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Why are Orchid Flowers Falling Off?

Orchid bloom loss can be normal when your orchid reaches the end of its blooming cycle. At this stage, it’s natural for orchid flowers to wilt and fall off one-by-one.

If your orchid’s flowers are falling off suddenly all at once or you notice the buds falling off even before they sprout into blooms, your plant is experiencing bloom loss or bud blast.

The cause is almost always environmental. Which is good news, because it means you can change things to retrigger blooming.

Because orchid bloom loss is an issue that novices often struggle with, I’m going to walk you through the possible reasons for orchid bloom loss and how to care for an orchid after blooming.

5 Reasons of Orchid Bloom Loss

As I mentioned, orchid blooms will only naturally fall off, when it’s the end of their blooming cycle. In all other instances, something in the environment of the orchid is causing blooms to fall off.

There are 5 possible reasons for orchid bloom loss that I’m going to discuss here:

  • Inadequate Watering
  • Insufficient Light
  • Diseases or Pests
  • Temperature Shock
  • Lack of Humidity

Inadequate Watering

Both too much water and too little water can trigger bloom loss. If you’re giving your orchid too little water, its roots will become dry and brittle.

They’ll even change their color into gray. If your orchid is dehydrated, it’s not uncommon for blooms to fall off.

If your orchid is receiving too much water, roots may rot, causing blooms to fall off prematurely.

Therefore, make sure that you’re correctly watering your orchid. You’ll need to water orchids every time the top of the soil feels dry to the touch and exposed roots turn silvery white.

Make sure the pot is fitted with draining holes, so that excess water can drain out of the pot.

Insufficient Light

Let’s say you take your orchid home from the garden center with its blooms all looking healthy and well, only to have them fall off a few days after.

Unfortunately, to the dismay of new orchid owners, this happens quite often. One explanation is bad lighting conditions.

If your orchid is exposed to insufficient light, its blooms can unexpectedly fall off. Orchids require bright, indirect light. This calls for exposure to an east-facing or west-facing window.

Direct light can be tolerated for up to 1-2 hours per day. More than this and your orchid’s leaves can become damaged by the sun.

Diseases or Pests

Orchids can be affected by a number of diseases and pests, some of which may influence the health of buds and blooms.

More commonly, blooms and buds are affected by pests like whiteflies, thrips, snails and slugs, caterpillars. Flowers can look chewed up, deformed, and they eventually fall off.

Fungal diseases like Anthracnose Colletotrichum & Glomerella spp., petal blight Botrytis sp.  can also cause damage to flowers and cause them to fall off.

Depending on the type of the disease and pest affecting the plant, you will need to use a fungicidal spray or an insecticide solution to fix the problem.

Temperature Shock

Orchids need warm temperatures between 65 F and 80 F degrees. Orchid owners often overlook the temperature changes that can occur because of cold drafts, AC vents or simply a sudden drop of outside temperature.

Keep your orchid away from sources of cold or extreme heat. Keep the plant in a location, where temperatures are constant.

Temperature shock can cause bloom or bud blast, so be mindful of any significant temperature changes in your home.

Lack of Humidity

As tropical plants, orchids enjoy a humid environment that we may struggle to provide in our homes. The air can become especially dry during the winter months.

If the air becomes too dry, it’s not uncommon for orchid blooms to fall off. Therefore, you may need to artificially increase humidity around the plant.

The pebble tray method (filling a tray with pebbles and water) or a humidifier can both help solve this issue and keep the blooms on your orchid.

As you can see, orchid bloom loss or bud blast can have any of these reasons, so when you’re tackling this issue, it’s important to check all of these issues, so you can correctly identify the exact cause and remedy the problem.

Orchid Care After Blooming

A normal part of the orchid life cycle is the ‘resting period’ after the blooms wilt and fall off. This resting period serves as a way for the plant to gather strength for a new blooming cycle.

Just because your orchid is resting, however, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to care for it anymore.

On the contrary, plant maintenance is still required, although you do need to make some changes in your routine.

Here’s what you should do:

  • If your orchid needs repotting, now it’s a good time to do that. When repotting, check the roots and remove any diseased or damaged ones. Sterilize the pot and add fresh potting medium. Water the repotted plant.
  • Reduce watering but do continue to water your orchid regularly.
  • Reduce the frequency of fertilizing, use a weaker solution until new growths emerge. Once this happens, resume fertilizing with a full-strength fertilizer.
  • Remove flower spikes of spent flowers if they turn brown or yellow, as they no longer serve any purpose.
  • Move the plant to a slightly colder location, where temperatures are between 65 F and 75 F. Keeping it in a cooler room for a couple of weeks can help retrigger blooming. After a couple of weeks, you can return your orchid to a warmer room to help it bloom again.
  • Your orchid still needs light, so maintain the same lighting conditions as if the plant were still in bloom.

Therefore, if blooms simply fall off as a natural consequence of the plant entering a resting period, you needn’t worry. Follow the plant care recommendations I outlined above, and you’ll notice new growths emerging and eventually new buds forming on flower spikes.

How Long Do Orchid Flowers Last?

Phalaenopsis orchids are known for their long-lasting, colorful blooms. Depending on environmental conditions and how you look after your plant, blooms may last anywhere from 2 to 3 months.

This is a fairly long time, which is why these plants are so popular as indoor houseplants. After the flowers on your orchid plant wilt and fall off, you should make the plant care adjustment changes I suggested above. These will prepare your orchid for a new blooming period.

Likewise, if the blooms on your orchid fall off prematurely, revisit the basics of orchid plant care, namely those that relate to watering, light conditions, humidity, and temperature.

Also, make sure that you check your plant for pests and diseases that may also affect the lifespan of its blooms.

Conclusion

The blooms or buds on your orchid can fall off for reasons that have to do with the normal life cycle of your plant. This is normal and it shouldn’t be cause for alarm — your orchid will bloom again after a resting period.

When blooms or buds fall off prematurely, the reason is always a change in the environment of your plant. You must check each and every potential cause to zero in on the most probable explanation.

Once the cause is identified, you can remedy it and help your orchid resume its blooming.

Updated: October 19, 2020

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