Orchid Rescue: How to Revive a Dying or Damaged Orchid

The Phalaenopsis orchid is the most commonly sold orchid variety in North America, and contrary to popular belief, it is one of the easiest orchids to care for.

Orchids are lovely flowers that bloom in a cycle. It’s stunning when your tropical orchid is happy and healthy. It has beautiful blooms and thick green foliage and is frequently used as an attractive indoor garden centerpiece. When your orchid is stressed, it loses its stunning qualities and appears withered, yellow, or unwell. 

The orchid is not dead because the flowers have fallen off; it is simply in a dormant state and will most likely flower again. Pruning and repotting an orchid can help it bloom. Make sure to provide the appropriate amount of water and light. Beautiful flowers will bloom before you know it!

How Can I Revive My Orchid Plant?

Orchid Plant

To understand how to bring an orchid back from the brink of death, you must first determine why your orchid is unhappy. Let’s look into why an orchid may not perform well and see if we can get that orchid blooming again.

1. Humidity 

This measures the amount of moisture in the air that the orchid can absorb through its foliage and roots (in epiphytic species). Misting may be required to encourage bloom if you choose this type of orchid. Set your mister to avoid wetting the leaves, or lightly moisten the air around the plants with a spray bottle.

Keeping your plant on a moistened pebble bed can also help to increase humidity. When your orchid is in bloom, avoid misting it.

2. Adjust Plant Position For Proper Lightening

Unstable and insufficient light conditions can have a significant impact on the health of your plant. If your orchid is in distress, you should investigate the light conditions required for your orchid species to ensure it is getting enough sun.

Though orchid light requirements differ depending on the type of orchid, most tropical orchids thrive in indirect sunlight. Place your orchid in a south-facing room for the best results. Put a transparent curtain between your orchid and the light source to filter direct sunlight and prevent overexposure.

Avoid placing your orchid outside unless your yard has dappled sunlight and humidity. Tropical orchids may not fare well in direct sunlight, dry climates, or extreme weather conditions.

Remember that a healthy plant has strong, light- or medium-green leaves. Deep-green-leaved orchids most likely require more light, and orchids with bleached or reddish leaves are most likely over-lit.

3. Watering 

Following bloom, most orchids enter a period of dormancy in which their water requirements are reduced. Watering requirements vary greatly depending on orchid species from the first sign of new growth (usually a new leaf) until bloom. A once-a-week watering will not keep your plant in good condition all year.

The watering schedule will need to be adjusted to meet the specific needs of the orchid you are growing. Withhold water and repot the orchid with a dry potting mix if the leaves become limp and the growth at the base of the plant becomes soft.

4. Repot

Orchids kept in damp or highly decomposed potting soil are prone to root rot. Moving your wilting orchid to a new pot is the first step in reviving it. This will assist your orchid’s roots in drying out and healing if they have been damaged.

Use your fingers to remove the orchid from its original container while repotting it. Be sure to slightly loosen the roots as well to get rid of any potting soil that has been attached to the roots. Remove mushy or potentially rotten roots to encourage the growth of new, healthier root shoots in their place.

To provide your orchid’s roots access to air and sunshine, which they need to flourish, get a new orchid pot with lots of drainage holes.

Selecting a pot that’s just big enough to accommodate the orchid’s roots is also critical. The roots will suffocate if the pot is too large due to the weight of the excess potting mix. Your orchid may become root-bound if the pot is too tiny, necessitating a speedy move to a different area.

If your orchid’s roots are growing over the edge of the pot or protruding from the drainage holes, it clearly indicates that it needs a new, larger pot.

5. Fertilize Your Plant

Orchids are heavy feeders that thrive in a slightly acidic environment with a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. Because most growing media for these plants lack the necessary nutrients, adding orchid food or a balanced fertilizer should be part of routine care. Water-soluble orchid food is simple to use and can be added to your watering schedule as directed. 

This works well because watering is typically reduced during the orchid’s dormancy period, which is also a time in the plant’s annual cycle when fertilizer should be avoided. Over-fertilizing is rarely a problem, but for some species, the recommendation is to reduce the fertilizer potency by 1/4 to 1/2.

6. Cut Old Stems

Another step in reviving your orchid is to prune it to encourage new growth. Remember to cut back flower stems after your orchid’s blooms have fallen. Cutting back actively flowering stems will disrupt the blooming process and may result in plant shock.

To achieve the best results, trim your orchid’s stem with sharp, sterilized shears to avoid accidentally introducing germs or diseases during the trimming process. Wearing garden gloves is also recommended to keep the process clean and tidy.

Some orchids have single spikes, while others have double spikes. Before beginning the pruning process, research your orchid type to avoid accidentally cutting away necessary parts of your plant.

7. Eliminate Pests If Any

Weevils, sowbugs, springtails, snails, scales, thrips, mealybugs, and spider mites are examples of insect pests. Look for chewed leaves or leaves with white powdery deposits on the undersides. Light infestations can usually be brushed off with a soap and water solution by hand. Use neem oil, hydrogen peroxide, or isopropyl alcohol for severe infestations. 

However, heavy populations of microscopic insects such as thrips and spider mites may necessitate pesticide application.

Tips and Takeaways

  • All plants are identified and classified according to their family, genus, and species. In the case of orchids, however, an additional layer is added between the family and genus. The term “tribe” refers to this other classification. Most orchids sold include the tribe classification, which will provide you with the most accurate information about the general care requirements for that specific plant. Understanding your orchid’s tribe will assist you in providing the care it requires to stay healthy and blooming.
  • Orchid leaves droop due to dehydration caused by underwatering and low humidity. Water orchids once every seven days with a good soak and mist their leaves once every two days to create a humid micro-climate that mimics the orchid’s natural growing conditions and revives drooping orchid leaves.
  • Excess fertilizer can burn sensitive orchid roots, causing them to die back and the orchid leaves to become floppy and yellow, preventing flowering. Orchids do not tolerate regular houseplant fertilizer and must be fed orchid-specific fertilizer.
  • The cause of orchid death is root rot caused by overwatering or soil retaining too much moisture. Orchids need the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering causes orchid leaves and stems to wilt and turn yellow and root rot to kill the roots.
  • When orchids are planted in moss or regular potting soil, their leaves turn yellow and wilt because they retain too much moisture, causing root rot. To prevent yellow leaves and root rot, orchids should be planted in pine bark to mimic their natural soil conditions of good drainage and aeration around the roots.

SEE: What Plant is A Reed?


Should “Air Roots” Be Cut Off or Planted Directly into the Soil While Being Transplanted?

Avoid cutting them off, please. When transplanting your orchid, attempt to recreate how it looked in the former container. Ensure that none of the air roots are still in the ground. Apparently, the plant absorbs nutrients from both the air and the soil. Every month, I use a liquid fertilizer for orchids (diluted in water). They don’t require a lot of soil or orchid compost either. 

However, the most important thing is not to overwater them. Mine are delighted when I immerse them in a sink full of water, flower container, and all when they become dry.

Which Type Of Soil Is Ideal For Repotting Orchids?

When repotting your orchid, you should take extra care with the soil you use since orchids require a specific potting mixture of soil and wood. A chemical-rich potting soil might startle your orchid, which is already delicate, and send it over the brink. 

Always go with the organic potting soil choice, which comprises entirely natural ingredients. Orchids are delicate to potting soil and pesticides even when they are healthy.

When Should I Re-Mist My Orchid?

If water is a concern for your orchid, you may begin reintroducing humidity-building mist into the orchid’s daily ritual after approximately a week of watering. By then, your orchid should show signs of recovery, and the mist to increase humidity will be appreciated.

Finding the right balance of light, water, and humidity can take time and effort when it comes to orchids. If you’re just getting started, remember that even seasoned orchid enthusiasts and collectors can encounter problems with a new plant that they didn’t expect based on previous experience.

A little research on the orchid species you’re dealing with will go a long way toward providing the best environment for maximum growth and flower formation. Not all orchids require the same light and water, and understanding your specific plant’s requirements is critical to keeping it healthy and thriving.

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