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Orchids/Phal help

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Hi
I received a Phal the end of March and it was in bloom till 3wks ago. I cut the one spike without using cinnamon right above the 3rd node and cut the other spike with cinnamon right where the first flower was. I did not know about the cinnamon on my first cut or I would have used it because there is a brown circle right under the cut, will the whole spike eventually die now? I also read if you have 2 spikes 1 spike should be cut at the base and the other higher up, is that true? I used scissors with alcohol each time I cut. I also cut rotted roots I seen but did not take it out to check the roots, should I and repot? Also the top leave is cracking in the middle crease. I've only watered it with rain water and do not water weekly since the moss is always damp. I live in NY and have it in a basement window facing west. It is my first plant and any advice would be greatly appreciated. I attached some pictures. Thank you!

Answer
Kristie; with regard to flower spike, there are many types of phalaenopsis.  They differ in many ways.  one of these ways is what happens to the flower spike after flowering.  In one type the flower spike remains green and may flower again on that spike. In another type, the flower spike turns brown, dies back and will not reflower. On the type that remains green, cut the flower spike just above the third node.  Seal the cut with cinnamon right after you cut it so the cinnamon will adhere to that cut end. Remember that you may have the type of phalaenopsis whose flower spike turns brown and dies back.  So, if you cut off a portion of the green spike before it turns brown that will not affect its genetic instructions to die back. Whether you retain one or two spikes on your plant depends upon how large, and therefore strong, the plant is. As a general rule, one spike is cut off at the base and the second, just above the third node.

I have found that using moss in the potting mix results in a potting mix that can be either too wet or dry.  Root rot can result from a mix that stays too wet. Obtain a fir bark based commercial potting mix and repot.  You will need to strain out the finer particles and dust prior to use.  Then, soak it for an hour before using it to repot (dry fir bark repels water and soaking it will break down this repellency.)

Phalaenopsis do best in an east window where morning lighting remains more consistent and lower in intensity than a west facing window.

After you have repotted, start on a biweekly schedule on feeding using a balanced fertilizer (eg 20/20/20) and that may help with the leaf cracking. Water thoroughly between feedings.

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Wayne King

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Any question about orchid culture. I have thirty+ yrs of growing experience,president 2x of our local Orchid Growers Guild,held a position in most all other offices associated with the Guild at one time or another. Head of Orchid judging team for local club meetings and some shows. Member of two Orchid Socities and local Rep.for Mid America Orchid Congress for several yrs.I have in my collection about 800 Orchid plants of all types.

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