Orchid, cut stem will not grow back. Help please!

pinkelephant1000January 13, 2009


I have a Phalaenopsis Orchid. After getting as a gift, it bloomed all summer and was great. Eventually all the blooms fell off...I waited for many months...and it would never flower again.

I was told to "cut the stem down to the base" and that a new one would grow and then flower again.

over 1 year later, there is no sign of the stem even attempting to grow back. I water it occasionally and all I have to look at are 3 strong looking green leaves. Is the main stem ever going to grow back? Should I not have cut it in the first place? Can I do anything to assist it to come back or do I throw it in the garbage?

Thanks so much!

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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Not much to go on , you need to describe your growing conditions and where you are in the United States. Some Phalaenopsis initiate blooms in winter others when the weather warms up.

Does your orchid have a name tag?

Growing conditions means temperature, amount of light. fertilizer. watering period etc. etc.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 5:49PM
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Oh hi...Ok Ill try to give more info.

I live in Canada, but I think that is irrelevant since, this is an indoor orchid that sits in a pot inside my house.

I have never fertilized it. I have had it for 19 months. I water it very infrequently, once every two weeks, the medium it sits in (not soil but some sort of yellowish stringy stuff) is basically bone dry and crunchy.

My orchid has no name tag :-(
It just says 4" Phalaenopsis, it was bought at a local grocery store - so I am sure it is nothing special.

The temp in my house is 24C or 75F, it sits on a shelf by a large south facing window which gets a lot of light.

Thats as much as I can tell you!

Oh I found a tag that came with it, says the Orchid is from
King Guey Enterprises Greenhouse in Abbostford British Columbia...it does not give a more specific name for the orchid.

Maybe it is not humid enough for it? Its SO dry where I live.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 6:08PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Where you live is vital. I could say Australia and that covers a lot of climate zones. Your my page details says United States and that means even more climate zones than here.

I am growing Phals inside the house and the plants are placed in the optimum growing spots. That means right up against windows where the plant will get filtered sunlight at times in winter and protection from hot sun in summer. The human eye is a hopeless judge of light and the light available to a plant drops off quickly as you move away from a window.

Your spot sounds good but does the temperature vary?A constant 24C might lead to the plant to "think" endless summer and it might be cool enough at night to initiate flowering on some Phals.

Humidity is low here in winter, the usual reading in the house then is about 40 to 50%.

Hopefully, local growers will add to this.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 6:29PM
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orchidguyftl(z11 FTL FL)

If the growing medium is "bone dry and crunchy", then its not geting enough water and if you've not fertilized in 19 months, then it needs food, we eat more then once in 19 months, right, i hope so.
Also, as arthurm mentioned, phals need a drop in temps to set spikes, usually 15 - 20 F, about 45 degrees F. Your plant possibly, depending on the cross, could have rebloomed from the original spike had you left it on, or cut it back part way

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 8:55PM
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Sheila(8b SW Texas)

Pinkelephant, DON'T throw the plant away! It sounds like a real survivor! It grew new leaves without any food and not very much moisture.

Try a combination of cooler night temps (as Arthur said, move it closer to a window with filtered sunlight, east or southeast exposures are good. It will get the cool down temps it needs at night along with the light) feed twice a month with a weak solution of a balanced plant food and water the plant just BEFORE it becomes 'crunchy' dry.

This is the time of year that many phals will spike. It will not spike from the same 'stem'. It will grow a new flower stem (commonly called a spike or infloresence). Good luck with it.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 10:54PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Hopeless Typing as usual. "A constant 24C might lead to the plant to "think" endless summer and it might be cool enough at night to initiate flowering on some Phals."

Should read
A constant 24C might lead to the plant to "think" endless summer and it might NOT be cool enough at night to initiate flowering on some Phals.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 11:48PM
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Wow thanks for the posts. I really feel like I have some new stuff to try out!

I put USA in my profile because I hate filling out online forms :-(

I will not throw my plant out.

Thanks you all for the tips, I will let you know how it goes.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 11:49PM
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Oh on this subject - what SHOULD have I done?

Once the orchid has stopped flowering, how long to you wait before you decide...this sucker just ain't gonna flower no more, do you wait 6 months? one year? after waiting is up, then what - obv. seems like cutting mine down all the way to the base was not maybe the best move, how much do you cut it back?

Man, I sure suck at taking care of my poor orchid, at least I am trying to be a responsible parent now...

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 12:05AM
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savtaj(Z 9-10 (Israel))

Dear Pink Elephant,
Don't be discouraged. You haven't done anything terribly wrong - there are just a few extra things that you could do in order to get your phal to flower. And as Sheila (granniek) says, your plant seems like a survivor (Orchids on the whole are hardier than is popularly thought).
The original advice you received is correct. Cutting the old spike down to the base is the best method of ensuring a strong and healthy new spike next season, provided that you add a few extra care procedures, as explained in all the above posts.
To summarise:
Probably all you need is to add fertiliser and a short period of cool nights. Don't let the medium dry out completely between waterings - phals like damp - but not wet!- conditions.
Fertilise with a balanced orchid fertiliser, according to the instructions on the label.
Try to provide a difference of about 10 C between day and night temperatures for two weeks. Give the phal between 12-15 C at night for the two week period.
Pretty soon after this, you should seen a green or brown "spike" emerging at the base of the lowest leaf junction. If this doesn't happen, be patient. Your phal may be a summer bloomer, in which case it will produce a spike in spring.
Good luck, and keep us posted.
Welcome to the forum!

1 Like    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 2:39AM
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Wow this forum rocks!

Thanks Judy, I am going to buy fertilizer at lunch today ;-)

I will begin the two week cool nights period immediately.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 11:03AM
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Hi, Pink Elephant! The Canadian Orchid Congress has an excellent site with helpful culture notes. The link is below.

I keep wooden skewers in my pots to show how wet the medium is. I water when the skewer is nearly dry. My orchids can also tolerate a lot of light, as long as their leaves don't burn in the direct sun. If the leaves get warm to the touch, move them back a bit; otherwise let them drink in the light. They probably won't burn at this time of year in Canada, but when the sun gets stronger, or if you put it outside in the summer, you need to be more careful.

Also, have a look at the FAQ at the top of the forum page. There are a lot of good tips there.

Here is a link that might be useful: C.O.C. Phalaenopsis Culture

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 10:40AM
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counselor4444(6A NJ)

The experts above have given you great advice. I learned for those who posted above. I now have been growing orchids for a year and have 12 of them. .. just to recap..

Your orchid needs the basics: light, humidity, food/water

1. Light: Is your orchid sitting on a windowsill? Orchids need light. They don't need too much light, but they need some. What direction does your window face?

2. Watering/Food: The potting medium that your orchid is in is most likely moss. The moss should always be damp- not bone dry and not constantly soaking wet. Water the moss thoroughly in the sink and allow all the excess water to drain out of the bottom. Then a few days later stick your finger way down as far as possible into the moss. Is it damp? You want to water again BEFORE it completely dries out. As far as food- the general rule is to fertilize "weakly, weekly." Give the orchid fertilizer everytime you water it but give it a very low dose. I use Miracle Grow Bloom Booster.

3. Humidity: Orchids like humidity. If your home is dry (which most are) you will want to buy some kind of cheap round tray (at your local plant/hardware store you can buy a 50 cent clear plant tray) then put large rocks in the tray and put the orchid on top of the rocks. Keep a little bit of water in the tray at all times. (Note: the water should not touch the orchid pot) This way the water will evaporate providing the orchid with humidity.

As far as cutting the spike- this was a good idea. Once you get the above conditions right, it will grow another spike. Good Luck!


    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 11:15AM
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anyone have experience growing phals mounted on tree bark ?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 7:52AM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

You might consider the skewer method as Venividi suggests. Get yourself some skewers from the grocery store and trim them down to fit the pot. Leave the skewer there until you think it needs water, then take it out and touch it to your lips, cheek or the back of your hand. If it's nearly dry or dry, water. If it's wet, don't water. How wet or dry the skewer is before you water depends on the type of orchid. I've used this method for over five years and it's foolproof.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 4:27PM
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