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Botanic Garden > Question and Answer > Plant Species > Orchids > Dying orchid...what to do?

Dying orchid...what to do?

2016/8/3 11:06:03

QUESTION: My husband bought an orchid for me for Valentine's Day but I have NO idea what kind. The petals are whitish-yellow with pink and a dark pink center. I have watered it once a week and it is in my shower where there is periodic humidity (I have a large tile "shelf" so that it sits back a few feet from the water). There is only indirect light and no direct sun. The buds are turning brown and falling off. I noticed this morning as well that one of the leaves underneath is yellow/brown and sick-looking. Any help would be appreciated!
ANSWER: Hello Cobi,

That was nice of your husband to buy you that orchid. Too bad you do not know what kind of orchid it is, that would help in answering your question. At any rate, I will try my best to help save it.

From your description of where you have it growing, it may be that some water has gotten onto the orchid leaves and that may be what is causing the leaves to look sick. Water left on the leaves can be a prime breeding environment for fungus and bacteria, especially over night in the dark. Look at the sick looking leaves to see if there is some black sooty looking stuff on them, especially at the base of the leaf where it is connected to the plant center. If there is, that is fungus and the cause of the problem. There is nothing you can do to save those leaves that are affected but you can prevent this from happening to the remaining leaves by making sure there is no water on them before nightfall.

As for the flowers, it just may be they have finished their life cycle. Depending upon what kind of orchid you have, the flowers can last from a few days to several months or even longer under ideal conditions.

Hope this helped. If you have other questions or happen to locate the kind of orchid you have, write back along with where you live so I can offer some growing suggestions.

Jim Kawasaki
San Jose, Ca.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I figured out that it was a phalaenopsis orchid and it has since gotten worse. Probably because I have been so hopeless about reviving it! It is now brown/black and crinkly except for one stem with a bloom that won't bloom! I moved it from the shower so that it would not get any water on the leaves. I live in Carlsbad, California. Am I not watering it enough?

Hi Cobi,

I'm afraid I've got bad news for you. If the leaves are becoming crinkly with some brown/black to them, it sounds like your phalaenopsis orchid is beyond saving and a candidate for the trash bin. There is a very remote chance to save it but would require quite a bit of work by you and it may still not survive.

Living in Carlsbad, California you live in one of the better places on this earth to grow many different kinds of orchids, many of which can be grown outdoors year round, especially if your home is within five miles of the coast. By the way, there are a number of commercial orchid nurseries near Carlsbad with many more down near San Diego and up towards L.A.

Sorry I could not be of more help.

Jim Kawasaki
San Jose, Ca.

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