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bonsaiboy
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New to Orchid

I am new to orchid growing, and I have a question regarding a Phalaenosis orchid. The problem with it is seems to be that the leafs are becoming soft, turing from light green to yellow, then falling of. I was wondering what could cause this? I know over watering of plants can cause leaf yellowing, but I am using medium grade orchid bark, and I only water it when the first upper half of the bark goes dry. However, I understand that bark seems to dry very unevenly, so the upper part may be bone dry where as the bottom may still be soaking wet. I have seen orchid pots with holes on the side, I’m guessing to help the bark dry out more evenly. So, would it be worth purchasing one of these pots or not? I have also read that when watering an orchid to use distilled water. But I water my other plants using regular water, and nothing ever happens to them, so I figured I could do the same to the orchid. Is this a bad idea? Also, I keep it in a north facing window. I’ve read Phalaenopsis orchids like the light to be anywhere from 700-1000 footcandles, but some can tolerate 200. So could this dying of leafs be acounted for by it either dropping leafs designed to work in higher light levels (and will soon produce better leafs for the new enviornment?) or is the low light just slowly going to kill it?
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Remeber where Phalaenopsis grows in the wild; in the crooks and branches of trees. Not a lot of spare water there, and roots tend to be air exposed much of the time. A Chinese orchid pot (with carved open sides allowing air flow) might be a good idea, as I suspect you have identified your own issue, water. And if you have city water, yellowing can be a function of water chemistry; we don't call it chlorosis for nothing...light should be indirect but fairly bright; think gauze curtains...

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Scott Reil

lahondaknitter
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To me it sounds like you are over watering. Also, the fir bark has a tendency to allow root rot. If you can find a coconut husk medium mixed with pearlite and charcoal and repot it it may be happier.

And don't forget to fertilize occasionally.

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hendi_alex
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Underwatering will cause the leaves to get wrinkled and soft, so they will tell you if the water in insufficient. Phalaenopsis are pretty forgiving, but will not tolerate costantly wet roots, especially deeper in the pot where there is little air flow. I generally stuff the bottom and middle of my pots with old wine corks and/or packing noodles, to help decrease retained water and to increase the air space. Phalaenopsis also prefer clear pots and in my opinion their use offers a double benefit. First the roots like to get some light, and secondly the grower can visually tell how well the roots are growing where they touch or are near the inside of the pot. I recently replaced all of my opaque pots with clear ones, except for the terrestrial plants. If your phalaenopsis plants are placed in trays, always set them on a few pebbles so as to keep the roots out of any standing water. I find that phalaenopsis is very easy to repot, and don't even seem to slow down from the distubance. It may be worth the the effort of lifting the plants and inspecting the roots. Trim off any black or rotted roots, and then repot using a more open/less water retentive mix near the center and bottom of the pots. Also try not to let water stand in the leaves from watering. The water will tend to cause rot when the water stands in the area where the leaf attaches to the stem.

One last note. It is normal for the mature leaves that are further down the plant to eventually turn yellow and drop from the plant. But there should be continuous formation and growth of new leaves from the center of the plant. If what you are seeing is just the normal shedding of old leaves, then not to worry.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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bonsaiboy
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Say, thanks for the help, and sorry it took so long to respond. So here is what I've done. I have potted my orchid in a smaller pot just enough to accomidate its root system. The medium I have it in now is pumice, and not bark. The leafs seem to no longer be being shed (or at least at a slower rate). But here is my question. First, the flowers on my orchid are, after a week of being open, closing together and dying. Why is this happening? Second, I have not fertilized the orchid since I got it (about 1.5 months ago). How often does it need to be fertilized? I hear some say a lot, but that seems to be excesive for a plant that grows of of tree trunks with almost no nutrients availible. And, can standard, slow release fertilizer work? Its currently the only kind I have.
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