March is much too early for the Cymbidiums to flower. Even now only very vew of them have started to grow flower spikes. One of the Miltonias is having a flower bud open. While all our new Phalaenopsis orchids are doing very well and still flowering, except the very first one that we bought, the white P. amabilis sp. It had root rot where all the flowers suddenly wilted at the same time. Then one by one, the leaves had become yellow near the stem and dropped. So it was a goner, but yesterday I bought a replacement (the same one) with two spikes and many of the flowers are still in buds.
Talking about what had happened to the white Phal that died, I am not so sure how it could happened. I bought the first three Phals one after another within a week. (They are way much cheaper in Caribbean market). The rests are doing fine and only that white one had problems. I use boiled rain water and cooled before use (cheaper this way than buying distilled water). I only water when the media has started to dry and always do it in the morning …. and keep the leaf crown dry!! Did I do the right things??? Oh yes, I keep them indoor near a sunny window but no direct sunlight, well ventilated room but no strong draft or wind, no ripened fruits nearby to wilt the flowers……. blah… blah….
What happened with it? After all the blooms wilted at the same time and the bottom leaf started to turn yellow near the stem (without wilting), I decided to take it out of the pot to see what happened with the roots. Most of the roots were rotten away and the sphagnum moss were so compacted around the center of the pot to leave all the roots suffocated. So my guess is that the growing media, which is sphagnum moss is only good for a shorter period of time during the marketing time. Sphagnum moss can absorb a lot of water and stay moist for longer time than other media (bark chips, coco fibre etc). It seems that the growers deliberately compacted the moss to stabilise the plant, but in the long run it is not very good for the root system, it cannot breathe and stay moist for too long, it rots the roots. One by one, started from the bottom, the leaves turned yellow near the stem and dropped. Most part of the foliage remained green and not wilted. From the six Phals that we have, five remaining ones that survive had quite healthy root systems when I took them out of the pot. I tried to save the sick one by using Sphag and Bag method, cinnamon dusting, washing it with bleach solution etc, but the leaves just dropped one after another. Almost all roots were gone and what remained was the middle part (corm?) that was black. I noticed a very strong pungent odour from the sick plant. Not a rotten smell, but very oddly pungent odour. I still could smell it even when the plant was in plastic bag. Some kind of mold or fungus?? With no healthy roots and no leaf at all, I think there will not be any ‘sphag and bag miracle’. I just throwed it out for good.
I read many articles that suggest to take newly bought Phalaenopsis orchids out of the pot as soon as possible and remove all the sphagnum moss, trim all the dead roots and repot in other kinds of orchid growing media that consist mostly of bark chips. This is what I have done with the rest of the Phals and they seem very happy, healthy and blooming. I find that repotting will not damage the flowers, as long as leaving the blooms up all the time during the procces to avoid damage. Hold the plant up all the time while cleaning and trimming roots.
March 23, 2013: