My Phragmipedium is showing some symptoms. I am wondering if it is a nutrient deficiency or disease. I water them once a week and with the occasional ice cube that doesn't touch the foliage. Fertilized every 3-4 weeks with a 20-20-20. SW facing window with a partial blind shade. The cuticle distortion is a breeding defect. Does anybody have some advice for helping this Phrag to health?

May 19th: Read that the tip browning could possibly be from a high salt content in the water. Still curious about the base browning.

May 21st: Added more photos to see the browning of the basal leaves. If anyone knows how to format the photos smaller on here it would be appreciated.

May 22nd: Found these watering preferences at orchidplantcare.info

May 26th: Found a new spot of brown in the middle of the leaf. Also ran a pH test of my tap water vs some DI water. The tap was 6.32 and the DI 4.86. Have switched to the cleaner DI water and not allowing it to dry out between watering with a Sphagnum top dressing to the orchid bark.

Phragmipediums like clean water such as rain water, distilled, or reverse osmosis (R.O.) system water. Almost all of the Phrags in nature grow slightly on the acid side with a pH ranging from 5.5 and lower.

Phragmipdedium 'Thor's Hammer'

Phragmipdedium 'Thor's Hammer'

Below is the flowering orchid for reference.

Phragmipedium 'Thor's Hammer'

  • 1
    I have asked a friend that is an orchid enthusiast and she said the pictures don't reveal much. The browning at the base can be almost anything, from ice cubes (even not touching the leaves) to Acari. Try taking a close-up picture and maybe one of the members of this site will recognize the problem. Good luck!
    – Alina
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 12:25
  • Could be anything from scorch to dry air? I don't see any fungal , insect problems- could more of a cultural method problem- wrong conditions type of thing perhaps?
    – olantigh
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 16:38
  • @olantigh I pruned off the damaged leaves and it seems to be recovering very slowly. Ive been watering it with RO H2O and misting. Right now I am watering every 4-5 days.
    – Rhizoqueer
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 21:11
  • These sorts of plants do like misting and do well in those conditions- just keep doing what your doing and everything should be fine. sounds like you know your stuff and don't forget to feed them every now and again.
    – olantigh
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 18:57
  • Is this Phragmipedium an epiphyte? Do you have the full botannical name? Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 2:53

1 Answer 1


Where do you live? I've lived in both very humid and rather dry environments...it could easily be too much water at once per week. When I lived in a humid state, I watered once every 2-3 weeks. I moved to a much more dry state, and I only water every 1.5-2 weeks. Your mileage may vary, depending on the medium -- peat moss retains moisture longer, while bark should be checked more frequently. Generally speaking, I use tap...I often let it sit out, to evaporate some of the contents within, as well as bring it to room temperature -- then I saturate the roots in the water for a few minutes before returning them to their pot.

two phals -- white is in peat, purple uses bark and needs more watering

  • Kat, welcome! The orchids in your photo are a different kind - yours is a Phalaenopsis (moth orchid), the asker’s a Phragmipedium (lady’s slipper) - does the answer fit for both? And for all new users: If you have a moment, I would encourage you to take the tour and browse through our help center, just to learn more about how the site works and what users can do here.
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 6:32
  • Hi Stephie -- while our orchids are different kinds, browning foliage is often a sign of overwatering in almost all plants. Given the frequency of OP's watering schedule, it's very likely to be that.
    – Kat
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 20:20

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