Yellow Leaves - did not soak bark

mswmomJune 20, 2012

I've had orchids for years. I have terrible light in my house and only have occasional success with flowering, but I have kept some of my orchids healthy and beautiful for 5 or 6 years. Recently, I repotted a few of my orchids (only because I got new, pretty pots). I noticed that many of the roots were brown and mushy. I cut those off. The root system was not impressive and so I figured I have been overwatering. So, now I have repotted using a dry bark. I thought this would be good for getting the orchid roots on track as the bark is very dry. However, suddenly the leaves of several plants have started turning yellow and some of the leaves look wrinkled. Also, a confession -- I did not soak the bark (I did not have my glasses on and did not read the bag - I just jumped in and repotted. So, do I pull the orchids back out of the pots and soak the bark or may I simply submerge the orchids in water? It seems like I did better with sphagnum moss even though most everyone advises against this. I do better when I don't have to water as often. I like plants that thrive on neglect. If they need too much care -- I tend to kill them. Help!

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olympia_gardener(5)

leaves look wrinkled sounds like the plant did not get enough water. This happens to my orchids too when I forgot water it. Like you, I intentionaly keep my orchids on the dry side. but I do mist them twice a day.

I would not pull the plant out of the pot. Give it a rest after the repot. Just soak the whole pot in water for 5 minutes and take the whole pot out, provide the pot have good drainage.

Some people wear by certain growing medium. Bark or S. moss,or packing material, personally, really does not matter that much as long as you know when to water it.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 11:02AM
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cjwatson(Z8 FL)

To ease your mind, mswmom, I have never pre-soaked any bark in all my decades of orchid growing. They have always been potted in dry bark and then watered sparingly for a few days.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 4:06PM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

I agree. Soak the whole pot. Only I would do it longer than 5 minutes, let's say 15 or so, and I would check if I needed something to keep the bark down and prevent it from floating away.

You probably did better in the moss because it stayed damp. Give the bark a chance, especially after you condition it properly.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 4:09PM
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James AKA lumpy_j

You will find that the answer to every orchid question is " It depends ".

What kind of orchid are we talking about? Is this the first re pot in 5 - 6 years ? Was the old mix also bark?

If the old mix was bark and decomposed it would take longer to dry and have less air at the roots, so in those conditions you may have been over watering. Now that you have new bark it will dry faster so you should adjust your watering based on the new mix not the old, personally I think its better to under water than over water.

I don't think soaking the bark makes any difference. In the future I would re pot when you see new growth starting, the plant will recover faster. I have never been a fan of sphagnum moss, if you live in area that is very dry it's good because it will raise the humidity at the roots. if you live in a humid area I think it doesn't dry out fast enough and causes root rot.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 4:57PM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

While I agree with Lumpy on mostly everything, I strongly feel that the bark needs soaking. It has been dried very thoroughly, possibly even oven dried, and the core of the bark is so dry it's hard. You must soak the bark to reach that center nugget. Once it's conditioned, the center will not resist moisture and the bark will hold water better.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 1:44PM
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