Gift Phalaeonopsis in poor condition: what can I do?

UlyssesHNovember 23, 2011

Today I received a Moth Orchid in the mail as a gift, and opening the package, I noticed it damaged in more than one way. This is my first orchid, and while I've always had a special interest in owning and caring for them, I wasn't quite sure what to do in this particular mishap...

One, about three-fourths up the spike there was part of the spike (before the flower buds) that looked as though it was twisted. That part of the spike was not broken, but enough bruised that the outer tissue has begun to fragment. Inside the spike remains connected. The surrounding tissue is yet green, no browning to be seen.

Two, further down the spike there is a second disruption. This one looks as though the spike has been bent. It too has the outer tissues starting to fray, more severely on one side, but is still connected. Also like the other damage there is no browning on surrounding tissue.

On related note, the flower buds feel very weak and their stems look somewhat... deflated? On the other hand, the leaves seem soft and a bit too heavy for the plant's own strength. Seeing as this was a mail-delivered orchid and living in Wisconsin temperatures are 40F at best, I'm not certain if the plants' weakness is a matter of poor handling, the cold, or both.

Thus far I've added a second support stick, bolstered the spike so its damaged areas stand straight, and applied some cinnamon to the bruised/exposed tissues.

So my question to sum all of this up is what my next course(s) of action should be. Should I see if the plant will toughen these spike damages out or crop it so it may grow anew? And what of the weak leaves? Definitely not how I imagined my first orchid to be, but perhaps this little fiasco will make me a better caretaker. Hope someone can help- Ulysses

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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Sometimes when Phalaenopsis are grown in a lush Phalaenopsis House they have floppy leaves, should not happen in good growing conditions, the leaves should be firm.
Complete set of culture notes written for Canadian growers in the link.
If you crop the spike at the base you will have to wait a while for a new one to grow, so see what happens if you provide good conditions.

Lots more information in past Phalaenopsis posts and in the Frequently Asked questions section.

Here is a link that might be useful: Phalaenopsis culture notes

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 6:10PM
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eahamel(9a)

It's a bit late to answer, sorry! If you cut the pike off, cut it after the second internode. That's the places along the spike that look like they will make a new stem, but don't. If the spike is damaged or broken, that's where the new spikes will come from.

The damage sounds like poor packing and poor handling, both. Spikes frequently need a stake to keep them standing up - the weight of the blooms will make them droop, so if you have to stake it to keep it alive, that isn't a problem. large leaves can be a bit droopy, too. That isn't necessarily abnormal.

I hope you'll try another orchid after this one has bloomed! They're great plants.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 10:26AM
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zzackey(8b GA)

Sorry you had such a poor beginning to the wonderful world of orchids. I hope it gets better for you. Phals are so nice because they have a long blooming time.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 3:42PM
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