Wilting orchid flowers always make a new orchid grower a bit nervous. How do you now when wilted orchid flowers are normal or not?
Enthusiastic and excited, you purchased an orchid, moved it from the greenhouse into your home, and placed it by the windowsill—just like the instructions said. The extravagant flowers were full, luscious, and eye-catching. The next morning, you wake up to wilted and drooping flowers.
Orchid flowers will wilt because of 6 reasons:
insects and pests,
stress from moving to a new environment,
not enough humidity,
and the end of a normal life cycle.
1. End of Natural Life Cycle
Orchid blooms aren’t eternal. Even though they have the fame of lasting forever, they eventually die. The most common orchid, Phalaenopsis orchids (moth orchids), can flower up to three months without wilting. Dendrobiums and Oncidiums stay in bloom about a month. Cattleyas last about two weeks, if that.
Below is a simple chart of the most common orchids and how long each blossom stays open (listed in weeks). Note that the times listed are under the right conditions and indoors, and each huge category has many, many subdivisions. This is just a rough guide. In nature, these times can be prolonged.
|Cattleyas||1.6 – 3 weeks|
|Stanhopeas||3 – 4 days|
Obs: If you copy this graph, please cite me as an author when you paste it somewhere else. I found my own graph on several Facebook sites, copy and pasted, but no mention of me anywhere… These articles take a long time to make and I have to research them, so please give me some credit. It’s a bit discouraging when I find my own research pasted elsewhere, as if it was someone else’s work.
A graph like the one above is useful, but when you purchase a stunning, exotic orchid in bloom, you’ve no idea how long it’s been flowering. It could be that you are purchasing a plant that is in its late cycle of blooming, and only has a few days remaining.
Don’t worry about the flowers wilting if this is an orchid you’ve just bought.
Like any new relationship, there are times of adjustment. Moving is always hard (and I’ve moved more than my share…check out my memoir here) and especially so on an orchid. They like to be in one place for life, attached to a tree.
2. Environment Change Cause Flowers to Wilt
Another problem in buying orchids in bloom is that they are more susceptible to environment changes at this stage. They hate to be repotted, change climates, humidity, lighting, etc.
Even changing them from where you had them growing to another room can make a blooming orchid wilt. Some varieties and individual plants are more resistant, but most will not like the adaptation.
Keep this in mind when you take the orchid from the greenhouse, which has optimal humidity, lighting, watering, fertilization, and everything else you could imagine and suddenly placing the orchid in your home office (like I do.)
The orchid will react to this transport and handling phase by wilting.
It can also cause bud blast. If you want to know more about bud blast, this article has some really interesting information and statistics. Environment change can also mean a change in potting medium. NEVER repot a flowering orchid. It has used its energy to produce a gorgeous flower and it doesn’t have enough to make it through a rough, new change. The additional stress of changing potting mediums is even worse.
If you absolutely have to change pots, then keep the same medium. Once your orchid has lost all it’s flowers, then you can safely repot and change it’s medium. New roots are growing during this time as well, so you have an advantage.
3. Temperature Change Causes Wilting Orchid Blossoms
Temperature changes happen for two reasons.
The first is when you purchase your orchid online in winter and have it mailed to you. Ok, that’s extreme. But even if you buy it from a greenhouse and transport it in your car, this can cause a temperature shock. From your car to the inside of your house, the orchid will suffer, and the flowers can wilt.
The second scenario is when your orchid is in bloom and you wish to display it on the living room table or coffee table. This is lovely, but verify for heat vents nearby. Hot, dry heat spurting out in uneven waves from the floor is an orchid’s nightmare.
The opposite could also happen—cold drafts. If you place your orchid by the window or a sill and decide to open the window, cool, chilly air could suddenly shock and orchid.
If your orchid was doing fine, and after you moved it the flowers wilted, temperature change is the most probable reason. Each orchid has a temperature preference in which it thrives the best. This article about the right temperatures is a good place to check your orchid.
Reasons For Wilting Orchid Flowers
Normal Life Cycle
Stress from Environment
Not Enough Humidity
Pests & Insects
4. Flowers Wilt Because of Humidity Change
Besides temperature, moving the orchid to another location could cause a drop in humidity. When you cultivate your orchid alongside various other household plants, even other orchids, the overall humidity in that spot is always higher. If your orchid now sits by itself, it will need to be misted more often.
Remember: humidity is not the same as watering. Humidity is the overall concentration of water droplets in the air, while watering is how much the roots absorb. Keep your orchid in at least 40% humidity—and I say at “least,” because most orchids want much more than that.
Indoors it’s hard to reach more than 50% because the paint, wallpaper and drywall will start to chip off or mold. I aim at 45% in my home office, but my orchids are not high-humidity orchids. Anything above 45%, my computer and camera equipment complain.
You can keep a small humidifier by your orchid and turn it on a few times a day if you want to isolate it form the rest of your orchid collection.
It’s great to have them on display when flowering, but they don’t do well if the same conditions they were in before aren’t met now.If you don’t have a humidifier, a good place to keep your orchid is in the kitchen. I don’t recommend the bathroom for two reasons: (1) not enough light, and (2) the humidity fluctuates greatly and only for short periods of time. The temperatures also raise and fall too much to keep the orchid happy.
If you have just purchased your orchid and brought it home and only now, after a few days, the flowers are wilting, check your humidity. You can read about what instruments you need and recommended humidifiers in this article, which is a product review.
I wrote that article after researching over one thousand reviews, and elaborating a list of the humidifiers, humidistats, hygrometers and other humidity related equipment.
For my small home office, I use this humidifier (Affiliate Link).
5. Humidity is not the Same as Watering
If your humidity is correct for the type of orchid you have, then it might be that your orchid is thirsty. In this case, the leaves will have started to wilt some, too. They will have deep veins in them, with streaking lines. They’ll also lose their bright, shiny luster.
Flowers require more water from the plant, especially in the budding stage. Once the flowers dry and fall off, you can water less. If you aren’t quite sure of what water to use, in this article I explained the pros and cons of distilled water, rainwater, tap water and reverse osmosis water.
When orchid flowers wilt, this is the first sign that they need more water. They wilt because even if pollinated, they can’t produce enough energy from the minerals and nutrients to keep the new seed healthy.
If the entire cause/reason of the flower was to attract pollinators and from there, produce seeds, it’s a failed mission—no use to carry it to term. The orchid gives up, wilting its flowers to focus on maintain humidity and energy to survive itself.
If you are watering your orchid to the exact specifications of it’s liking, and your potting medium is draining more than fine, too fine, then it might be that your potting medium is to coarse.
This means that water is draining out too fast, not giving the roots the time to soak up the water before it all drains away. Only stop watering after the roots have turned green and you are certain they have had enough.
If you see this problem happening over and over again, you may want to add more sphagnum moss to your potting medium. There are several kinds of sphagnum, which you can read in this article, but the brand I use is this one (Affiliate LInk).
6. Pests and Insects will Wilt Orchid Flowers
Pests and insects munching on your orchid is the hardest to cure (compared to the other 5 reasons orchids wilt.) With the right information, and accessibility to fungicides, bactericides, and other remedies, you can fight off these pests.
Do your research with pictures and proper identification of what pests are attacking your plant. Observe the bottom of the leaves, crown, and potting medium for white dots, black gooey areas, and anything that is not normal.
Don’t Stop Learning!
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If you aren’t sure of what exactly is on your orchid, I suggest these articles that could give you some guide:
Orchid Bugs, Pests & Critters That Like Sphagnum Moss
Orchid Bugs That Live in Orchid bark
Best Pesticides & Insecticides for Orchids
Even though root rot could be a possible cause of flower dropping and wilting, it’s not a major cause. That’s why I didn’t include it in my list of 6 reasons. If you are overwatering and not letting the roots dry out before watering again, or if the orchid sits in a puddle of water on its humidity tray, then you have all the ingredients for root rot.I wish you the best in finding out what caused the flower to wilt and drop.
With these 6 reasons, you’re well on your way. Leave a comment in the section below if this article has helped you. If you have any questions, ideas, or disagree with anything here, please say that, too. We only learn when we share information.
17 thoughts on “Wilting Orchid Flowers: 6 Reasons and How to Fix Them”
This is without doubt the best article I have ever read on orchids.
I bought a beautiful phalanopdis 3 days ago and overnight the flowers dropped – obviously temp change as the shop was cold and my house comfortably warm.
Is there a way to Recife this?
Sorry, the flowers DROOPED, they didn’t drop!
Thank you for your words! I appreciate it.
As for the flowers, since they didn’t drop all the way off, they might adjust to the temperature change. It depends on how drastic it was and how long they endured it. Unfortunately, it’s not that likely that they become those gorgeous blossoms they once were. They are the most sensitive part of the orchid and aren’t known to recuperate that well. You might still be able to save the buds. Keep them hydrated and keep the environment humid.
What’s the best way to keep the environment humid for the orchids? My beautiful purple orchid now has drooping leaves.
Hello I got my orchid as a gift about 1 week ago I believe it’s a Phalaenopsis and I repotted because I had noticed crown rot I used hydrogen peroxide to solve the issue and it was doing good for a few days and I’m now noticing the buds and flowers wilting and drying up I understand that it has undergone lots of stress I still have no idea what I’m doing but I’m confused whether the flowers are in a period of falling or are just dying out of stress and what I can do?
I’m so sorry this is happening. It’s so frustrating at times… You did the right thing with the hydrogen peroxide. That will clear up some of the bacteria on the crown.
Did you repot it before the buds formed or when it was fully in bloom? If it was in bloom, the stress of being in a new environment might have been too much for it. There’s really not much you can do at this point if that was the case. If the repot was before the flower spike appeared, then something might have happened to the growth pattern. Was it placed near a hot air vent? Did it get too cold? It’s hard to give you some solid advice without seeing the plant, but my comment set-up doesn’t allow for pictures (too many spammers). For now, place it in a brightly lit room and give it plenty of water. AS long as the potting medium is drying out in a couple of days, and there is plenty of airflow, it should start working on producing new roots again, starting a new cycle.
Hello! Thank you for your article. I received an orchid as a gift. It’s a Just Add Ice Orchid. It doesn’t say what type it is. I’ve been adding the 3 ice cubes a week as it said. I’ve kept it near the window but out of direct sunlight like it said. Two weeks in and one flower is almost totally wilted. The others seem fine in comparison. One of the leaves has a yellowing tip as well. I’ve never had an orchid before and it’s so beautiful. And I’m worried about it. Any thoughts on what is going on with it? Also, are you saying that at one point it will naturally lose all of its flowers and will be just stems and that will be ok? How long before they bloom again if at all? Thank you for your time! 🙂
Yes, the orchid will with with time, since the flowers do not stay in bloom year-round. This is what is normally to be expected.
One reason that the flowers can wilt faster is the ice cubes. I know that the directions say to water with ice cubes, but I do not recommend that in any circumstance. You can check out this article I wrote about why this is true: https://orchideria.com/orchids-and-ice-cubes/
The orchid will bloom again in a year, around the same time that it started blooming now. Some orchids are rebloomers, and Phalaenopsis tend to be one of those. If you are are in luck, it might just rebloom in a couple of months. It’s all up to the orchid, if it decides that it wants to and if it has the nutrients and health to do so. Some orchids are so loaded with hormones that they will rebloom the first year, but after that, when the hormones decrease, they will bloom once a year.
When you say totally wilted, do you mean the leaves too? In that case, I’d check to see how the roots are. They might have rotted or the quantity and frequency of water wasn’t enough. I’d check those out too.
Hello and thanks for your article. I have a beautiful phalaenopsis in my bathroom. When I first got it, it was in a full “waterfall” bloom and that was almost 3 months ago. Initially,I sat it in the window and our Texas sun scorched a couple of the leaves…nbd, it’s not pretty but the rest of the affected leaves are not wilting. It’s had two new blooms since I got it and us working on a 3rd and maybe a new bloom spike. Thing is, the original 7-9 blooms are now becoming paper thin, wilting and slowly dropping. Fine, it’s been a few months, but it’s still blooming whilst outgrowing its container. Should I wait til all blooms drop, or at least blooming appears to have stopped before replanting? Also, can you recommend a good potting medium?
Thanks for writing, and I appreciate your patience in this answer. I was on vacation and hadn’t checked my website for comments in a while.
I’d wait for the blooms to all fall off entirely before repotting. If the orchid looks like it is growing a new flower spike, then there’s even more reason to wait. Since it was only 3 months ago that you got it, it probably can wait a bit more before repot. When you say that it’s overgrowing its pot, I have a feeling that you mean the aerial roots. You can leave those to themselves as they will grow out anyway. They grow like that in nature because those roots are looking for tree bark. Very rarely do the orchids that we buy in stores need an immediate repot, so it can hang on for a couple months. Wait until the very last blooms has dried up and the flower spike starts to turn brown. Then repot.
As for potting media, check out this article: https://orchideria.com/best-orchid-bark-mix/ where I talk about what bark is the best and this other article where I go over the different types of media that you can use: https://orchideria.com/orchid-potting-mix-the-right-and-wrong-medium/ I hope this helps.
We repotted our orchids yesterday from their original tight plastic pots we bought them in about 3-4 weeks ago. We used a cactus and succulent soil blend that contains a lot of moss. This morning we noticed that two of the lower flowers on one of the orchids appears shriveled. Is there any way we can revive them?
Will the flowers grow back? I didn’t see that anywhere. My roots And leaves on the plant are strong but the flowers fell off. I did move my orchid and right after, the temperatures outside went down into the 20s so I’m sure the higher heat and lower humidity inside was a factor!
Thank you so much for taking the time to write this article and I hope I can save my beautiful orchid!
I bought a Phalaenopsis orchid on Valentine’s Day. A couple of weeks ago one flower started to droop and died off. Within the span of 5 days, 7 of the flowers drooped. I’ve done nothing out of the ordinary. Watered the same and haven’t moved it . Is this normal ? I only have 3 flowers that now haven’t wilted.
Hi Amanda, I cannot find any advice as to how to water my orchid. Do I pour in from the top and allow to drain or sit In a small amount for a short while. I’ve tried both ways and the flowers are wilting. I’ve read various advice columns and am confused as I know ice cubes are not recommended.
My husband and son bought me my first orchard for mothers day this year. The name on it is Nobel Knight. I have not had any issues with it until today one of the entire plant all the flowers are drooping and look almost dead. But, my other plant look fine they are planted in the same pot. My husband bought it from Wal-Mart does that make a difference. I have it on a small table by a window they are new windows so no are leaks, I water 1/4 cup water 1 × a week like the directions say. I did notice green spots on the flowers today. Please help me I love this beautiful flower and would love to keep it for a long time.
Hi, I bought an orchid from Home Depot in March 2022. Recently (May 2022) water meter showed it needed water. Watered it with orchid food. Then let it drain in the sink for a while.
Since flowers are wilting, one came off. Leaves look ok. Anything I can do to save the rest of flowers from falling off?
I still have the artificial grassy stuff on top of the soil, should I remove that?
Thank you for any advice, Joni
Hi Amanda. I saw your advice to never re-pot a flowering orchid. Unfortunately, I was badly advised by somebody how pretended to know a lot about plants and my orchid was repotted. And now the beautiful flowers are dying. Is there anything I can do to save the orchid and have it keeping or at least flowering again?