Saving Phalaenopsis Orchids with Good Roots

SSSI have had a number of phals with good roots but eventually the plants had stopped growing and their leaves had become limp. Here is how I revive them.

SSS After pruning away dead roots, I repot the orchid in a clear plastic pot with good drainage, air holes on the pot’s side, and either fresh fir bark or fresh sphagnum moss. Then, and this is the key, I place the pot on a heating pad set to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. (I have been using  K&H heating pads for dogs, the one’s encased in hard, ABS plastic.)

SSTo make sure the orchid’s roots warm up, I capture the heat rising from the pad by placing the orchid pot in a heat trap. If you don’t do this then the plant does not well warm during winter here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.



Figure 1. Standard clear plastic orchid pot, placed inside of large, inverted (green) plastic pot whose bottom has been removed. The green pot traps heat from the gray heating pad below. The clear plastic pot ordinarily would be placed snuggly in the green pot but is askew, above, for illustrative purposes.

SSSAbove you can see an orchid resting in moss, in a clear plastic pot. (For illustrative purposes, the orchid pot is resting on an angle.) Supporting the orchid pot is  an inverted green pot whose bottom was removed and whose holes had been covered with duct tape. This inverted basket is the heat trap.  The trap is resting on the gray heating pad.

SSSI have also made heat traps by removing the bottom of plastic pots or plastic containers salvaged from recycling bins. Ideally when inverted the diameter of the trap’s bottom should be greater than the diameter of the orchid pot’s bottom. Also, when inverted the diameter of the trap’s top should be just a bit larger than the diameter of the orchid pot’s top.  With these dimensions the trap well captures heat and is removable.

SSSFinally, I should note that I place a bamboo skewer in the medium (fir bark or sphagnum moss) to assess whether the orchid needs watering.  With bark the orchids require watering about every other day; with moss the orchids require watering less frequently.

SSSLet me know how this works for you.

–Marshall Lev Dermer

                          Send mail to: