Orchids forum: Can it be saved?

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Name: Verac
Vinton, VA (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America
Verac
Jul 10, 2018 6:26 PM CST
I got my wife an orchid (or at least I think it was marketed as such) from Kroger for mothers day.

Now, pretty sure the instructions said no direct sunlight and to submerge the pot in water for 5 minutes, once per week.

So here we are 2 months later and it isn't looking so good.

Do you think it is salvageable?

Also, by looking at it, any thoughts on what killed it

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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jul 10, 2018 7:18 PM CST
Your's may have hope for survival yet, but I suggest you check our Orchid forum. There is a sticky at the top of the page about "super market Phals" that can tell you what they need to survive.
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
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Calif_Sue
Jul 10, 2018 7:25 PM CST

Plants Admin

When watered, does the water get drained out from that outside pot since it seems to be a pot that doesn't have drainage holes.
Looks like it may have stayed too wet and it's starting to rot.
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Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
Plant Database Moderator Region: California Cottage Gardener Roses Irises Clematis
Garden Photography Keeper of Poultry Hummingbirder Bee Lover Butterflies Houseplants
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Calif_Sue
Jul 10, 2018 7:25 PM CST

Plants Admin

Moved to the orchid forum
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Hand sewn wares and vintage finds in my Etsy store. Summer Song Cottage
Name: Tattoodwaitress McNulty
Sacramento, CA (Zone 9b)
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tattoodwaitress
Jul 10, 2018 7:40 PM CST
Because the stems are so nice and green I think it may be salvageable. I am not an expert so I would also suggest to go to the Orchid Forum as ctcarol suggested above. However, I would like to say I am wondering by looking at the pot you have it in it appears to still be in the original pot you got it in? The plastic liner is still inside? I am wondering if the liner may not have holes or ones that are too small so it does not drain well. This happened to me once. Orchids do like a good soak, but not to stay in water too long or to ever sit in standing water after giving it a drink. You can remove it from pot and cut off all damaged, dead, and dried up sections of root (including rotten ones). As long as you have some good roots left it should be ok. I would also repot in a pot with adequate drainage. Orchids do well in North or East facing light. Never in direct sun. My mother grows many of these that bloom every year. Also not sure if you know the pretty blooms do not last forever and once they fall off the plant can look pretty bare until the next year. I am not sure about the damage on the leaf. Could be from water left too long, mold or bacteria of some kind. Good luck hope you can save it. Crossing Fingers!
Name: Verac
Vinton, VA (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America
Verac
Jul 10, 2018 7:48 PM CST
Thanks for the replies,

The orchid is in a plastic liner/pot that has holes on the bottom. As per the instructions, once per week, I have been filling up the little coffe cup pot and letting it sit for 5 minutes. Then I drain the cup.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jul 10, 2018 7:56 PM CST
Hello Verac, if you are patient enough, you can give it a try. What I would do if it were mine, I would unpot the plant, remove all the old media, and inspect if the roots are still alive.

But the crucial thing to see are the roots, if there is still something viable there. One of the main reasons Phals are killed is that the roots are suffocated being wrapped around by thick sphagnum moss and staying too wet. Phal roots are thicker and it needs lots of airflow at root zone. Also, Phals rest a bit after blooming time is over, so it naturally slows down as it tries to grow new roots and leaves. This is often the stage some new growers accidentally tend to overwater the plant when it is resting.

But do check the condition of the roots first and the base where the roots are attached. Aside from root rot, collar rot also occurs when the root area has stayed too wet than needed. See this link to understand how it looks like: https://staugorchidsociety.org...

It will be a test of patience for sure. But don't feel bad, we all encounter initial problems with Phals, at least it is easy enough to get replacements and learn from the experience.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jul 10, 2018 8:11 PM CST
I grow about 100 orchids at any given time, and in spite of what the marketers say, I find them the most difficult orchid species to grow. I consider them as cut flowers with a very long bloom life... and the only House plant I grow. Terev gave you good advice, but check the orchids forum.
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Orchids Cactus and Succulents Region: New Jersey Region: Pennsylvania Native Plants and Wildflowers Greenhouse
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Ursula
Jul 11, 2018 7:43 AM CST

Moderator

Honestly, I would pitch it. IF, and that is a big IF, it tries to grow a leaf or two again, it would take a couple of years before you might see another spike. Phals are so reasonably prized, I would pick up another plant instead.
Now what might have killed it?
First of all downpat watering instructions are just wrong, we all keep our Orchids at different conditions, perhaps they dry out quicker in your house than in mine and watering them in the same sequence just doesn't make sense. Water when needed!
Next, I would try to avoid buying a plant sitting in Sphagnum moss, better to buy one in proper Orchid medium like bark. Sphagnum holds water much longer, so this makes it easier for vendors to ship and hold plants without needing to water in transit.
Also, when buying an Orchid, look for proper draining holes in that pot. This one is an epiphyte, but this setup would treat it like a bog plant. Now your pot has holes, but it still sits in an additional pot.
And - when watering, it is a good idea to keep any water out of the center of the plant. These are growing a bit tilted in nature, so any rainwater will drain out and not starting a case of crown rot. Any water can be gently tissued out.
Looking at your pictures, I would think it was overwatered.
Name: Verac
Vinton, VA (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America
Verac
Jul 11, 2018 7:56 AM CST
Thanks for all the replies!

I did a bit of reading in the Orchid Forums as suggested (still have much more to do). I feel I have a much better idea of (at least the basics of) how to care for one of these plants now.

I definitely think I over watered it.

If I lose the plant, it's no biggie. I definitely want to try again though and see if I can keep one of these alive long term.

I unpotted it this morning and I will post some pictures that I took. I don't have much to lose but if there are steps I can take to try to keep it alive I will.


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The black (rot?) started at the center and has progressed down the leaf over the past week. I now see it climbing up the stems.

Would cutting down the stems (are they called spikes?) and trimming up the black areas in the roots help at all? Can it survive if it doesn't have at least one leaf?

At this point, I'm just trying to keep it alive as an experiment I guess.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jul 11, 2018 10:03 AM CST
After seeing your pictures, I would say toss it and get a new one. Now you know what to look for.
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Orchids Cactus and Succulents Region: New Jersey Region: Pennsylvania Native Plants and Wildflowers Greenhouse
Ponds Keeper of Koi Forum moderator Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Adeniums Spiders!
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Ursula
Jul 11, 2018 11:09 AM CST

Moderator

I do agree! After cutting off the black stuff nothing is left to grow anyway!
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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tarev
Jul 11, 2018 11:19 AM CST
Glad you showed us the root zone, I would agree, just get a new one. nodding

Name: Verac
Vinton, VA (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America
Verac
Jul 11, 2018 12:46 PM CST
Thanks all, I'll take this as a learning experience and see if I can't get my hands on another phal and do things better.

Based on some of the advice I've seen, it seems most people repot their Phal using bark or orchid mix. I think i'll do that and be much more conservative on watering next time.
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Orchids Cactus and Succulents Region: New Jersey Region: Pennsylvania Native Plants and Wildflowers Greenhouse
Ponds Keeper of Koi Forum moderator Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Adeniums Spiders!
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Ursula
Jul 11, 2018 6:24 PM CST

Moderator

Sounds like a good plan!! Thumbs up
If you have a Trader Joe's in your area, I am always amazed at their nice selection of Phals and they are reasonably priced too.
Name: lindsey
wesley chapel, fl
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Orchids
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sugarcane
Jul 11, 2018 6:36 PM CST
Verac,
FWIW...these are the hardest of all orchids for me to grow...and I've grown my fair share of Lowe's rescue plants from the scratch and dent table.
I can only grow them as house plants...and if they are in sphagnum, I generally water them thoroughly ONCE a month...Maybe twice ..but that's it.
If it's in bark , I might water it once a week or twice...but that depends on the humidity , airflow..solar flares and astrological influences .
Good luck and welcome to the orchid forum! Group hug
lindsey

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