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Please help with my Orchids? (Beginner)

4 months ago

Last summer in 2023 my daughter gifted me with this gorgeous orchid but now all the flowers are gone. It is still in the same 4" pot that it came in. They sit in a window facing east. I've been watering it to try to keep it alive. I would like to know how to continue to care for it so that it will bloom again. Any ideas please? I've taken photos of it to give you some idea of what it looks like today. Thanks and kindly appreciated.

Comments (14)

  • 4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    You will likely get a lot of advice, some of which may be contradicting, I’ll try to give you some basic ideas.

    First, the plant looks like it‘s doing great so I wouldn’t change much.

    The name of the plant is Phalaenopsis, they grow in the Philippines and are epiphytes.

    The moss it’s planted in is usually used by retailers to keep the plant hydrated during shipping. Some people do use moss as their potting media but most will use a coarse orchid bark mix. Moss tends to break down quicker and stays wet too long leading to root rot. If you switch to bark, you will need a pot with drainage. When you water drench the whole pot then let it dry out.

    They tend to rest for a bit after flowering, they also tend to go dormant when there is a change in the environment. By spring you should see a new leaf and new roots sprout. Flowering would happen after the new growth matures.

    Some will say to cut off the old flower stems, personally I don’t cut if they are still green.

    These plants are notoriously quirky, they will die if you look at them wrong or will thrive no matter what you do. It might not do anything for months. It might flower again from the old stems or it might grow a new off shoot plant from the stem.

    They like the same temps and humidity as people and medium light. Repotting is best done when new roots start to grow and the pot should be kinda small, the size of the vase you have looks right. You need drainage but you can sit a clay pot inside of a bigger decorative vase. A little water in the vase will help with humidity, just dont let the clay pot sit in standing water.

  • 4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Hi James, thank you so much for all this wonderful information about my orchid. I'll definitely get some coarse orchid bark mix. I will also purchase a new pot. I've seen some clay orchid pots with holes going completely around the sides of the pot.Is this the kind I should get? I'm thinking if it has holes on the side all the water will come out? What am I missing? lol - Would I remove it from the plastic that it is in? Should I continue with a 4" pot or buy a larger pot? So, is clay better than ceramic? Could I put it in a 5 or 6" plastic pot with holes and place it in a ceramic pot with holes? As you can see, I'm still a lot confused about the pots. I'll just leave the plant and I won't cut of the stems. Everything is still nice and green. I watered it with warm water without getting the leaves wet. Another thing please? What is a good coarse bark mix to purchase? Thanks again for helping me James. So appreciated!!

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    Dunay, I'm really sorry for your plant's condition, but experience can be absorbed through failures. Firstly, as shown in your photos, the planting medium appears to be highly water retentive, which most succulents cannot withstand. Therefore, a more porous type of soil is needed, gritty mix in particular. The basics of this mixture usually contains perlite, pumice, and grits to let water flow freely and thoroughly without retaining in the bottom of the pot (some other variants are also used), while many haworthians in this forum prefer 100% pumice-based growing medium for its low water retention and high aeriation. Secondly, talking about lighting, this species, if my memory didn't trick me, prefer partial sunlight, about around 2 hours of morning sun. Thirdly, maybe the most important IMO, the pot must have a drainage hole so that water flows thoroughly, preventing the pot from being water-clogged to prevent rotting.
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  • 4 months ago

    Here is how I keep my phals; I have only had them for 3 years, but they bloom regularly and seem happy. I pot them in New Zealand bark mix, in plastic pots that have slits in the side. (Pots and mix from store on Amazon) These are then placed in decorative pots. Mine are on the north side of the house (I am in central NC). Not right in the sunshine. The light they get is indirect but bright. You can tell when they need watering by looking at the roots; pale roots= need water. Fat plump bright green roots = no more water. About every 3 weeks I pull all the plastic pots out of the decorative pot and soak the plastic pots in a tray of water (high as the slits only) until the roots turn bright green. (About an hour or so) And then I pop them back into their decorative containers until 3-4 weeks again. And that is all I do. Mine seem to thrive on neglect!

    Garden Mist thanked Jean
  • 4 months ago

    My choice would be a 5 or 6" pot with one hole at the bottom. My prefeed method of watering is to put my finger over the drain hole, fill the pot with water and hold it for a few seconds. This way you know everything gets wet. The roots have a spongy material called velum on the out side, this material turns green when wet and slowly releases water to the thin root inside. Soaking the plant like this give it a chance to store water for later.

    I use clay because it's porous and will dry better between watering but you could use either. I do like putting a clay pot inside a ceramic pot because it looks better than a saucer and it dose help with humidity.

    Repotme is a good on line source for potting mixes, If you prefer a retail store don't buy Miracle Gro, it's awful. There is a brand some big box stores carry called Better Grow which is pretty good.

    When you repot, remove the plastic pot, you may need to cut it open to get the roots out safely , wash off the moss, then clip off any dead roots, they will be brown and mushy, grey / silver is good. It's a good practice to do this about every 2 years, some say every year but I think 2-3 works. The bark will break down into compost especially at the bottom of the pot, this will suffocate the roots. I do use the old mix for other plants like Aroids, it adds aeration to regular potting soil.

    One thing you may notice is that the plant may start leaning heavily to one side. In nature these plants grow attached to tree trunks and branches. The leaves normally grow down and the roots up, this keeps water from collecting in the crown which causes rot. If you rotate the plant it will stay more upright but some people let it lean over the side of the pot.

  • 4 months ago

    Another topic I didn't cover is your location. A lot of advice is dependent on where you live. If you live in the southwest low humidity will cause the plant to dry out faster, southeast they will dry slower. Far north lower light and short seasons will have an effect etc.

  • 4 months ago

    Hi again James, You have been so wonderful helping me with my orchid. Have you ever thought of writing a book for beginners like me? I love how you've explained everything to me about orchids. I think I'm getting the idea. I've decided to print out all your instructions and keep them very handy for reference. My location is British Columbia, Canada. I am in Zone 8a."

    This afternoon, I'm going shopping on Amazon to purchase a 5" plastic pot with slits in it, also a 6" clay pot with a hole in the bottom. Then, once I get the plant cleaned up, I'll add the bark mulch and place the whole thin in a nice ceramic pot. How does that sound? Do I have it right? lol - Some coarse bark mulch. I'll look for "Better Grow"

    I'm really happy right now. When I'm all finished, I'll post a new photo of it. Thanks sooooo much.

  • 4 months ago

    Is this the bark that you use? Just want to be sure before I get it.

    Better Gro

  • 4 months ago

    Well, I don't think I could write anything that hasn't been written already a thousand time over. If you read through some of the older posts here you will see a lot of the same info. I actually started coming to this site about 20 years ago and picked up most of what I know from other growers here. It was much more active back then with lots of great discussions.

    The Better Gro you linked looks good, one thing I noticed is that some places store the garden products outdoors so they get wet and start to decompose. When you open the bag it should look like the picture and have a fresh scent.

    The pot idea was to have a clay pot with a hole and a solid pot to sit inside, you wouldn't need 2 pots with drainage. Here is a photo of a snake plant in the same set up.

    Orchids are an amazing group of plants with countless variety in form, once you start looking into them it's easy to get hooked.

  • 4 months ago

    Garden Mist, I am located in the central part of South Carolina, USA, so I am not going to get into specifics about how you should grow your orchid plant, because our climates are so radically different. I will offer some general facts that I think might prove interesting, and perhaps valuable to you. You have obviously begun a journey that will necessitate a great deal of study and learning if you continue the hobby. If you truly love to grow orchids (and the only way to find that out is to grow them) you first need to know what they are, where they grow, and where and how the orchids you purchase in the big box stores are produced. If all this is just absolutely fascinating to you, you may one day find yourself, like me, 80+ years old, and having grown them in various capacities since my mid 20's. It is critical that you understand where the plants you are growing live in nature, because you are going to have to come close to duplicating their native habitat in your home for them to survive. Notice, I did not say duplicate, I said come close, and that is critical. You have a Phalaenopsis orchid, but the plant you have bears little resemblance to anything found in nature! Phalaenopsis were chosen for the mass market, in my opinion, because of the growth pattern of the plants, the overall ease of culture, and the beauty of the flowers they can be made to produce. Go on line and look at the Phalaenopsis species listed there. You will find that only a few of them (at best) really look a lot like the plant you have, or the other Pahl's. that you have seen. Your plant is a long line hybrid, with possibly a hundred or so other orchids in its genealogy. Since hybrids do not breed true, and a world wide orchid market requires thousands and thousands of plants that can be depended on to produce a bloom of sufficient attractiveness to sell, these companies clone the plants with the very best of the best flowers on them, and sell them worldwide.

    Now, if all this information really fascinates you, welcome to the world of orchid culture. If not, don't worry about it, purchase a few reputable culture books, be very careful how you use the information you get from the internet, Learn to use a lot of good common sense when interperting other's culture information, remember that too much water is your worst enemy, and continue to grow and enjoy your plant. I have several that I have been growing and blooming for more than 20 years now, and find they still give this old man a great deal of joy. Good luck, and have fun. Bill

    Garden Mist thanked Billsc
  • 4 months ago

    James, thanks so much for clarifying about the pots. I appreciate your photos. Your orchids are beautiful. Okay, so it's a matter of preference for either using a clay pot or a clear slitted pot but not both at the same time. I 'get it'. I will do what you do. So, all I really need is a clay pot with a hole in the bottom and place it in a pretty decorative pot.. I'm on my way! Thanks sooooo much James.

  • 4 months ago

    Hi Billsc,

    Thank you for sharing with me your knowledge of orchids. Such valuable and interesting information. Yes, I will have to read and learn all that I can about where and how they grow in nature. It seems the more I learn about them, the more exciting and fascinating they are. Well, with your worthy advice and James getting me off to a great start, I'm going to put all my effort into this one plant to get it to bloom once again. I'll try to focus on getting to understand and try to come "close to" duplicating it's native habitat Most appreciative to you Billsc.

    Thank you kindly.

  • 4 months ago

    Thank you so much for the tip. I was watching a video on utube where they did this. I don't see any flaps on mine yet. The tips of my orchids are still green and I don't see them turning brown, however, I do see nodes on the plant where there use to be flowers. I also see, a thin papery film covering those nodes. Yes, I took James suggestion and did not cut the stems back. I guess I'm sort of hesitant to cut it back in case I kill it. LOL - I'm a pretty visual person, so I think I'll go and look at more videos, so I can actually see how it is done and learn where to make the cut. I am most appreciative of your suggestion, I've read where lots of people do this, but I still can't quite figure out where the cut should be made. Lots to learn!

  • 4 months ago

    Just want to say thank you to everyone for your help with my orchid. It's been repotted and I'm very happy with how it looks.

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