Orchids forum→Nursing a sick phalaenopsis

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Pacific Northwest (Zone 9a)
Phaleazy
Jun 7, 2021 11:13 AM CST
About a couple years I bought an orchid from costco. Family enjoyed the blooms that came with the deal. Then after a few weeks the bottom leaves started to look dry, yellow, and fall off. Oh NO!

I tried repotting and while trimming the rotted roots noticed a very foul smell. Never again would I water it the same as my other phals that had different media and pots (with drainage holes!)

But after repotting, leaves were still dropping. Checked the roots again and still see black roots that were once yellow before. So I learned that most of the roots did not survive except one.

Made use of the cinnamon shaker in the pantry and over several months drop- watered that single root in an alcohol-rinsed container with some old sheet moss covered with cinnamon.

It tried to re-spike but then would stop short of full bud so I had to cut them down to healthy nodes.

By then, it been well over a yr of this customized care, I thought I must be in the clear when I saw a keiki develop and even a new leaf and root start on the sick parent. I had 2 or 3 old leaves that managed to stay, but they never regained their hydrated appearance.

At some point I switched over to misting all my orchids' aerial roots so I did the same for the single root on this. I also changed the setup to where the moss is wrapped around the root. This pretty much was the majority of the routine until the sun started to dry the leaves too much so I transferred it to more indirect, though less than ideal light for the last several months. I tried a more aerial way of hanging the orchid.

Now around a couple years, the keikis got some bad news...the parent plant's leaves have reached their end after battling whatever. Though the single root is still firm and ok, the spike that keeps the 3 keikis is starting to turn green-yellow. 2 of the keikis have no roots yet, though a faint sign of root budding is on one. The 3rd and oldest keiki is the only one that has at least 1 inch total of roots.

Yesterday I took out the sterilized shears and snipped off the keiki with roots and 'repotted'. I plan to use drop watering again since so tiny and used a small tray with stones to support and hold in water beneath. I made sure the moss is tweezed to fit right where the roots are in light contact with the moistened moss without touching the cut end of the once spiked branch.

Still wondering how I will setup moist moss for the base on the 2 keikis without roots. I've read there is a way to help them survive.

Having gotten this far, I think I still have a chance.

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Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
American Orchid Society Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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BigBill
Jun 7, 2021 11:53 AM CST
You have to decide exactly what you want to save, the Mother plant or the babies? YOU CANT SAVE BOTH!
Well, technically you might but you have to separate them.

Phalaenopsis are Epiphytes, growing on other plants for support only. They are not parasites. Their roots must have abundant oxygen to survive. That image at the bottom, that baby plant, appears to be in a mix that does not allow for ample oxygen flow. In relatively short order, it will suffer the same fate as the Mother plant. That plant has root rot! Plain and simple. It is capable of being saved but you must commit. It isn't a disease. The roots have rotted off. They should be repotted every 2 years!!!

I use 4 main ingredients in my orchid mixes: aliflor, seedling grade fir bark, perlite and seedling grade charcoal. When I want to root a 'rootless' Phalaenopsis I use 75% seedling bark and fill the balance with perlite and charcoal. I use a three or a four inch plastic pot and sit the plant down in the media. I kind of nestle it in there snugly. If it wobbles I use a rhizome clip to hold it in place. Typically within 4-6 weeks, new roots form. Low light and daily misting gets the plant through the process.
I treat the babies the same way. If they have a decent root system I treat them as individual plants. If the baby is rootless I treat as above.
I can easily see that the leaves of the Mother plant are very soft and wrinkled. That is the classic sign of dead roots!!! It usually is because of a mix that has decomposed and now holds way too much water drowning the roots.

Welcome to the Orchid Forums!
Rodney Wilcox Jones, my idol!
Businessman, Orchid grower, hybridizer, lived to 107!
[Last edited by BigBill - Jun 7, 2021 11:57 AM (+)]
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Pacific Northwest (Zone 9a)
Phaleazy
Jun 7, 2021 11:56 AM CST
The mini-phal from Lowes clearance 4 yrs ago is still alive too. Nearly killed that one as well, though not as drastic. Turned out the container I kept it in had a drainage hole that at some point stopped adequately draining. Lots of cutting--nearly all of the roots and the bottom stem, I didnt have much hope. The pics showed more roots when I did.

I did try having the surviving roots supported above a tray of water and stones but that wasn't enough hydration for it. So tried the method of wrapping moss with bag ties. Along with misting, so glad!

Good root and leaf development once again. Though I should do some fert. On the fence about whether to keep it above water and mist only or pot with the length of root. I'll figure something out. My experience with bark hasn't been good. The mix tends to break down sooner than expected for me. And the leftovers I kept in storage broke down as well. Had better success with moss, even sheet moss. Cant wrap bark around roots. Maybe a large horizontal ornamental log to attach the orchid??

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Pacific Northwest (Zone 9a)
Phaleazy
Jun 7, 2021 12:04 PM CST
Thanks Bill.

I'll have to search where those ingredients can be bought for cheap. On a budget.

Trust me, I repot before 2 yrs. I dont trust my setup to last as long as the ideal. Had I not, I would have lost the parent long ago.

I'm eyeing the pup and will change the setup if it does not have new growth.
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
American Orchid Society Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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BigBill
Jun 7, 2021 12:17 PM CST
Try:
Repotme.com
The Green Barn in Delray Beach Florida.
Rodney Wilcox Jones, my idol!
Businessman, Orchid grower, hybridizer, lived to 107!
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
American Orchid Society Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
Image
BigBill
Jun 7, 2021 12:25 PM CST
Your welcome!
Your basic problem seems to be overwatering.

Have you ever tried mounting them? Some people grow wonderfully huge specimens mounted on cork bark, tree fern, live oak mounts or sassafras mount. You essentially use the "sandwich method" as I call it. A little moss, the Phalaenopsis, and a little more moss.
It is all held on to the mount using 15 lb. test monofilament. Just like a sandwich, bread, bologna and bread. Then you just hang them outside in the shade all summer and bring them in when the temperatures drop below 55 degrees.

All supplies, mounts too, are at the Green Barn.
Good luck! I tip my hat to you.
Rodney Wilcox Jones, my idol!
Businessman, Orchid grower, hybridizer, lived to 107!
Pacific Northwest (Zone 9a)
Phaleazy
Jun 7, 2021 2:51 PM CST
Oh my, with those ideas, I might forget about my budget!

Thanks Bill!

I did move the pup out of the little pond. Figure a mild soak now and then should be ok.
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
American Orchid Society Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
Image
BigBill
Jun 7, 2021 4:21 PM CST
Just so happy to help you!!
Rodney Wilcox Jones, my idol!
Businessman, Orchid grower, hybridizer, lived to 107!
Pacific Northwest (Zone 9a)
Phaleazy
Jun 8, 2021 9:38 PM CST
Well, I decided to experiment...again.

I cut off the 2nd keiki and sandwiched the base with old moss...and dipped the proximal cut end of the spike into an aloe vera that I snipped off.

I recall using the gel on the clearance orchid several months ago to help deal with the rot and since it turned out fine, I may have just what I need.
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The roots without moss are new since. Before and after are about 14 months.

Unknown territory ahead, but its been interesting to learn as I go.


[Last edited by Phaleazy - Jun 8, 2021 9:41 PM (+)]
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