Advice, please re phrags.

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I seem to grow phrags well until they bloom, then especially if I repot, they decline. I posted a beautiful Jason Fischer (photo below) and a Fritz Schomberg a while back that were both young, but healthy plants. Now both of those are struggling to survive, literally. They have been downsized into 2.5" pots (in classic Orchiata with 10% charcoal & 10% grow stone of appropriate size) because of the lack of roots. I finally resorted to putting them in a terrarium like situation for extra high humidity and keeping them moist) and it does look like they may be thinking about sprouting new roots. This plant was in a 6" pot and seemed very happy, but I like to have things in clear pots so I can see the condition of the roots, so I repotted after the flowers faded. I've watched Jason Fischer's repotting phrags video and don't know why I have a tough time, as I follow the instructions. I remove soft dead roots and do not upsize the pot usually--actually this one was downsized to a 4" pot, the first time it was repotted, and is blooming again in this pic in that size. After this bloom, I did not repot, and it declined over a couple of months, so I downsized to the 2.5". The roots turn black and don't seem to grow green tips after the repotting, and consequently the leaves start to show signs of dehydrating. I'm very sad about this as some of these plants were quite expensive. I've already killed one Jason Fischer, after repotting--it just seemed to rot. I don't want to kill another, but the jury is still out on this one as it has one small (dehydrated) fan left with about a 4" spread. Is there some magic that has to be performed after phrags bloom to get them to thrive again?? The ones that bloom in the spring (as this one did the first time, seem to do okay after, despite repotting. But this one bloomed again in the fall and declined after, even though it was not repotted.
B94243E6-5900-4BD3-9646-3ED41B6B9DDA_1_201_a.jpeg
 

MaxC

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First off, that is a great looking Jason Fischer.

By declining are you talking about the leaves, the roots or both? Are you seeing any new roots or growths coming out currently? Even my "project" phrags are showing life currently. These include some plants that had virtually no viable roots two or three months ago. I have had some plants that took to my culture immediately and others that dropped the odd leaf or two (always the older/bottom ones). I even had a couple of plants that were from Hawaii that lost a growth settling into my culture.
What quality of water and frequency of watering are you doing for your phrags?
Was there any moss growing on top when you repot or too dry for any to form?
Do you have any issues with algae in the clear pots?
Do you have browning on the tips of your leaves?
What kind of humidity are your plants growing in?
What lighting or exposure do you have?
Were these all first bloom, single or double growth plants?
 
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Ray

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When roots grow, they "tailor" themselves on a cellular level to function optimally in that environment. Once they have grown, they cannot change. Move them into a different environment and they are no longer optimal, so will start to fail. The rate at which they fail is determined by the degree of difference between the "before" and "after" conditions.

The best time to repot any plant is just as new roots are emerging from the base of the plant. With sympodial plants, that often coincides with the emergence of new growths. As those new roots grow, they will support the plant as the old roots fail.

Just as a general comment: I am not a fan of growstones because of their chyemically basic nature.
 
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I’d like to know more about your general culture, your growing/watering/feeding regimes before commenting. Also what temperatures do you grow at? Do you use rain water or Low TDS water?
David
 
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First off, that is a great looking Jason Fischer. The operative word should be "was", see the current pitiful photo below.
2EF555EC-21C6-463E-BCA7-24F3FA30EF3C.jpeg


By declining are you talking about the leaves, the roots or both?
Foliage is pretty dessicated and only roots visible in pot are black, no green growing tips showing.
Are you seeing any new roots or growths coming out currently?
One new growth tried to start a few weeks ago. It's about ¼" tall and not a good color. Very dull green sort of like the leaves.
Even my "project" phrags are showing life currently. These include some plants that had virtually no viable roots two or three months ago. I have had some plants that took to my culture immediately and others that dropped the odd leaf or two (always the older/bottom ones). I even had a couple of plants that were from Hawaii that lost a growth settling into my culture.
Funny thing about this is I have two phrags both doing well. One is a Eumelia Arias growing like cats & dogs, as they say. The other is a single fan Nicholle Tower that is throwing off 3 growths.
What quality of water and frequency of watering are you doing for your phrags?
I use R/O water that is literraly below 5ppm. I water phrags every 3-4 days depending on the size of the pot and the mix. I watch for drying about ½" from top.
Was there any moss growing on top when you repot or too dry for any to form?
No moss, none of my pots ever get moss as I use Orchiata and repot every 6-18 mos. depending on growth, as I pot tightly. (I only grow paphs, phrags and catts).
Do you have any issues with algae in the clear pots?
I can have some algae growth, but it usually doesn't keep me from seeing what's going on at root level.
Do you have browning on the tips of your leaves?
Not with these two plants. I also have some brown streaks on some leaves due to a brief bout with spider mites this winter, but that's cleared up. My Eumelia Arias has some tip browning, but It's in an 8" pot with larger mix (Power +) and there was an adjustment period with the watering, but now it's very happy, watering every 3-4 days. I know this is huge mix for phrags, but I did it because I was afraid I was drowning things staying wet too long in winter with smaller mix. I could go 10 days on some phrags in winter in classic/power mix which I thought was too long. Since this took an 8" pot, I used a big mix. It's my healthiest most robust phrag. I also use ½ the strength fertilizer (MSU & Cal/Mag adjust Ph to 5.8) on phrags that I use on everything else as they are watered more than once a week and I know are sensitive.
What kind of humidity are your plants growing in?
47-51% pretty consistently, in the winter I ran it 50-55%. Temps are not at 80 degrees day 68 night.
What lighting or exposure do you have?
It's an enclosed "grow room" with high output 5,000 K LED 4" tubes from Orchids Ltd. This table is all paphs and phrags and they all get between 80 and 90 PAR. My PAR meter measures LED, but my light meter doesn't unfortunately and I don't know how to convert PAR to F/C. Everything grows well and blooms at this level.
Were these all first bloom, single or double growth plants?
Fritz was a first bloom, single growth plant. Jason was a second bloom double growth plant.
Max C, thanks so much for your probing questions. I hope my answers give some insight...
 

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Did you repot your faltering plants all at the same time? I am wondering if something was potentially passed when cutting your roots during repotting. I think a picture of roots would also help get a better sense of what is going but I would wait to hear back from Ray and David. If your other plants that seem to do well I would think it is less a concern over your culture and points to a fungal infection. The desiccated leaves look like fusarium but I have only ever seen pictures of phals and paphs with fusarium.
 
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When roots grow, they "tailor" themselves on a cellular level to function optimally in that environment. Once they have grown, they cannot change. Move them into a different environment and they are no longer optimal, so will start to fail. The rate at which they fail is determined by the degree of difference between the "before" and "after" conditions.

The best time to repot any plant is just as new roots are emerging from the base of the plant. With sympodial plants, that often coincides with the emergence of new growths. As those new roots grow, they will support the plant as the old roots fail.

Just as a general comment: I am not a fan of growstones because of their chyemically basic nature.
I do soak and rinse the stones. I have checked my run-off pH in the past, but not in a while. I’ll check again. At one point, I did try a rockwool mix for a couple of phrags and they seemed to thrive temporarily, but stayed wet 10 days-2 weeks in winter which concerned me as they started looking less healthy, so I went back to bark and had to downsize pot at that point. You may have something here, as I think these two plants may have been moved from rockwool to bark. I’ll ck that, too. Thx.
 
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Did you repot your faltering plants all at the same time? I am wondering if something was potentially passed when cutting your roots during repotting. I think a picture of roots would also help get a better sense of what is going but I would wait to hear back from Ray and David. If your other plants that seem to do well I would think it is less a concern over your culture and points to a fungal infection. The desiccated leaves look like fusarium but I have only ever seen pictures of phals and paphs with fusarium.
When I repot I’m very careful with disinfecting everything between plants, mostly as a preventative for spreading virus. I do have Physan 20. Would I have to treat with that more than once? At what interval. It might be worth a try.
 

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What you mentioned about issues with converting to rockwool and switching back to bark, if these were the only plants that had something different done to them I would say that we may be on to what is happening. I would wait for others to chime in regarding potential treatments.
 

Ray

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Rinsing growstones does nothing to affect the pH. It’s soda-lime glass, which is chemically basic, and then they add an alkaline carbonate to make it foam...

I don’t know if they still do so, but at one point they tried chemically passivating the surface with an acid treatment to extract the alkaline cations, leaving an acidic silica network, but that is only a temporary fix.

I just had another though: tell us about your water quality and feeding/additives regimen, as some phrags are sensitive to that.
 

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Hi Ray, this was hidden above along with the updated picture, bold are southernbelle's reponses:

"By declining are you talking about the leaves, the roots or both?
Foliage is pretty dessicated and only roots visible in pot are black, no green growing tips showing.

Are you seeing any new roots or growths coming out currently?
One new growth tried to start a few weeks ago. It's about ¼" tall and not a good color. Very dull green sort of like the leaves.

Even my "project" phrags are showing life currently. These include some plants that had virtually no viable roots two or three months ago. I have had some plants that took to my culture immediately and others that dropped the odd leaf or two (always the older/bottom ones). I even had a couple of plants that were from Hawaii that lost a growth settling into my culture.
Funny thing about this is I have two phrags both doing well. One is a Eumelia Arias growing like cats & dogs, as they say. The other is a single fan Nicholle Tower that is throwing off 3 growths.

What quality of water and frequency of watering are you doing for your phrags?
I use R/O water that is literraly below 5ppm. I water phrags every 3-4 days depending on the size of the pot and the mix. I watch for drying about ½" from top.

Was there any moss growing on top when you repot or too dry for any to form?
No moss, none of my pots ever get moss as I use Orchiata and repot every 6-18 mos. depending on growth, as I pot tightly. (I only grow paphs, phrags and catts).

Do you have any issues with algae in the clear pots?
I can have some algae growth, but it usually doesn't keep me from seeing what's going on at root level.

Do you have browning on the tips of your leaves?
Not with these two plants. I also have some brown streaks on some leaves due to a brief bout with spider mites this winter, but that's cleared up. My Eumelia Arias has some tip browning, but It's in an 8" pot with larger mix (Power +) and there was an adjustment period with the watering, but now it's very happy, watering every 3-4 days. I know this is huge mix for phrags, but I did it because I was afraid I was drowning things staying wet too long in winter with smaller mix. I could go 10 days on some phrags in winter in classic/power mix which I thought was too long. Since this took an 8" pot, I used a big mix. It's my healthiest most robust phrag. I also use ½ the strength fertilizer (MSU & Cal/Mag adjust Ph to 5.8) on phrags that I use on everything else as they are watered more than once a week and I know are sensitive.

What kind of humidity are your plants growing in?
47-51% pretty consistently, in the winter I ran it 50-55%. Temps are not at 80 degrees day 68 night.

What lighting or exposure do you have?
It's an enclosed "grow room" with high output 5,000 K LED 4" tubes from Orchids Ltd. This table is all paphs and phrags and they all get between 80 and 90 PAR. My PAR meter measures LED, but my light meter doesn't unfortunately and I don't know how to convert PAR to F/C. Everything grows well and blooms at this level.

Were these all first bloom, single or double growth plants?
Fritz was a first bloom, single growth plant. Jason was a second bloom double growth plant."
 
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Rinsing growstones does nothing to affect the pH. It’s soda-lime glass, which is chemically basic, and then they add an alkaline carbonate to make it foam...

I don’t know if they still do so, but at one point they tried chemically passivating the surface with an acid treatment to extract the alkaline cations, leaving an acidic silica network, but that is only a temporary fix.

I just had another though: tell us about your water quality and feeding/additives regimen, as some phrags are sensitive to that.
I use R/O water and MSU ¼ teas/gal + Cal/Mag 12 ml/gal for phrags because they are watered more than once a week. That gives me a TDS of 266. I pH adjust to 5.8 +- .1.
Ok, if I switch to large perlite, what size and who’s a supplier. I’m in VA but shipping should be low since it’s light.
 

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Sorry to hear about this, it's the worst feeling to lose progress, especially pk crosses after you have seen them thrive.
My thoughts, are just that, my own.

- 'but I like to have things in clear pots so I can see the condition of the roots, so I repotted after the flowers faded.' - Repotted down size from Grow cubes to orchiata mix.
- 'actually this one was downsized to a 4" pot, the first time it was repotted, and is blooming again in this pic in that size. After this bloom, I did not repot, and it declined over a couple of months, so I downsized to the 2.5". The roots turn black and don't seem to grow green tips after the repotting, and consequently the leaves start to show signs of dehydrating.' Potted from Grow cubes to orchiata mix?

I think these two repotting events were probably not the cause, as you mentioned decline in the plant health before repotting. However, these two drastic changes possibly added to the decline. It's very difficult to change the media from something the roots have evolved into, especially when the plant might be on the decline. In my experience, it's easier to go from a dry media to a wet with existing roots. If I were to change media in the direction you went, I would have likely moved to an orchiata/ growcube mix for the first repot, then complete to orchiata the next repot. This decision would also weigh heavier on me if the plant was going into a decline.

- Temps / Humidity. I can pull up your other threads, but I recall your mid winter temps in VA are on the lower side of my own. Environmental conditions are completely different for everyone, but I have sustained root growth through the entire winter of newly repotted phrags, even kovachii. My Feb growing temps High 76, low 63 / Humidity High 82 low 60.

- Light and daylength: adjusted to 11hrs 30min at the lowest length in the winter, and back up to 12hrs now. LED full spectrum/ 1800W, 2 feet form the source on light rails. phrags don't seem at all picky about light, my mature plants can take high levels. Declining plants / newly repotted I have found do better with slightly lower light levels.

Probable initial cause?
- Mites. Something we have in common. We got hit with the same type of Mite this past year. I still have a mature cattleya that will not put out new roots or growths. I'm not sure how hard your two phrags got hit, or how hard you treated with Alcohol spray. Both the infestation and treatment might have impact on the growth rate of the plants.
- Growing temps: slightly warmer conditions would help a wetter media, cold and wet might promote other issues especially in organic media.
- Sterilization: Switch to MAP gas. Burn all cutting instruments. I have seen greenhouses that use only physan and still have virus when I tested their plants. If you don't kill everything you will likely pass virus, bacteria, fungus overall rot along in the collection. Bleach soak plastic pots, put clay pots into the oven 400deg. 2-3 hrs.. Sue Bottom has a great article on this in AOS or the St. Augustine orchid society website. Also test plants if they exhibit signs, doing a test of your entire collection every few years to weed out the virus. Especially if you are putting large resources into high quality plants. Drawback is testing is expensive. Last year I tested a phrag from another grower and found it had one of the two viruses. I was shocked, first phrag I have ever seen with virus.

Solutions:
- MY own personal steps I would take, given my temps and growing conditions defined above and the scenario you have presented.

- At this point, they have not done anything for months. no root growth, no new growth, nothing.
- First I would pull the plants out or exiting media rinse the root area, and spray the root area down with physan, while I let that sit I would put together a small mixture of root growth hormone. Rinse Physan off. then soak in
(great white: Great White PRPSGW01 FGGRWH-1OZ White Mycorrhizae OR Dip 'N Grow: Hydrofarm DG00201 Liquid Hormone Concentrate Hydroponic Rooting Solution)
and soak the bottoms of both for 5-10 min while I assembled the new media.

- I would run a test. One plant in a 4 inch plastic net pot and one in a similar sized aircone pot. Styrofoam peanuts at the bottom if you have them.
- both filled with grow cubes and perlite.
- Keep the media wet with RO. Keep them in a briskly ventilated part of the grow area, keep temp range in mind, and slightly off center from your grow light.
- I would use RO water to initially wet the media, then keep it wet with a spray hand pump of RO, not soaked.
- I would give it two weeks and see if any roots have started, once you see this a weekly shot of dilute dilute growth hormone around the media. and then increase watering as new roots push into the media.
- The difference in pots is to see if more air movement would help the root zone, having a difference would split up the plants, one with more air, one with more moisture retention. I'm not sure at this time which would be more helpful, so I would spread try both for my own knowledge.

Basically, that's what I would do given this scenario in my own collection, Really interested to see how others would approach this.

Pete
 
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You seem to be doing everything right!
I cannot see anything that really jumps out.
I just wonder whether the roots are a bit too dry in the bark given that the humidity is around 50%?
These besseae hybrids really like it wet wet wet!
Just moist is nowhere near as good.
My humidity in winter in the kitchen where they grow is around 60-70% and I grow in rockwool which is always wet. The pots sit in a bit of water year round,
David
 

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Also, I would like to add this photo. Fritz Schomberg. obtained from woodstream at January's Paph forum. With few roots, I repotted from orchiata into growdan / perlite, a new media for me that I am switching to slowly after reading your post and posts of others. I have not seen this amount of root growth before in other media under my conditions. TBD if this holds up over the entire growing year. But for starting roots, this stuff works really well.

IMG_4786.JPG IMG_4785.JPG View attachment 19447
 

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PeteM

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What lighting or exposure do you have?
It's an enclosed "grow room" with high output 5,000 K LED 4" tubes from Orchids Ltd. This table is all paphs and phrags and they all get between 80 and 90 PAR. My PAR meter measures LED, but my light meter doesn't unfortunately and I don't know how to convert PAR to F/C. Everything grows well and blooms at this level.
- I grow in a basement grow room, 22x22ft roughly. I keep a sliding door cracked 24/7, fist size for increased air exchange over the winter and have found this to improve roto performance compared to keeping it completely sealed in the winter.
 

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since you already have 300 other suggestions i figured i'd jump in with suggestion # 301... :)

at an almost 100% succcess level,

solving for no roots -> repot a cleaned stump of a plant into a tight sphagnum ball in a 1/2" or so around the base of the plant in a plastic pot that fits it. stabilize that small pot with another larger pot so it doesn't flop around... keep the sphagnum wet

-> 'cleaned stump' -> i'm a fan of banrot 1.8ish grams in a gallon of water with afew drops of palmolive as a wetting agent. I use this whenever i repot, and have had little if any root loss on repotting. Also since my mix has a lot of inorganics, and kiwi bark, the pH doesn't change much (if at all) over a 2 year period.

-> 'wet' well with what... as a relatively recent convert to RO.. (about 1 1/2 years ago) i'm just now moving to what appears to be a standard practice of mixing tap water with the RO in a 25 or 30% ratio... the folks i know that are doing that, don't have an explicit reason. However here's what are some facts. All of them have reasonably good tap water (either public water or well), with a good Ca and Mg level. MSU and CaMg fertilizers have good ratios of Ca and Mg, however if you water with very dilute fertilizer, the amounts in the solution are well below what the plant wants to see (or at least appears to). Straight RO water will aggressively leach nutrients from the mix. Mix additives like oyster shell (chicken grit, etc.) do more to buffer the water chemistry in the mix than they do add Ca. Kovachii like a more basic root zone water chemistry than besseae. So in the realm of suggestion, no growstone in anything other than kovachii and hybrid mixes. If you use it in the kovachii/hybrid mixes you probably don't need the oyster shell in there also. Glenn Decker is/was a fan of growstone in his kovachii's to manage the pH up. Since i can't get grostone anywhere (they stopped making it in Jan of '19), i just use an f load of oyster shell.... it appears to work well enough.

When you get a decent root system in the sphagnum, repot into your fresh mix. If the mix you choose ages in a neutral way, or you repot before the mix starts to age out of that almost new pH range, you shouldn't see the root loss Ray speaks of.

As Tom K says... what works for you works for you.... this works for me :)
 
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I use R/O water and MSU ¼ teas/gal + Cal/Mag 12 ml/gal for phrags because they are watered more than once a week. That gives me a TDS of 266. I pH adjust to 5.8 +- .1.
Ok, if I switch to large perlite, what size and who’s a supplier. I’m in VA but shipping should be low since it’s light.
I made a mistake on my fertilizer. I use ¼ teas MSU and 2 ml cal/mag per gal for phrags which are watered more frequently than weekly. If weekly, or longer between watering, I use 1/2 teas and 4 ml a gallon. Sorry for the mistake.
 
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Also, I would like to add this photo. Fritz Schomberg. obtained from woodstream at January's Paph forum. With few roots, I repotted from orchiata into growdan / perlite, a new media for me that I am switching to slowly after reading your post and posts of others. I have not seen this amount of root growth before in other media under my conditions. TBD if this holds up over the entire growing year. But for starting roots, this stuff works really well.

View attachment 19445 View attachment 19446 View attachment 19447
This is very interesting, Pete! I bought another Fritz Schomberg at the Paph Forum from Woodstream as well. We might have been choosing them together as I remember someone else was interested when I was. Anyway, they were wilted and I thought just needed water. I try not to change things right away so left it potted as it was (in 6” I think but could be wrong). It never perked up. By March I emailed a photo to Bill who said he’d replace it if I brought it to Philly Show but in the meantime, to pot it in smaller bark and put it in a terrarium type moisture environment and it would sprout new roots. Almost no roots when I did that, so in a 2” deep seedling pot. After 6 wks I’m seeing one little nub of root start to swell, it foliage still totally droopy wilted (obviously couldn’t return it at Philly show). I contacted Bill when his new list came out about plants I want and returning this, but as several have mentioned, he’s not responded lately. Your results in the rockwool are impressive with same plant bought at same show. Was yours wilted looking when you bought it?
 
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