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Orchids need strong, green foliage to survive. If it changes, then the plants need help because something is wrong and urgent action is needed. For example, if your orchid develops soft or limp leaves. It is best to start immediately with research into the cause and immediately initiate the appropriate countermeasures so that the orchid can survive.

Orchid gets soft, limp leaves

If some of the orchid leaves are becoming limp, soft or yellow, then you don't have to worry just yet, as this is probably a natural phenomenon. However, if sagging leaves are rampant, you should investigate the causes and act quickly to save the plant. Because in this case it is very likely that the orchid has been cared for incorrectly.

causes and measures

There are many unnatural causes for soft and sagging leaves on the orchid. However, they can usually be attributed to one of the following reasons:

  • care mistakes
  • location
  • pests

In principle, a combination of causes is also possible. If this is the case, then all causes must be eliminated for the plant to survive. It is important that you do not cut off the leaves, even if they are unsightly, because the cutting points are gateways for pests that damage the weakened plant even more.

care mistakes

Orchids are considered demanding plants. The most common care mistake occurs when watering, because both too much and too little water causes the leaves of the orchid to become limp.

lack of water

If orchids don't get enough water, they suffer. This is shown by the following characteristics:

  • soft foliage
  • falling buds
  • wilted flowers

If the plants show this picture, then you should not hesitate and act immediately. The simplest and most proven method when there is a lack of water is a so-called immersion bath. To prepare the immersion bath, proceed as follows:

  • Fill the container with lime-free, lukewarm water
  • Size of the container: the pot of the orchid must fit well

If everything is ready, then you can start with the immersion bath start:

  • Place the orchid and the pot in the prepared immersion bath
  • Foliage must not get wet
  • wait a few minutes (until no more bubbles rise)
  • Take the plant out of the immersion bath
  • put on a coaster
  • wait a few minutes
  • Remove water from the coaster
  • If necessary, place the plant back in the cachepot

Although the immersion bath helps the orchid in its struggle for survival, it cannot work miracles either. Therefore, you should give the orchid some time to recover. The plant will show you whether the rescue attempt was successful by sprouting new and healthy. To help them do this, it is advisable to place the plant in a soaking bath once a week.

tip: To ensure that your orchids do not suffer from a lack of water in the future, you should also submerge them for the normal water supply instead of watering them. That's better for the plants.


If the orchid gets too much water, even if it is well intentioned, then it will always have "wet feet", i.e. the roots are permanently under water. Over time, this causes the roots to begin to rot (root rot) and the water supply to the orchid is disrupted. Signs of incipient root rot on the orchid are soft, limp and wilted leaves. As with a lack of water, you should also take immediate measures to help with waterlogging:

  • Lift the orchid out of the pot
  • Shake off the substrate carefully
  • cut off mushy and brown roots with a sharp and clean knife
  • remove all flowering stems
  • Plant needs strength for root formation
  • Rinse the root ball carefully under running water
  • Let the orchid dry well
  • plant in new, dry soil
  • do not water and do not fertilize for the time being

The orchid needs water so that too much water does not result in a lack of water. That is why it is best for the plant in the following days or weeks if you spray it with lime-free, lukewarm water. If the plant is well rooted again, it can be watered or dipped again, but in any case more sparingly than before.

tip: A typical feature of waterlogging is when water accumulates in the cachepot or saucer. So that your orchids don't get too much water in the future, reduce the watering or switch to the immersion bath for water supply.

excess lime

If watering errors can be ruled out as the cause, then you should consider the water quality, because the plants do not tolerate lime. And the German tap water is unfortunately very calcareous in many places. Watering with tap water can lead to the roots no longer being able to absorb nutrients. This is evident from soft and limp leaves of the orchid. The solution to the problem is limescale reduction. There are the following options:

  • Use rainwater for watering
  • Filter tap water before watering
  • Boil tap water

location error

If the orchid is in full sun, the leaves will become soft and limp because the tropical plant cannot tolerate too much sun. In this case, she needs a new location that

  • light to semi-shady and
  • warm (with a temperature of 20 °C to 25 °C)

is. Ideally, the location also has a humidity of 50 to 80 percent.

temperature fluctuations

An orchid does not like temperature fluctuations at all. For example, if it is in a room in winter that is not heated regularly or evenly, its leaves will become limp and baggy. Proximity to a wood-burning stove, which develops great heat during the day and cools down at night, also causes problems for the plants.
The solution to the problem here is very simple. Because you only have to move the plant to a location with even temperatures without direct sunlight. Ideally, the new location is on a north, east, or west window.


While care and location mistakes are ultimately homemade, an infestation of pests can be difficult to prevent. Soft and limp leaves of the orchid can therefore also be caused by pest infestation, especially by pests that feed on the plant sap. This includes all plant lice, but especially scale, mealybugs and mealybugs.
Since lice spread very quickly, immediate action is required. Proven measures against the plague are:

  • Cloth with alcohol to wipe the leaves
  • Blot the plant with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol
  • Pack the orchid airtight for two to three days (oxygen supply is interrupted)
  • Spraying the plant with a soft soap solution
Mealy bugs on orchid buds

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