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Why are My Orchid Flowers Falling off? How to Fix Them?

Orchids have symbolic meaning in our Christian culture, as the spots in their flowers represent the blood of Christ!

So, when my gramp and I were picking Orchid flowers on last year’s Christmas Eve in Germany, Orchid flowers were already falling.

Generally, Orchid flowers falling off may specify the end of the flowering cycle and entering a winter sleep to bloom again. Other reasons include improper lighting, changing temperatures, humidity shifts, overwatering issues, transplant shock, etc.

Image represents Orchid flowers falling on the ground
Flowers of Orchids normally fall when the flowering cycle of the plant ends.

Since my gramp still believes that these falling flowers give a biblical meaning, he forgoes the caring part! As a man of science, I debunked this myth proving him wrong. 

Thus, let me hold your hand to identify the real causes and the ways to prevent the Orchids from losing their flowers.

Is it Normal for Orchids to Lose Flowers?

Orchids belong to the family Orchidaceae, which is the second-largest family in the plant kingdom.

With more than 25,000 species worldwide and hundreds of flower color combinations for house planting, it’s heartbreaking to see Orchids lose their flowers.

Image represents the flowers of Orchid
Orchids adorn beautiful flowers and are among the best plants for home gardening.

Orchid flowers fall as per the plant’s normal life cycle when they finish blooming. It is a sign that the plant is to enter a hibernation period before the next bloom. 

But, Orchid growers usually worry about losing the flowers in their plants early. After all, Orchids adorning flowers is similar to women wearing jewelry.

Having said that, it is a tedious task to grow a healthy Orchid plant, let alone make it bloom.

The seeds germinate within 2-6 months after sowing, and it takes 3-8 years for an Orchid plant to mature.

That’s the time when you can expect blooms to appear in Orchids.

The actual flowering season of most Orchids is in the fall, while some varieties bloom in winter and summer!

Mostly, the Orchid blooms persist for 6-10 weeks in each plant.

Orchids promise any plant lover to enjoy its flowers even late into the season.

However, Orchids dislike laxity from their caretakers, so dissatisfied with the care, they break down and start dropping flowers.

What Causes Orchid Flowers to Fall off? (Causes & Solutions)

Orchids lose their blooms due to many reasons.

As I said, the common logic behind losing flowers is the plant’s life cycle.

Orchids lose flowers just before the winter to go into a deep sleep as they can recover energy to produce new blooms next season!

Secondly, less attention from growers may depress Orchids, so much so that they may ditch their blooms.

Like other plants, Orchids also have a list of primary care requirements that they relish. If these requirements become more or less for Orchids, it may curb their flowering cycle.  

So, let’s go through some of these problems quickly while shedding light on immediate solutions for each.

1. Insufficient Light

Since Orchids have so many varieties, each seeks different needs for light. Like tropical plants, they require bright indirect sunlight for flowering.

Direct sunlight for even 1-2 hours a day can hamper the blooms and can seriously sunburn the plant!

Image represents placement of Orchid plant near an east-facing window
Locate your Orchid plant near an east-facing window to give it proper sunlight.

Additionally, there are three types of light requirement range for different varieties of Orchids, ranging from low light to high light.

  • Low light – Orchids demand 2 hours of diffused sunlight daily.
  • Medium-light – Orchids favor 4 hours of diffused sunlight daily.
  • High light – Orchids need 6 hours of diffused sunlight daily.

It’s tough to get an idea about the light requirement for each Orchid variety by yourself.

So, before you bring a plant home, ensure to ask your dealer about the sunlight needs for the particular Orchid.

Most probably, your Orchid can revert to its normal flowering duty if you take some prompt actions.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • Keep your Orchid in an east-facing window indoors so that it can get dappling sunlight.
  • Overhang curtains or drapes in front of your Orchid when you place the plant beside a south-facing window.
  • Growers often keep Orchids in hanging baskets indoors but ensure that you keep the plant away from ceiling light sources.
  • Use broad spectrum grow lights for high-light demanding Orchids indoors.
  • You can also use a UV protection film that works similarly to curtains. It filters direct light and gives the feel of diffused sunshine to your plant.
  • Consider placing the UV protection film over a west-facing window from where the strongest light enters.

Do you know that Orchids can drop their flower buds even before they open up? This distressing situation is known as a “bud blast,” which happens if your Orchid is severely stressed!

2. Fluctuating Temperature and Humidity 

Orchids are plants that like to keep themselves in a warm spot.

As tropical plants, they resent surrounding temperature shifts and like to stay in areas of high humidity.

Considering this, too much temperature can make the air dry and create stressful conditions for Orchids.

The ideal temperature for Orchids needs to stay between 18°C and 29°C, but they also enjoy a nighttime temperature drop as low as -6°C.

So, a smooth rise or fall in temperature is not harmful, but a fluctuating temperature can hinder the flowers from staying on the plant.

Luckily, there’s still a chance for Orchid plants to snap back from this hardship if you make a rapid effort.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • Keep your Orchids away from regions of changing humidity and temperatures, such as fireplaces, air conditioning vents, and fridges.
  • Consider sustaining humidity levels between 40% and 80% inside greenhouses or indoors while keeping your plant there.
wilting orchid flowers
Maintain the right humidity levels inside greenhouses to prevent the Orchid flowers from falling.
  • Use hygrometers and indoor thermometers to monitor the humidity and temperature at all times.
  • Excess cold can harm the roots and compel the Orchids to drop the flowers. So, keep your plant away from cold areas like north-facing windows in winter.
  • Invest in terracotta pots to make Orchids to keep on heating pads in winter.
  • Avoid using heating pads if your Orchid is growing in a clay pot.
  • Use humidifiers and pebble trays, or consider grouping the plants at the time of extreme heat bouts to stabilize the humidity levels.

3. Drought Stress

Underwatering is another issue for Orchids as it puts pressure on the flowering cycle.

This is the most common problem my gramp faces in his Orchids, as he thinks that Orchids are tropical plants that don’t require much water.

So, he usually waters his plants once a month! This is a bad idea in the first place.

Orchids require sufficient water in the flowering stage. The proper way to do so is to water the plant once a week.

Image represents the Orchid flowers drying off
Underwatering can cause the flowers of the Orchid to dry and fall off the plant.

When watering sessions are ignored, blooms on Orchids drop under drought stress to preserve the moisture.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to bring the flowering charm back on your Orchid. You can save the plant to prepare it for flowering next season through the following tips.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • If the flowers take a wrinkling or wilting appearance, start watering your Orchids immediately.
  • Take your Orchid to a cooler room where the potting mix can’t dry anymore.
  • Pick up the plant from the pot and feel for its weight. If it seems airy or light, try to give it a few sips.

Orchids require water; we all know this, but how much to give it? Prepare some ice cubes in a regular ice tray and place three cubes on the topsoil of the pot. Easy!

  • Employ a moisture meter to check the moisture content of the potting mix. Readings between 3 and 4 suggest that your plant is thirsty.
  • Daily misting helps to keep the plant cool while also avoiding soggy conditions of the soil. This shall assist the plant in adorning quick blooms.

4. Overwatering Condition

What’s worse than underwatering your Orchids? Let me give you hints, soggy soil, smothered roots, and dropping blooms; it’s overwatering!

Too much water in the potting mix can turn the roots brown and mushy.

Roots begin to die due to root rot and cannot take up enough nutrients to make the blooms stay on the plant.

Image represents rotten roots of Orchid
Overwatering leads to root rot, where the roots turn brown, mushy, and slimy.

So, the flowers fall, and this can happen with buds as well!

But, to know if the falling of flowers is due to overwatering, you have to examine the leaves.

Leaves of an overwatered Orchid turn yellow, lose their green shine, and become limp. The stem also turns yellow, and at this point, your plant is beyond saving.

Before this ordeal can even happen, save the plant so that it can bloom again.

Your Orchid may not rally immediately, but you can at least preserve your plant by following some handy tips.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • First, let the soil dry out and then check for the signs of root rot.
  • Uproot the plant and see the damaged roots. You can use sterilized pruners to snip them.
  • You can also remove the yellow Orchid leaves to reduce the stress on the plant.
  • Consider amending the soil with aerating components such as sand or perlite.
  • Don’t pack the soil while repotting; make holes in the topsoil using a pencil to make the soil airy.
  • If the soil’s releasing a foul or fishy smell, change it immediately with a fresh Orchid mix.
  • Avoid watering for a few weeks and start your first watering bout when the top inch of soil is dry.
  • Check for drainage holes in containers every time you repot the plant.
  • If you fear overwatering the plants, take the bottom-up approach by placing the terracotta potted plant in a water tray for a day.

5. Transplant Shock

Halloween is nearing, and it’s fall and probably the best time to repot your Orchid.

But don’t try to shock it with an untimely transplant!

Instead, check for signs before you can repot your plant, like roots crowding in the container or poking out from the drainage holes.

Image represents overcrowded roots in an Orchid
Overcrowding of roots may signify that Orchids require a quick transplant to a new pot.

Moreover, never attempt to repot your Orchid if the plant has buds ready to open on their way.

Repotting can restrain the roots from taking in moisture, and they become weak immediately after each repot.

Your Orchid may even skip its nutrient meals, showing a sign of distress. This causes the flowers to fall off the plant and hamper their appeal.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • Place the repotted plant in low light for at least 3 to 4 weeks before placing it in bright indirect sunlight.
  • Always change the potting mix during each repot and never use the same mix again.
  • Avoid uprooting or transplanting your Orchid when it is dormant in winter.
  • Maintain the right balance between the components of potting mix. You can blend pine bark and moss in a ratio of 5:1.
  • Keep misting the leaves daily straight for two weeks after repotting. You can even add 2-3 drops of phosphorous-based fertilizer to the water while misting.
  • Mist your newly repotted Orchid in the daytime or morning so that leaves can dry before dark.
  • Fertilize once a week, starting from the second week of repotting.    

Should You Cut the Orchid after Flowers Fall off?

Although a little dramatic, it’s completely normal for Orchids to drop their blooms.

If your Orchid is losing its flowers due to dislike from the care or undergoing a stressful situation, try to revive them.

However, people often stumble about the things to do after the plant loses all its blooms naturally.

Orchids produce flowers in tall “spikes,” which is a type of flowering stem. Spikes arise from the base of the plant, and each variety retains 2 to 4 spikes at a time.

Image represents a wilted spike of Orchid plant
Once all the flowers fall from the Orchid, the spike dries and can be removed to promote more blooms.

The buds flower on top or around these spikes. After the flowering cycle is over, the spike starts to turn yellow and then brown.

Fun Fact!!! Phalaenopsis has the longest blooming period for any Orchid variety. Each plant can have an ample flowering period of 8 to 16 weeks!

Simultaneously, the flowers also wilt, fade their color, become limp and flat, and then drop off from each spike.

After that, the spike is no longer functional onwards, and your Orchid goes into a resting period where it tries to regain the strength to bloom again!

Steps to Prune Orchid Spikes

Cutting off the spent spike and preparing your Orchid to produce more vigorous blooms for the next season is more reasonable.

It’s a simple process, and you will need pruners, gloves, disinfectant, and a plastic bucket to do so.

Then, you can start the trimming process right away by following the steps below.

  • First, plan out the entire process by choosing the spike that you want to remove.
  • Different spikes need a different approach for pruning.
  • Remove the green spikes by cutting an inch above the node present below the lowest bloom.
  • Similarly, remove the brown spike by snipping it all the way to the plant’s base.
  • If there are two spikes in a plant, prune off one spike at the base of the plant.
  • Meanwhile, cut the second spike at an inch above the node present below the nethermost flower.
  • Collect all the spent spikes in a bucket and dispose of them by torching or composting them.

Want to get an up-close idea about trimming the Orchid spikes? Check the video to get an insight into the process!

Want to decorate your home with beautiful Orchids but also don’t want to strain your feet to buy them? No worries! Orchids are available in online markets, too.

How to Prevent the Orchid Flowers from Falling off?

Normally, it may take around two to six months before your Orchid becomes capable of bearing flowers again after the resting period.

However, it depends on the way you nurse the plant, as it all comes down to the primary care requirements.

  • Provide your Orchid plant with daily filtered sunlight of 2 to 6 hours, depending on the variety.
  • To prepare a well-draining and moisture-retaining potting blend, use a mixture of loose and chunky materials like pine bark, moss, perlite, coco fiber, etc.
  • Keep pH levels between 5.5 and 6. You can add lime extract to raise the pH or add citric acid to lower the pH values.
  • Check the moss once or twice a week. Dry moss indicates that you need to water the plant.
  • Keep the humidity level high at all times.

Trick your Orchid to bloom early after pruning. Keep it in a room set at 10°C lower than it usual temperature requirement at night, straight for 3-4 weeks.

  • Use distilled or rainwater to thoroughly wet the soil for 15 seconds and let the water drain for 15 minutes.
  • Avoid using urea fertilizer. Instead, aim for a balanced blend of NPK 20-20-20 of full strength once every month.
  • You can also ply the same blend but with half the strength and apply once a week during the growing season.
Image represents pests in Orchid flowers
Pests attack the Orchid flowers and make them fall off the plant.
  • Cater Orchids with nitrogen feed once a month in winter.
  • Repot Orchids once a year or two when the roots cram the pot and escape out from the topsoil or drainage holes.
  • Aim for a pot that is 1 or 2 inches larger than the previous container while repotting.
  • Use neem oil for removing pests or disease infections once in 28 days. For repotted plants, spray once every 14 days until its growth.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that the flowers are the most appealing part of Orchids, bringing a sense of joy and relief to the grower.

However, sometimes flowers may fall and keep your Orchid at a halt for showcasing its beauty.

Don’t frown as Orchids drop their flowers as a part of their flowering cycle. But be more attentive to give it proper care so that its blooms last longer.

Take immediate action to safeguard the flowers in your Orchid by following all the recovery steps mentioned above.

Is it hard to get a grasp on whether Orchids in your garden are dormant or dead? No worries. I am positive that they are regaining their strength to bloom again!

Happy Gardening!

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