> One of my recent acquisitions was a beautiful phal. It looks like it
> has one stalk that was cut back, i can just barely see the tip of the
> cut part in the leaves.
Hi Linda, That just tells you that it's bloomed at least once.
> There is a new stalk that has about 10 blooms
> on it. Over the past few days, the blooms have started to die.. the
> leaves seem healthy and dont look like they are having any problem,
> but several of the blooms (4 i think) have fallen off, and the other
> ones are getting very sick looking. I was wondering if it was just the
> end of the blooms and that they were supposed to be falling off? Or is
> some thing wrong with the plant?
Blooms may drop for various reasons, but phals are usually fairly long
lasting. Maybe you used cold water, did humidity drop, an outbreak of cold
air, a draft, hot temperatures, and/or inadequate water, can cause blooms to
drop. After the flowers open, you can move it inside and water it in the
sink or shower if you want. Lower light and slightly cooler temperatures
help the blossoms last.
> Second...the roots of my phal are completely exposed...
That's fine if your humidity is relatively high.
> The roots are kind of a very light green or even grayish color, and then
> when they get wet they turn a deep green until they dry again.
Your description sounds as though they look exactly the way they should.
> How often should I be watering this phal? We live in south florida.. the
> temp on average is 85 degrees, some times up as high as 92 and occasionally
> as low as 70... the phal is*** under a covered patio and does not
> get direct sun but gets plenty of light.
The beauty of using a basket is that it is almost impossible to over-water,
and that's the biggest threat from new orchid growers. Humidity is the
critical element. With high humidity, you probably won't need to water very
often. Orchid roots are extremely efficient at grabbing moisture from the
air. With hot temperatures and low to very low humidity, you might want to
water it more than once a day.
Look at your plant when you water it, be aware of subtle changes in color,
texture, stiffness, etc. If the leaves are a little droopy or limp, it needs
water. If the leaves start to turn pinkish or get red a reddish tone, the
light is too high, and so forth. The plant does it's level best to tell you
if it's unhappy. The only problem then is figuring out why it's unhappy.
You can use the the green growing tip of roots as an indicator. If the roots
are healthy, it's happy. Normally, the longer the green tip, the better,
-unless- it has a rest period when they are not actively growing and when it
might be completely covered with velamen.
Velamen is the white part on the root that soaks up water and nutrients and
attaches the plant to it's mount.
> Would it be better to put this phal into some kind of potting mixture?
I wouldn't, not where you live. It is probably quite firmly attached to the
slats in the basket and you could cause a lot of damage trying to stuff it
into a pot.
> Ive never had an orchid before and it just seems bizarre to me that
> the roots are completely exposed, etc...
That's how they grow in the wild, the roots just attach to the trunks and
limbs of trees and anchor the plants in place. In nature, roots may hang
down many, many feet below the limbs where they are attached. As long as
your conditions are good, that's all they need.
> I dont see how its taking in water... because even though i water it,
> it seems to dry almost right away...
The white covering on the roots is super absorbent; it slurps up water and
nutrients with amazing speed.
> Additionally, what kind of fertilizer should I be feeding it and how
> often? Do i water the fertilizer over the roots only or over the
> entire plant?
Do you have anything around the house? Almost anything will work, but if
you're feeding it once a week, you should mix it at about 1/4 the recommend
strength. That's how efficient the velamen is. If the container calls for 1
teaspoon per gallon, use 1/4-1/2 teaspoon per gallon. NEVER fertilize a dry
plant, always soak it down with plain water first.
If you need to go buy something, a bottle of Alaska fish fertilizer will
work. If that sounds like a bad idea, try Miracid. It was originally
developed as an orchid food. You still need to dilute it.