An orchid plant has beautiful flowers that last many months, with the best blooms being in the wintertime. But maybe you have noticed some orchid flowers falling off while the plant itself looks droopy? If you notice this sad change, there are steps you can take to revive your orchid into its former glory. We share tips to save the day when flowers fall off orchids in this guide.
What Are Orchid Flowers?
Orchids are actively flowering plants divided into 1000 genera and over 25000 species. They are often referred to as the 'queens of flowers' because they have such a regal look and feel. Orchid flowers come in different shapes, sizes, and colors.
Because these plants produce such colorful flowers, they are popular houseplants worldwide. But, if you have your orchid in the room, you will also need to take proper care of it so it thrives and stays healthy for as long as possible. Here is why:
An orchid plant has a unique flower that grows in a structure called pseudobulb. When you take good care of the plant, you will notice how the orchid flower spikes through the structure and then blooms into a beautiful flower. But, without good care, the orchid flowers fall off the pseudobulbs and do not grow back again.
Before planting your orchids, you will need to understand some divisions that determine where and how to plant them.
Types Of Orchids
You need to know the main types of orchid plants as they often affect how the orchid blooms in different environments. It is also important to know the plant's cycle so you can rule out the natural shedding phase as the problem.
Orchids are either terrestrial or epiphytes. On the one hand, most orchids are terrestrial as they grow in the ground. On the other hand, the epiphyte orchid does not grow in the ground. Instead, this plant grows on other plants, feeding on the air, debris, and rain. It is not a parasite, so that you can plant it in the backyard for a beautiful vertical flower bed.
Additionally, potted orchids can be divided into two sympodial and monopodial orchids. Some famous orchids you can plant in the house belong to both groups, for example, the Phalaenopsis orchids in the monopodial group and the oncidium orchid in the sympodial group.
The difference between both groups is how the orchids grow;
- Sympodial orchids grow on rhizomes and spread along with the pot you plant them. They will need more managing, especially dividing them and repotting them for the stems to remain in good health.
- Monopodial orchids grow upright from the pot and do not need dividing. They are easier to manage, so the orchid roots and stems remain healthy to support healthy flower spikes.
Now that you understand how different orchids grow, here are a few reasons the flowers can start falling off.
Why Are Orchid Flowers Falling Off?
Orchids shed flowers mainly when the plant's immunity is compromised, and shedding the flowers is part of a natural self-defense mechanism.
But, before you worry your plant could be dying, you need to understand its natural cycle that includes a shedding stage. Here is how the post-blooming stage can cause flower shedding.
A) When The Orchid Flower Has Finished The Blooming Period
As mentioned earlier, orchids have a growth cycle, so they can start dropping flowers naturally. The growth stages include seed, germination, plant growth, blooming and reproduction, pollination, seed spreading, and dormancy.
While these are the steps for an orchid plant growing outdoors, your indoor plant will not pollinate, thus staying in the reproduction stage much longer. As a result, it is the stage you enjoy the most where the plant can produce more flowers for a beautiful scene. But, while the indoor orchid cycle allows the blooming orchid to beautify your room, the plant will naturally become dormant so that the flower will fall after a while.
If your plant is in the dormancy stage, it can appear lifeless, but there is no reason for worry. While you will not see new roots or flower stems, the plant will finally regain its strength and shoot up again after a while. When it does, it will still produce a beautiful orchid flower spike, ready for blooming again. However, you will need to understand how much water you can feed the plant as too much or too little water can destroy it.
Like all other plants, orchids need constant watering to remain hydrated. Unfortunately, you might not know your orchids are underwatered until the flowers start falling off or you notice the leaves are wrinkled.
image source: gardenine.com
Underwatered orchids will have flowers falling because the flower cells will collapse and the flower stems will weaken and break. Severe dehydration also kills the root, thus leaving no chance for the orchid to survive.
As orchids bloom, you may be tempted to give them more water so the flowers can spike even faster. However, overwatering orchids is one of the easiest ways to damage the plant, so the flowers will fall.
Overwatered orchids will not absorb enough nutrients from the soil as the roots will not hold on to the soil better. As a result, the orchid plant will start dying from weakened roots.
D) Root Rot
image source: orchidbliss.com
While overwatering can easily damage orchid roots, other reasons could also be very absorbent soil and non-breathable container which could lead to root rot. If you suspect the roots are rotting, you will need to cut off the infected part with a sterile razor blade then transfer the plant to a better orchid pot.
E) Temperature Shock
Orchids are tropical plants that are quite delicate to grow. Therefore, you need to plant them in the best draining soil and in breathable pots. In addition, if you want your orchids to produce flowers, you will need to keep them in cool temperatures all the time.
Firstly, ensure you place the pot in an airy corner with bright indirect light. The flowers are extremely susceptible to low light conditions as they will lose color or fall. On the other hand, too much light, such as direct sunlight, will burn the leaves and kill flower cells, causing the orchid flowers to fall off.
Besides growing orchids in the right light conditions, you also want to water your orchids with room temperature water. If you use very cold or hot water on the delicate roots, your orchid will likely shed flowers to enter dormancy for self-defense.
F) Bud Blast
When you know you water your orchids right, keep them in cool areas of a room, and prevent root rot, the next culprit when flowers are falling is bud blast. This condition results when your orchids are poisoned by the air around them and manifests when the flowers fall before they bloom.
image source: gardeningknowhow.com
The buds will start turning yellow, and the flower spikes will not bloom. Due to the epiphyte nature of some orchids, your plant can collect nutrients from the air around them.
So, suppose the air circulating in a room has harsh chemicals from perfumes, air fresheners, cigarette smoke, gas leaks, fabric softeners, and paints. In that case, your orchids can feed on the bad chemicals that would force flower shedding for defense.
If you also enjoy a bowl of fruits near your orchids frequently, the ethylene gas emitted by ripe fruits could also poison the plant, thus encouraging fewer flower spikes or more shedding.
Orchid Care For When Flowers Fall Off Naturally
As you now know, your orchid's flower spike will wither and fall naturally so the plant can enter its dormancy phase. This resting phase is necessary for the orchid life cycle so your plant can gather new nutrients to bloom again. So, when flowers fall off orchids, here are a few things you can do to save the plant.
A) Cut The Fallen Flower Spike
A flower spike, also the flower stem, is where flowers grow on orchids. Now, when the orchids stop flowering in the dormancy phase, you will need to cut the stem to encourage better flower growth next time.
You will need to use sterilized scissors or a blade. Then, cut the spike about 1⁄4 inch (0.64 cm) above a node. Cutting above a node leaves enough space for a better orchid spike in the future.
B) Transfer The Orchid To A Fresh Pot
When your orchids are in the post-flowering rest period, you need to prepare them for even better flower production in the coming months. The first thing you might need to do is ensure the plant is in a big pot for good root growth. If you need to change the pot, you will also want to use a fresh potting medium with better nutrients for the plant.
To repot an orchid, you need to water the potting medium first, so it loosens for easier plant removal. When the plant is out of the pot, you can use your hands to remove the excess medium from the roots before replanting it. Transfer the plant to a new, bigger pot with good drainage and breathing holes, then add the fresh potting medium.
C) Water Your Resting Orchid Weekly
The resting orchid needs hydration to gather enough nutrients for a new flower spike. So, if you want to see your orchid flowers again, it is best to water the plant weekly, which is enough moisture for the soil and root growth.
While you can add water directly, you may also use three ice cubes each watering day. If using ice cubes, ensure you don't place them near roots as the temperature change can damage them.
D) Fertilize Your Resting Orchid
A resting orchid could get its nutrients from the air in the wild, but this is not the case for orchids in your indoor garden. So when you want to see your orchids bloom again, you need to use the best fertilizers to give them nutrients.
You can use a water-soluble orchid fertilizer that contains equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, often labeled 20-20-20. These three nutrients will help the plant produce enough chlorophyll for the leaves and stems, stronger leaf tissue, and healthy roots, respectively.
While it is ideal to fertilize your orchids once a month, you can forego the rule if your plant is doing well. Likewise, you can introduce a neem oil fertilizer in months where you do not want to use the 20-20-20 fertilizer.
E) Provide Good Growing Conditions
The plant will only thrive in good temperature conditions. As such, place your pot in a room that neither gets too hot nor too cold. Day temperatures of 75°F and night temperatures of 65°F are ideal.
In addition, while your orchid needs light to prevent various leaf problems, you also need to observe the amount of light it is exposed to. If you notice your orchid leaves yellowing or browning when the plant is young, it could be a sign of sunburn, indicating the need to move it away from too much light.
On the other hand, if your plant has dark green leaves, it could be a sign of getting little light. If this happens, move the plant closer to a window. However, make sure it is receiving indirect sunlight to prevent sunburns.
Frequently Asked Questions When Flowers Fall Off Orchids
A) Why Do The Orchid’s Flowers Fall Off?
The flowers fall due to several reasons, including poor orchid care where the plant is exposed to extreme external conditions. But, most orchid lovers know the orchid life cycle, which includes a blooming cycle.
During this stage, your plant will produce beautiful flowers, but if not pollinated (houseplants do not pollinate), the flowers will fall off as the plant starts the resting phase. Luckily, the resting phase means the plant will come back stronger in a few months, so you need to provide the best care.
B) Do Orchids Bloom Again After Flowers Fall Off?
Yes, your orchid's flowers will form again after the plant completes its natural life cycle. When flowers fall, the plant goes into the dormancy phase, which allows it to gather enough nutrients for the next blooming cycle.
However, there are instances where flowers falling might indicate plant death. For instance, when the orchid does not get enough water, the roots will be dehydrated, leading to the plant dying entirely.
C) How Long Will My Resting Orchid Take To Rebloom?
Different types of orchids bloom after a few months. For example, the phalaenopsis orchids bloom after a month or two, while other types can rebloom once a year.
D) How Can I Help My Orchid Rebloom?
If you can't wait to see new flower shoots soon, you will need to provide the best care to your orchid. Firstly, you can cut the old flower spike above a stem node to encourage more growth, then repot the plant if the orchid's roots seem to poke out of the pot.
Finally, you will need to water it weekly, fertilize it monthly, and keep the plant in cool conditions under indirect sunlight.