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Thread: Help - Overwatered Phal

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Dallas, USA

    Help - Overwatered Phal

    I have three gorgeous phalaenopsis in a common pot. I noticed the other day that the one of the leaves on one was turning yellow. At first I didn't think too much about it. Then a couple more turned yellow and dropped off. I asked my wife if she'd water it recently; she said no. I haven't watered it either. I checked the planting medium and it's real wet. The only thing we can think of is the housekeeper has been watering it.

    What can I do to try and save the sick plant and prevent problems with the other two? Obviously we'll let the housekeeper know not to water it.



  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Help - Overwatered Phal

    Hi EBSDallas,

    I'm by no means an expert, but I am currently having some success with my Phals, and here's what I'd recommend. First, what kind of container are these plants in? You didn't mention if there was drainage or not. In my experience, phals like to be in containers with good drainage. This means a plastic cup container with tons of holes on the bottom and also some on the sides, or a clay orchid pot with drainage holes on the sides and bottom. Next, I'm not sure why all three are in the same container, but I think I'd separate them for the time being, because as orchids become more unhealthy due to i.e. overwatering, it can make them more susceptible to disease and pests. Orchids planted that close together could get each other sick. Third, what is the potting medium that the plants are in? Is it sphagnum moss (this is the moss that many come potted in from the store)? If it is moss, here's what I suggest. Carefully remove the plants from the pot they're in. fill a bowl with tepid water and allow each plant to soak to loosen the moss that's around the roots. once the moss is soaked, you can carefully start to remove the moss from around the roots. Get as much off as you can. Then examine the roots. You ideally want firm, white, brownish or green roots. They must be firm. Roots that are smooshy or soft are rotted and dead or dying. The phal can't live with a poor root system. Using sterilized shears or a razor blade carefully cut off any parts of the roots that are rotten, leaving only the firm roots behind. Then look at the size root ball you have. It's important to repot in a container that just holds the roots. You don't want a container that's a lot larger than the roots, because they will be exposed to too much wet medium. If you don't have a small enough container, trying making one with plastic take out containers, etc. (dont' forget to add lots of drainage holes). Also, you can add a few styrofoam peanuts to the bottom of any container you use before putting some moss back in. This will create a drainage area and allow air in to the pot. The roots of a phal MUST get both mositure and air movement. In nature, they don't grow in soil, they are epiphytes, which grow on trees, so their roots can "breathe." IF you don't have any new moss, go to the garden center and get some, or order some good quality sphagnum moss online. Once all the old moss is off of the roots, and the remaining roots are only healthy ones, place some moist (not wet!) moss on top of the peanuts in your pot. Then place the plant on that. Gently start adding more moist moss around and inside the root ball until the plant is stable and standing on its own. Be sure not to pot too low, keep the corwn of the plant above the level of the moss. Once you're done with this step, give the moss a good soaking with tepid water. You should notice lots of drainage right away. I should also mention that phals are relatively low light orchids, and don't want direct sunlight. However, they do like some light. An east window or partially shaded south or west window will do nicely. Don't let the foliage press up against the glass. If you have a small fan, place that near your plants, they will appareciate the gentle air movement. Try to keep the temps near the plants in the 70s during the day and 60s at night. This range is not technically the "ideal" but most people can do it in their homes, and most phals adjust just fine. Phals like to be watered just as the medium is drying out. Never let it dry out completely. A good rule I've been trying to use is, on the day you think you might need to water, wait one more day. You can check the moisture level by using your finger, or a wooden skewer. Also, when watering, NEVER wet the crown of the plant and then let the water sit, especially overnight. For newbies, this will create crown rot, which is one of the leading killers of phals. To keep this from happening with my plants, I use a watering can and just water the moss area. While the phal is recovering from the repor over the next few days, keep it warm and out of direct light. Remember, if your roots are in bad shape, you want the plant to recover and start growing some new roots, not focus on overall growth. And yes, do tell your housekeeper not to water your orchids for the time being.

    Hope this helps,


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