Orchid Dead or Alive?
May 15, 2012 8:41 AM   Subscribe

My orchid stems are turning from green to yellow, and all the flowers are falling off. Is this normal?

I wouldn't expect the flowers in bloom to last forever, and they have been there since about March. But now all the stems are turning from green to yellow, and the flowers are falling off. I just wonder if this is normal for orchids, and whether the plant may be still alive.
posted by shipbreaker to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Can you post a picture? There are lots of different types of orchids, but if if the leaves are still green its probably normal that the stem and flowers come off when they're done.

What will happen is it will grow a new stem with new flowers.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 8:43 AM on May 15, 2012


If it's a phalenopsis (moth orchid - the kind you see for sale pretty much everywhere these days), about the only thing to watch is that the roots don't get too much water. I made this mistake with the first one I had. It had come planted in sphagnum moss, which is good for shipping them around as it will hold water, but not so good over the long term. My first real sign of trouble after the expected drying/dropping off of the blooms was that the leaves started yellowing and coming off the base.

I replaced it with a couple of more and was pleased to see that the grower had done the needful, using an easy-to-drain container (standing water will also rot the roots in a hurry) and real orchid potting mix (which is mostly little pieces of bark).
posted by jquinby at 9:11 AM on May 15, 2012


...also, yes, there is a blooming cycle and a growing cycle. The blooms will drop and you can either cut the spike off down low or leave a couple of inches (above a node) and see if a new spike comes out of it. In either case, once it's done blooming, it'll grow some, possibly need repotting (though the phals apparently like being a bit root-bound) and rest until next year, when it will hopefully bloom again. More on phal care.
posted by jquinby at 9:14 AM on May 15, 2012


Sphagnum is actually pretty good for those so long as you don't overwater or its not old and broken down.

A good trick to avoid overwatering is to use a wooden skewer so that you can see if the middle is still wet before re-watering (you don't want to dry it out so its like hay but you don't want it really wet).

Also make sure it gets some sunlight - if the leaves start getting black spots or going yellow it might be too much.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:16 AM on May 15, 2012


I got a Phal from a neighbor who works at our local nursery. After discovering that they do not, in fact, enjoy being out in the rain; Frantic searching led me to the fact that at least Phals can be 'tricked' into reblooming.

Force a dormancy stage by placing the orchid bulb in a ziplock bag in the produce drawer of your refrigerator for 120 days. After this time, repot and the phal should give you another blooming season.

I've done this with my Phal, but cannot attest to its efficacy for other varieties.
posted by schade at 9:25 AM on May 15, 2012


Force a dormancy stage by placing the orchid bulb in a ziplock bag in the produce drawer of your refrigerator for 120 days. After this time, repot and the phal should give you another blooming season.

Wouldn't it die from lack of light?
posted by dnash at 10:21 AM on May 15, 2012


I've recently come into several phals, because my mom works at a grocery store that likes to sell them and people don't like to buy them and they just get tossed, so she rescues them.

I'm pretty green-thumby but apparently partially stupid w/ them. Of my current 3, all have either dropped or are dropping blossoms and the stem is turning yellow, I'm SUPER glad you asked this because I was worrying.

HOWEVER, just about everyone in my office has a phal in their office (lots of plants, awesome boss is a Master Gardener) and everyones (especially hers) blossoms more than once a year. I believe it's currently got buds for the third time since she got it (about a year ago.) She also manages to get them to retain blossoms for a very, very long time.
posted by TomMelee at 4:34 PM on May 15, 2012


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