Sphag-n-Baggin’ Again

Dying orchid
Bad news bears

Since I posted about my dying orchid three days ago, it has gone downhill even more. After removing the dead leaves and rotten roots the other day, I was left with two big leaves, one small leaf, and a tiny stump of a root which looked like it was already beginning to rot.

I repotted the plant but one of the big leaves started yellowing pretty quickly so I decided to remove the leaf, as well as the whole root base which looked like it was rotting. So I was left with…not much. No roots at all. Not even much of a plant stem. Time for a sphag-n-bag attempt!

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My Orchid Rescue Update

A month and a half ago, I blogged about a couple of my Phalaenopsis orchids that were in sad shape. I write today with both good news and bad news. Let’s start with the bad news first: one of these two orchids now appears to be on its way out.  :/

Dying Phalaenopsis orchid
Not much life left in this one

When that leaf on the right started going yellow, I still had hope for this orchid. But when the leaf on the left started turning too, my hope started to fade. I think I will take it out of the potting mix and see if there’s anything left that can be salvaged but I’m wondering if there’s just too much rot under there. 🙁

And now for the good news: the other sad Phal (the one on the left on the photo, in the green bowl) seems to be making a comeback! Last time I wrote, there was just the teeniest root nubbin starting to poke out of the base of the plant. Since then, that root has grown and another two have started to come in. Even better, which I just noticed a moment ago, the plant is beginning to grow a new leaf out of the top of the crown—a definite sign that it’s recovering after all!

A second piece of good news is that my biggest Phal is about to bloom! There are eight buds so far and one of them is just beginning to open up today. I’m super excited about this one – its blooms are GORGEOUS. You better believe I’ll post photos when its blooms open up!!

UPDATE: OK, so I just realized that the dying orchid is a Doritaenopsis, not a Phalaenopsis like I originally thought. The tag says “Dtps. Sogo Kitty” and for some reason this whole time I just ignored those four letters “Dtps” because it looked like a Phal. Doritaenopsis is a hybrid of Phalaenopsis and Doritis, but they need basically the same conditions as Phals. I just removed the dead leaf and some more rotted roots, and repotted the plant with a mixture of sphagnum moss and bark, hoping the mixture will help it get more air circulation and will rot less. We shall see…

Newest Orchid Additions to My Home

My three new Phals from Orchids by Hausermann arrived on Friday afternoon — and I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of them is already in bloom! Check ’em out:

New orchids from Hausermann's
L to R: Phal. amboinensis, P. mannii x self, P. Cranberry Queen ‘Regal’

The P. manii blooms are teeny tiny; see how they compare to a quarter?

Phal. manii
Mini blooms on the Phal. manii

It’s hard to convey the absolute adorableness of these itsy-bitsy blooms in photos, but below is more detailed shot of a P. manii bloom. And by the way, these blooms do have a very subtle fragrance; to me they have a vague aroma of cinnamon.

Phal manii bloom
Phal manii bloom

And look, the P. amboinensis has a little spike starting to poke out from the stem! The little nub on the left is the spike. Spikes can be hard to identify, but remember that the spikes are flatter at the tip than roots when they begin to appear.

Phal amboinensis spike growth
New P. amboinensis spike growth

So far, seems like another successful purchase from Hausermann’s.  Each of my new orchids has nice long silvery roots and a couple of them have new leaves starting to grow out of the top of the crown. Oh yeah, and one of the best things about my new orchid plants? I only spent $40.50 on them, including shipping! Seriously, orchids CAN be affordable; you just need to know where to look.  🙂

More Orchids Coming My Way!

I’ve done it again: I ordered more orchids from Orchids by Hausermann. Awhile back I ordered five orchids from them, each on sale, and I was pleased with my order. So I just placed an order for three more orchids (each of which, by the way, is super affordable). Photos below are from the Hausermann’s website and are images of what each of the plant’s blooms should look like. I picked these three because they have pretty unique-looking blooms; they don’t look like your standard Phals. And the second two shown are supposed to be fragrant, which is fairly uncommon in Phals.

Phal. amboinensis ($8!)

Phal. amboinensis

Phal. Cranberry Queen ‘Regal’ ($10!)

Phal. Cranberry Queen 'Regal'

Phal. mannii x self ($10!)

Phal. mannii x self

Because the weather is much warmer than it was when I placed my first order from Hausermann’s, this order should arrive much faster. None of them will be in bloom, or even, in spike, but regardless I’m totally excited!!

A Basic Guide to Buying Orchids

Phalaenopsis orchid bloom and buds

Selecting an orchid to buy can be quite a decision. For those who simply want the instant gratification of something lovely to display in their home, the “Oooh, pretty, I’ll take it!” method works just fine. But if you’re buying an orchid with the long term in mind, there are a few things you’ll want to look for before you head to the checkout counter. Bear in mind that these tips are mainly for Phalaenopsis orchids, but the general principles will work for many other orchid varieties as well.

As always, I’ve included photo examples for your viewing pleasure.

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How to Identify a New Orchid Root vs. Flower Spike

Something is poking out of the base of your orchid plant. Is it a new root, or—even more exciting—a flower spike? It can be hard to tell the difference, especially for orchid beginners. In a Phalaenopsis orchid, both roots and spikes are usually green when they begin to emerge, which makes it that much harder to distinguish the two.

I’ve found that with orchids, the easiest way to learn is with our eyes. So, I write bearing visual aids.

The long silvery thing in this first photo is a healthy, dry root. And the small green nub you see to the right of the long silvery root is a new root beginning to poke out from the plant stem. New Phalaenopsis roots usually appear with a green tip, and as they grow longer they will become silvery near the base of the plant. If you click the photo to view the larger version, you will see there are actually two new roots coming in – the green one on the right that I already mentioned, and a second one just above the longer silver root.

New orchid root
New phalaenopsis orchid root

This next photo shows a brand new flower spike growing out of the base of another one of my Phalaenopsis orchids. It’s a slightly brighter green and a tad flattened, with what looks almost like a tiny mitten at the tip. It’s this mitten shape that, for me, is what most easily distinguishes a root from a spike.

New orchid spike
New phalaenopsis orchid spike

In the third photo you can see both a new root (silver, on the left) and a new spike (green mitten, on the right).

New phalaenopsis orchid root and spike
New phalaenopsis orchid root and spike

Cool, huh? I’m always excited to see ANY new growth on my orchids – whether it be a new root, spike, or leaf – because new growth is a sign of a happy and healthy plant. Of course I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more spikes, because that means MORE FLOWERS! but I’ll take new roots too. Growing orchids at home sure is a good way to strengthen your patience muscle.

Updated to add: I receive many questions from readers about orchids that have leaves and roots growing off of the spike. These are called keikis (baby orchids), and they can be viable plants on their own once their roots grow long enough. I have written a separate post about keikis and what to do with them. Read all about keikis here. 

P.S. For another great source of information about how to successfully grow orchids, I recommend signing up for a [Affiliate Link] free Orchids Made Easy newsletter from Ryan “The Orchid Guy.” He brings tons of tips and advice straight to your inbox, every day!