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Avatar for WhimsicalZephyr
Sep 25, 2022 11:13 PM CST
Thread OP
Newfoundland, Canada
Here's my little orchid. He hasn't bloomed since 2020. I feel like maybe I should cut the leaves down and perhaps divert some energy to the stem? I'm planning to get orchid soil and fertilizer and to re-pot as it is highly root-bound. Any other suggestions? Thanks. :)
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Sep 25, 2022 11:45 PM CST
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Name: Joshua
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Welcome! to the site!

I'm afraid your photo hasn't shown up - can you please try posting it again?

It's hard to give any advice without knowing what type of orchid you have, but as a start I definitely wouldn't cut any of the leaves. If a flowering-size orchid doesn't bloom, it's usually because it's either not getting the right light or temperature conditions.
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Sep 26, 2022 7:37 AM CST
Name: Nancy
Northeastern Illinois (Zone 5b)
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There is an Orchid Forum a bit lower down in the list, you'll probably get excellent help there.
Avatar for MsDoe
Sep 26, 2022 9:05 AM CST
Southwest U.S. (Zone 7a)
Hello WZ, and Welcome!
But--no-no-no Don't cut any leaves! Orchids don't work that way!!
The plant needs to be in good health, with strong roots and leaves, in order to bloom.
They also will sometimes bloom if they are dying--a last ditch effort to reproduce before they go.
Your Phalaenopsis orchid needs some changes to keep it healthy. They make great houseplants, but have some very specific cultural needs. If you want to keep this one going, you have a lot to learn! Start by not cutting the leaves!
Also, fertilizer is not your first priority. Get the plant established in a proper pot, with orchid media (bark for me), and the right amount of light. When it starts showing new growth, then you should give it very small amounts of a complete orchid fertilizer.
OK, this is getting too long. More details on repotting will follow, don't start quite yet, until you really know how to do it right.
Repeat: Phalaenopsis orchids make great houseplants! Time to get started getting this one up to speed! Hurray!
Avatar for MsDoe
Sep 26, 2022 3:22 PM CST
Southwest U.S. (Zone 7a)
Phalaenopsis roots need air and light. They're different from other houseplants, and need different care. They don't grow in soil. They'll rot if they don't get enough air around the roots.
I've had the best success with clear plastic slotted orchid pots, not any bigger than absolutely necessary.
I put a few rocks in the bottom for balance.
I've found orchid bark to be the easiest medium to manage. Some use moss, leca, and other choices. The plant is not getting nutrition from the planting medium, it's for support and proper watering. A word of caution: the bagged "orchid potting mix" in the big box stores isn't very good, in my experience.
I'd suggest ordering online, get a small bag of medium fir bark and a clear plastic slotted pot. I don't know what you can get where you are, but I had great results with RePotMe products, also OrchidSupply.
They'll also have orchid-specific fertilizer. I like Jack's Orchid Special, there are others. Don't get the "bloom booster" type, you want an all-purpose fertilizer to support good leaf and root growth. Flowers will follow!
Avatar for MsDoe
Sep 26, 2022 3:35 PM CST
Southwest U.S. (Zone 7a)
PS: Here's a link to a Canadian supplier that might work for you, I'm sure there are others:
Orchiata is a very high quality bark product, well worth the shipping. They also have the clear plastic slotted pots.
Sep 26, 2022 4:25 PM CST
Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

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Hi WhimsicalZephyr, Welcome! to the site!

I agree that a new pot and potting medium is likely in order for your Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis) to be it's happiest and healthiest. If you can't find orchid pots, or orchid potting mix (like Orchiata) in your local area, they can be purchased on Amazon.

You can find great information regarding growing and potting Phalaenopsis and other orchids on these threads in our orchid forum:

~ The thread "🗣 Starting out with Phals/Supermarket Orchids 🛎 ✍️" in Orchids forum

~ The thread "A new group of Phalaenopsis, modern ways of repotting" in Orchids forum

~ The thread "Orchid HELP thread 🔎" in Orchids forum
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Avatar for MsDoe
Sep 26, 2022 7:27 PM CST
Southwest U.S. (Zone 7a)
When you have the right pot and potting medium, here's how to proceed.
If you're using new bark, soak it overnight then rinse and drain.
Use a pot that just fits the current roots. Too large a pot will retain too much water, which can lead to rot.
Take the orchid out of its current pot. Soak the whole plant--roots, leaves, soil, everything--in a pan of water for an hour or two. This makes the roots more flexible, so you'll have less damage with the repotting.
After the soak, carefully remove all the old potting mix from the roots. Pick and rinse it off, until all you have are leaves and roots, no old mix at all.
Healthy roots are plump and green. BUT--very important--don't start cutting off other roots! Only remove old roots that are clearly rotting--brown or black, soft and mushy. Roots with breaks, brown or black spots, and parts of the outer velamen missing are still OK! Don't cut them off! Old roots that are brown and dry are still OK. Don't cut them off! Roots are the key to a healthy plant. Be careful with them and keep as many as possible.
Put the now-bare plant in the new pot, and start filling in with bark. I find a chopstick very helpful for positioning the bark around the roots. The base of the lowest leaves should end up just above the bark. The crown of the plant should be mostly upright. (It's normal for them to gradually lean over, that's OK.) Don't pack the bark, just loosely fill it in under and around the roots. These roots need air!
Don't water for a day or two. Keep in mind that new bark holds very little water, so water often--two or three times a week for the first year. Water runs right through, so keep an eye on the plant and don't be afraid to water a lot.
Keep it warm and in moderate light--no direct sun. It probably won't bloom until next fall, when temps are cooler and days shorter.
Use very dilute fertilizer, follow label directions. "Weakly, weekly" works for me. Don't try to force growth or blooming. Aim for a healthy plant, with gradual growth. Sometimes they'll only add 2 leaves a year.
Bark breaks down over time, plan on re-potting every 2-3 years, or when the bark starts looking like compost.
There are different ways of doing all this, but the above process and materials have worked well for me. My first orchid is now ten years old, and blooms every year. They're great houseplants, and not that hard once you learn what they like.
Questions or Comments? Please speak up!
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Avatar for WhimsicalZephyr
Sep 27, 2022 1:51 AM CST
Thread OP
Newfoundland, Canada
Thank you so much for the tips, everyone. I will look for some potting bark this week and some fertilizer and a plastic slitted cup. Thanks so much for the info. I'm sure there will be more questions to come, but thanks for answering my initial questions everyone. <3
Sep 27, 2022 1:27 PM CST
Name: Big Bill
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I see very little in terms of live roots in the image provided. In my experience there is no need to fertilize your orchid until it begins to recover two to three months down the road.
This Phalaenopsis should be repotted yearly, every two years at most. Ms. Doe has provided you with excellent advice. It will mean a good start in bringing it back to good health.
Epiphytic orchids make good houseplants in many cases. Epiphytic means growing upon another plant for support. As was mentioned, this orchid needs an open mix, NO SOIL.
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