Blue orchid flowers and bamboo stemsOrchid stem turning yellow is a sign of concern for a plant lover. If it is your first experience having an orchid plant, you may wonder how to care for it.

Finding the right cure and knowing what precautions to take can save your plant.

This article is a guide on how you can prevent your plant from losing its colorful blooms.

Why Is My Orchid Stem Turning Yellow?

The orchid stem turning yellow is caused by a number of reasons including excessive watering or overexposing them to direct sunlight, bacterial and fungal infections taking an active part in decolorizing the stems. Before we treat the root of the cause, let’s get to know more about it first.

– Orchid Stem Turning Yellow: Sunlight

The most obvious cause for a stem to turn yellow can be more than sufficient exposure to direct sunlight. Most plants thrive well under direct sunlight, and it is one of the essential factors that orchids grow and have a healthy development.

Plants use sunlight in photosynthesis to make food for their growth and nourishment, and most people come to an ideology that the longer a plant stays in the sunlight, the more food it will make and will be healthy.

However, for orchids, overexposure can be a harmful factor. It causes the plant to burn, and if this is not taken care of, your orchid leaves and spikes will eventually turn pale or yellow.

Now in most people’s minds, a question arises- Why? Why are orchids not like other plants? It is because orchids are tropical plants. They grow well between tall plants that protect them from sunlight and allow little light to pass through them.

Therefore, they are not well adapted to direct sunlight and get burnt if left in the sun for too long and repeatedly. This burning causes the stems and spikes to turn yellow.

– Moisture stress

Too much moisture or no moisture can be a cause too in damaging your plant. When watering our houseplants, we should be careful. An excess of water will cause your plant’s stems to turn yellow.

The way to deal with it is, as soon as you see any indications of yellow spots on your plant’s stems, the first thing you should do is check your potting mix for dryness or excess moisture.

When insufficient water is available to the plant, it spontaneously sheds its leaves to preserve what water it has left by reducing transpiration. Hence, the plant will inhibit its regular food production, which will further cause the plant’s spikes, and stems to turn yellow.

Similarly, overwatering can be just as harmful as water deficiency. If there is poor soil drainage, it will result in waterlogging. Furthermore, if it happens repeatedly, the orchid’s root will not get sufficient oxygen.

Since oxygen is a critical factor for photosynthesis, not getting enough of it will inhibit the food production for the plant. Which will again cause the plant to lose its color, and it may die.

– Fungus and Pest Infestation

Fungal infections develop in warm, damp conditions caused by overwatering. They may also be the reason behind the yellowing leaves or the stems. Moreover, pests like Mealybugs can create yellowing orchid leaves on your orchid because they absorb sap from the plant, straining it out and causing it to dry and wilt with yellow leaves.

Yellowing in orchids is also a result of fungi such as black rot, root rot, or leaf spot. You’ll also notice that your leaves are squishy and have black patches on them, as well as that your orchid roots have turned brown and have a sickly but sweet smell.

Various diseases can cause your orchid to suffer. Namely, Botrytis Blight, Pythium Root Rot, and Bacterial Leaf Spot are some diseases that can wilt your Orchids and kill them quickly. When diagnosing these diseases, look for black marks on your leaves and mushy stems (root rot).

If it is not just the stems but the whole orchid is turning pale, it can be due to pest infestation or disease.

– Aging

Aging can also cause the yellowing of stems, especially spikes. As most orchids age, the tips beneath the bloom occasionally turn yellow. This process is a part of the plant’s natural cycle and should be no cause for alarm. After some time, the spikes will dry up, or you can cut your plant’s stems back.

If it is just the stem holding the orchid flower that has begun to turn yellow, it is nothing alarming. It is the flower spike dying out. Grab a pair of garden scissors, or whatever you find suitable, and cut off the stem that has turned yellow and let it dry, and eventually, it will fall off by itself.

– Nutrient Deficiency

The right proportion of nutrients is also crucial. If the soil does not receive appropriate nutrients, the plant’s stem may turn yellow. Excess calcium and insufficient nitrogen are the two most common nutrient deficiencies associated with orchid plants yellowing.

Before you uproot an orchid or kill it due to its yellow stems, make sure you properly research and identify the cause first. Different orchids require different quantities of nutrients. You can not treat two different kinds of orchids the same way.

Identify your orchids’ nutritional needs and keep them healthy. You can get a soil kit for at-home soil tests.

– Lack of Humidity

Most orchids are epiphytes meaning they can grow on other plants and get their moisture from the air surrounding them.

Orchids thrive in humid tropical environments. Humidity between 40 to 60 percent is best suited to them. If there is insufficient humidity in the air, the orchid may detect this difference, resulting in moisture stress and the appearance of a yellow tint.

– Unclean Water

Orchids are rare and sensitive plants that can be vulnerable to many diseases and ailments. Water containing a high level of toxins such as fluoride and chloride is one of the most common reasons for the yellowing of orchids. Symptoms are yellowing, browning, and blackening at the base of the orchid spikes.


How To Fix Yellowing of Orchid Stems

As stated above, there are various reasons orchid stems turn yellow. As a result, there is no universal solution. Hence, you should identify the cause first, then treat your plant accordingly. Let’s take you through some possible solutions to ease your situation.

– Fix the Environment

If your orchid flower spike or the stems turn pale due to exposure to direct sunlight, try changing their environment. Keep them in a shady place, behind the wall, or maybe by the window, where just a fraction of light can enter. You can also use a curtain to prevent light from reaching your orchid.

Furthermore, you can use artificial light that you can adjust in accordance with the plant and control easily. The idea is to keep your orchid away from excess sunlight that can cause damage to it.

– Avoid Floods and Droughts

If you notice your orchid shedding its leaves and slowly losing its healthy bright green color to yellow, the cause is insufficient water. To overcome this, soak it in a bucket of water for at least twelve hours. Hopefully, it will prevent your plant from dying.

But when watering, make sure you do not overwater it. Although orchids like lots of moisture and humidity, overwatering damages the stems and may even kill them eventually.

You can use a well-drained pot. When your plant has dried out approximately halfway down from the top of its potting soil, wet it well, but immediately let excess drain out of its bottom drainage holes. While orchids like humidity, they do not like soggy soil. You can extend the intervals between you watering your plant and checking the soil’s dampness and mold.

– Improve the Humidity

You cannot overstate the importance of humidity in orchids’ health. To fix this problem, increase the surrounding humidity. You can do this by watering your orchid or by setting up a humidity tray beneath your orchid pots. The water in the tray will evaporate throughout the day and add humidity to your orchid.

Maintaining light exposure is crucial while changing the humidity levels surrounding the orchid. With these improvements, the yellowing of stems should fade in a few weeks.

– Prune the Infected Parts

When the leaves start to decolorize and fall off one by one, it is an indication that your orchid is suffering from a fungal infection.

To treat this problem, you will need to do some pruning. Cut your orchid spike below the yellow stems using disinfected scissors or gardening shears. Sprinkle the cut end with cinnamon powder. If the yellowing spreads farther down, cut below the yellowed region and sprinkle with cinnamon powder.

You may cut off the dead stems or orchid spike to allow the plant to focus on healthier parts. However, make sure you differentiate between the healthy and unhealthy Orchids or flower spikes of the plant while the healthy stems are bright green while dead ones are brownish and yellowish.

Furthermore, there is also a need for pruning when the flower has fallen off the flower spike it needs cutting. Be vigilant while cutting, and remove the stem two nodes above from where it rises from the bottom of the plant.

– Use Clean Water

Use clean and fresh water when watering your orchids. Toxic elements in water can build up over time. Similarly, the yellowing of stems can also be a result of excess calcium in the soil. In most situations, calcium-rich water introduces more calcium into the soil. So to prevent this nasty sight from happening, always use fresh and clean water.

Frequently Asked Questions

– Why Is the Tip of My Orchid Stem Turning Brown?

The stem or flower spike of the Orchid is the part that holds the pretty blooms. But once an Orchid is finished blooming, it enters the dormancy state the tips turn brown. During this period, the Orchid recovers and gets into the state to bear more lovely blooms.

– How Often Should I Water My Orchid Plant?

In general, Orchids get thirsty about once a week but more often if you have it outdoors. However, you can do a simple test for more accurate scheduling of the watering time. Put your finger about an inch in the soil if the soil is dry, it needs watering.

– How Can I Stimulate Blooming in My Phalaenopsis Orchid?

To stimulate the blooming again, shift your Phalaenopsis orchid to a chill room at nighttime, and preferably, place it by the window. The resulting coldness will help the plant to bloom. However, avoid placing it in front of cold bursts of air as it can cause damage to the plant.

orchids with green stems


We hope this guide provided you with enough value, and now you know what it takes to orchid care. But before wrapping up, allow us to take you through the main key points one last time.

  • Orchid stalks or orchid spikes turning yellow is a pretty common phenomenon for such a species. This issue mainly occurs due to overwatering, overexposure to sunlight, lack of humidity, and aging.
  • The Orchid stalks turning yellow is not of your concern if it occurs at the end of the blooming cycle it is natural and shows that the plant is healthy.
  • You can prevent the stems from turning yellow if it is unnaturally occurring by giving the right environment to the plant. Moreover, by removing the infected parts, you can save your Orchid.
  • Keep a check-and-balance in the soil nutrients as excess calcium and insufficient nitrogen often lead the Orchid stalks to yellow.
  • Always use clean water, one that is free from toxic elements, when watering your plant.

We hope that the above guide helped you find answers and now you will enjoy orchid plants without worrying too much about troubleshooting.

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