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My Vertical Garden Wall


Thursday, December 5, 2013

How to Reset a Phalaenopsis Orchid after its Prime?

I was hunting high & low for this.
Not that they were rare or difficult to purchase.
The catch: It's price.
With due respect this plant is actually expensive (or at least for me)
Easily costing about RM55 when full bloom and in some cases
about RM30 when the flowers were spend.
(A lady in Sg. Buloh nursery was trying to push off her after blooms)
In some places you can still get those spent ones for RM10 per pot or so.
(now I really can't remember - if you were lucky to get them in Orchid Garden in KL)

Sorry about the bad introduction above.
(Consider it my pre-thoughts before the intro)

A friend of mine who loves orchids, presented me 5 of these!!!
(I often mention him when it comes to orchids - he is more like a mentor to me.)
I'm so amazed at his generosity and kindness in sharing his wealth to me.
These were given to him by his neighbour from his work-place.
(Apparently these are use-throw flowers which were used as a decor piece in his work-place)

These are Phalaenopsis Orchids, more famously known as the Moth Orchid.
They are the in thing about orchids.
Very popular around the hotel lobbies or anywhere that are considered luxury & exclusive. And so these were adorned and very much appear to be like a "use & throw-away plant"
Once finished blooming - its discarded and a new batch is purchased from the new month order.

And so the catch:
This plants are meant not to last very long.
The medium is fashioned in such that they don't require watering or at least very minimum watering until they had finish blooming.
Fuss free and once when done finished blooming -its thrown away.
Consider it like cut flowers, only that cut flowers may last a week and prove more expensive if they were purchased regularly on a weekly basis.
Here these flowers can bloom and last for about a month and economically cheaper if compared to cut flowers.
(Of course - some cut flowers are dirt cheap - but they only last a day or two)

Its all about Condition.

How to convert an orchid that suppose to "self-destruct" to a long lasting plant?
Answer: Change the medium.

I thought that it is just an over-exaggeration that the sphagnum moss can cause root rot and they need utmost attention - I was wrong.

The emphasis proves more than true.
Failing to do so, dooms the plant like a time bomb.
Suddenly you realise the plant is dying and that you discover the whole root base is all but rotten. You thought you can save something but it is too late. The plant was dead weeks ago and only showing its sign when you notice the leaves turning yellow.

Another sign is that you might find black circular spots on the leaves.
Sometimes at the under-leaf appearing with different colouration. If you spot these in the nurseries - don't buy them. They are infected with fungus and most likely its too late to safe anything.
Worse - you don't want to infect any other healthy orchid plant in your current collection.

This one cup of sphagnum moss look neat & well maintained.
Tucked & well behaved with nice thick roots filling in the nook & corners.
And to a unsuspecting over-zealous gardener (people like me) it would prove tempting that this plant needs water and you would want to pour a small cup of water to refresh this poor thirsty plant.

But these cups come with a vengeance.
I manage to dismantle 4 of them. All of them except one shows strong root rotting.
The three had roots rotten to the core where only the visible roots which are at the surface had escape the slaughter.

You may not notice anything suspicious by observing the outer rim.
They all are strongly rotting inside.
What appear to be a strong thick white roots going inside is just that..
The rest is a rotting mess.

The Sphagnum moss were compressed like "compressed chipped-wood" and the roots suffocate, finding itself water - it drown in the "pressed carpet" rotting away without any visible signs.
The amount of moss used is unbelievable.
It can easily make up 3-4 cups if a person intend to use it.
Its shows clearly that an organised watering scheme is practised which is controlled until this orchid grew to its matured stage.
(Only to be slaughtered with the tropical watering style - over-watering)

I have managed to fastened 4 of these on a pine branch.
(Earlier I used it for my airplants - this is the last branch available)

Here I used a small portion of Sphagnum moss fastened with coco-mesh and coconut husk. I used to work with fishing line (use it to tie up the orchids with the medium) but somehow it is difficult when it comes to knotting.
They somehow get loose when putting a knot.
And the messy factor of arranging them in looping to strengthen the whole orchid something prove futile when the orchid slops on the wood piece.

A thick binding string (sold in stationary shops) really helped me a lot.
I just have to do one fastening and another for the final loop and the whole thing is so stable and tight.
(The last time I used the fishing line for the miniature dendrobium tying it with coconut husk and over time the husk fell off from the orchid piece)

Eventually these roots will take over and fastened naturally around the coconut husk and the wood piece. By then - the strings will slowly dis-integrate by time..

I was running tight with time.
This was done yesterday at 11.30pm and I manage to finish it only at 2.00am.
However, it was very effective using this binding string as it saved a lot of time.
(I only planned to hang one orchid for that day but got over-zealous and managed to do four)

Looks like I can manage to squeeze the last piece at the bottom. May only able to work at it when it is in the hanging position as the rest of the 4 pieces gave me some tough time balancing the wood using my legs - to hold it up-right.

And lastly, I used cable tie to fasten all the spikes together.
Normally these are trimmed off in the nurseries.
My idea is hoping that at least one of it bears out a kelki
(a baby plant spawning from the flower spike) for me to cherish.

My earlier experience, I realise that the leaves will eventually drop and be replaced by the new but smaller sized ones. This shows that the plant is heavily sprayed with growth hormones and other chemicals, often leads to its destruction.

The other thing is that, I usually fastened these types upside down to make sure there is no chance of crown rot when watering was done. Here I doubt I can manage to do that as its just too messy to work in that direction.
Hopefully the plant picks up itself and let nature takes its course.

Thank you Edward for these lovely Orchids.


Unknown said...

Just discovered your website!
I bought this Phalaenopsis (presumably Phal Amabilis) from Sg Buluh about 7 weeks ago. There was just a spike with no buds. They're now blooming. Nice!

James David said...

Thanks Gary for dropping by.
Wow! I didn't know that dormant spike can suddenly regenerate all over again.
That is truly great..
I shall watch out for it for these 2 months or so for them too.
Thanks for the tip.

Stephanie said...

Good idea James! Love its big blooms. It does make a lovely addition to your wonderful garden. I have not planted moth orchid before. Hope to see it reflowed soon! But I understand that it is hard to get it rebloom in our hot gardens.

Unknown said...

Phalaenopsis is among the loveliest orchids and they arae so durable. I used to tie them to my trees and practically ignore them until they next draw my attention with their blooms. Good luck with them.

Jacqueline said...

The blooms are gorgeous, so also the healthy leaves. Thank goodness they're now safe under your tlc... sure to survive! Love how you've arranged them in their new home. May you enjoy their blooms for many years ahead, James.

James David said...

hopefully its not the Taiwan breed.
Well, if we never try.. we will never know..

James David said...

I wish I have the patience and ignorance like what you said.
Plant them and ignore them till they bloom again.

James David said...

Thanks a lot for the compliment Jacq.
Appreciate it very much!

marie-gael said...

*just found your site & i'm in love! i live in thailand & it's very hard to find gardening blogs*
i adopted about 40 orchids from just such a throw away situation. my friends buys a bunch every few months. i moved them to wooden slatted containers, about 3/4 orchids a piece & filled the remaining space w/ chunks of coconut husk. so, far they are coming back. i had a few bloom, but just before it opened, some birds attacked it. grrrrrrr. seems the key is the right fertilizer & moving air at the roots.

James David said...

Thanks for dropping by Marie.
Glad to know that you are able to regenerate these orchids again.
And you are so right in the right fertiliser and air-movement factors.

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Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia
My Malaysian Tropical Garden mainly focused on unique and colorful plants ranging from rare to common plants all around the tropical belt across the world. Ideal for inspiration for challenging areas in the garden space - indoor gardening, balcony gardening and small green spaces especially for ariods, bromeliads, begonias, edibles, cascading & vertical garden plants, succulents & cacti, orchids, together with both shade and sun loving plants.

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