Dead orchid flowers are a worrying issue, especially after your plant has bloomed can be disappointing, especially if you’ve put great care and attention into growing them. What’s worse is being unable to figure out what is causing the flowers to drop prematurely. It is not unnatural for flowers to fall off the plant and die, and this is mostly true for short-lived ones.
But if they all fall off at once or are long-lasting flowers but fall off after a few days, you should take a closer look to ensure they are not suffering from one or more of the causes we will be explaining in this article.
- What Causes Dead Orchid Flowers?
- What Are Fixes To Avoid Having Dead Orchid Flowers?
What Causes Dead Orchid Flowers?
The causes of dead orchid flowers is due to pest infestation, and having an imbalance when you water it. You can also have low humidity levels that the flower is dead, or due to temperature stress, bad lighting conditions, diseases, excessive amount of fertilizer or due to natural causes.
You most likely have dead orchid flowers due to natural causes. Hence, the orchid has reached the end of its life cycle and fallen off. However, this might only sometimes be the case, as many other factors can cause your orchid plant to lose its flowers.
– Pest Infestation
Common orchid pests such as spider mites, scales, aphids, and mealy bugs can attack your plant, and cause severe damage, leading to the death of the flowers. These insects are tiny, and you might find them difficult to see with the naked eye.
So close inspection of the undersides of the orchid leaves, the potting medium, and the roots will reveal what kind of insects are causing the problem. What happens is, these insects would begin to threaten the health of the plant, and as a result of this, you will see that the plant will lack the ability to keep the flower blooming, instead it will die.
To elaborate further, you would observe how these insects operate by sucking the liquid nutrient from their tissues, leaving behind a sweet, sticky residue called honeydew that attracts ants and black sooty mold.
Their feeding also causes the orchid to lack nutrients, which inevitably causes the flowers to die, leaves to turn yellow, and general stunted growth.
– Imbalance When Watering
Orchids love to be kept moist, especially those native to tropical rainforests. So the amount of water your orchid receives influences how well it will flower, if at all. It is easy to see the reason to when you water your orchids less than what they need, it will quickly lead to their death, especially if they are budding, and they won’t reach the development stage either.
On the other hand, when you water the plant in an excessive way, your orchids will quickly kill their flowers as excess water in the roots can lead to root rot, which will prevent oxygen and nutrients from reaching the flowers. Inspect the roots to determine whether improper watering causes the dead flowers, just as they are being overwatered if they are soft, soggy, and smelling. You aren’t providing enough water if they are flat, dry, and brown.
– Low Humidity Levels
Consistently low humidity levels will cause our orchid flowers to die if not detected and improved quickly. Anything below this will cause their flower petals to shrivel and fall, particularly in summer when the climate is hot and dry.
For this, you may also consider the case when sudden drops in humidity take place, as it also leads to flower death. Moreover, this occurs mainly when the plants are grown indoors or overwintered to protect them from drafts. Indoor fireplaces or central heating systems used to provide supplemental heat causes the air to become dry quickly.
– Temperature Stress
Orchids are sensitive to temperature fluctuations as every species has specific temperature needs with day and night ranges. Hence, sudden and constant temperature changes that don’t fall within the acceptable range will cause the flowers to die early.
If you move your blooming orchid from a location where it was doing fine into another location and the flowers die immediately, it is most likely caused by the temperature change. Placing your orchid near a heat vent, an open window, a fireplace, or an air conditioner can rapidly lose the developing blooms.
– Lighting Conditions
Improper lighting is one of the most important causes of flower death. Orchids typically require bright, indirect light daily for photosynthesis and to stay healthy and bloom correctly. So you can imagine what lack of light will do to the plant’s flowers; the flowers will become weak and die.
Just as excess sunlight can cause your orchid’s leaves to scorch, it can also cause the flowers to overheat, dry up and die. This means that in both cases, when it receives the lack or the excess, the plant will not have the correct required amount of its needs, and this is why the bloom will die.
Orchids can develop fungal and bacterial infections if not grown under the right conditions. High humidity without good air circulation is a major cause of these diseases. In addition, excess moisture provides a means for them to move around, and using infected gardening equipment can transfer them to the plant. Black rot and Crown rot are common bacterial and fungal diseases affecting orchids and killing their flowers.
These fungal or bacterial infections will appear in one or more of the symptoms, including small, water-soaked blotches that eventually turn brown or black and dry up or black rot that causes the leaves to turn black from the tips and spread toward the orchid roots.
Also note that tan, gray, or pink spots on flowers indicate petal blight, leaves turning yellow and wrinkled is a sign of root rot, while the appearance of small dark spots on the flowers is a sign of Botrytis.
– Excessive Fertilization
Not all orchids require fertilizer to grow, but the ones that do benefit from regular feeding to keep them growing and promote bigger blooms. On the contrary, when you apply too much of it, your plant will be in stress, and it will not have the right strength, so this is why it will die in a short period.
It is always advised to adhere to the feeding instructions on the label and understand the nutrient ratio that applies to your orchid at different seasons and stages of its growth. Otherwise, you risk overfertilizing them, causing harmful salts to accumulate and leading to the death of your blooms.
– Natural Causes
Orchid flowers have a life cycle and will eventually age and die. Some can last anywhere between four and ten weeks before dying, and this is the simple way of its living. Others can last only a few days. Some flowers also fall naturally, allowing the plant to conserve nutrients and causing the orchid flower spike to die.
If you purchase an orchid in bloom and the flowers die off shortly after, even after providing ideal growing conditions, you might have purchased them towards the end of their life cycle. In short, you can cut back their dead flower spikes to encourage blooming the following season.
What Are Fixes To Avoid Having Dead Orchid Flowers?
The fixes to avoid having dead orchid flowers are to have pest control or provide the right lighting conditions, and you should also water it properly, and maintain the right humidity levels. You must also provide the right temperature, and prevent diseases and lastly, apply adequate fertilization.
– Pest Control Methods
Orchid pests can be controlled using cultural, chemical, and biological methods. The cultural method is more preventive as it leaves you with healthy plants more resistant to these pests.
Using the cultural method, you must adhere strictly to the orchid’s growth requirements and ensure the growing area is always clean. Also, regularly inspect your orchid and its growing medium for any signs of pests or their larvae and remove them before they spread.
The chemical method involves using neem or horticultural oils or insecticides to get rid of pests that would destroy the health of the plant in the longer run. The oils work best when applied frequently when infestations are still small. They help reduce the pests to a sustainable number, and this way, the plant would stop stressing and develop itself again.
Insecticides should only be used when infestations are significant and must be applied to the plant outdoors. Orchids are sensitive to chemicals, so only use insecticides that have been approved for use and stick to the recommended dosage.
The biological method requires you to introduce some of the pests’ natural predators, such as ladybugs and lacewings, to feed on them and their larvae. This method is best suited for orchids grown outdoors or in a greenhouse, and it will provide the right safety for them.
– Proper Lighting Conditions
The proper light requirement for most orchids is bright, indirect sunlight. Anything outside of this will create a conducive condition that eventually leads to the death of their flowers; but on the contrary, the right light will help the plant establish better and grow in a way that there are not stressors around it.
In short, orchids should be placed where they can get enough bright sunlight but with little shade, such as under a shade tree if grown outdoors or near a south-facing window with a sheer curtain. You must make sure that the indirect light, where you have placed it, would be efficient for its nurture.
– Proper Watering
Orchids love moisture, but each one has its preferred watering schedule, and any deviation from that schedule will quickly lead to yellow leaves, rotten roots, and dying flowers. Sticking to the proper watering regimen for your orchid helps to keep it healthy and prevents its flowers from dying.
However, if your plant is overwatered, quickly remove any damaged orchid stem or root by pruning them away with sharp, sterilized scissors. What you can do here is to spray it with a fungicide and repot it in fresh potting mix. In short, you must wait to water the plant until the top inches of the soil have dried, so that you don’t go overboard with the irrigation process.
For underwatered orchids, you only need to water the potting medium thoroughly and increase the humidity by misting the leaves daily. If you keep up with the required watering regimen, your orchid will bloom with new, healthy flowers.
– Maintain High Humidity Levels
Humidity levels indoors are usually less than 40 percent, which is not ideal for orchids because it must be more than this. Knowing this, you must aim to increase the humidity around your orchids by placing a humidifier around them or grouping them. Regular misting also helps to increase humidity levels, but make sure to mist the air around the plant.
Alternatively, you can create a humidity tray and place your orchids on top. This is an easy and less expensive alternative to a humidifier. All you need is a tray filled with pebbles and some water filled to the line just below the top of the pebbles because you don’t want your plant to sit in water and develop root rot.
– Ideal Temperature
As much as you can, avoid exposing your orchids to sudden changes in temperature. If you are overwintering your orchids indoors, keep them away from fireplaces or heat vents. Don’t also place them near air conditioners or open windows in the warmer months.
If you live in the USDA growing zones for your orchids, which are zones six to nine, you can grow them outdoors year-round, and they will develop in a very healthy way.
– Disease Prevention and Control
If your plant’s flowers are dying from fungal or bacterial infections, you must first isolate the plant and prune away diseased parts and flower spikes. Use only sharp and disinfected tools to avoid further infection. Properly dispose of the diseased parts and spray the plant with a fungicide or bactericide.
If your plant suffers from root rot, prune away infected roots and dispose of them alongside the infected substrate. Then repot the plant in a fresh growing medium with a well-draining potting mix and enough holes in the pot.
– Apply Adequate Fertilization
Always follow the application instructions as stated on the label of the fertilizer, and make sure that you don’t place it in an excessive way. To prevent the accretion of harmful salts, dilute the feed to a quarter or half strength and flush the growing medium with pure water once a month.
Nobody wants to have a dying orchid after putting in lots of hard work and time into getting it to bloom, but we’ve provided you with the possible causes of these problems and how to solve them; here are some key takeaways from what we’ve discussed:
- Avoid drastic changes in the temperature surrounding your orchid.
- Orchid flowers have a natural life cycle and can die when the cycle is complete.
- Orchids thrive when grown in humidity levels of 40 percent and above, but when it is not, the plant will not have a proper bloom; so try to mist or place a pebble tray and increase the level.
- Pests can be controlled using chemical, biological, and cultural methods.
- Be keen on the amount of feretilizer that you apply, and also make sure to locate in indirect lighting for the best results when they bloom.
Since you now know what to do when orchid flowers die, you have nothing to worry about the next time you experience it, and in short, you will have such amazing blooms.
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