Most often, the reason for orchids wilting is because of overwatering or the potting medium is too compacted and retains too much moisture. Orchids require good drainage and need air to circulate around the roots. If the potting soil is saturated this causes roots to die and results in orchid leaves and flowers wilting.
It should be noted that orchids are sensitive to environmental change and wilting is a sign of stress and there are several reasons for orchids to wilt.
To revive wilting it is important to create the conditions of their optimal environment with higher levels of humidity, indirect sunlight, watering around once per week and planting orchids a pine based potting medium to allow for good drainage and air to circulate around the roots.
Here are the most common reasons for orchids wilting:
|Environmental Conditions:||Reasons for Orchids Wilting:|
|Low Humidity:||Moth orchids are adapted to living in tropical forests with at least 65% humidity. Low humidity causes stress and wilting leaves and flowers.|
|Temperature:||Orchids preferred temperature range is 55°F (12°C) and 75°F (23°C) and if the temperature is too hot or cold the orchid wilts.|
|Drought Stress:||Orchids usually need watering once per week with a good soak. Watering too lightly causes drought and results in wilting leaves and flowers.|
|Air Currents:||Air conditioning and convection currents from sources of heat, sap moisture from the leaves and cause the orchid to wilt.|
|Overwatering:||Too much moisture around the roots from overwatering causes the roots to rot and die, which means there are fewer roots to transport water and nutrients to the leaves causing them to turn yellow and wilt.|
|Wrong Potting Medium:||Moss and potting soil can retain too much moisture around the orchid’s roots, causing root rot and resulting in wilting leaves. Pine bark is the best potting medium for orchids.|
|Orchid Planted in the Same Potting Medium for Too Long:||All potting mediums can decompose which means the potting medium’s structure becomes less aerated over time and can retain too much moisture, depriving the roots of oxygen and causing the orchid to wilt as a sign of stress.|
|Orchid Planted in Pots Without Drainage Holes in the Base:||Pots without drainage holes and saucers or trays underneath pots cause excess water to pool around the roots of the orchid, which promotes the conditions for root rot and results in a wilting orchid.|
|Transplant Shock After Repotting:||Orchids are sensitive to environmental change and often wilt as a sign of stress due to a sudden contrast in conditions if they are moved or repotted.|
|Orchid Repotting at the Wrong Time of Year:||The best time to repot orchids is in the Spring or just after the orchid has flowered. Repotting during flowering or during the Winter dormancy can cause the orchid leaves and flowers to wilt as a sign of stress.|
Keep reading for why your orchid is wilting and how to implement the solutions to these problems to revive your wilting orchid…
Orchid Leaves and Flowers Wilting
The reasons for orchid leaves wilting are because of low humidity, excessively hot or cold temperatures, drought stress or overwatering. Wilting and yellowing orchid leaves indicates the orchid is overwatered or the potting medium retains too much moisture.
Orchids grow best in a temperature range of 55°F (12°C) and 75°F (23°C).
Whilst orchids can tolerate occasional temperatures that fall outside of this range, a prolonged period of hot or cold temperatures, results in the leaves and flowers wilting due to stress.
The most common reason for orchid flowers wilting is because of temperature fluctuations and low humidity. Orchids flowers are very sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, particularly cold snaps and the flowers can wilt and drop off as a result.
If your orchid is on a window sill, and perhaps the leaves are even in contact with the window, then the window frame can be a much cooler temperature then the rest of the room and the cold shock can cause the orchid leaves and flowers to wilt.
The most common types of houseplant orchids (moth orchids ‘phalaenopsis‘) are native to tropical climates where they grow in climates with humidity of 65% or more.
It is often the case that the air houses are much lower then 65% humidity and air currents such as air conditioning, draughty areas or convention currents from sources of heat can all create an environment that is too low in humidity for orchids which can causes the leaves and flowers to wilt.
Low humidity as well as cold temperature is also often the cause of flowers and buds wilting and dropping off.
Orchids require a really generous soak every time you water them or the leaves can wilt and shrivel. Typically watering once a week is enough to meet the watering requirements of the orchid and not risk root rot.
If you water orchids too lightly then only the top inch of the potting medium becomes moist and the water does not reach the roots where it is required and causes the leaves and flowers to wilt.
Orchids Wilting Due to Overwatering
Moth orchids (the most common type of houseplant orchid) are epipthyes which means they grow on other trees or in loose gravelly soil in their native forest environment.
This means that orchid roots grow conditions in which air can circulate around the roots and water drains away very quickly, rather then the roots sat in consistently damp, compacted soil.
This is why pine bark based potting mediums are best for growing orchids as they replicate the areaeted, well draining conditions to which the orchids roots are adapted.
Orchids are very sensitive to overwatering and their roots being in soil that retains too much moisture and restricts the flow of oxygen around the roots which results in the roots rotting and dying and they can no longer transport water and nutrients to the leaves which causes them to wilt and turn yellow.
If you are watering orchids more then twice per week then you are likely over watering orchids.
Orchids can also wilt and suffer the symptoms of overwatering if they are planted in pots without drainage holes in the base or because the saucers or trays underneath the pot is retaining water which causes the potting medium to stay consistently damp and causes root rot.
(Read my article, why is my orchid dying for how to save orchids with root rot).
Orchids Wilting Due to Being in the Same Potting Medium for Too Long
Orchid leaves can wilt if they have been in the same potting medium for too long. Orchids require a loose, open structure to the potting medium to allow air to circulate around the roots and for good drainage. Potting mixes decompose over time and retain too much moisture and exclude oxygen.
Even if the orchid is planted in the ideal wood bark based potting medium this can become a problem.
Organic matter breaks down over time (just like a compost heap) even if it is protected indoors. Therefore the pine bark, moss or any other orchid potting medium that exists, breaks down to the point it no longer has the same open, well draining structure that orchids require.
Once the potting medium has decomposed it can retain much more water and suffocate the roots which need more air and even light then most plants.
If the roots are deprived of oxygen because the potting medium has decomposed or they are surrounding by material that retains too much water, then the orchid roots can die back which results in the leaves and flowers wilting.
Therefore it is best practice to repot your orchid in new potting pine bark based mix every 2 years to ensure the orchid roots stay healthy and prevent the leaves from wilting.
How to Revive a Orchids with Wilting Leaves and Flowers
To revive a wilting orchid it is important to recreate the conditions of their natural environment with high humidity, warm temperatures, bright indirect sunlight ensure the orchid is planted in a pine bark potted medium and water orchids with a good soak once every 7-10 days.
Wilting leaves and flowers are a sign of stress due to the environment not being to the orchid’s liking, so saving your wilting orchid is usually about determining what environmental stress is causing the wilting and correcting any conditions to create the optimal environment in your home for your orchid.
- Locate orchids in a room that stays between 55°F (12°C) and 75°F (23°C) and ensure that temperature does not fluctuate too drastically. Keep orchids away from cold windows, which can be much cooler then the rest of the room, particularly at night.
- Orchids prefer bright indirect light or filtered light so keep the orchid put of direct sunlight and out of a dark corner of the room.
- Spray your orchids with a mist sprayer at least once every few days. In particularly arid climates, spray orchid leaves and flowers every other day to help maintain the optimal level of humidity and to prevent the orchid from loosing too much moisture from the leaves and roots (which can result in wilting wrinkled leaves and flowers dropping off).
- Keep orchids out the way of draughts, sources of heat and air conditioning. Air currents dry out orchids leaves and flowers. Think about whether your orchid is too close to a radiator or in the path of air conditioning and locate it in a less draughty place.
- Typically orchids prefer to be watered once every 7 days in Spring and Summer and once every 10-14 days in Fall and Winter. Watering orchids too often excludes oxygen from the potting medium and which interferes with the roots ability to draw up moisture and nutrients which causes the leaves to wilt. Scale back the watering and if the leaves are wilting and turning yellow read my article how to save an orchid with yellow leaves.
- Replant the orchid in a pine bark based potting medium. Moth orchids (the most common type of orchid houseplant) require an areaeted potting medium and wilt and die if they are in potting soil and sometimes even moss as it retains too much moisture. Pine bark has a large particle size which allows the roots to access the oxygen and moisture that they require and mimics the sort of growing medium of orchids in their native environment.
- Ensure your orchid is planted in a pot with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to drain away from the roots and empty any saucers and trays of water regularly, so they potting medium can dry out between bouts of watering.
- Replace the potting medium every 2 years as decomposed organic matter has a structure that can suffocate orchid roots and retains too much moisture. Replace the potting mix with a specially made orchid pine bark based potting medium, as this has the optimal structure to allow airflow around the roots and does not retain too much moisture. This keeps the orchids roots healthy, so they can transport water and nutrients to the leaves which prevents them from wilting.
- Always water orchids with a generous soak rather then a light watering. To revive a wilting orchid due to drought stress, place the orchid in a basin of water for 5 minutes to ensure the potting medium is evenly moist and for the roots to draw up the water they require. Keep misting the leaves often and place the orchid in a cool room out of direct sunlight to help it revive.
Once the orchid flowers have wilted or dropped off it can takes some time before they revive.
Orchid Leaves tend to revive more quickly once you have amended the conditions to be more favorable for the orchid.
If you are unsure about watering orchids read my article, how to water orchids to learn about watering at different times of year and if your orchid appears to be dying read my article, how to revive a dying orchid.
Orchid Wilting After Repotting
|Reasons:||Orchids Wilting After Repotting:|
|Orchids Repotted in Wrong Potting Medium:||Most orchids should be planted in a pine based potting mix as it has an aerated structure and drains easily. Moss and soil based potting mediums retain too much moisture and do not have the open soil structure orchids require.|
|Pots Without Drainage Holes in the Base:||Pots without drainage holes cause water to pool around the roots of your orchid and deprive the roots of oxygen which causes root rot resulting in wilting leaves.|
|Transplant Shock:||Orchid leaves and flowers wilt as a sign of stress due to a sudden contrast in growing conditions (such as light, air flow or temperature) when they are moved.|
|Roots System Shocked:||Being repotted disturbs the established root system which can be a significant trauma and prevent the orchid roots from uptaking moisture temporarily causing the leaves and flowers to wilt.|
|Repotted Orchid at the Wrong time of Year:||Orchids should be repotted either in the Spring or after they have flowered. If you repot them in Winter dormancy or whilst blooming, this can cause the leaves and flowers to wilt.|
The reason for orchids wilting after repotting is because of transplant shock, planting the orchid in the wrong potting medium or overwatering. Orchids are sensitive to environmental changes and require time to adjust to a new set of conditions, often wilting temporarily as a sign of stress.
The most common reason orchids wilt after repotting is that they are replanted in the wrong type of potting medium that is too compacted, retains too much moisture and excludes air from around the roots.
Orchids are epiphytes which means they grow on other trees in a forest canopy.
Therefore they are adapted to a growing medium that drains quickly and allows air to circulate around the roots.
Regular potting soil retains too much moisture and does not have an areaeted structure, that allows oxygen to reach the roots as easily which can prevent effective root respiration (and causes wilting orchid leaves).
Moss is also often used as a potting medium for orchids, however it can retain too much moisture for the orchids roots to tolerate, particularly when it decomposes, causing the roots to die back which results in orchid leaves wilting and turning yellow.
Whilst the exact set up of a forest canopy is too difficult and impractical to replicate indoors, planting orchids in pine bark is the best way to mimic the orchids natural conditions as size of each pine bark piece is large enough to create enough space throughout the potting medium, so that air can freely circulate around the roots and water can drain efficiently to prevent root rot.
Also consider that when repotting your orchid, ensure your new pot has drainage holes in the base and that any saucers or trays underneath the pot are emptied of excess water regularly.
Orchids Leaves and Flower Wilting Due to Transplant Shock After Repotting
Often when people repot their orchids they may move the orchid to a different location, which is a common reason why they wilt.
Orchids become adapted to their current surroundings and if their growing conditions suddenly change they often react by wilting temporarily depending on the contrast in conditions.
Orchids prefer a consistent watering schedule (which should be adjusted according to the time of year) sunlight and like to be kept away from any draughts or significant temperature fluctuations.
If you have repotted your orchid and move it, then the orchid has to contend with a different environmental conditions and suffer an interference with the root system which can cause the roots to not uptake water as efficiently temporarily whilst the plant adjust to the conditions in its new pot and potting medium.
If the roots cannot uptake moisture as efficiently and you have moved the orchid to room with a higher average temperature or a location with more sun then the orchid wilts due to dehydration.
How to Revive Orchids Wilting After Repotting
To revive wilting orchids after repotting it is important to grow orchids in the optimal conditions and water with a good soak after repotting to help the roots draw up water and adjust to the new potting medium. Locate the orchid is in partial shade and in cool conditions to help it recover from wilting.
- Ensure that your orchid is planted in a pine bark based potting medium rather then moss or soil. Moth orchids require an aerated potting medium to allow oxygen to circulate around the roots and to ensure good drainage to prevent root rot so always use pine bark based potting medium to create the optimal aerated soil structure for your orchids roots.
- Plant orchids in pots with drainage holes in the base, clear plastic pots are often best. Orchid roots are capable of photosynthesis (which is unusual for plants) so a clear plastic pot can allow light to the roots and help revive the orchid whilst the leaves are wilting.
- Empty saucers and trays regularly to ensure that excess water is not pooling underneath the orchid pot and to ensure good drainage.
- Ensure that the orchid is in a location of bright, indirect light, within a temperature range of 55°F (12°C) and 75°F (23°C), in a room that does not have any significant air currents, mist the leaves and flowers once every 2 days to increase the level of humidity to prevent water loss from the leaves and water with a really good soak once per week, so that the potting medium is consistently moist. A wilting orchid should eventually revive if it is placed in these optimal conditions.
- A disturbance to the roots of your orchid is a significant trauma and they can often wilt temporarily. After repotting place your orchid in a basin of water for 5 minutes to ensure the potting medium gets a really good soak and spray the leaves with mist, perhaps as often as every day to reduce further water loss from the leaves. Roots often struggle to uptake moisture after repotting so it is important that the orchid gets a good soak, so that the roots can stay hydrated to prevent the leaves wilting.
- The mist spray helps to create a humid micro-climate that mimics the humid conditions of the orchids native tropical forest environment and prevents the orchid losing too much moisture from the leaves to revive the orchids leaves form a shriveling and wilting appearance.
By creating the orchids optimal conditions and essentially emulating the orchids native environment your orchid should be able to revive after repotting.
(Read my article choosing the best pots for orchids).
- A wilting orchid is because the plant is stressed due to low humidity, excessively high or low temperatures, too much or not enough water or because the potting medium retains too much moisture around the roots. Orchid leaves wilt and turn yellow due to root rot.
- To revive a wilting orchid, recreate the conditions of its native environment by misting leaves and flowers often to increase humidity, ensure it is in the correct temperature range, plant the orchid in a pine based potting medium and water the orchid once per week with a thorough watering.
- Orchid flowers wilt as a result of a sudden change in temperature and humidity or because of root rot due to overwatering or a potting medium that retains too much moisture. Orchids require a temperature range of 55°F and 75°F and a high humidity to prevent flowers wilting.
- The reason for orchids wilting after repotting is because of transplant shock due to a contrast in conditions or drought stress. Orchids wilt due to a sudden change in humidity, temperature or airflow. Orchid roots need time to adjust to new potting soil to be able to draw up moisture to prevent wilting leaves.