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help with new orchids

Sara T
November 30, 2018
I recently got 4 phils currently in bloom. I’m new to orchid care, but have read up on the basics. The leaves on this particular plant look the worst. Yellow/bronzing, curling, sticking up. What do you think is causing this? I bought new plastic pots that are a size bigger, along with new orchid potting mix. Not sure if I should repot now or wait until flowers die?

Comments (13)

  • Photo Synthesis

    The leaves grow like this due to the way that they're grown at the greenhouses. They keep them in a cylindrical plastic sleeve, so that the leaves spread upwards, instead of outwards. Nothing to concern yourself with. I would give them all a good drink, while avoiding getting the leaves wet. Room temperature water.

  • John B

    I noticed that the roots inside your pot are white. I think this is a sign of under-watering, and could explain why the leaves are curling. PS, wait until the flowers are gone before repotting.

  • Sara T
    Thanks for responding. When you say don’t get leaves wet, do you mean ever? I thought I’ve read to spray leaves frequently to help with humidity but avoid crown. My orchid fertilizer also says to wet foliage. Is this a no-no?
    Sadly I noticed signs of spider mites on several houseplants today. I’m hoping I’m paranoid about the orchids but there’s definitely a chance they already have them since they were on close proximity. Any specific treatments you recommend or a preventive?
  • myermike_1micha

    If you can avoid getting the leaves wet then do it, unless of course you have a good fan directed at them that can dry the water off before night fall.

    If mine get wet, the water on the leaves usually dries off shortly after watering them due to good air movement. I forgot about that last year and lost one to crown rot.

    Mike

  • Photo Synthesis

    I never spray any of my plants to supposedly help increase humidity, because it's pointless. You would have to increase the humidity within the whole house in order to keep the humidity at any sustainable levels. Any water sprayed on the foliage would quickly evaporate and dissipate throughout the rest of your home and won't do your plants any good. My orchids do just fine without it, and I have gas heating, which quickly dries out the air in my home. Just make sure to keep them well watered and they'll do just fine. Spraying the leaves down is just an open invitation to fungal problems that can easily be avoided by keeping the leaves dry.

    To clean your plants' leaves of any water spots, just wipe them down with some lemon juice. This is what I do for mine, and it leaves their leaves looking nice and shiny. Plus, spraying down the leaves would just leave even more water spots on them once the water dries.

  • John B

    While I agree with Photo Synthesis regarding the futility and risks of misting orchid leaves, if you can keep your humidity over 40% in a sustainable way there are benefits to this. One of the most obvious benefits would be for new roots. New root tips can and often do cover over with velamen and stunt if air is too dry. This is a real concern. If for whatever reason you don’t want to invest in a humidifier, (which even in an open room you can place close to your plants), you can always mist the surface of the potting medium off and on throughout the day and even mist newly emerging roots directly, being careful about not getting water into leaf axils or crowns of your plants, and making sure plants are dry before evening. Furthermore, despite the popular over-use of fans for orchids, if your air is dry, absolutely do not focus fans directly on your plants, or even use them at all. Normal household air currents provide plenty of air movement for your plants.

  • Photo Synthesis

    This is why I use these dual-core orchid pots. They keep the relative humidity around the roots quite high, while letting to roots breathe.

    It's a black inner net pot, placed inside of a clear plastic outer pot. With these, you don't have to worry about keeping the humidity levels up, and the leaves stay nice any dry.

    As for air circulation, I just keep my ceiling fan going. If you have one of these, they work great at circulating the air throughout the room without blowing any air directly on to your plants.

    On a side note, this little miniature phalaenopis sent out a terminal spike and now the poor thing doesnt know whether to bloom or grow new leaves. So it did both, lol...

  • myermike_1micha

    Photo, that is the coolest growth I've seen. lol. It is a cutie.

    I have a few questions. Do you find that Phals are very slow growers? For some reason, it seems like I have to wait forever for a new leaf and even for a spray of flowers to come out. Geez mine are very slow growers.

    I also noticed the leaves on yours are a rich darkness, and the very top pic very light. Do you supply lots of light? What kind? They look so very healthy! How often are you having to water them.

    Love the pots I am using too thanks to you and the mix is working great thus far)

    Mike

  • Photo Synthesis

    Mine always go outside in the springtime. Just as soon as the weather gets above 50°F. I find that keeping them indoors requires more care and attention. Outdoors, they thrive on my neglect, haha. The only care they get is a blast from the garden hose, and maybe a diluted down dose of fertilizer whenever I remember it. In the summer, I usually have to water them every evening, but they love the hotter weather, just as long as I quench their thirst. I water them in the evening, just before sunset, so that they can soak up whatever water they need before the sun rises in the morning and dries them back out in the heat of the day. Then, by the time the weather starts cooling off, they start sending out spikes all on their own.

  • myermike_1micha

    Photo, you are too funny.lol

    My cattaleya's and dendrobiums actually thrived on my neglect too, and in fact spiked and flowered without my knowlede until it was almost to late to enjoy them.

    Now you have me baffled and here is why.

    How can you keep your 'phals' outside like that without the risk of 'crown rot'?

    Especially watering at night?

    I never worry about any of my others at all, and in fact I could care less what happens weather wise to them.lol I even leave many of them out up until frost because my growing season is so short and it's much more convienent to keep them outdoors and to set bud. They received much more light and humidity even in fall.

    But when it comes to my Phals, should I worry about them so much?

    This past summer I lost two to crown rot even though it was a very hot summer which I can not understand. My weather here can be so inconsistent.

    What do you think?

    Do you just leave your Phals to the forces of nature too or are you over protective of them oustide even in the outside months?

    Mike

  • Photo Synthesis

    Growing outdoors, plants are exposed to the sun's ultraviolet radiation, even if they're not in direct sunlight. If you have a weather app on your phone, just check your local UV index. Ultraviolet light keeps any fungal growth in check, preventing them from gaining a foothold where they don't belong. This is why I don't worry about them when they're outside.

    Well, there are some instances where I do have to intervene. If the overlapping leaves touch each other and water gathers in between them, I'll take one of the small lava rocks from the potting mix and wedge it between them so that air can circulate. Also, after I've sprayed them down with the garden hose and let the water drain away, I'll go out there and shake them off by gently thumping the leaves. Then I'll tilt them at an angle to let any excess water drain from the mix as well. So even though they're not dry, they're also not sopping wet either. Then the morning sun will come out the next day and dry them off completely.

  • jane__ny

    To answer the OP's question, I would leave your plants in their pots and place them inside a slightly larger pot to get through the winter. You don't mention where you live, but I assume you live in a zone where you have central heat.

    I always found, pot in pot works wonders to keep aerial roots from drying out. In spring, when the flowers are almost finished, you should repot. If you repot now you'll lose the flowers and stress the plant. Spring is the best time to repot.

    Photo, I do not water late in the day. I water early so the plants have time to dry out before night. I'm not sure much goes on during the night as far as water uptake.

    Where I live, if I watered late in the day, they would never dry out between humidity and lack of air movement they would (and do) get attacked with various fungi.

    I want my plants well dried before night even dirt plants in the ground. I think you've been lucky!

  • Photo Synthesis

    Arkansas has its fair share of humid air. I may hate it, but my plants love it. As for watering them in the evenings, I only do this during the summer. During spring or fall, I'll water them in the mornings if the weather is going to warm up. None of this is carved in stone, I just go by experience and play it by ear. If my plants don't need watered, they don't get it. But during the heat of summer, my plants' soil dries out almost daily. Just about everything gets watered late in the evening when it's hot out. The vast majority of orchids, and even houseplants, come from the rainforests where they get rained on all of the time. So they're no strangers to getting wet. Even my state is one of the rainiest in the nation. The last time I checked, it was ranked seventh or eighth.

    A long time ago, I used to care about drying them off when outdoors. Arkansas can get some pretty gnarly thunderstorms that roll thru, dumping a ton of rain on us. But over time I would occasionally forget to do this and my plants would just stay wet. Eventually, I found that my plants couldn't care any less on whether or not I dried them off, so I just stopped.

    Now I'm not saying th at they're invulnerable to fungal infections. As I stated in my previous response, I'll take steps to minimize any chances of this ever happening. It may sound like a lot of effort, but it's not. Just a few minutes in the evening to hose them down and shake off any excess. My plants are far more healthier grown this way, rather than keeping them inside any trying to control every aspect of their environment. Outdoors, my plants thrive on my neglect.

    I know that I've rambled on long enough and wandered off of the OP's original topic, but I felt the need to elaborate. But don't take my word for it, let my plants speak for themselves...

    This past summer, I left my ponytail palm sitting in a bucket of water overnight to show that you can't be afraid to "overwater" your plants. Just so long as they're planted correctly...
    It didn't phase it one bit. Just as long as I flushed the soil out with fresh water after I let the old water drain away. As of now, it's currently resting comfortably inside my garage, where it will get ignored until spring. I've even done this for my huge ZZ plant; left it sitting in water overnight, and flushing it out the next morning...
    It's now in my bedroom for the winter. One of the few plants my cat won't chew on, lol...
    All of them thrive on my neglect, and all of them get watered late in the evenings (outdoors, during the summer months). None of them suffer from any fungal issues.

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