What becomes of a topless Phalaenopsis?

Discussion in 'Orchidaceae (orchids)' started by maf, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    About 6 months ago I made the mistake of trying to use a swivel chair instead of a stepladder to stand on to reach something near the ceiling, with the unsurprising result that I took a dive onto the floor. (I wouldn't normally try this but I had just returned from celebrating a friend's birthday at a local tavern). Unfortunately a Phalaenopsis was decapitated in the fall, the "main" leaf and the growing point was totally removed but otherwise it suffered only minor damage and continued to flower.

    After waiting six months there is still no sign of the plant producing a new leaf. The roots seem healthy and it has sent out a new spike. Where the growing point should be there is just a hole. Will it ever grow a new leaf?

    Any advice is welcome, thanks in advance,
    maf
     
  2. arcticshaun

    arcticshaun Active Member

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    With Phalaenopsis and other monopodial orchids once the terminal lead is damaged the growth is doomed. That's the bad news, your plant may yet produce basal keikis (growths from around the base determined by genetics of your plants breeding) or keikis from the flower spike itself (much more common). Watch the lower internodes on the flower spike if they begin to swell and produce leaves and then roots you'll have genetically identical plants, don't rush to remove the babies until roots are at least 1/2 inch long (as your mother plant won't be producing any more leaves the longer the better). Good luck.

    Shaun
     
  3. oberfeldwebel

    oberfeldwebel Active Member

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    maf -

    Orchids are tough as you're finding out. Either of two things will most likely happen:

    1)"Main leaf" you say...I'm guessing there are still other leaves left on the plant? If so, chances are you haven't damaged the growth point. It may need some recovery time and if it is in bloom most of it's resources are going there (to blooming). Blooming in most species signifies the culmination and end of the growing season. You probably won't see any new leaves until start of next growing season. Don't force anything, give it its season of rest in between... You may not see it bloom next year depending on how bad the damage was but be happy with some healthy new growth one new leaf is good, maybe two if you fertilize properly (less is more on fertilizer, good nitrogen ratio encourages vegetative growth)...

    2) you've irrepairably damaged the grwth point and it's going to have to form a new lead off the side of the main plant or it'll produce a plantlet on one of it's old flower spikes...which ever of these happens the old plant's days are now numbered... a photo or two would be some help in more accurately gauging the situation....
     
  4. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Thanks for the replies, looks like I'm going to be praying for keikis then. Here are the pictures, as you can see the growing point was totally removed along with the largest leaf:
    orchid1.jpg orchid2.jpg
    I wish I had tried to root the removed section as it came off cleanly in one piece. I couldn't repeat it if I tried!

    Looking on the bright side it won't be long before it is in flower again. It was only a noid plant from the supermarket, but it is one of my favourites, the flowers being almost exactly the same (if not the same) as Brother Sara Gold.

    In addition to the new flower stem, there are two stumps. The one that was flowering when I bought it is now brown, so no chance of a keiki there, but there is an even older stump that is still green, is there a chance of a keiki from that too?

    Also, how long can the plant live in its current condition? Now I know it is terminal it feels a bit like having the living dead in my house.
     
  5. oberfeldwebel

    oberfeldwebel Active Member

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    LOL @ "living dead": It could go on living for years: phals keep their leaves for a long, long time. Just see what it does next growing season. It appears as though the wound healed very cleanly. Just don't let any water stand in that spot. But it may surprise you. I wouldn't right it off anytime soon. And yes, as long as that older spike is green it could produce a keiki or even another flower spike provided you haven't cut it back past any of the three or so growth nodes that naturally occur on it. Even if you have, you've got the new spike it can work with. If you're not already, I'd suggest alittle fertilizer,weak mind you....which may (at best) see a keiki or lead start now instead of season after next and at worst give your phal alittle reserve to work with. Appears to be in very good shape though, dispite it's recent calamity... a phal needs at least 4 mature leaves to function as an adult plant and you've got five.
     
  6. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Thanks for the input. Glad to know it has enough leaves to function properly. The oldest spike is very short and only has two nodes though (it was already cut off when I bought the plant). I was very pleased when the headless plant began to send out its current flower spike, maybe it can channel more energy into producing flowers (and hopefully keikis too) now it doesn't have to make new leaves. One thing I have realised - this will be the last spike as there are no more available locations. Hopefully it won't turn brown after flowering like the previous one.

    I have the feeding and watering etc covered and all I can do now is sit back and wait. After all it has been through the plant deserves a name and from now on I will think of it as Phal. living dead.
     

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