. Really, I just brought some pretty plants and kept them and then when they started getting ill I looked further. Nothing dies on my shift if I can help it!!! But that is how you learn and also how you get caught up in a subject, isn't it! :-)

OK Michele, will take off the roots that are clearly finished. And will consult at the weekend about the remaining ones. The leaves that are wilting are the new ones :-( which really worries me. I guess it could be panicking (like me) cos it's been removed from it's pot.

Actually, I think I am going to contact the man at this centre and see if I could pop it over to him sooner. Yes, I know, I probably need to get out more, all this fuss about a plant! He seems very happy to have people come over by arrangement for advice. What helpful people orchid people are! :-D He will also be able to tell me if those brown spots are anything nasty. Will let you know the outcome :-)



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:04 am 
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If it's the top leafs it "may be" that it will need water - but if it had a few rotten roots that can also have an effect. As long as they are not yellowing badly they can still be saved. Unfortunately when dealing with suffering Phals you will likely see leaf flop, but once the problem's sorted and it's in a good watering regime for you, they should pick up. When they start going yellowish that's when it can be a sign that things are really declining. If the leafs are green but lank it's likely to be a lack of water (though it may just be having a sulk ;) ), and once they get back to a good regime for your conditions they should recover. It can be worrying when you haven't dealt with it before, I panicked like mad when the leafs on my first ones started to become lank, but it was just that I wasn't giving them quite enough water.

Even as a house plant I take note of the weather these days, I know if there's a bright spell more water will be used and if it's gloomy for a few days less will be needed. Eventually you will find your watering range, but sticking to every 7 days exactly (for example) doesn't always work in practice.

It can be confusing when people advice different things for the same plant, and it's why you see a lot of growers these days adding "What ever works for you" in their advice. A tactic you can use when researching online is to take note of the location of the Individual Grower who penned the article or post and compare it to what you have to deal with before following all their advice. I can not say how invaluable it is to get in contact with growers who are local to you, for me it really made the difference.

I hope it goes well for you :) Just remember the vast majority of Orchid Growers have lost plants. - it's not pleasant but it happens.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 2:01 am 
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Hey Jules, I thought I'd upload some pics of the phal I told you about. I would never normally show something like this but i think it might help. This is about 3 months into recovery and considered to be doing well!

Attachment:
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First Here it is, doesn't look great but it has some rigidity in the leaves now which it didn't have before.

Attachment:
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Next picture, The new leaf you see in the centre of this on has developed since i've had it, it has a good colour and texture for a phal so shows its happy at the moment. The top of that leaf is missing. When i moved it from open air to a pot the tip of the new growth shrivelled and when limp and died. Purely a consequence of the sudden change in growing conditions. It can be quite scary to watch happening but i knew it had the right growing conditions and so it really was up to the plant to do the rest. This probably would have made a great mounting project but its going back to its owner when it recovers and don't think she would be able to give it the care it needs mounted.
You can also see better in this picture the older leaves and just how damaged it was. These will never recover but the new growth is happy so i'm happy.

Attachment:
sandraphal21061603.jpg
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Finally a look at the root system, you can see almost the entire root system in this picture. There is one small root on the back, less than an inch. So the reason it sits so wonky in its pot, is it doesn't have enough root there to support itself.

Orchids really are resilient when give the right conditions, they want to live. When you notice an issue and change something, the orchid may initially react badly, even when there is nothing wrong with the new situation. Give changes time to take effect and just keep a close eye for 2-4 weeks to make sure the orchid doesn't deteriorate further and the new growth coming through beneath the issue is is ok. Keep reading, learning and trying, you will get there i promise.

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Present Orchids - Brassia Noid, Colmanara wildcat 'bobcat', 2 Phal noid, Dendrobium Noid, Cymbidium Scotts sunrise aurora, Miltoniopsis Newton falls, Vanda Greeting Black

Coming soon - Neof. Falcata, Zygopetalum, Paph. roth.



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:29 pm 
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Hi Bex,

Thanks for taking the time to post all those photos and explain what is going on. From the reading and videos that Michele has put me onto and from what you have shown me I am realising that orchids are a completely different deal to other plants. I'm normally a succulent person (not as in expert just they have tended to be my prefered plants) so really shouldn't be so surprised. I'm realising that they are real survivors - I think because they look so exotic I thought they must be fragile but as you say they want to survive. I panicked when the phal started wilting having removed it from the pot thinking it was chronically damp and thought it was dying but then noticed that the compost I had temporarily returned it to was really dry and so put a bit more compost in, watered it and it said 'Thanks very much, I feel much better now'! So rumours of its death have clearly been exaggerated and the roots I thought were dead obviously have some life. So they are plucky guys! So I will take it to the doctor at the open day on Sat and see the best way forward. Am learning a lot of respect for orchids!



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2016 10:26 pm 
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Hi Michele, I went to the open day with my orchids today and got them checked over. Seems I was worrying too much. He said the brown marks were no problem as the root was still plump - it wasn't disease :-D I have bought some proper compost. I was advised to trim the dead roots as you said and pot it into a smaller pot so have done that. As the others complete their flowering period I will repot them. So thanks so much for your advice. One last thing I'd like to ask you, please. Do you have tips for storing compost? Once before when I tried to keep some it went mouldy. I have got a bit carried away and bought too much. Is there some way to store it? Being damp and in plastic bags I guess it is natural it would go mouldy. Thanks :-)


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 12:22 pm 
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That's good to hear. :) Hope you had a good time!

JulesA wrote:
Do you have tips for storing compost? Once before when I tried to keep some it went moldy. I have got a bit carried away and bought too much. Is there some way to store it? Being damp and in plastic bags I guess it is natural it would go moldy. Thanks :-)

Depends on the Mix (I am guessing Bark or Coco-husk? If yes -) and if it is Damp you may want to dry it before storage - it's damp conditions that will encourage mold. The advantage of many mixes that you use with epiphytes is that they can be stored dry thus reducing chances of mold. It may take some time, and will obviously dry quicker in small amounts - Once you're ready too use it it can be soaked. A bright south windowsill in a ventilated room if you can't do it outside (because of rain etc) should dry it out quite quickly. As long as the environment or container you store it in is kept relatively clean, dry and sealed it should then last pretty much indefinitely indefinitely.



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 1:48 pm 
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Thanks a lot Michelle, will do :-)


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