To cut all or not to cut? Phalenopsis repotting

kihaku_gato(5)January 6, 2012

Heya ya'll, early in the autumn I had decided to try growing my first orchid. So my mom and sis bought a cute little dwarf white phalenopsis for me :)

However, for some time the mix it was potted in always bothered me, it's very mushy and soggy when watered and dries out quickly.

So this weekend I was planning to repot the little fella into some bark orchid mix since it's finished blooming for some time. So I got it out of the pot and removed it from it's mix; it seems that it was sphagnum moss.

So the problem: the all roots appear to be to be dead. The roots are supposed be gray, furry, and hard when healthy and lively correct? But none of the roots seem to look like that. I haven't cut them off yet, nor have I planted the little guy in his mix.

Which roots should I cut? Is it okay to remove them all? The leaves are still green.

Here are some photos

............ HALF of the problem is likely a near-months worth of not getting cared for <_ i was gone for the holidays some time.>Some input would really be appreciated.

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Honestly don't know if it can be salvaged. See no live roots, must have rotted in the soggy compacted sphagnum. Are there any live roots visible at all? If there are some, worth trying to save, if not, would start over with new plant. Just my opinion.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 8:45PM
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Repot into a smaller pot. The plant appears dehydrated. You could try planting into small bark mixed with some sphag and water well. Let drain, put into a warm, sunny window and hope it throws some new roots. Some of those roots might be alive and might branch.

The days are getting longer, spring will come and if the plant has a chance, this is all you can do.

Don't fuss, buy yourself another plant while you wait.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 12:14AM
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I agree with potting it in some sphag mixed with the bark. Your orchid is arleady stressed out evidenced by the leaves and the roots, and changing it from a pure sphag to pure bark mix will only stress it more. However, it may be too far gone at this point.

Run tap water over the roots though. If they turn green then they are good, if they remain brown then they are probably dead. That having been said, some roots harden off and look more brown than green when water runs over them, but with a careful eye you will see a slight change regardless if they are alive.

For sure use a smaller pot to repot in as they like to be root bound.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 9:24AM
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I agree with Jane and Paul_Mc. If you don't have a smaller pot, try to put a few pebbles at the bottom to fill up some space. The wrinkling on the leaves suggest that it needs more water. I have a very small phal, similar in size. I only water it once a week thoroughly, and mist the top of the medium (all sphag) about every other day.


    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 8:31PM
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Ok, so I think I can see some green on one of the roots, wet the roots with water, if its green it stays if brown cut sprinkle cinnamon on the cut roots ONLY to prevent further rot, put in a smaller pot, with some moss (a little damp)this will encourage new roots to grow, give a week or so then start to water again your plant will be good again, give it some time ,it got dehydrated, now it needs time to rest and grow back healthy,good luck.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 1:21PM
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I disagree with philpet. No cinnamon on the roots. Use small bark/sphag and water well. Put the plant in a warm spot with some bright sun and wait. Don't use sphag alone.

The plant is dehydrated, the roots don't appear to be rotting. Any which look hollow or dried up can be cut off. It looks like something could be going on close to the crown of the plant.

Just clean up the plant, put in a small pot with bark/sphag and wait to see if you see signs of life in a month or so.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 12:44AM
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westoh Z6

I think Christopher put it best earlier, it looks to be pretty far gone and if you do get it to come back (doubtful, sorry) it will probably be 2-3 years before you see another bloom. Even if you try and save this one, go buy another one in the interim to enjoy and keep your passion alive.

IMO, if you failed with the spagh moss the first time, I agree to try it in bark this time. If for nothing else, to help find the potting media that works best for you.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 7:05AM
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Thanks for the advice guys, and sorry for commenting late, College life got me busy. Unfortunately as you've said, the little guy was a goner. All the roots were basically hollow and dead.

I'll probably keep off the orchid bandwagon for now. I haven't been turned off from orchids however, heck it took me several plant deaths to get AVs right indoors as well as roses right outdoors. I think I may research online and offline to see if there are any orchid species/varieties more suited to my indoor gardening style (water when media dries out etc.). I find I have too much trouble keeping plants at that "constantly moist but not wet or dry" balance.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 11:37PM
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I would recommend giving it a try. We recently found a phalenopsis in the trash. Almost all the roots were dead and we cut them off. Replanted in bark/sphag. It's still alive after about 2 months, and the smallest leaf has been getting bigger.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 6:17AM
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