What am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Orchidaceae (orchids)' started by Reiko, Mar 5, 2006.

  1. Reiko

    Reiko Member

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    When I was watering my orchids today, I noticed something new. Two of my phalaenopsis had developed a strange, blotchy section near the tip of one of their leaves. The section is a dark black/green blotch, with some brown/yellow blotching around the edges of the main spot. The orchids are placed in two seperate areas of the house -- one is in the main hall, which is the type with the high ceiling and a large window at the second floor level. The orchid itself gets plenty of light -- it is currently in bloom -- and is not placed close to a window. The second orchid is placed near a window in another room, but also gets plenty of light. I'm not sure what could be causing this. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Reiko

    Reiko Member

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    *bump*
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2006
  3. Reiko

    Reiko Member

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    *bump* again...
     
  4. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    If you want a better diagnosis of the problem
    then a few photos may be in order for us to
    see and evaluate what has you a little impatient
    to find out what is wrong. I am not married to
    the UBC BG forums and with my other work
    I may not be able look in this Orchid forum
    much for a couple of days at a time. I have
    some ideas of what may have caused this to
    happen but I do not know enough about how
    you are taking care of these two Orchids, how
    long you've had them, were they florist grown
    Orchids that you recently brought in or were
    these some Orchids that you bought at a mass
    merchandizer nursery outlet? Phalaenopsis
    can be a little difficult to grow in a warm and
    humid home and one thing we do not do is
    mist these at night. Standing water on the tips
    of the leaves can lead to a leaf rot and by the
    discoloration you mentioned this is what it
    sounds like is happening but I have no way
    of knowing for sure until you spend a little
    more time and thought into providing some
    more information in what the problem is.

    Jim
     
  5. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Thanks Jim,

    Reiko, I have been watching the posts, unfortunately I just don't know that much about orchids - this is still a rather new forum and I am not sure it has attracted enough orchid experts yet. It's a big topic and a very popular plant, so I welcome anyone in the know to post links and basic advice.

    You probably should give your posts, say maybe a week before bumping - a lot of people only visit the forums once a week.

    Wetness collecting at the tip as Mr. Shep suggested sounds like a possibility. The one thing I do know about orchids is that a lot of failure comes from over watering. If you can post some photos, that would probably help a lot. From the sound of you post, I would guess you have several orchids. Do you have a large collection?
     
  6. Reiko

    Reiko Member

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    I have a fairly good-sized collection, maybe 30 plants. I have brought in no new plants for 2-3 years. My house is fairly cool -- the temperature rarely rises very far above 70 degrees F. It's not very humid, either. As for pictures, I posted an attachment. Sorry that the quality stinks, it's the best I can do with this cheap camera of mine. >_> I will try to make sure the leaves stay dry, and see if that resolves the problem.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I'll be quite candid as we lost many of our Phalaenopsis
    right after they bloomed in a low humidity, 65-70 degree
    setting with filtered daylight. I already can see enough to
    know that you have been watering this plant too much and
    perhaps too often. It is normal to want to water these plants
    when they are in bloom as then the flowers will not wilt on
    us but we are too generous with the amount of water we
    give them. Let the potting medium be on the dry side for
    these, even when in bloom. The discolored leaf will probably
    be lost as the first leaf to go is the bottommost one. The
    other leaves may be okay as long as you cut back on the
    amount of water and how often you water these. Florist
    grown Phalaenopsis are a lot trickier as some of them have
    been given half strength fertilizer with almost every watering
    to get them to bloom and then a half strength bloom fertilizer
    while in bloom. We have to watch out for those as then we
    are forced to give the plant some fertilizer while it is still
    blooming or it may go into shock. We've had this happen
    with Phalaenopsis more so than any other Orchid we have
    and we learned this the hard way and acted accordingly.

    Your photo was just fine, to let me see what I needed to see.

    Jim
     
  8. Weekend Gardener

    Weekend Gardener Active Member 10 Years

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    We have several Phalaenopsis in the house. A few are quite old - at least one was acquired when my son was only 3 or 4 years old, and he is now 15! Doesn't make me an orchid expert in a temperate climate - by no means. However, I do have lots of experience growing orchids in the tropics, before we relocated to Canada. Most of these orchids are epiphytes. Their roots are never soaked for any length of time in soggy growing medium. They get a good drenching from a tropical rain storm, but then the water drains off very quickly. The roots may spend long periods without receiving any rain, but the high humidity helps to keep the roots nicely turgid.

    The lesson here is exactly what Mr. Shep says - beware of over watering. Far more than pest and diseases, over zealous watering is the single most common killer of these orchids.

    Here is what I do for Phalaenopsis:
    1. When I do water, I give it a good drenching. I allow water to flow freely from the drainage holes. This will help to wash away the "salts", which are residuals from the fertilisers.
    2. After drenching it, allow it to drain completely. When using plastic pots, this means placing the pot at an angle to the horizontal so that even small amounts of water are not allowed to pool at the bottom of the pot.
    3. After the drenching, allow the medium to dry completely before watering. I go one step further. I allow the medium to stay completely dry for one week before I water again.
    4. I think misting a Phalaenopsis's leaves is a mistake. What you really need to mist are the roots. When you do, you will notice how these roots swell up. These roots are capable of absorbing water. Infact, it is probably possible to keep them well hydrated by simply misting the roots on a regular basis. The leaves do benefit from the occassional wipe down with a damp but not dripping wet cloth. Phalaenopsis are grown in an "upright" position commercially, as this is perhaps the most attractive posture. But in the tropics back home, I grow them at a right angles. This prevents water from pooling at the crown, which can promote rotting of the tip.

    The Phalaenopsis sold in the retail stores with their huge beautiful, thick and succulent leaves have been nurtured in ideal environment of light, ferlitising, moisture and warm. Most of us can't duplicate those conditions at home. Most of these beautiful looking plants will "cull" some of their leaves, i.e., turn yellow and shrivel up, as they adjust to their new, and often harsher, conditions of growth. The key here is the health of the root system - which is their major "archilles' tendon". If the roots are still healthy, your plant will keep on living and flower annually. However, if the roots rot from over watering, then the plant is a goner. If that's what you are suspecting, lift the plant up and inspect the roots.

    And I repot, replacing all the growing media, once every two years.
     
  9. Orchidguy

    Orchidguy Member

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    Hello Reiko,
    I dont know what part of the U.S. that you live in,but you can just about grow Phalaenopsis orchids anywhere. I grow about 200 orchids under lights in what used to be a master bedroom. I have grown orchids for over ten years and have determined that Phals are easy and are pretty tough plants.
    The advice/tips that you got from the previous respondents in March were great info. The thing that I wanted to stress to you is this: No matter how wonderful,great,informative,or COMPLETELY correct the information you read or receive from growers on how to grow an orchid is...you still have to try a little trial and error process of everything you hear, to find out what works for you to grow an orchid in your environment. "Jim" or "Weekend Gardner" probably grow incredible orchids...but it doesnt necessarily mean ,that what works for them in California or British Columbia will work for me in Alabama or vice versa. With that said...here are a few tips that you may want to try, and see if they work for you:
    1. With Phals...especially if you are growing indoors...a rule I live by is.."If I am comfortable...then my orchids probably are as well. Humans tend to like humidity levels between 60% and 70%...so do Phals. Any higher than that..and you may have rot problems....and the wall paper will be rolling off of your sheetrock as well. This "comfort level" also applies to heating in winter as well. I love moving air for my comfort...orchids jump growthwise when air is moving in their enviroment. Always have air moving where you grow them...even in winter,especially in winter when air quality inside a house is near toxic to plants .
    2. Lighting.....Bright shade will never cause you a problem with your Phals. growing or flowering.
    3. Watering....So many ways for so many people..lol. This is a great way to know when you need to water your Phal. (provided that you have a potting medium that does hold/retain some moisture after watering) Water your orchid...THOROUGHLY...drown it kinda... When it is no longer dripping water..pick it up..and weigh it in your hands. You Phal should be this way at least Once during the week(Spring/Summer). Afterwards..pick up your pot once everyday..feeling the weight each day until you learn by weight alone how wet or dry your plant is. In Fall/Winter....You may discover that one heavy watering may last you for several weeks before you may need to water again. Fertilizing your orchids? Besides what media to grow an orchid in, fertilizing an orchid is a complex scientific art of growing that has to be discovered personally for each grower. However here is the rule for fertilizing that applies to all plants as well as orchids. NEVER fertilize a DRY plant. Always water the orchid with clear water first...then follow it it later with fertilized water. This will prevent serious root burn. And remember..no rots,no growth,and ultimately...no flowers.
    4. What happens if I get water on the leaves...and water in the center crown of the leaves? IF it is early in the day when you water, probably nothing..because natural evaporation will remove the water from the crown. BUT, if you water at night? Even in Summer..there is a temperature drop at night. Water in the crown at late afternoon or night wont evaporate quickly. If water is allowed to sit in the crown and the night temps are cool,this is the perfect environment for Psuedonomus bacteria to grow,feed, and ROT the crown of your Phal in as little as 24 hours.
    5. If you should see anything that is "dark green and mushy" on a leaf. If could be a spot of bacterial rot starting. A quick response is to measure about an 1/2 an inch to one inch back away from the "spot"...and cut the infected leaf part away. If the spot is small..and you dont want to cut the leaf....sprinkle on/cake on ground cinnamon onto the spot. Cinnamon has natural antibiotic qualities..plus the grounds of it will in most cases dry up the "mushy" part. Another thing to remember is, if you use any chemical means to treat an orchid , make sure that it is a water based insecticide, fungicide, bacterialcide, etc. Most of these chemicals are suspended in a petrolium base that is harmful to orchid foliage. Also NEVER put an orchid that has been freshly sprayed with any of the before mentioned chemicals into the sunlight to dry. The sunlight will cause a photochemical reaction to occur that will in most cases drastically damage the foliage of your orchid.
    Hope some of these tips help,
    Orchidguy
     
  10. terrestrial_man

    terrestrial_man Active Member 10 Years

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    From the image here are my conclusions:
    1. change the water you are using. Use distilled or reverse osmosis or deionized.
    2. do not expose the plant to drafts and keep it in the warmest room in the house.
    3. growing in osmunda in a clay pot means that you can pour water through the pot and not worry about over watering. Osmunda takes a while to break down and in a clay pot it will be awhile. So sit your plant into a bucket and water into the pot overhead. Do not hose off the plant as it appears you are doing so. Lift out of the bucket to drain off excess and put it back on the saucer. You could actually water every day but this is not needed for home culture.
    4. If you mist your plant use distilled water and the finest mist and just spray the air around it. The roots will be fine in the osmunda.
    Most important: change the water you use!
     
  11. jumbojimmy

    jumbojimmy Active Member

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    so weekend gardener, and the rest:

    do you mist your plant daily or when you have time to...is it pertinent?
     
  12. terrestrial_man

    terrestrial_man Active Member 10 Years

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    jumbojimmy
    what is your humidity like?
    I mist the air when the humidity drops to 60%.
    This may be once a day or twice a day or ???
    as needed.
     
  13. jumbojimmy

    jumbojimmy Active Member

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    i'm not sure how you measure humidity... it's kind of autumn/winter here in australia - we have ducted heating, and i would switch it on to 23 degrees (73F) every morning to warm up the house. to me, 23 degrees is quite humid.

    at night about 12 o'clock, the heater is switched off and the temp could drop down to 15 (59F) degrees over night.

    i got my plant on sunday, and the buds are starting to open. i started to water it on wednesday, and decided i will leave the watering to next tuesday. would that be okay?

    is it necessary to mist your plant - there has been talk about too much watering could kill the plant.
     
  14. terrestrial_man

    terrestrial_man Active Member 10 Years

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    I measure humidity by looking at a gauge!
    You could probably find one at a nursery or a general hardware store or check the net of the stores in your area to see if they list such gauges for sale.
    Of course one way to tell for me is when I walk into my greenhouse. Do my glasses mist up? If so then the humidity is probably about right! Even though it could be below the 70% that I consider to be minimal.
    59F overnight is not good for Phalaenopsis. Can you get a small heater that has a thermostat and a thermometer and try and keep the plant at a minimal of 65F at night. You could stick the heater and the plant in a closet to make it easier to warm up the space.

    With the plant in osmunda and a clay pot I would water it every day since it is in spike but again with quality water-not tap water and do not take it outside and hose it off!!! One thing you could do to save some bother is to get a heavy grade of hardward cloth or something that you could set on top of a bucket that you could set the potted plant on without it falling through into the bucket and just water some (say a healthy cup of distilled water) every day. The water would collect in the bucket and you could empty the water into your garden when it got full enough. This would also provide some humidity for the orchid.
    As far as spraying the plant. If the plant was being exposed to a great deal of heat then yes but my practice in misting is twofold.
    I spray down all plants mounted onto bark and then I spray or mist down the walls and then a very fine spray into the air to push up the humidity. I really do not water my plants so much as make it rain using a pressure sprayer and just applying a heavy beaded mist to the plants. Everything really depends on the nature of the potting mix and the health of the plants. Even with my practice I do have to watch it for some plants that are weak as my mix is a closed mix which means that I only water it directly when it is getting dry but it rarely gets dry if it gets rained on. So I am still learning how to improve my culture in light of all the variables as each plant is different even within the same species.
    Again you need to get involved with a local orchid society and exchange ideas with them. They can give much more valid cultural treatment advice than this Californian! Cheers.
     
  15. Orchidguy

    Orchidguy Member

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    Hello JumboJimmy,
    Concerning your humidity concerns, if you only have one or two plants, its can be quite simple to provide for them. 1. Misting -Do so in the mornings or early afternoon so that it can evaporate away completely before nightfall(especially with your drop in nighttime temps.) Using distilled water will not leave a accumulative mineral build up on the surface of your orchid's leaves as will most municipal water supplies will do.
    2. Make a Mico-climate -Find a 1-2 inch deep pan, aluminum tray,clay saucer,bonzai pot,etc....whatever suites your tastes for the orchid and where it is placed in the house. Fill this "container" nearly to the top with ,ideally aquarium gravel, crushed gravel from your driveway, glass marbles, etc. And here is the important part...fill the container with water ,BUT NOT ABOVE the top of the substrate/gravel you put into your container. By keeping the level of the water below the "gravel"...the bottom of your orchid pot will not be in actual contact with the water. This prevents excess amounts of water from "wicking" up into your potting media, keeping it overly soaked...which is eventual root death for Phal. roots. What all of this does is to provide a small microclimate of higher humidity immediately around your orchids, as the water evaporates from the gravel below the plant. This is great for a for a few days before you have to refill the container. It also relieves you of the misting chore if you should have to leave the house for a few days at a time.
    Regards,
    Orchidguy
     

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