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The orchid, also known as the "queen of flowers" by its lovers, fascinates people with its beautiful flowers. However, the graceful beauty is also considered to be quite sensitive and reacts sensitively to unfavorable site conditions and incorrect care. The orchid quickly lets the flowers droop as the first symptom. There are various - and sometimes contradictory - reasons for this phenomenon, which is why thorough research into the causes is necessary for the right help.
Hanging orchid flowers
If your orchid sheds its beautiful petals after some time in bloom, it doesn't necessarily have to be a problem. Most species show their splendor for around two months, although there are large differences between the different species in terms of timing and duration. At the end of this phase, the buds begin to droop and eventually dry up and fall off. Finally, the tips of the shoots wither. This is a completely natural process, because the orchid now goes into a resting phase. Typically, the plant no longer forms any new shoots.
tip: Many hybrid varieties, especially the popular Phalaenopsis and Vanda orchids, no longer adhere to the natural flowering phases of their wild ancestors. Instead, these cultivated forms often form new flowers all year round or only take very short breaks.
Support the orchid in its rest so that it draws strength for a renewed bloom. These measures provide optimal help:
- Cut off the dead flower shoots
- Put the flower in a cooler place
- depending on the species, not cooler than 15 °C to 18 °C
- water less
- don't fertilize anymore
As soon as new shoots form, the orchid ends its dormant phase and can be cultivated again at its usual location. After some time it forms new flower buds again.
Flowering duration of various Orchidaceae
The species-typical flowering time and duration provide an indication of whether it is actually a normal wilting process or an indication of a problem that requires treatment. Keep in mind, however, that plants are individuals too - who care just as little about when they have to do what as humans do. The following information is therefore only a guide.
- Cattleya: bloom between early January and early March
- Cymbidium: very long flowering phase between October and March
- Dendrobium Phalaenopsis: very long flowering phase between October and March
- Miltonia: blooms twice a year, in spring and autumn
- Phalaenopsis: Hybrid varieties bloom all year round
- Vanda: Hybrid varieties flower all year round, the species in spring and autumn
notice: If the flowers wilt one after the other, there is often a natural wilting process behind them. However, if all the petals suddenly go limp, the plant usually has a problem. But be careful: Some types of orchids go into the dormant phase very suddenly, so that the owner wrongly suspects an illness. This applies to the Miltonia orchids, for example.
If natural withering of the petals can be ruled out, there are various possible causes. It is important to carefully investigate the actual reason for the phenomenon in order to avoid possibly wrong treatment of the affected orchid - this can possibly lead to the final death of the plant.
1. Changing environmental conditions
Especially a few days after purchase, orchids like to let their flowers droop and make a limp impression. This behavior is completely normal and no cause for concern, after all the plant only reacts to the transport and its circumstances (or movement, temperature fluctuations, etc.) and to its new, unfamiliar location. A natural withering of the flower heads can also occur shortly after purchase. After all, the flower in question may have been in bloom for a few weeks or months, so it is now entering its dormant phase.
It is best to leave the already stressed plant alone and wait until it has become accustomed and settled in its new location. With good care, it will soon form new flower buds, which, however, requires a few months of patience. Orchids are considered site-loyal and should not be moved if possible.
2. Lack of sunlight
With the exception of the terrestrial orchids, most Orchidaceae grow as epiphytes under the protection of tall trees in the jungle. Here, however, the plants sit as high as possible, where they receive a lot of light - but not necessarily direct sunlight. When there is a lack of light, orchids quickly let their flowers droop or even throw them off. The reason for this behavior is weakness, because a lack of sunlight also means a lack of photosynthesis. The plants are particularly at risk during the dark winter months, when the sun shines less often due to the shorter days.
- optimal location in spring and summer: bright west or east window with evening or morning sun
- in autumn and winter: south-facing window with protection from direct sunlight (if required)
- otherwise installation of daylight lamps or fluorescent tubes (light color 865)
- Lighting duration at least eight hours a day
3. Direct sunlight
But not only lack of light, also an excess of sunlight causes the flowers to hang limply and wither prematurely. This applies in particular to orchids that are in the blazing sun at midday, for example on a south-facing window. Morning or evening sun, on the other hand, is usually well tolerated.
Move the affected plant to a less exposed spot and watch for any signs of a lack of water.
4. Lack of water
A common reason for wilting flowers is lack of water. This not only allows the flowers to hang down, but also the leaves to dry out later. Pay attention to the condition of the aerial roots: normally turgid and green, they turn silvery and shiny when dry.
When it comes to drought, the most effective first aid is to submerge the affected orchid so that it can soak itself in water. Thats how it works:
- Take the plant out of the planter
- Fill buckets with well-stale tap water or rainwater
- Hold plant with pot and substrate inside
- Keep in the water for 10 to 15 minutes
- dive as long as air bubbles appear
- remove, drain well
- only put them back in the cachepot when the substrate is no longer dripping
Leave the plant substrate to dry between the individual dives, and there must be no water in the pots. Excess moisture also leads to premature wilting of the flowers - and in the worst case to waterlogging. As a guideline, dip the orchid weekly during the warm summer months and much less frequently in the fall and winter.
5. Too much water/wrong watering
If there is too much water, quick action is necessary to save the plant at all. Incorrect or excessive watering quickly leads to waterlogging in the moisture-sensitive orchids. You can recognize these by the brownish to black discolored roots, which often become soft and/or are covered with a greenish film. These are algae that also feel very comfortable in the humid environment. Incidentally, the same symptoms appear if excess irrigation water is not poured off and the orchid is standing in the water.
- pot the plant
- completely remove moist substrate
- Leave the plant to dry for a day
- Cut off darkened and rotten roots
- Also remove wilted flowering shoots
- put in fresh substrate and a new pot
- do not water for about ten days
- just spray
tip: Also, avoid watering with chalky and/or cold water. Both damage orchids and cause them to droop and shed buds.
6. Wrong location/ fruit
Do you like eating apples? If so, a fruit basket in the same room as a blooming orchid is one of the most common causes of wilting flowers. The reason for this lies in the ripening gas ethylene, which not only allows the apples (and other fruit) to ripen - but also accelerates the aging process of the orchid blossoms. Characteristic of the gas is its sweet smell that pervades the room.
Place either the fruit basket or the orchid - the latter only if there is no other option, after all a change of location is stressful for the plant - in separate rooms if possible.
7. Cold temperatures/ draughts
Orchids come from regions where it is consistently warm all year round. As a result, the exotic beauties do not tolerate temperature fluctuations and react to changes of just five degrees Celsius by shedding flowers. This is particularly problematic during the winter months, when daily airing suddenly lets icy air into the room. But even in summer, an unfavorable, draughty location can cause the flowers to droop. Here the plant suffers from the draught.
Save the blooms by placing the orchid in a sheltered and evenly tempered location right from the start. The ideal place should
- stay warm all year round
- are not located above a radiator
- are not near a frequently opened window
tip: Orchids bought in winter often suffer a cold shock during transport, causing them to shed their flowers. Avoid this by wrapping the plant thickly in newspaper or some other insulating material.