Orchids forum: heavy Phalaenopsis flower spikes

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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Aug 24, 2018 11:22 AM CST
I have a big, old, Phalaenopsis plant that sends up heavy flower spikes. Each year, the flowers seem to get bigger and heavier. This year, it is sending up 2 at the same time. My question is:

1. Does anybody let their Phaelaenopsis flowers hang naturally (i.e., without staking/supporting them)?

2. At what point do these snap/break and harm the plant? Is this common?

I'm not keen to support the flowers again because it usually makes the whole plant more wobbly than I'd like. If it's not a good idea to them grow horizontally or downward, I will cut the flower spikes off.

Just curious what you guys, do. I'm not an orchid aficionado by any means!
Keep going!
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
Aug 24, 2018 12:15 PM CST
Congratulations on growing and flowering your Phal to the point that it becomes a burden , Jai.
In nature they grow upside down so it would never be a problem.
I would use one of these wire products that clip onto the side of your pot, and secure the spike to that.
This particular one is for plastic pots, but they are made for clay pots as well.

Thumb of 2018-08-24/sugarcane/af6f2c
Don't forget to post pictures of your blooms in our monthly what in bloom thread!
lindsey
[Last edited by sugarcane - Aug 24, 2018 12:16 PM (+)]
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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Aug 24, 2018 12:25 PM CST
I have never seen one of those Medieval torture devices. I may have to make one...thank you for the idea.

To be honest, the flowers are somewhat unattractive, but only insofar as a flower can be. Bright yellowish orange with deep purplish maroon spots, but the purplish and yellow don't go together. I don't remember why I bought this particular plant but at this point it has something like 10-12 leaves and blooms at least twice every year.

A couple times I just cut the flower spikes off, but I realized that doing probably causes more to come out simultaneously later (such as now, I have the beginnings of 2 at the same time).
Keep going!
[Last edited by Jai_Ganesha - Aug 24, 2018 12:31 PM (+)]
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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Aug 24, 2018 12:29 PM CST
This is what I mean:

Thumb of 2018-08-24/Jai_Ganesha/4b03a0

Each flower is really big, approaching 4 inches, and I think the last time I had 12ish at once before I cut them off. They just get so heavy.

I even pollinated one thinking that if the plant set seed it would not want to keep blooming, but that didn't work. lol

Keep going!
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Aug 24, 2018 12:33 PM CST
Jai, that is a beautiful Phal, I love it Lovey dubby

It is a matter of preference how you want to display them. Some just allow them to grow without any stake and allow it to hang. Some like them more upright looking, just for a better view. At times it is a matter of what is around that plant, like if there are other people around or pets, that may accidentally mutilate the blooms, so it is being staked upright.
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Aug 24, 2018 12:36 PM CST
I want to just let the new spikes grow outward/down and bloom, but they are so heavy I'm afraid it will break the plant itself, especially with 2 of them at the same time. Maybe I just have to take my chances!

As strange as it sounds, I keep the plant because its foliage is so beautiful and because it has been so easy to grow. If it didn't bloom at all, I'd still like it the same. lol
Keep going!
[Last edited by Jai_Ganesha - Aug 24, 2018 12:36 PM (+)]
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Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Aug 24, 2018 12:39 PM CST
I love that Phal, Jai! Do what you want. I'd just let it hang and I really love the bloom pic. Good growing!
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Name: Alice
Ponte Vedra, FL (Zone 9a)
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ardesia
Aug 24, 2018 12:41 PM CST
LOL, I think the color combo is different but interesting.

Here is my white one today, nothing special colorwise but it is showy. I had to move it to a taller bench from the low one it was on because the spike was was heading for the ground. It is in a new orientation, I hope the unopened flowers do not get confused. This plant was my son's and he always let the spikes droop so I am doing the same.
Thumb of 2018-08-24/ardesia/3166d5
Thumb of 2018-08-24/ardesia/426839

Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Aug 24, 2018 12:42 PM CST
If you think about it, in nature they are just hanging on branches so if they do bloom they just hang and cascade any which way. So letting them hang is fine. Big Grin
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Aug 24, 2018 1:11 PM CST
In nature they're much less massive. These have hybrid vigor and they're pampered with less-harsh growing conditions. So the risk of breaking the entire plant is real.
Keep going!
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Aug 24, 2018 1:13 PM CST
If it breaks, root the cutting and have a new plant.
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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Aug 24, 2018 1:15 PM CST
Root it in what? It doesn't grow in soil. I'm not sure how to even handle a Phalaenopsis cutting. From what I've heard, they won't grow from cuttings like succulents will, if they rip in half (for example), they die.
Keep going!
[Last edited by Jai_Ganesha - Aug 24, 2018 1:16 PM (+)]
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Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Plays in the sandbox Greenhouse Sempervivums
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plantmanager
Aug 24, 2018 1:17 PM CST
I haven't rooted a Phal, but I've done it with a Dendrobium that broke off. I just rooted it in water and then grew it like my other one.
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Name: Alice
Ponte Vedra, FL (Zone 9a)
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ardesia
Aug 24, 2018 1:37 PM CST
That is an interesting question. I know they can put out new flower spikes from the nodes on an old spike but I do not know if those nodes would root.

The spike on the white one above is about 34" long and very heavy but it has bloomed on long spikes before and never broke. Crossing Fingers! Crossing Fingers! Crossing Fingers!
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Aug 24, 2018 3:44 PM CST
Never heard of anyone rooting a broken Phalaenopsis spike. You can put roots on a kiekei. Very few orchids are rootable by cuttings, a few Dendrobiums are, Restrepias can, Catasetums sprout plantlets along the pseudobulb sections are laid on a horizontal bench.
You can get new plants by seed, by meristemming or cloning and you can get new plants by vegetative division.

As far as your spikes go, if they are endangered by people or animals brushing up against them they snap easily, I would stake. But honestly it is up to you. They will be very unlikely to snap a plant in half.
Cutting back on a old spike to a node will produce new buds. Advisable to only do that on a mature plant. If you grow your Phalaenopsis in night time temperatures that are too warm, you increase the percentage of getting keikis.
Frankly I prefer a staked Phalaenopsis spike to a point and then let the upper section curve gently. This displays the flowers to their best advantage and allows the viewer to see and appreciate them to the fullest.
"Our children are the messages we send to a time that we will never see."
[Last edited by BigBill - Aug 24, 2018 3:46 PM (+)]
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Name: Alice
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ardesia
Aug 24, 2018 3:47 PM CST
Maybe next time..... Rolling my eyes.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
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
Aug 24, 2018 3:53 PM CST
... and if, at the end of the day, you grow the plant for its foliage. Then let the spikes mature and cut them to enjoy as part of a floral arrangement.
lindsey
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Aug 24, 2018 7:50 PM CST
I would not worry much about that Phal spike breaking, if you have it growing indoors and there is no one there or any pet to bother it. It will be more more worrisome if it is outdoors where it is at the mercy of the winds and other critters that may jump on it.
Name: Alice
Ponte Vedra, FL (Zone 9a)
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ardesia
Aug 25, 2018 4:36 AM CST
Before I had to move my plant it was in an area where it did sway with the wind but the spike is so sturdy, it never looked to be in danger. Now it is on our covered porch, out of the wind.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 1, 2018 9:32 PM CST
Chiming in late to the party, Jai. Sorry I was on vacation.

I always let my Phals grow in their natural fashion which is with the leaves and spikes cascading downward. The spikes and stems are very strong. I really don't think you have any worries about it breaking the plant. But it might pull the plant out of the pot if it's not anchored well. The roots do attach to the pot very firmly also, but say if you had recently re-potted it and the roots weren't attached yet, it might uproot. In that case you would want to tie some string or thin twine over the crown of the plant to keep it in there.

The nicest Phals I've seen have been in that cascading form, not standing straight up. I think that commercial growers do that so they can pack more plants in a box, for shipping. In my opinion a Phal hanging in a pot or basket, or mounted on a tree or piece of cork is so much prettier than one standing up.

Yours is beautiful, and I'd take that problem any day. I even like that color combo, but I am nuts about yellow flowers in general. Here are a couple of mine, spilling out of their pots.
Thumb of 2018-09-02/dyzzypyxxy/e6ef41 Thumb of 2018-09-02/dyzzypyxxy/793580

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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