Repotting vacuum-packed phalaenopsis

Pallas_AthenaJuly 7, 2014

Hi everyone,

I recently purchased three healthy orchids from a local grocery store. They are potted in sphagnum moss that has been almost vacuum-packed in plastic with a hole in the bottom, and then placed inside decorative, hole-less ceramic pots. I already have orchid bark mix and aerated, unglazed terra cotta pots in which to repot them (I feel more comfortable using bark as I'm nervous about rot), but I am unsure of whether or not to do so since they are in full bloom and the roots down in the plastic look healthy and green from crown to tip (minus some nutrient staining). Should I water very sparingly and wait for the blossoms to fade before repotting, or should I get it out of there ASAP, as the plastic seems to keep them quite rootbound and tightly packed?

Also, I have noticed that several of the aerial roots (like the one pictured) have been broken in places but have remained connected by what looks to be a large vein--consequently keeping them silvery and plump. Should I just cut those off at the break point when repotting, or leave them be? Thanks so much for your help.

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What I have done as a temporary fix is to cut slits in the plastic. Cut down the sides of the plastic and put the plant in a pot with drainage holes or you could raise the clear plastic pot (using Styrofoam peanuts or even a small clay pot) to allow the clear plastic to drain properly into the pot without drainage (just remember to dump excess water). This gives you time to repot although it would be better to repot now.

Leave the root alone unless the broken piece is dangling. It is still sending nutrients though that thread.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 6:11PM
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Thank you, Jane! I was planning to take it out and water it to let it drain through the plastic before replacing it in the pot, but your idea is great as well. Tell it to me straight--it would be better to just repot now? I don't want to shock the plant while it is currently expending so much energy to grow, open, and maintain new flowers.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 6:19PM
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Remove it from the plastic pot, put some holes in it for aeration, then loosen the sphagnum by removing some before putting it back into the plastic.

I like to pull the sphagnum out of the middle of the root ball, leaving it open.

Then use the color of the roots as an indicator for when to water. Also helps to feel the inside of the pot where you pulled the sphagnum out of.

I like growing in sphagnum. The phals dont mind as long as you get the watering right.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 9:20PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

I wondered how they packed the spag. in so tight.

I've reported before how Phals are regarded as difficult here in the sub tropics. The answer is partly due to people trying them outside with Cymbidiums or trying to get them through winter inside in non centrally heated houses.

I suspect spag is fine provided it never gets cold and wet.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 4:54AM
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Lauraeli gave good information. What I have found however, is fooling around too much with the roots, while in bloom could stop the blooming and the loss of flowers.

I generally take a straight-edge razor blade and make slits in the plastic and let the plant dry out a bit. I leave it that way until the blooms are not attractive anymore. Then I repot.

I've done it both ways and it works.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:28AM
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I agree with Jane on her last post. When watering, take the plant with its plastic pot, water it well, let it drip dry and then place back in the ceramic pot. Water when the moss just about loses any sign of moisture but not bone dry. If you repot before you are done enjoying the flowers, they will wilt and drop quickly. Leave the aerial roots alone until you repot.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:58AM
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I am happy to report that one week after repotting, the plants are healthier than ever. No buds were lost or yellowed, the flowers are looking vibrant and strong, and four more buds have opened since! I knew I had to do it before the root systems were lost--I caught one just in time, by the look of the rot.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 1:11AM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

I cannot open your Phalaenopsis ID request post. How big
(I.T. wise) are the pics?
In any case what you are asking is just about impossible.
There are more than 23900 Phalaenopsis hybrids registered by the Royal Horticultural Society at Kew. Your only hope is that your orchids are widely distributed mericlones (copies) and someone will recognise them.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 2:15AM
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