The Terminator…Spike.

I was just doing some daily inspection of my orchids and noticed that I have what appears to be a terminal spike starting to poke out from the crown of one of my Phals. A terminal spike is one that grows from the center of the foliage of a monopodial orchid, meaning that the plant will no longer be able to grow leaves from there. Healthy Phals usually put spikes out from the base of the plant or in between older leaves. According to chit-chat on orchid forums, a terminal spike on a Phal may signify that the plant is not healthy but is trying to find a way to keep on truckin’. Sometimes Phals that do this will end up growing a basal keiki to try and replicate themselves, but other times they won’t survive.

The Phal with the growing terminal spike hasn’t been in great shape for awhile, and in fact was quite near death about a year or so ago.

Sick Phal
Unhappy Phal

This orchid had been doing okay for awhile and began putting out those two small leaves you see above, but then the leaf growth just stopped. Those leaves have been that size for a few months now. The larger leaf on the right seems to have a bit of sunburn and looks to be on its way out the door.

I noticed a little something growing from the center of this plant the other day when I was watering, but I thought it was a new leaf. Today I realized that the growth is too purple to be a leaf (though clearly this plant is getting too much sun, by the look of its purple-tinged leaves), and is in fact starting to take on that telltale mitten shape of a new spike.

Phal terminal spike
Phal terminal spike

This sad Phal came double potted with another plant. I potted the two separately; one has been doing very well while this other one…not so much. Incidentally, the healthy one is going to re-bloom very soon from a new spike AND side shoot:

Phal spike with buds and side shoot
Photo of happy Phal taken a couple weeks ago

So, I am just going to keep an eye on the orchid’s terminal spike and tend to the plant as best I can. Hopefully this won’t mean the end for the plant—I’m crossing my fingers for a basal keiki that I can remove and pot on its own. Think happy thoughts for my orchid!

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