Why Is My Orchid Dying? Solutions That Actually Work

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There are many different types of orchids, and they all have a reputation for being delicate, but the truth is most are pretty rugged.

With proper care, most will thrive, and even if they become ill, they are pretty easy to revive.

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This article focuses on the care and treatment of the popular Phalaenopsis orchid.

However, this information can be generalized and applied to other types of orchids. Read on to learn more. 

Proper Care Is Simple

Generally speaking, the leading health problems any orchid may experience have to do with improper watering and other cultural issues.

Keep your orchid in a reliably warm, draft-free area, and provides bright, indirect sunlight. It will be happy and healthy if it receives an excellent weekly soaking and a monthly dose of orchid fertilizer. 

Repotting Can Remedy A Wide Variety Of Ills

Overwatering, underwatering, too little light, too much light, temperature extremes, or lack of nutrients can cause fungal and bacterial diseases, pest infestation, yellowing leaves, and more. 

Even if your orchid shows signs of the root, crown, or stem rot, it is possible to save it from the jaws of death with some simple maintenance. 

In this case, you can remove the orchid from its old substrate. Prune away damaged leaves, stems, and roots.

Give the plant a good rinsing, spray it with a 50/50 mix of water and hydrogen peroxide, allow it to dry overnight, and then re-pot it into fresh, new orchid media in a brand new or sterilized container. 

Place your newly re-potted orchid in an area that provides the right light and warmth, then go forth and overwater no more!

Report Correctly To Keep Your Orchid Happy And Healthy

Orchids should be re-potted when ill and routinely re-potted after blooming is finished. Springtime is the best time for re-potting; however, if your plant is suffering, as described above, go ahead and report at any time of year. You may lose blooms, but you’ll save the plant.

1. Begin by removing your plant carefully from the current container. 

2. Clean away any moss or substrate stuck to the roots.

3. Scrutinize the roots and trim away any damaged or dead roots using a sharp, sterile implement. Prune away any dead or damaged stems or leaves at this time. If your ill plant has bloomed, it’s wise to go ahead and remove those as well to save the plant’s energy so it can recover. 

4. Set your orchid aside to air while preparing its new container. If your plant has been suffering from root rot, it’s good to spritz it with hydrogen peroxide and water and let it air overnight. 

5. Prepare a new terra cotta container with plenty of drainage holes by filling it halfway with orchid media. 

6. Carefully place your orchid on the media and spread its roots gently. 

7. Insert a chopstick or other anchor to provide support. Set it close to the plant’s stem, careful not to damage the roots. 

8. Fill in over the roots and around the anchor with other orchid media. Leave about a half-inch of space at the top of the pot. 

9. If your orchid has been ill with root, stem, or crown rot, withhold water for a couple of days to dry the plant’s tissue and discourage further fungal growth. 

10. If you are re-potting a healthy orchid, you can go ahead and give it a 20-minute soak in a tub of room temperature filtered, distilled, or rainwater with a dose of orchid fertilizer added. 

11. If you have re-potted an ill orchid and given it a bit of time to dry, its first 20 minutes soaking in room temperature filtered, distilled, or rainwater should have a dose of systemic antifungal treatment added. Don’t fertilize until the plant has begun to show signs of recovery.

12. After soaking, lift the container into your sink or tub and allow all excess water to drain away before placing your orchid in a warm, sheltered area that receives bright, indirect sunlight. 

TIP: If the orchid media settles during the first watering, top it off with a bit more.

How Can I Keep My Orchid Healthy? 

1. Provide bright, indirect sunlight.

Remember that orchids in the wild are tree dwellers, so you want to provide the lighting your plant would receive if it were growing up high on the branch of a tree. This is bright, indirect sunlight. 

Place your orchid away from the window to prevent scorching in the warmer months and chilling in the cooler months. Add a sheer curtain if you need to. 

2. Provide a consistent temperature. 

Orchids like to stay at about 75° degrees Fahrenheit during the spring and summer, with the temperature dropping just a bit at night. During the autumn and winter, daytime temps can be at 65° degrees Fahrenheit, and nighttime temps can drop to 55° degrees Fahrenheit.

This, along with shortened days, helps spur the plant to bloom. Tremendous temperature swings will cause bud drop.

3. Provide the right amount of moisture. 

Orchids like high humidity, so place your orchid’s pot on a pebble tray to keep the humidity levels high around the plant. Don’t let the water touch the orchid media, though. 

Use the soak and dry method of watering your plant. Soak it for 20 minutes once a week in a tub of room-temperature filtered, distilled, or rainwater. Allow the water to drain away completely before returning the plant to its space.

4. Fertilize strategically.

Fertilize twice a month with good quality (30-10-10) houseplant fertilizer or specially formulated orchid fertilizer during the growing season.

In the autumn and winter, provide half-strength doses of high phosphorus (10-30-20) fertilizer to promote good blooms. 

5. Prune judiciously.

After your orchid has finished blooming, prune away the flower spike to the first node beneath the bottom bloom. Given ample bright, indirect sunlight and good care, your plant may bloom again in a couple of months. 

Prevention Is The Best Cure

The most common problems orchids experience are caused by incorrect watering, lighting, and humidity, resulting in the root, stem, and crown rot.

For the most part, providing correct care will prevent these problems and problems with common houseplant pests. Correcting poor care habits will usually resolve any health issues your orchid may have.

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