Herself's Houseplants

Killing plants so you don't have to

Help for orchids




What to do if your orchid is not doing well?

I find the most common orchid problems are scale, too little sun, or too little water.

With the exception of Phalaenopsis most orchids need a fair bit of sun. You can tell by the color of the leaves, too dark means too little sun. Too pale, or red edges or beige-bleached out leaves mean too much light. Orchid leaves are generally a medium green.

If you put your orchid outdoors to give it more light, put it under a tree. They can not handle direct sunlight.

If the pseudo roots are white or dry instead of green the orchid needs more humidity and likely to be watered more often. If you have your orchid planted in bark move it to sphagnum moss. Doing this cures 90% of orchid problems. You can find the moss at nurseries. It has even been know to raise orchids from the dead.

If the pseudo bulb is wrinkled, the leaves have folds or creases it needs more water. Replant it in moss.

If you have scale or other pests, take your orchid to the sink and wash it off. A little soapy water does fine. You may have to scrape the scale off with your fingernail. Use rubbing alcohol to clean off the stickiness. Then spray with water that has a little liquid dish soap and oil mixed in to it. Any oil handy in the kitchen will work. Do this every time you water the plant until it is free of pests.

I do not fertilize my orchids often. I do so when I re-pot them and maybe twice a year.

Do not under any circumstances cut the flower spike to save the orchid. It will not help and anyone who told you to do that is either mean or clueless. You bought the orchid for the flowers, enjoy them.

Do not let water sit in the folds of Phalaenopsis. It will die and it will do so very quickly. If you get water in there while watering, use a towel to gently dry out that area.

curled orchid stalk

curled orchid stalk


I’ve been busy so I didn’t catch this sooner. The orchid stalk was caught and curled. The plant bloomed anyhow. I’ve freed the stalk, I don’t know how much it will straighten? I had recently brought it in for the winter. It could be the lower light, humidity or water that caused the problem or just a fluke.

See also:
Use sphagnum moss to make your plants easier to care for