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Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Posted by CJ-Speciosa none (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 21:20

Hello,

I'm trying to find the best way to water my phalaenopsis but to my dismay I keep finding conflicting information concerning the best watering practices. I understand there are many variables at play that change the frequency and amount of water, and I guess that's what's throwing me off.

First let me start by saying my house is very dry. The reading on my hygrometer is usually around 40. The phalaenopsis I have is planted in bark which is inside a plastic container which then sits inside a decorative pot. (was a just add ice orchid). Because the inside pot is clear I can see how damp (or not) the roots are.

My concern is that watering once a week is not enough due to all of my reading saying that the roots should never completely dry out.

When I water, I soak the whole thing in water for a good five to ten mintues then I let all of the water drain out. The bark is dry within two days. The very botton is still wet, but the roots don't go down to the bottom. They only reach half way down into the bark. So even though the bottom of the medium is wet down by the drainage holes, there are no parts of the plant that touch the moisture. It's just sitting up on top......dry.

This is what is throwing me off. Should I increase the frequency of watering? I've read a ton of posts but none seem to mirror what my plant situation is like......

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm not going to even start worrying about getting it to bloom again if I can't get the watering nailed down!!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Cj, through your consternation you left out some key information: how are you growing it? How much light? Temps? How long have you had it?

And most glaringly,what does it look like? What kind of condition is the plant in?

The type of moisture striation you describe is common in situations where a plant is not drinking much or growing much.

Watering frequency is primarily dependent on temperature, light, and potting medium. Plants dry out fastest when kept in higher temps, high light, and porous medium. Drop temps/light and make potting medium less porous/more moisture retentive and waterig frequency decreases.

Ultimately phals come down to this: let them get darn near dry, but not at all dehydrated. How often that happens depends wholly on the environmental conditions described previously. For me, during the summer I grow mine outside so they dry out pretty quickly and get watered maybe every two days. During the summer they dry out so quickly that you can afford to be a little slightly more liberal an let them stay a little more moist between watering.

Hope this helps!


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Thanks for your reply.

"through your consternation you left out some key information: how are you growing it? How much light? Temps? How long have you had it?"

I'm growing it on a dinning room table which is between a north and south window in the middle of the house. I'd say it's about 7' from the south facing window and does not get any direct light but plenty of brightness. The temp in the house gets to 66 degrees at night and can go to 72 or so during the day.

I've had it for two years and it's been moved twice due to my living arrangements. I repotted it in bark about two months ago when I realized I had been watering it too much and the old medium was completely broken down and soil like. Many of the roots were rotted and I cleaned them all up.

It's actually growing a leave right now and it has a root (or spike...can't tell) coming out of the side.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Here is a pic.

This post was edited by CJ-Speciosa on Thu, Mar 28, 13 at 7:18


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

And another.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

You can see how the bark is dry except at the very bottom of the pot.....


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Nice comeback!!
Your growth on the side is a root, which is just what you want right now. The more roots to support the plant, the healthier.
The foliage looks great too:). Looks like you intervened just in time.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Ahh....I see. I was hoping it was a spike.....I guess they look a bit different when they come out, huh?

I'm still unsure of the watering frequency in this medium. It always seems like everything is so dry.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

For the few plants that I grow inside, in bark mix, soaking in the sink twice a week is normal. That sounds like that is just about the same frequency as you. The only thing I would warn you to watch out for is that the wetter portion of bark in the bottom will be the first part to breakdown and stay tooo wet. Your clear pot will allow you to keep an eye on that. To me your plant looks great.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Rule of thumb: When roots turn silvery white, flush media c running LUKEWARM water and let drain for 5 min or so. Roots should turn nice and green for a few days to a week, depending on your mix. I fertilize every other watering with a dilute water-soluble fertilizer.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

I've heard about the root color thing before as well. I do notice they turn green after watering. They don't stay green long though. Maybe instead of soaking for five minutes I should soak for ten?

Regarding the bark at the bottom of the pot.....there are no roots that are down that far yet, so I don't see it being a problem.....for now.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

So looking at the bottom of this pot, it doesn't seem like it's draining enough. It's still saturated down there. That will eventually be a problem. Any ideas?


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

That will break down the media eventually.
If your pot has inadequate drainage, I'd switch pots ASAP before root rot sets in.
Do not soak your orchids; let water run thru the mix and drain out the bottom Drain for 5 min or so.
If your roots stay green for only a few days, water twice a week, but that water must always run right through and not pool up at the bottom.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Personally I don't think it is an issue, but if you are concerned...

Maybe put some styrofoam peanuts in the bottom of the pot to help with air circulation and drainage, it is a fairly common practice. About 1/4 to 1/3 filled with the peanuts then the plant and media. The roots will usually grow right down into the peanuts.

Good luck,

Bob


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Good idea....thanks Bob.

I think I may just put some bigger chuncks of bark in the bottom instead of the smaller chunks that fell down to the bottom.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

CJ this is exactly as I warned: this striation of dry/wet usually happens in low light/low temp situations, and that is exactly what you are growing your plant in. A table in the middle of the room is NOT enough light for your plant. You need to get your plant into a window for it to survive. In your current condition it will decline because that wetness at the bottom, as indicated, will break the media down and result in rotted roots since that water isn't going anywhere.

Adequate drainage will NOT cure this problem, however. You have holes in the bottom of your clear pot, and its not at all a big pot and it sounds like you don't let water sit in the bottom of the decorative cache pot.. Thus drainage is perfectly adequate, The issue is decent air circulation to the roots, which you don't get much of inside that decorative cache pot. Its this air circulation that helps dry out the bottom of the pot. What I recommend, along with getting your plant into a window, is get rid of that decorative pot. Repot into a more attractive pot so you don't have the unsightly clear pot if you like, but increase your light and get rid of the decorative cache pot will make a good bit of difference for you.

Good luck!


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Terp,

Thanks for the response. I realize I've been watering too much...meaning too often. I took the time and made some more holes/slits in the plastic container. I also changed out the bark for drier material and the roots and bottom of the plant were still wet, so I didn't re-water just yet. I'm gonna wait a good couple days.

Regarding placement of the plant, the table does get some good sun during the day....not direct sun, but enough for the plant to throw a shadow on the table beside itself. It is a south window. My only other option would be a north window that never gets direct sun but it would be able to sit in the window sill.

Concerning watering, the roots on the plant are small and don't go deep into the pot at all. What do you think about watering lightly with a spray bottle.....a little bit every day? I've heard of others doing this with good results.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

I'll jump in and agree with terpguy. You need more light and more air around the roots. The base of the plastic pot is staying wet because it has no way to dry out. Take the pot out of the decorative pot and grow it that way. When it flowers, put it in a pretty pot, not now.

Your leaves are very dark green. That indicates your plant is not receiving enough light. Move it closer to the window. Find a small table and put it there.

These plants grow on the sides of trees and have air blowing around the roots. You are not getting enough air to the roots. I'm guessing the roots are not growing down into the pot because its stagnant down there, thus the root growing out of the pot.

Jane


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Hi CJ,

Phals are marvelously adaptable to most of our houses, which usually have intermediate temps, light, and humidity. Your 40% relative humidity is fine for Phals - in the MN winter, mine stays around 25%, and my Phals rebloom.

The downside to Phals' tolerance is you find what seems to be conflicting info on growing conditions.

From my experience, your Phal could use more light. As a comparison - my Phals are under three 19W, spiral CFLs in “brooder fixtures” that are 16” apart. The lights are on 16 hours a day.

Also, they're in front of the 4' x 4' window that faces E/SE and get 2-3 hours of direct light a day, almost all of it in the morning.

Orchid room sm, 3:30:13

Notes: In this low amount of natural light, the CFLs make things look yellow. The large decorative pot on the left provides extra humidity for the Dendrobium. It's unglazed, so it breathes.

The blooming Phal on the left is in a glazed, decorative pot for display. Most of the time, its plastic pot sits out for air circulation.

My light's at the high end for Phals, and loads of people grow & bloom theirs in less light. However, most plants, including Phals, don't make it in northern light.

Because glazed pots allow no air circulation, I agree with the suggestion to get your orchid out of it entirely.

And because of the low humidity here, all the Phals are in plastic pots & sphagnum moss. 1” - 3” of marbles or small stones in the bottom provides drainage and adds stability when the sphag is dry.

The pots are "orchid pots," meaning they have more drainage than houseplant pots. At the link below, the first 3 pots have slits on the sides and concave bottoms, which provide extra drainage & air circulation for Phals.

If you have your orchid out of the glazed pot for a week or so and the bark on the bottom is still staying wet, you might consider styrofoam peanuts, marbles, etc. for better drainage or consider one of these pots.

For additional circulation to the bottoms of the pots, I use this plastic grid stuff. Don't recall the name but Home Depot carries it:

Keep 4

Your new root and leaf are good signs.

Oh, here are new roots and a new spike on a Phal. (The spike is growing straight up.) Phal spikes are more 2-dimensional than roots, even when they're newer than this one, and tend to have that indentation at the end. Brand new roots usually emerge like half of a ball.

Phal cr_Smith & Hawken spike, 12:05

Hang in there. Pretty soon, caring for your Phal will be automatic.

WhiteCat8

Here is a link that might be useful: plastic orchid pots


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Wow....such great information from all of you. This is a great site!! Thanks for chiming in.

So then do you think the north window right on the window sill would be a better option then where it is now?

I'll adjust watering accordingly but the light is gonna make me change locations.....


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

CJ, can you just move it to the south window? **Depending on where you live** you'd be surprised at how much direct sunlight they can take.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

  • Posted by arthurm Sydney, NSW AUST (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 1, 13 at 0:23

Climate Zone = nil, State Code = Nil. Makes it hard to give advice. The sun is moving North and it is starting to shine on the leaves in my puny collection. Hasten to add that it shining through an 80% shade blind.
Wonder what is the optimum amount of shade at latitude 33S?


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Terp,

I live in NJ. The sun is intense here in the summer...actually starting around May, it's almost directly overhead.

I can certainly move it to the south window. I didn't do that because everything you read concerning these plants say DON'T let them get direct sunlight, so I was frightened off the idea of doing so. If I did move it to that window, it would get direct sun pretty much all day. That goes against everything I've read.....


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

CJ I'm in DC so I definitely know the light. I cannot tell you how UNTRUE the "no direct sunlight" advice is. The absolutely thrive if you can give them a couple hours of direct morning or evening light. You can put it in the south window now, particularly if its just a little bit away (couple feet?) and/or a sheer curtain is used.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

So I moved them all to the end of the table near the south window. I have a feeling this is gonna be a much better spot for them....


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A better angle....


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You can't tell from the pic, but they are now all about three feet from the south window and this pic was taken at 6:30pm, so I believe they'll be getting plenty of light over the course of the day.

The bright white fence in the back yard really throws alot of light into the house as you can tell.....


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

You could put a square table in the corner where you have the artifical prayer plant. They would probably get good light there if I'm seeing your photo right. This would save your dining table.

Jane


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

OK, it looks like we've moved into about stage 2.5 of Richard's orchid addiction stages. Taking over dining room table now, I'm sure you will be purchasing a few more and turning a spare bedroom into an orchid room soon, stage 3.0 as long as you keep the bed in there. 3.5 if the bed moves out :-)

I agree about the light, phals can take more than we've been led to believe. Just be careful to not move them to higher light too quickly, but with moving them 3' back from the window it probably won't be an issue.

Good luck,

Bob


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Jane,

"artificial prayer plant" LOL.....Please....I don't do artificial plants my dear. That Calathea is the real deal. It's the nicest one I've ever seen and the prize of my collection. Even though it's completely off topic, I'll includes some close ups. My humidifier broke so the humidity is down....you can see by the browning leaves...I've started a misting routine and I'm actually having a humidifier added to my furnace to increase the house hold humidity. You could say I'm obsessed......

Anyway, this plant WAS perfect, until I lost humidity.

Sorry to those following this link about this slight detour in convo, but I jump at the chance to talk about my Cal....lol


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

A full shot...


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

New growth. Okay....I'm done now....back to orchids....


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Your Calathea is one beautiful plant!


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Bob,

Oh I'm def. there already....no doubt. I've always been a plant enthusiast and once I got my first orchid and realized they were not your typical house plant (evidenced by my lack of blooms after two years) I was fascinated......

I'm assuming this yellow and brownish spot on the one leave is from my zealous watering practices? Any ideas?


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Thanks Monet.....


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

How long has it looked like that?

I'm a little afraid to respond as my response may cause you undue concern and I'm definitely no expert, but..., that looks a little suspicious to me. Doesn't seem to be from over-watering as far as I can tell and it is only in the leaf tip, so it may be an issue with changing conditions (temps, humidity, light, etc...) when the leaf was first forming... I'd see if it presents itself on other leaves, if not I wouldn't worry much, if so keep it separated and use sterile practices when cutting spikes or leaves from this plant. (We should always use sterile practices anyhow to keep from spreading bad stuff).

Anyone else care to hypothesize?

Good luck,

Bob


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

I think you've gotten great advice so far. But you need to take it all the way. Three feet from the window is not the same as on the windowsill getting the light. As the sun gets high in summer, less and less direct light falls into the room.

Also, remember that the medium retains moisture in the center of the pot while the sides drain and dry out faster. If the bottom is damp, the center is too.

Overall you want to balance the light, water, temperature and humidity so that the plant quickly takes up water (and grows).


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Bob:

I noticed that leaf tip a couple months back. It def. wasn't there a year ago. It's not on any other leaves and it doesn't seem to be getting better or worse, so I guess i'll just keep an eye on it.

And as far as sterile practices....I would love to be cutting a spike from this plant....as soon as I get one!!

Margo: Thanks. I'm getting the picture now in regards to conditions and how they effect uptake of water etc. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm going to have a new problem in the summer. There is a huge awning that comes out over that space of the deck during the summer time. I just moved to this house a few months ago so that's something i'm going to need to think about. I'm guessing I'm going to have to put ALL of them outside for the summer because I have no where else to put them in the house.

I'm thinking about hooking them underneath an old oak tree in the yard somehow. Now that I'm not paranoid that they'll dry up if they don't have water for a bit. That actually leads me to my next question for you guys and gals......

Is it better to under water then over water? You know what....scratch that question. I'm going to answer it myself....let me know if I'm on the right track. I believe that question depends on conditions alone. For example, it I had it so that the roots were completely exposed to the air and no excess moisture built up via a container, then it would be impossible to over water because the plant would just take what was needed as the water was running over the roots, like it does in the wild. But when planting in a container that holds some moisture, it would be better to water enough for the plant to take up but not enough so that it would be sitting in dank material for days or weeks on end. Do I have it??


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

I'm going to take the advice and move them right to the sill. I'm still a bit gun shy about it though.....How will I know if they are getting too much light?

Keep in mind that they will get a solid 8hrs of pretty much direct sunlight.

This post was edited by CJ-Speciosa on Tue, Apr 2, 13 at 16:10


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

You may want to be careful about moving it directly to that window sill. If it wasn't getting direct light before, putting it directly into 8 hours a day will probably cause some sunburn. If possible, ease it up to the sill over a couple of weeks or so, or use a sheer curtain/blinds for a few weeks.

In general: Light green leaves = lots of light, dark green = less light. Yellow leaves mean too much light, light green leaves with a red tint usually means it's getting maximum light. But this is very general.

As I recall, sunburn will usually look like yellowish spots on the leaves that will eventually turn brown/black. A phal can survive sunburn as long as it doesn't get all of the leaves or the crown. The problem with sunburned phals is that like with us, they get the burn before it becomes obvious. If the leaves feel too warm to the touch, they probably are getting too much sun. This is where lots of air circulation can help.

Seems like a lot but basically: Right media, right light, right breeze and right water and you are set.

Good luck,

Bob


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Ahhhh....more conflicting info....lol....sigh


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Nah, not conflicting; nuanced. True growing isn't quite as cut and dry as "Set wherever you want and water once a week".

8 hours is a bit much, even in the winter. Which is why I said (and someone else above as well) that you want it set back a few feet.

I wouldn't jump on that train quite yet with that leaf, Bob. That looks like its isolated to that tip, and if thats the case I would say don't even worry about it, dont' even worry about the cause; our plants do funky things sometimes that might seem scary but really don't mean anything. If it gets worse, that's when i would worry. 'til then don't even give it a second thought.


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

I agree terp, beings it's isolated and has been the same for a few months, I don't think the leave 'spotting' is an issue.

Bob


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

You mean red like this......


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More established leaves....


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

I'm gonna hold off on putting them on the sill. I just have a feeling it's going to be waaaay too much. The end of that table is VERY bright. Light gets thrown back into the house from a bright while plastic fence too......I think light wise they are good on that spot for now.

Let me know what you guys think about the coloring on the phal.......


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

I think your phal looks great, maybe a bit more light.

My experience is that the red tinting from too much light is usually on the top of the leaves and on the edges. I think/feel that phals with the red undersides seem to be the pinkish/reddish colored bloomers???

If it is a hybrid phal, be sure it also gets a 10-15 degree temp drop between day/night this fall. For a lot of phal hybrids, this seems to be the key in getting them to spike.

As always, good luck.

Bob


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Bobs got it. Many phals that have pink/purple/red flowers manifest some of that pigment in the leaves. If it were from really high light it would be on top of the leaf


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OMG, I'm sooo embarassed! Please forgive me, CJ. Your Calathea looked too perfect to be real.

Please trust your instincts regarding your Phal. Your growing knowledge is superb as evidenced by your beautiful 'artifical plant'!

I honestly think a bit more light and a temp drop in the fall will bring you flowers this coming winter. I would put the phal out on the covered porch this summer and water when dry. Don't compare lighting outside to inside. Far more intense outdoors even in shade.

You'll do fine. Make sure to post pictures of your flowers so we can all enjoy.

Jane


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Thanks Jane. In regards to keeping them outside in the summer, I'm going to assume some water holding medium like moss would be very helpful to keep them so they don't dry out completely? Even then I'm going to have to water every day most likely....

What is your experience like?


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

CJ

For watering you will have to find what works for yours. I use the bark, charcoal and perlite but also add my own spangum moss just to hold a little more water but ill put my orchids under the tap and run the water through them then let em drain. Mine are all in plastic pots. I took a drill to them and added extra holes all around them to get more ventilation. I stick my finger into the material and if I can go half way down and its dry I water. I have 8 orchids, 3 phals, 3 oncidums, and 2 cattleyas. 1 phal I was able to get to grow a new shoot after all the blooms finished blooming. My other phals have been in bloom since dec. I make sure they get direct morning sun in an east window. Day tine temp is about 70 night tine its about 60. I give them a weak fertilizer about every other week 20/20/20 miracle grow.

Hope this helps anyone starting out. I know I spent hours searching the net for any kind of help. I bought a sharry baby I'm just waiting for the spike to finish growing and bloom. Here is a photo of some of my orchids.

Good Luck
Lloyd


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RE: Conflicting watering info on phalaenopsis

Thanks Lloyd. Great info. I'm coming along but it's been anything but straight forward.......


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