PHALAENOPSIS / VANDA ALLIANCE (33)
PHALAENOPSIS / VANDA ALLIANCE
Enjoy browsing the Orchids
Pronounced: (fail-eh-NOP-sis) or (fail-en-OP-sis) or (fayl-eh-NOP-sis)
Phalaenopsis // Blume (1825), known as moth orchids, abbreviated Phal in the horticultural trade, is an orchid genus of approximately 60 species. Phalaenopsis is one of the most popular orchids in the trade, through the development of many artificial hybrids. It is native to southern China, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia (Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc.), New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and Queensland.
Additional information about the Phalaenopsis can be found in the "Caring for and Re-blooming the Phalaenopsis" section below.
5 September 2019 - Week 12
I was going into this update under the impression that nothing has really changed in the progress of the four candidates. I am always taking pictures of this group but I see no point in publishing a series of Phal. leaves getting a little bigger every two weeks. I would get excited if once the new leaf reached maturity, that the second leaf of this year's growth cycle appear and start growing.
Earlier today, I decided it was time to do a real good "swishing" of the base of each Phal, perhaps I discover new roots during my cleaning.
Each Phal. was completely removed from it's suspension lid and allowed to freely float in my sink. This would remove any dust from he leaves, loosen up any debris from the base and roots. I would use a soft bristle tooth brush and very gently scrub the base and rinse further using a hand sprayer on "water pick" setting. Some cleaned up nicely, others I cannot tell any difference, but it was easy to discover new roots. Not talking about root growth on old roots, but actual new roots extending from the base. This is exactly what I want to see. As these new roots get about an inch in length, I ill remove one or two of the old roots. Hopefully this removal of old roots inspire additional new roots. These new roots will eventually be acclimated to water culture by being submerged in their suspension pots. They will either take to the constant presence of water by growing below the surface, or skirt the top of the water perhaps eventually diving below the surface. This will be the actual beginning of their acclimation process.
A quick review - as we get caught up in tending the needs of the orchid we are bombarded with regards to watering that the potting medium must be of a condition to not retain water, but allow roots and medium to almost completely dry before the next watering. Roots want to exchange gasses, that is absorb carbon-dioxide from the environment and expel oxygen into the enironment. If the roots are surrounded in a dense humid potting medium, this exchange cannot take place.
Water culture or hydroponics goes against all of the above rules. The roots are intentionally submerged constantly in water and not only do not complain, but the orchid thrives. This is literally drowning the roots. In a potted medium environment, this constant submersion of the roots in water would result in the eventual death of the root and perhaps the plant.
According to botanists, orchids were the last major plant species to develop in nature hundreds of thousands of years ago. They got the last pick of real estate and to survive and thrive, they had to acclimate to what nature provided them. The first step in acclimating is by the roots. How they function in absorbing nutrients, take in water, perhaps even conduct photosynthesis.
The process of acclimating some varieties of orchids to hydroponics or water culture is an extension of what orchids have achieved in the past, but not require the eons of time.
So the focus is on new roots, not the old roots. Young new roots can adapt to any environment that the orchid finds itself presented with. Old roots have old habits or a preference for the old environment and they cannot adapt. "Training" new roots is the key to this transition.
It help that Phaleanopsis are epiphytes - meaning their roots do not require being buried in a medium for survival but rather they get nutrients from the surrounding environment. Epiphytic orchids grow on trees, rocks, fences, roofs, anywhere they can get the basic nutrients required to survive. The roots help anchor the orchid in place without causing any harm to the host.
The next stage of Littlefinger is to keep an eye on the two new roots. Once they are about an inch in length (middle of September I hope), I will cut back the old roots (less than 1- inch in length) and raise the level of the water in the suspension pots providing a choice to these two and future new roots - dive in or skim the surface eventually extending below the surface of the water. This happens in nature.
Above, one new root is pointing towards 9:00 o'clock (on an analog clock of course) and the other is pointing towards 3:00 andf 4:00 making this a quarter to 4, pardon the joke. In the center of the picture above, facing you, I am not sure what that is. It could be a third root. pointing to the top of the picture, just behind the root on the right, is the remains of the old spike.
The above image was taken after a gentle cleaning of the base with a soft bristle toothbrush and a hand sprayer acting like a water pick to remove any old debris.
Above is the flip side. If I never identified this as the base of a Phaleanopsis, it be fun asking others to take a gues at what this is.
A closer view of the larger root on Littlefinger.
Davos and the Hound are progressing along perhaps a week or two behind their counterparts mentioned above.
Mid month I will once again look at the condition of the roots and start cutting back where I can.
I can always be reached at if you have any questions related to this or orchids in general.
01 August 2019
Prior to the last weekend of July (a scheduled feeding) and mini-heatwave (temperatures above 105-degrees) and attending speaker's day, all the blooms were fading fast. I did some research on how to prune or just cut back a spike after the flowers fade and fall. I chose to cut most the spikes off and those that remain might also be completely cut back.
I may also consider re-potting these mini-Phals. because the spikes played havoc with the leaves not laying flat above the clay pellets. This be the best time to do this as they should be in a state of rest before beginning new leaf growth and new root growth for the next bloom. Clay pellets make this a very simple process. I can also inspect and clean any dead roots.
Rickon, Arya, Robb, Sansa and Bran - The Stark Family from Game of Thrones
Watering: Without the spikes it is so much easier to work with and position them in the humidity box. Sansa (second from the right) has a new leaf progressing nicely as does "Bran" (furthest right).
"Bran" and "Rickon" (furthest left) are scrunched because the spike prevented the leaves from laying flat. I am sure the staging during shipping from over-seas and crowding in the nursery before reaching the store I purchased these from didn't help.
A drawback of using clay pellets, at least until the roots take hold in the pot, is that when watering, they tend to float and then as the pot drains, they settle. This causes a little shifting of the orchid. So I will work on centering and positioning these a little better. During August and September, they can end up being watered twice in a day due to the heat, as fall approaches and into the winter, the watering will slow down to perhaps just twice a week if that.
I am sticking to the feeding plan as mentioned above.
After I re-work these I will line them up again in the same order and take another group picture just for comparison. As long as I uproot them for a cleaning I will take some before and fater pictures as well.
The group after being cleaned and re-potted on 1 August 2019
20 August 2019 - Week 10
The good news is that nobody volunteered for the compost pile. In fact everybody in the group is already developing the first of what I hope is two leaves. Tyrion is a few weeks ahead of everybody with his first new leaf. Hopefully new roots will follow.
Details for the image above
Back row is the four candidates for acclimating to a hydroponic (o water culture) environment.
Front row is my fertilizing project.
Everybody has a new leaf, Hopefully the first of 2 for this growth cycle. Back row, far-right, is Tyrion that is ahead of schedule of all other orchids in these two projects.
Davos Root Tip
The top pictures are dry root
The second row of pictures is wet roots
the bottom is just a real neat picture.
Click on any of these images to see the full-sized unedited image
I have to admit, this is by accident. I never expected to see what looks like small hairs extending from the velamen of the Phal's roots. I used my "smart phone" at a distance of about 4 to 6 inches at 4x magnification and flash. Davos is one of my candidates for acclimating to water culture, meaning the roots constantly be immersed under water. Although this is a new root growth, it is new root growth at the end of an old root. I am looking for new roots to grow from the base of the stem and these new roots will be easily acclimated to water culture. Eventually, the above root be completely removed. I had thought of perhaps raising the water level in Davos "cup" so that this root is kind of "floating" on the surface of the water and seeing what happen. It be one of two things, it drown and rot, requiring it be cut back or it grow into the water. It could also grow in a direction to avoid the water.
I can always be reached at if you have any questions related to this or orchids in general.
1 August 2019 - Week 7
Things are progressing forward slowly on this project. At least it is better than reporting an increase in unintended compost. It has been said that orchids teach patience. It is also known that only the orchid is in control.
Everybody has a new leaf. Tyron is ahead of the pack because it's newest leaf was developing prior to me acquiring this group. The others are catching up. SO far so good.
The goal at this point is new roots. Staying alive is also a priority.
One of my tasks he first week of August will be a through cleaning of each candidate to remove any remaining rooting powder and a spritzing with Physan.
To the immediate left is "Davos". At the very top is the latest new leaf. The white powdery substance is rooting powder and during the next week I will thoroughly clean the stem of this Phal. of remaining powder and follow that with a spritzing of Physan as an antiseptic treatment.
This picture was snapped just after it's daily watering and I will try and snap a "dry" picture for comparison.
The roots appear a healthy green in color and I do not see any breaks in the velamen (the protective spongy covering of the actual root).
At the bottom of the picture, what appears as new root growth is white in color. New root growth for this project is my goal, but not from existing roots that eventually will be removed as they will not adjust to a water culture or hydroponic environment. I am looking for completely new roots to develop and grow from the Phal's stem. These new roots will take to water culture with ease.
Davos is making me proud. To see the original full-sized image, click on image and choose "open in a new tab" if you prefer.
This image happens to be a great example of how monopodial orchids grow up a stem. As it grows, a new leaf will form opposite the previous leaf. Roots and spike will develop underneath older leaves.
The month of August, the Phal. might start to loose it's blooms, spikes be pruned or entirely cutback, the plant enters a rest period before starting the next phase of it's growth cycle - leaves and roots. I am hoping all the candidates for my conversion to water culture project are on the same page at their own individual speed.
I will take some time in the next week to clean them followed by hanging them upside down so they fully dry and avoid any crown rot.
Everybody has new leaf growth. These leaves will grow quickly and perhaps a second leaf on the opposite side also do the same. I suspect new root developing will take lace throughout the month. During the cool winter months, new spikes form and start growing. I am not concerned with new spikes just yet. I am more focused on new roots and removing old roots for water culture.
I can always be reached at if you have any questions related to this or orchids in general.
19 July 2019 - Week 5
It has been almost a month into this project and I admit impatience is starting to reveal itself. Why have I not seen any indication of new roots starting to show after trimming the spikes back to the stem? I even trimmed the dead or weak roots from each candidate. At least I have the other Phal. project to compare roots to and I do not see any obvious new root growth in those either. Summer is the time when Phals. start one or two new leaves and grow new roots in a normal situation.
Tyrion, since acquiring these mini-Phals has a new leaf and it is growing. That is a good sign that these are not in a process of slow death so there is still hope that someday (soon) I will see new roots. Littlefinger still concerns me but ever since they been staged in a humidty box (see above) it has not gotten any worse. More hope.
I knew and had on hand some rooting powder to entice new roots. At first I mixed some of that powder in water and then allowed for the Phals. to be suspended with the root area submerged in that mix for a couple minutes for "dipping" 2 days in a row. I am not convinced that branching of new roots from old roots is a success, but I can appreciate the fact that new growth, even in the wrong or undesired place is a good sign.
However my application of the rooting powder was wrong. I discovered this after doing some research on "How to use Rooting Powder" on the Internet. The official website for one brand has directions (gasp, oh the thought of actually following directions for proper use is mind boggling) on applying this powdered hormone.
Do not dip the "cutting" into the original container. This could contaminate the powder making it ineffective. Funny, I have done that for years on other cuttings and seemed to work just fine.
Store the unused powder in an air-tight condition. Like hydrogen-peroxide, once you open it, you never really get air-tight in the original container ever again. The seal has been broken. Not sure if this is something to really consider since on previous cuttings I had an acceptable success rate getting new roots and a thriving cutting.
Store unused portions in refrigerator. Make room batteries your getting a room-mate in the butter shelf.
So I poured some powder into a small container and it is from that secondary container I applied the root powder to the base of the stems. I misted the base of the Phals. with some water, carefully held them upside down and "sprinkled" a coating of powder onto the Phals. stem below the bottom leaves (see accompanying image). I discarded any powder that I spilled onto my work surface. I should say that earlier in the day, prior to applying the powder, I dipped the Phals. in clean water to soak and drench the roots so that the Phals. be "watered". The next day, I repeated this. Since they have been suspended in their humidity box and trying not to disturb them for fear of the powder falling off once the treated areas dried off. Today (20 July), I noticed that the powder has kind of caked itself onto the treated areas. Rooting powder is a hormone that is absorbed by the cutting or stem of a cutting that induces new roots to develop. Roots do not necessarily form from the actual cut, but seem to appear in close proximity of the treated area (These Phals. have not been cut from a main plant). We really do not know how much of this powder is accidentally knocked off the cutting because a majority of the time with other plants that we try this, it is placed in moist dirt hiding the powdered zone from view. That small pot and cutting is placed in a large plastic bag or other container to keep the humidity as high as possible and in time it either thrives or die. In this project the Phals. are in a container that hopefully meets this humidity level and in time new roots start and I can breath a sigh of relief.
Hopefully in time (a week, 2 weeks, a month from now?) I will be rewarded with new roots and starting the next stage of removing old roots. Any significant development be noted here.
I am content that these Phals are not showing any sign of dehydration or a poor humid environment. My humidity box seems to be performing as desired. I am emboldened by the progress of Tyrion's new leaf almost doubling in size. Aside from Littlefinger, who seems to be holding it's own, Davos and The Hound still have leaves with a "shiney luster" to them.
For now, watering will continue as I soak the root zone for about 10 minutes, but leaving the powder zone dry. They get stored in their humidity box out of direct sunlight. And I wait....
On Sunday (21 July), I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Littlefinger has a new leaf poking up. This begs the question; "Which came first, the root or the leaf?" At least we do not need to worry about why the root and leaf crossed the road.
The next day, 22 July, Davos is also showing signs of a new leaf developing. Is my humidity box functioning as hoped?
In the above photo, Littlefinger, on the left, and his dull leaves with a new leaf (look between the stakes) and Davos, on he right and his new leaf (again focus between the stakes). The white spots is rooting hormone that has dripped from when I dipped the orchids in a water mixed with a rooting powder. That method did not work (?) but I doubt it did any harm except for spotting the leaves. Eventually I will do a full rinse of the entire plant once new roots are discovered where I properly treated the stem with rooting powder. I will search around the Interent for 'Phal. with dull leaves" and see if I can find any hints to resolve / prevent this from happening in the future, or if it is a concern at all. I do not expect these older leaves to recover, but I would like to prevent this situation from repeating. Best way to move forward is find out what (may) have happened.
Signs your Phalaenopsis Orchid is Not Doing Well
Signs & Symptoms of a Dehydrated Phalaenopsis – Wrinkled Leaves & Roots
Limp Leaves: Signal a Watering Problem
Changing Leaf Color Can Alert Owners to Orchid Problems
Leaves Provide Clues to Phalaenopsis Orchid Health
Diagnose Your Orchid
Common Orchid Ailments
Help! What’s Happening with my Phalaenopsis Orchid?
Orchid Warning Signs
Care of Phalaenopsis orchids (moth orchid)
Wilted Leaves on the Phalaenopsis
Why Are the Leaves on My Phalaenopsis Turning Yellow
Caring for Phalaenopsis Orchids
Caring for Phalaenopsis Orchids
What Your Leaves are Telling You
20 July 2019
I have continued since the past entry with the fertilizing schedule that focuses on the two different zones of the Phals., growth above the potting medium (leaves and spike) and growth below the potting medium (roots). The only difference now with a month into this project is that along with pouring an enhanced water into the pots and allowing for a soak of about 10 to 15 minutes, I am now misting the top and as much as possible underneath the leaves. I believe everything is acclimated and settled into the pot.
Not sure what to think of this, and I am leaning towards "fluke" but "Sansa" (water only, no fertilizers at all) actually has a new leaf developing. Go Sansa! Keep in mind that Sansa also has a "cold water drop late in the afternoon" on a mature leaf (see photos above). The new leaf is developing on the opposite side of the damaged leaf.Could this be a coincidence?
During the summer months, the Phal. will develop and grow one or two new leafs. This is the typical growth stage as it prepares for winter and focusing energy on blooming for the spring.
I am watering just about every day. (slip pot into another pot, slow fill with water till overflows, allow soak about 10 to 15 minutes, drain).
I know what you are thinking, "That sure seems like more water than necessary...." I you are growing Phals. in organic bark and in an environment where the temperature rarely gets above 90-degrees and the humidity never below 60%, I would agree. Welcome to my world and the accommodations I need to account for success in growing the Phal. External and uncontrollable environment conditions do no favor the Phal. where I live but planning a grow area that addresses and accommodates fora lack of these conditions, the Phal should thrive (see grow box above).
I will let the following photos do all the talking.
The top photos show the new leaf starting to poke up from the crease of the leaf below it. It be interesting to document how long it take for the leaf to grow to the mature size. I am considering weekly photos and measuring as best as possible.
The bottom photo is a peak at the roots of Sansa.The dry clay pellets tell me that the roots had a chance to dry since the last watering. Not to be flagged as a crises, but the Phal is ready again to be watered. The pellets drying is indicative of my dry humidity. I keep these Phals. in their grow box away from any direct light from the sun. the grow box is not completely closed, the top is askew enough to allow for ventilation. On very dry days I just close the box completely during the heat of the day.
I don't have an actual humidity meter to determine the actual humidity in the grow box, but I have something better (I am looking for a humidity meter). I have a Phal. that is producing a new leaf so conditions in the box must be desireable for the Phal.
Keep in mind for this fertilizer project - Sansa does not get any fertilizer at all, Just water.
For these and the remaining candidates of this project I will be sharing a "dry" and "wet" root picture. The "dry" picture is before watering, and the "wet" is just after soaking and during its drain.
Bran was ready for watering. Not eager, not desperate, but the medium has dried since the last watering. Visible are 3 roots. The darker root is older but still very healthy, the lighter green root is also healthy and the newest root is white.
Next time you are watering your Phal. Cymbidium, Cattleya, Vanda, or other "thick rooted" orchid - compare your orchid's roots to the images above before and after watering for a reference to what a happy, healthy root should look like.
Phals. are monopodial, meaning they grow up the "stem" developing new leaves on opposite sides of the stem as they grow taller. As for new roots, they can appear up the stem below older leaves closer to the bottom. They can either grow into the medium or become "aerial", meaning they get moisture from the environment. Some remove the aerial roots but even if unappealing to look at they do serve a function. Debated, unproven, that aerial roots most likely develop if the Phal. is in a high-humid environment. If it isn't broke, don't fix it.
I mentioned when discussing Rickon's roots above that Phals. are monopodial and Robb shows how roots can develop from under leaves, but on top of old growth. The days of the lowest leaves of Robb are numbered, but unless they rot or show signs of death, I will not remove them. They are still performing their function and purpose, converting light to energy that feeds the orchid. When it is time to repot the Phal. be of mind that aerial roots at this time need to be given special attention. If you bury them in the medium, they will die. They are not "programmed" or accustomed for that environment. They have a thicker velamen that absorbs moisture slowly (after being exposed to air) but do not dry efficiently. When buried, they are exposed to direct contact with water for a longer period of time than in the open air. It is this constant dampness that causes them to rot. They can be situated above the medium, or removed as you situate the Phal. into the medium correctly.
Next update unless something dramatically occurs will be in the beginning of August.
06 July 2019 - Week 2
(01 July 2019)
For the last 2 weeks, high temperatures have been reasonable, less than 98-degrees, but humidity is below 40%. Phals. appreciate humidity staying above 60-percent, will tolerate daily temperatures into the mid and upper 90's with ventilation as well as bright, but definitely not direct light.
Earlier this week I noticed that "Littlefinger's" leaves showed signs of dehydration. Phal leaves should be flat with a sheen on them. LitleFinger's leaves all are dull and showing signs of ridges running parallel with the leaef's stem. They are also slightly flimsy and "leathery" or "like freshly worked leather. All signs of possible dehyration. It is also possible that one afternoon when I was not paying attention I forgot to monitor the Phals to make sure they were not in direct light one afternoon. One day of direct light on a hot day with little humidity can be the end of a Phal. I also am aware that Littlefinger also has the fewest roots. Perhaps another contributing factor to what looks very much like dehydration.
I remember having an old dishpan set, the deep plastic bottom and a high somewhat transparent lid. This item fit nicely on the bottom shelf of a greenhouse so I can check off safe lighting conditions for Phals. Extra water in the dispan for humidity - check. The current plastic cups fit in the dishpan in the mini greenhouse so there they sit. The lid is not on securly, but rather kind of partially closed to allow for ventilation. Hopefully this arrangment solve any issues regarding a lack of humidity these phals might endure while they develop new roots to be acclimated.
A few times each day, but not after 5:00pm - I give the Phal leaves a good spritzing. Before 11:00AM and again at bout 3:00PM, I dip the root zone in water for a couple minutes. Now that they enjoy the high humidity enviornment in the mini-greenhouse, I dip once per day and maybe just spritz once or twice.
For my other Phal. project that might be suffering the same situation (lack of humidity) I was off to Home Depot and puchased two somewhat clear plastic totes. One is 12-inches deep, the other is 6 inches deep and these two totes establish aan area of high humidity for those Phals.
(04 July 2019)
A thorough inspection for any signs of new root growth and a dip in a water solution containing a dose of root toner.
Tyrion Lannister: I am guessing from my misting, the water level rose in the cup so that it was in constant contact with the tips of the longest roots causing the velamen to become drenched and turn black and start to rot. Concerning, but not alarming. Perhaps this induce the Phal. to start new roots sooner? For now I dropped the level of water in the reseroir and will pay closer attention when finished misting. Youngest leaf is about an inch in length and because I have said that here I have it recorded so that in a week, with my next intensive observation, I can compare any difference in size due to growth.
All others have happy leaves and seem to be "hanging in there" as expected.
29 June 2019 - Week 1
For the past week I have been focussed on watering these mini-Phals frequently so they get accustomed to the clay pellets, heat, lack of humidity that is Sacramento. So far, so good, nobody has keeled over yet. I left the spikes and have not cut them back. Eventually the current blooms will fade and need to be removed.
When watering, and they are being "drowned" I would tap the side of the glass to shift and settle the clay pellets so they surround and secure the roots as much as possible. I would also tweak the mini-Plal for a better position on the clay pellets so the base of the stem is just below the surface.
In my growing area, they are carefully positioned so as to never be in direct light.
On Saturday, 29 June 2019, "Arya" and "Robb" received a dunking of ironite, fish and kelp juice and SUPERthirve (this combination promotes healthy roots and green leaves). The healthier and greener the leaves, the more photosynthesis can take place even in shade conditions. "Arya", "Bran" and "Robb", also received a scattering of Osmocote (14-14-14) time-release pellets. I placed about 6 to 8 pellets on the surface so they could dissolve feeding the roots. I will replace these pellets end of August.
Next update be on 6 July 2019 after "Arya" and "Robb" get a taste of Miracle-Gro basic fertilizer at 30-nitrogen 10-phosphate 10-potasium. Keep in mind that for "Arya", "Bran" and "Robb"this be on top of the (14-14-14) from the Osmocote so the additional fertilizer be diluted even more as to not burn or cause shock to the mini-Phals.
In the meantime they will be watered as required and the reservoir will be flushed as well removing the previous feeding material.
2 July 2019
Call me a "ninny" if you want, but the last few days I have been paying close attention to humidity and in general it is not meeting the minimum requirements for Phals. I had to solve this problem and a quick trip to a retail home improvement center did just the trick. I purchased a 12-inch deep translucent plastic container and a second container half as deep. The Phals go in the deep container, add water for humidity, place the shallow container on top but not securly, as I want to leave room to allow for ventilation. The container is on my balcony in shade, never in direct light. It is two early to tell how this is working but in theory it should solve the humidity issue by allowing the level of humidity to increase to a point well above the minimum 60-percent that Phals. prefer.
Prior to this home-made remedy, one Phal suffered some leaf damage. "Sansa" seems to have a drop of water on a leaf, and it did not fully evaporate right away and as night time temperatures dipped, that water damaged the leaf leaving what can only be described as a "chicken pox scar". This is why orchids with fleshy leaves should be dry before the sun sets. Itt looks as if the "scar" got a little bigger in diameter. This was one of the reasons I wanted to resolve my lack of humidity issue. All other leaves look in the best possible condition.
Also appears to be some yellowing on the leaf tips.
29 June 2019 - Week 1
For the first week, everybody's root area was cleaned and suspended in a clear plastic cup wih the roots above the level of the water. Since the old roots are programmed for the terrestral environment (meaning they have water poured over them in an organic medium and then allowed to dry), I followed that same pattern. Sometimes I skip a day.
I cut off the spike (forgive me).
I trimmed more of the old roots back (forgive me again). These old roots will NOT acclimate to hydroponics, but the new roots should make the adjustment easily.
Alan Koch from Gold Country Orchids, 2003 presentation to the Diablo View Orchid Society
Alan’s last subject was what to do about plants with NO ROOTS! Alan suggests you dip the remaining roots in RootTone or Dip and Grow. Alan always follows up with a spray of 1/64th teaspoon (pinch) of RootTone or equivalent per gallon then spray under the leaves for maximum uptake by the plant. This will stimulate new root growth, hopefully.
Today, I dipped them in water mixed with a very small amount of Bontone II's Rooting Powder. Time to get these four candidates interested and motivated in developin new roots. I dipped the entire orchid so that the leaves would also absorb some of the water / root powder mix. I also did this early enough in the day so that the water be able to dry (evaporate from any leaf junctions with the stem so rot not occur loosing the leaf and perhaps the entire orchid. Today I dipped twice, once early in the morning and then mid-day. I put each orchid back in it's lid and cup with a small amount of water at the bottom to keep the root area moist with evaporating water. I may dip once again on Wednesday and then again next Saturday. I am not expecting an explosion of new roots come next Saturday (6 July 2019), the orchids should have absorbed enough of the rooting powder to speed up any new root development. Can only wait and see what happens.
Below is a description of each contender as observed today (29 June 2019). Be aware that I use a naming scheme only to identify and distinguish these four mini-phals. and that name has nothing to do with recognizing the hybrid's actual identity. I try my best at taking pictures, magnifying and then cropping the photos and sometimes the end result is a sharp image. I use a quarter for a reference point and scale. Click on any of the images below to see a slightly larger image in a new tab. Each image is of the front and back of the Phal. Use the remaining part of the spike to be your guide for positioning.
There is no need to be any new photos taken and shared until roots have started to make their presence known. Once a week for my own reference, I will measure the progress of new root development with a photo library.
24 June 2019 - Let the Feeding Begin
I will identify these using the children of the Stark Family from 'Game of Thrones', Sansa, Arya, Bran, Robb and Rickon.
|A.||no fertilizer||"Sansa"||Yellow / Green|
|B.||time release pellets only ( 14 - 14 - 14 )
|C.||Pellets and fertilizing routine||"Arya"||Pink|
|D.||fertilizing routine, no pellets||"Rickon"||Pink|
|E.||Pellets and fertilizing routine||"Robb"||Red|
The original 2-inch clay pots with no drainage whole was set aside for another use or to be gifted. As you can tell by looking at the above images (click picture for larger view), they all seem root-bound. Phals like to be in the center of a pot (monopodal, so they grow up) and snug roots.
After exposing the roots and trimming off the dead and weakened roots, I potted up in a 4-inch across, almost 5-inch clear plastic pot known as an 18oz cup. I made three rows of holes (4 each) opposite each other, the lower layer of holes staggered from the row above. The bottom holes are about a half inch up from the bottom. A small amout of water will collect at the bottom of these cups, but can easily be drained. The water that collects can wick up the clay pellets providing moisture to the roots, yet allow exchange of air and the roots to dry.
I am using semi-hydroponic clay pellets that are small, less than an inch in diameter, but the diameter can vary. I use a clay pellet medium over organic due to my need to water more than just once a day. That extra wateing can increase the rate of decay of organic bark. A benefit of organic medium is that it can absorb fertilizers, where as clay cannot. This be beneficial to the orchid. To compensate for this, I have established a small reservoir at the bottom of the clear, plastic cups to retain water that can be wicked up to the roots.
I employ make use of the dunk and drown method. I place the cup containing the orchid into another cup (without holes), slowly fill with water till the water flows over the edge. After about 5 minutes, I add more water if necessary. After waiting 10-15 minutes, slowly remove the orchid cup from the water cup allow to drain well and then return to it's growing area.
I try to water these every other day before noon. However, in the condition of a heat wave (temperature above 95-degrees), I may do a second but faster watering around 4:00pm mostly to cool down the clay pellets so as to not cook the roots.
Mini-Phals. prefer bright shade (no direct sunlight). They grow easily in a bright window, with little or no sun. An east window is ideal in the home; shaded south or west windows are acceptable. In overcast, northern winter climates, a full south exposure may be needed. In a greenhouse, shade must be given; 70 to 85 percent shade, or between 1,000 and 1,500 foot-candles, is recommended. No shadow should be seen if you hold your hand one foot above a plant's leaves.
For the phalaenopsis should usually be above 60 F at night, and range between 75 and 85 F or more during the day. Although higher temperatures force faster vegetative growth, higher humidity and air movement must accompany higher temperatures, the recommended maximum being 90 to 95 F. Night temperatures to 55 F are desirable for several weeks in the autumn to initiate flower spikes. Fluctuating temperatures can cause bud drop on plants with buds ready to open.
Mini-Phals are much smaller than the standard Phalaenopsis. Leaf spread (tip to tip) may reach at most 5 inches in length. It is possible for more than one spike at a time. Bloom size is about the same as the standard Phalaenopsis. A spike might manage between 8 and 12 blooms each but under ideal conditions can be more. After blooming, trim the spike back as you would a standard Phal. Count back to just above the next node and cut. That node should soon start developing buds for blooming.The plant itself might never get very tall, it just depends on the leaves on a monopodial orchid.
I picked up four Phalaenopsis for this project so at least one should make the transition, but there is no reason all four cannot successfully be acclimated. They are all named to distinguish one from the other three. I do this simply because here I will keep track of their progress - new roots and new leaf growth - along with pictures when required. One may notice a pattern of the chosen names as favored charachters from 'Game of Thrones'.
Davos Seaworth (A) Coming in with 4 leaves, the top 2 measuring about 3 inches in length each so I doubt they continue to grow so new leaf growth is expected when the Phalaenopsis is ready. It has a cluster of about a dozen medium length, old roots with a yellow-green bloom.
Tyrion Lannister (B) Coming in with 4 leaves, the newest leaf is less than 1 inch in length I suspect the bottom 2 will drop (they already look a little flimsy and weak, perhaps even yellowing as I write this), the top leaf is just about an inch in length. It has a cluster of 9 medium length, old roots with a pink bloom.
Littlefinger (C) Coming in with 5 leaves, the top two are probably at maximum length so a new leaf is expected, the bottom two leaves seem to be floppy as well as weak in appearance, so they may drop. It has a cluster of 6 medium length, old roots with a blue-red bloom.
The Hound (D) Coming in with 6 leaves, the top two are probably at maximum length so a new leaf is expected, the bottom two leaves seem to be floppy as well as weak in appearance, so they may drop. It has a large cluster of medium length, old roots with a blue-red bloom.
Now that we have met the conenders for this game of thrones, shall we begin?
- Spikes get cut off at the stem. (I haven't done this yet, but it will happen, the remaining buds should not take that much energy to open)
- Dead / weakened roots are cut back to stem.
Simply stated, you want to suspend the Phalaenopsis so that the bottom is inserted into the humid environment created by the water reservoir. The bottom two most healthiest leaves, resting on the frame or cup lid. New roots will form and grow down. Again as they reach about 2 inches in length, cut one or two old roots back to the stem. This will induce additional roots. Repeat the process until all old roots have been removed. At the same time, raise the water level so that the new roots almost come into contact with the water's surface, and most likely they will start extending under the level of the water. Their is a chance they may skim the surface but still be in contact with the water. Eventually they will dive below the water's surface level.
Below is my attempt at building a cradle for the Phalaenopsis. I got lids from a fast food restaurant and cut a small opening where a straw would be inserted. Easier to cut a small whole and slowly make it bigger. For placing the Phal in the cut-out I just cut from the edge of the lid to the whole.
In the images below I used a quarter for a point of reference for the size of Phalaenopsis.
|By luck, I got lids from a fast food restaurant with the straw opening in the middle. Not sure if this is common or not. I cut a small hole using the small cuts for a drinking straw. I then cut from the center hole to the edge. This cut allows for the mini-Phal. to be slid carefully and with some ease into position. Ideal, the hole should be big enough so that the bottom two leaves rest on the cup, but cannot easily fall through the lid.|
|The mini-Phal. is in place and the bottom leaves are resting on the lid, the bottom of the stem of the mini-Phal is below the lid. This is the are where new roots will develop. Keep in mind that the Phal. is monopodal, so they grow up in a vertical direction developing new leaves on top of older leaves. The new leaf if the mini-Phal is thriving should be the same size as the leaf below. These plants do not create a very wide leaf-spread. Roots can develop from the spaces between leaves as can a new spike for blossoms. I am not interested in a new spike until the mini-Phal. is acclimated to hydroponics. As for new roots above the lid, they will be trimmed when needed.|
|A closer look of the base of the mini-Phal's stem below the lid.|
|A closer look of the base of the mini-Phal's stem below the lid.|
The old roots are still terrestrial in nature and the Phalaenopsis will still require some watering (a drenching of the roots and allowed to dry-off before the next watering - just as if it was in a pot ). I would cut a hole or a triangle out of the lid large enough to add water soaking the old roots and then drain (pour out) so they can dry. This is when an old turkey baster comes in handy. To cover /seal your cut-out for adding removing water you can just use plastic food wrap.
For the time being, just treat the Phalaenopsis as normal. bright light, but not direct sun, not in extreme heat either. Every time you water, look through the clear plastic for any new root growth. Their is no time schedule on this. It can happen very quickly (2 weeks for the first sign) or a month. It really is up to the Phalaenopsis now.
I do not expect much to take place during July. By the end of July, hopefully all 4 contenders will have new roots, and I won't complain if they have new leaf growth as well. I am more focussed on the roots at this time.
Unless something dramatic happens, I will update this on or about 15 July 2019.
The process of taking an existing healthy Phalaenopsis from a terrestrial (potted) environment or Epiphytic (mounted) and acclimate the roots over time required so that the Phalaenopsis adjusts to it's roots being submerged in water constantly.
The current Phalaenopsis hybrids grown and sold commercially are perhaps the most vigorous growers under proper care that continue to grow in size and rebloom often and frequently. These traits make them ideal along with their Epiphytic and terrestrial characteristics. Orchids are known to adjust to conditions and acclimate from one environment to another is that process. Old growth roots will not make the transition, but new growth roots can be programmed to acclimate to a hydroponic condition over time (time required for the root to grow). New roots do not have old habits, but they are more programmable or adaptable to an environment they are presented with. In this case they desire that they take to growing and thriving surrounded by water. The length of time on this process depends on root growth, so the Phalaenopsis has to be focused on new root development. This is simple by prohobiting the Phalaenopsis from focusing energy on what it prefers to do - bloom. Spikes are removed inhibiting this process forcing the Phalaenopsis to devote all energy on new root growth and perhaps a new leaf or two.
The Phalaenopsis is also Monopodial, meaning it grows as a single upright “stem” with one leaf following another on opposite sides of the stem. Spikes can develop from a node under a leaf. Roots can do the same. This explains why sometimes an mature, thriving Phalaenopsis might have root development above the potting medium. These roots can be trimmed back if desired no matter what environment the Phalaenopsis is situated in. The reason for this extra root development might be due to the humid environment the orchid is situated in and it wants to capture that extra humidity.
As each new root taps into the water source, you can cut back 1 or 2 of the older roots. This will further inspire the Phalaenopsis to replace them with extra new roots and again it grow into the water below. Once all the old roots are gone, and the new roots take to being submerged, wait for new leaf growth to start if it hasn't already done so. New leaf growth or a spike developing while new roots are submerged in water indicates that the orchid has been successfully acclimated to the hydroponic environment.
I came across this concept of orchid culture when I was doing a google search on "How to save a Phrag. with no roots". I was inspired and tried this adventure last fall and failed. I used a 4-inch hybrid Phalaenopsis and started the acclimation process but the tips of old roots were submerged in water. They been accustomed to Terrestrial conditions (watered, allowed to dry, watered - repeat as if potted or mounted). It was no surprise that the roots started to rot and eventually I tossed the orchid. Another factor in the failure was starting it in late fall, where water temperature could fall below the minimal tolerance for the Phalaenopsis, again, causing shock and eventually death. This time I started on the summer solstice and by the time fall temperatures start to cool down, the miniature Phalaenopsis should have at a minimum 4 roots taking to the hydroponic environment, and I will use a heating pad to help keep the water reservoir from getting to cold. Learning and correcting from these two errors, should increase chances for successful acclimation.
Minimal exposure to Phalaenopsis culture.
One or more Phalaenopsis to convert (I would not suggest potentially sacrificing your most favorite Phalaenopsis for this unless it has no roots at all, Even then I would just follow to the point new roots developed and then return it to your desired potting medium)
Basic required item for the process (medium, clear, plastic cup. A lid is recommended that the lid fit and seal the cup but optional. Some kitchen skewers).
Patience, because you can do all you can, but the rest is up to the Phalaenopsis to develop and grow new roots and that can take a month or two.
The Phalaenopsis is a versatile orchid. It can grow in a pot for our convenience or mounted with leaf growth pointed down to prevent crown-rot. In nature they can be found on the forest floor rooted in decaying leaves or nooks and crannies of trees.
For no obvious reason other than to be different, some Phalaenopsis growers have successfully transitioned these to a hydroponic environment. The process seems logical and simple enough to follow - just acclimate new roots to being submerged in water constantly. The end result, a plant as art, where one can enjoy the blooms and the roots. I am not afraid to admit the idea of an acclimated Phalaenopsis in a large betta-bowl with a male Siamese Fighting Fish is intriguing. I be the first on the block with such an item.
The Phalaenopsis is not the only orchid that can make this transition. Others have tried Oncydiums and others as well. For now I will stick to the Phalaenopsis as it is perhaps the easiest. Pay no attention to those expert, advanced growers who look at you funny for in their opinion, is mistreating an orchid.
Below is a blog or journal of my process, so follow along, perhaps be inspired to try this yourself.
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