Hello from TX, USA

Stephanie C

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Hi there! I’m Stephanie. I actually joined the forum quite a while back, but my life is chaos and I haven’t been on in a very long time. 😅

So I thought maybe I ought to re-introduce myself. I’m actually taking a bit of a break from gardening right now, for the most part, as we are hoping to buy our first home and move fairly soon (we’re renting currently). I’m excited for a fresh start with food gardening once we get settled into our new place, and in the meantime, if I can organize myself enough and spend some time here learning and preparing, maybe my garden will have a better chance of success when I start anew!

Actually, I won’t be entirely starting anew. I do have a couple of potted citrus, and some houseplants I’ll be taking with me. On that note, I wonder if someone with some orchid experience could help me help this little guy? This orchid was a gift from my hubby, and I’d love to keep it alive - but I don’t know much about orchids at all. It came with instructions saying to water it once per week with an ice cube equal to 1.5 tbsps of water, which I have been doing. Actually, I’ve been mostly using rainwater instead of ice cubes, because our tap water here is hard and causes trouble for a lot of plants.

But anyway, I’m thinking these instructions seem way too simple - surely humidity and temperature would affect how much water the plant needs? I’m worried it’s getting an unhealthy amount, as I went to water it today and the substrate it’s in still felt damp from last watering. Which I’m sure is okay for some plants, but I think I read or saw somewhere that orchids usually grow with their roots in the air. I don’t know - I have a terrible memory, and as I said, I don’t really know much about orchids.

I just pulled the little guy out of his pot to see what was going on with the lower parts, and this is what he looks like:


3201FF3D-6157-4BF3-A74F-FB7C666A855C.jpeg


Am I correct in assuming he needs a bigger pot? And some of these roots look like they are rotting. Can I save this plant, do you think? I saw on another thread that I can put him in straight sphagnum moss, and I actually have some of that on hand. My potted plant book had almost no orchid info, but it did say they do well in a mix of sphagnum, bark, and coarse perlite. I don’t have any perlite, but I do have coconut husk (we keep ball pythons, and we use coco husk for their bedding). I wonder if that would work? It is very coarse and would allow a lot of airflow to the roots.

My book also suggested using a tablespoon of dolomitic lime and a cup of horticultural charcoal per 3 quarts of the moss/bark/perlite mix. Do I need to go and buy these things in order to keep this guy alive? I really am very inexperienced with potted plants, and I honestly don’t even know what dolomitic lime and horticultural charcoal are. Actually, I would say I’m still pretty inexperienced with plants and gardening in general. I’ve had some success with my outdoor gardening, but a lot of that was luck, as I haven’t really (yet) put a great deal of effort into learning to garden. I’ve grown things, but mostly that’s just because those things grow well in my area and are easy to care for. Onions grow like weeds here, for example.

I mean, I know a little bit - I know goat poop makes good fertilizer, and I know how to get a tomato plant to put out new roots so I can divide it into two tomato plants. I’ve picked up a lot of little pieces of information here and there, and of course I’ve figured some stuff out just from trial and error. But I really feel like I’ve just scratched the surface, you know? I’ve discovered the tip of the iceberg.

Wow, this is turning into a rather lengthy post! Sorry about that - I didn’t mean to go on so long!! I’ll stop this here for now, as I have some things I need to take care of. But I do hope someone can advise me regarding my orchid. It would be wonderful if I could save it!!
 
We love lengthy posts!

I would as gentle as possible remove all the substrate. It's way too wet. And I feel like that substrate is most efficient in greenhouses, rather than in people's homes. I had a similar plug on my rescue orchid and along with some water, removed as much as I could without damaging healthy roots.
Use sanitised pruners/scissors to remove any rotting/dead roots as they do not benefit the plants and can spread rot to other roots.

Opinions are varied, but because I only had spaghnum moss available, that's what I used. Try to use it very compacted and I personally didn't water my plant for at least a week or 2, just to ensure that the roots had a chance to dry. I then watered until about the top 1/4 of the spagnum was wet, as it slowly soaks through the spagnum. Don't water until the spagnum is all the way wet, as it takes way too long to dry and the roots might rot again. Orchids are tropical plants that enjoy some heat and humidity, but they do not love wet roots. Also try to water under the leaves. as water stuck in the connecting creases can cause rot as well.
DO NOT USE ICECUBES. I don't understand where that trend came from. But they can and will damage your plant. Room temperature is best.

@daveb do you have any tips?
 
phalaenopsis orchid from looks, i would assume from the dirt form its in a plastic pot by chance? The soil it is in is not the best for the orchid go to a green house grower and see if the seel small bag of orchid mix its bar some moss and allow the roots to breath better phalaenopsis do not like feet wet and standing in wet heavy soil they are an epiphyte growing high in the tree canopy attaches to bark in cracks and joints of tree limbs and any spot water and nutrients get concentrated at.

#1 gently removed the soil they is around the roots any black rotting ot deseased roots snip them off allow it to dry in air a few hours
#2 get a good terracotta clay pot about 50 % larger then the current plasting pot
#3 they do not like to stay wet between watering so one way i water mine because they are in a clay pot with a back mix i submerse the whole pot until i see the bark floating at top then take them out and let them drain
#4 they are a medium to cool house orchis if they are phalaenopsis orchid and will requires chilly condition to force them to bloom i use an old refriegerator i stick them in to give then a chill in stages

you can tell when you have a nice water the leaves will have a firm leathery feel if they feel mushy or soft then stick finger down in back to make sure is not bone dry stay away from ice water , room temperature water and an occasion mix of a 10-10-10 fertilizer start or about half the recommended amount for flowers do not wet the leafes or flowers only the potting mix. and it is common so see a heavy root system down in pot and as the plants mature it will grow out over the time and wrap the pot to cling tight to it

https://www.epicgardening.com/phalaenopsis-orchids/ may give you some help .

I do not use any spaghnum moss in mine, bark mix may have any or all the following in the mix - bark, charcoal, pumice, coco coir, sponge rock and perlite.

found site i was looking for to send you to for making own back mix phalaenopsis is also referred to as a moth orchis so go down page to the medium back mix

https://www.oakhillgardens.com/blog/homemade-orchid-potting-mix
 
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Thank you both!! I’m so glad I came here to ask. I thought about just doing a web search, but there’s SO much info to wade through online, and it can be really difficult to separate the good advice from the bad, especially when you don’t have any firsthand experience and might not recognize common red flags.

I super appreciate the help!! I’m going to go trim the rotting roots off right now and see what I have for a pot upgrade.
 
Yeah, just have some pots at the ready (if you have them), as I personally didn't need to size up at all once I cut off all the dead roots. I just gave it a fresh pot (and washed the other for later use).
 
I just wanted to pop back on here and thank you all again for the help. My orchid is still alive, and it’s working on making a new flower!! It also has a new leaf coming in, although one of the old leaves seems to be dying. Here is what it looks like now!

Hello from TX, USA

Hello from TX, USA


Should I be concerned about the old leaf dying? What about the sort of leathery, wrinkly look on the big, non-dying leaves? Is that normal? I could have sworn its leaves were smoother when I first got it, but my memory is pretty awful.
 
yes the leave should have a smooth silky texture and sheen firm to touch not limp, wrinkling is caused by numerous issues, underwatering, i let mine dry about a week between watering or until it dry about 2 inches deep in the potting media - temperatures to high 65- 85 is the range they can handle i like to keep mine in 70 to 78 ranger. not enough nutrient i use peter orchid blend i dont have it hand but i think its a 20 10 20 now the original one i had was10 - 10 - 10 and i feed once a month or every other watering when blooming, even thought it likes indirect light it still likes it bright ( east or west window for morning or afternoon of filter sun ) about 3 to 4 ours. winter i supplement with ful spectrum led in the 15000 lumens . If by chance you have over watered you may have some root rot so for a few times make sure to just stick little finger in as deep as can to see how far down in potting mix it has dried out - make sure the window sill area you have it in does not get excessively hot . lastly if you have a cell phone there are numeous apps oout there for use as like meters i reccomend is called Photone this is web page on pc to get you infor the app has both android and appl applications https://apps.apple.com/us/app/photone-grow-light-meter/id1450079523
 
I've seen in my own orchids what it's often caused by plant damage. It's happened by both under- and overwatering. Too much sunlight (often accompanied by scorch marks). Once the leaf goes wrinkly, it doesn't usually go smooth again on me, so keep an eye on the new leaf.
Personally, I let the substrate dry out completely, or until there's barely any moisture left at all, and then I water. In Summer this might mean I water weekly or every other week, but now in the colder temperatures I water maybe once a month. I keep my orchid in clear pots so I can see exactly what the roots look like and if it needs water. Usually when I stop seeing moisture beads against its walls it's time to water. I don't water all the way through either as I use spaghnum moss and it holds on to a lot of water. I water until only the top 1/3 of the spaghnum looks wet, as it seeps deeper over time.
 
I've seen in my own orchids what it's often caused by plant damage. It's happened by both under- and overwatering. Too much sunlight (often accompanied by scorch marks). Once the leaf goes wrinkly, it doesn't usually go smooth again on me, so keep an eye on the new leaf.
Personally, I let the substrate dry out completely, or until there's barely any moisture left at all, and then I water. In Summer this might mean I water weekly or every other week, but now in the colder temperatures I water maybe once a month. I keep my orchid in clear pots so I can see exactly what the roots look like and if it needs water. Usually when I stop seeing moisture beads against its walls it's time to water. I don't water all the way through either as I use spaghnum moss and it holds on to a lot of water. I water until only the top 1/3 of the spaghnum looks wet, as it seeps deeper over time.
it takes pampering to get them to fill back out i actually had a couple recently i gave to niece the roots have actually grown out over the ouside of pots over time and were gripping it tight so she was going to work at them to repot into a mesh cord bag to hold moss and bark shreads attached over a slab of bark to hang , one of them had got wrinkled up a few years ago and it was 3 plus month for it to get back to firm healthy leafs
 
Perhaps the wrinkled leaves are leftover signs of previous distress then. I hope so!! I’ll keep a close eye on the new one forming and see how it looks.

Thanks for your help once again!!
 
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