Orchids forum: Phals in NY coming in for the winter... what to do?

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Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Oct 4, 2018 7:16 PM CST
So its that time of year again,
As much as I am dreading the winter, my collection of modest phals brings some brightness as they send up their spikes now that temps have dropped.

I think I have ten all together, nothing fancy- supermarket/homedepot buys, but I finally have a handle on how to keep them happy and I have spikes on every one, two are blooming already. THe thing is they've grown a lot since they went out in June, and I'm not sure how to handle it.

They are too big for their pots, they are leaning over due to their "summer homes" in partial shade, roots everywhere, they are top heavy, tipping over

so some questions-
Is it possible to repot w/ active inflorescence? I'm thinking that's a no, but I'd like to check.
Also, what the heck do I repot them in (eventually, if not now)? Can I cut off the bottom of healthy green roots to shorten the pot? They are all in 5"-6" pots now, and while I can find wider pots, I need depth, not width, I don't want to pack 3" of media around these roots, they're gonna rot if I do that. How do you handle it? Any tips for a northerner getting ready for winter?

Finally, what does it all mean, LOL? why does one throw out hundreds of new roots, while another doesn't? I don't know what or how much I don't know, and its been pulling teeth to find out what I have so far ( e.g. AOS says phals need 1/3 the water in winter as they do in summer-as a NYer my humidity drops from 80% outside in the summer to 10% indoors in the winter- they need exactly the opposite. They NEVER mention temperature's role in promoting blooms). Is there a reason Im getting a new spike from a node on a year old spike 7 leaves down vs new spikes from the base of the 5th, 4th or 3rd? If you see something, say something, lol. Help me figure out what I don't know.

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BTW- I did repot when needed in the early summer- but now these boys and girls are literally busting at the seams...
[Last edited by Turbosaurus - Oct 4, 2018 7:21 PM (+)]
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Name: lindsey
wesley chapel, fl
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Orchids
Oct 4, 2018 7:27 PM CST
I'm no Phal expert ( just the opposite , actually).
But your plants look fabulous..the roots especially.
I would not change a thing, until the flower spikes turn brown and the flowers long gone. In the meantime, find a bigger , heavier clay pot to set them into so they don't tip over, and come join us over on the 'whats in bloom' this month thread.
Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Oct 4, 2018 7:39 PM CST
I am flattered by the invite. I saw you guys over in what's in bloom and I wouldn't dare!
After I used my hand to close my mouth, wiped the drool, I'm slinking back into the shadows with my easy and reliable supermarket babies- and planning a move southward, lol!
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Oct 4, 2018 8:23 PM CST
Your plants look absolutely GREAT! I would get some of the clay open slit pots, they come in a variety of sizes, and repot into orchid bark. You could just pull them out of the containers they are in now (it looks like they are in moss) and plunk the whole thing into the pot and surround it with the bark. Or a bark-charcoal-large chunk charcoal mix. Then wouldn;t really be disturbed too much being in-spike that way. Then when they go out of bloom you could unapt, check roots, snip any deaders off.
Happy to consider trading plants, but ONLY with other people who also live in FLORIDA
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Oct 4, 2018 9:27 PM CST
I agree with Lindsey and Gina, your Phals look wonderful.

Couple of things to remember - first, you do NOT need to tuck all those roots into the growing medium. Phals and most other orchids love to have their roots out there waving around in the air. That's the way they grow naturally. If you mist them with water (a good thing to do indoors during winter when the air is dry) and maybe put a pinch of orchid fert in the mist, the roots will slurp it up and be very happy. Whatever you do, do not cut off any roots except dead ones. (they're squishy brown, or beige and dry)

Second thing is Phals in nature do grow with their leaves and flower stems hanging downwards, not upright (and especially not with the flowers held up with a stake). Growers pot them up like that so they can fit more plants in a box without damaging the flower stems. So it's a good thing that your plants are slanted over sideways, because it keeps any water from pooling up in the crown of leaves. If you're running short of room once you do pot the plants up (I would wait until after the flowers are done, too) think about hanging the pots up instead of standing them. You can hang 3 in one of those fruit basket hangers if you can find or make one. So that way you'll have more room for plants in front of your best windows.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ted
Brea, CA (Zone 10b)
Orchids Container Gardener Herbs Hummingbirder Dog Lover Tropicals
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Cactus and Succulents Bulbs Ferns Region: California Garden Ideas: Level 1
Oct 5, 2018 7:54 PM CST
You're going to slink back?!!?? I have been growing orchids for...well, a long time. Have killed every single Phal I have tried. EVERY ONE. You are doing great. Come out of the shadows and strut that Phal
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!
Oct 5, 2018 7:57 PM CST


Absolutely, what Ted said!

In my hands Phals are probably one of the toughest Orchids to keep going! I am definitely an accomplished Phal murderer!
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
Oct 5, 2018 8:12 PM CST
I consider them cut flowers that last along time at my place.
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid Judge
Region: United States of America Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Orchids Cat Lover Birds Dahlias
Oct 6, 2018 5:36 AM CST
I agree with everyone else, your plants look great. Whatever your method for growing them is, keep it up!! Take pride in your accomplishments, they look fantastic!
The reason that bloom producing temperatures are not mentioned for Phalaenopsis is simple, the vast majority bloom without much of a sudden change. They bloom in response to falling temperatures over time. They bloom in response to changing daylength. It is when you get a "reluctant bloomer" you can try a steady 15 degree night time temperature drop to attempt to get them to bloom.
Phalaenopsis are low light plants and their roots love to wander. That is why keeping them in a pot can be next to impossible. Some produce more roots then others due to cultural conditions but it could have a great deal to do with genetic make up. Some species just produce longer roots.
So please, join us in the forums, it is a wonderful place with wonderful people and we can all use some of that regardless of what we grow!
"Our children are the messages we send to a time that we will never see."
[Last edited by BigBill - Oct 6, 2018 5:38 AM (+)]
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Name: Alice
Ponte Vedra, FL (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Master Gardener: Florida Organic Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Aquaponics Hibiscus
Orchids Fruit Growers Tropicals Hummingbirder Garden Photography Container Gardener
Oct 7, 2018 4:36 AM CST
I too agree with everyone elses comments and what I find most important is that you have asked the right questions. Knowing when and what to ask is 90% of the battle. Thumbs up Thumbs up
You grow girl!
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Oct 8, 2018 1:59 PM CST
Here's another question. One of my plants, instead of sending up spikes is sending out baby phals, aka "Keiki"... What's up with that?

I remembered this had something to do with temperature and tracked down the BEST EVER article that turned my phals around:
Growing the Best Phalaenopsis; Part 3: Temperature and Light Requirements, Height, Insect and Disease Control. Text by Roberto Lopez, Erik Runkle, PhD, Yin-Tung Wang, PhD, Matthew Blanchard and Tony Hsu

And it says that once flower spike are initiated, a return to temps of 82 or more can cause 3 undesireable outcomes- induce the plant to grow keiki's instead of blooms, abort blooms, or stunt the spike so it simply stops and never produces anything... I have had all of these things happen, so it was GREAT to finally find out why. However, this plant is right next to 5 others off the north facing front porch railing. All of the rest are either in bloom or have spikes coming but this brat won't play ball, lol. The keiki is growing right from the main stem w/no spike at all.

I bought this plant in bloom, and after the blooms dropped I cut back the spike to a previous node and it grew a keiki there, so this specific plant may just be predisposed.
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I wonder if the smaller "spike" will become a spike or just a new baby plant. Maybe I'm only seeing what I want to- but I think its close. time will tell

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