‘Number one reason’ is orchid is failing to bloom – how to fix

‘Number one reason’ is orchid is failing to bloom – how to fix


Alan Titchmarsh details method for keeping orchids flowering

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It can be terribly frustrating and a bit disappointing to spend lots of time caring for your orchid just to watch it sprout buds that shrivel up and fall off – or never even bud at all.  If your orchid isn’t blooming, don’t panic. There are a few key reasons why your houseplant isn’t bursting into bloom, and you can usually encourage your plant to flower by making some simple adjustments in your orchid care routine. Claire, orchid expert at Orchid Resource Center, has shared her top eight reasons why an orchid isn’t blooming and professional tips on how to coax your plant into its best bloom season yet. 

Reason one: Not enough light

Light is very important to help your orchid produce the new leaf it needs for producing a flower spike. Claire warned: “Inadequate light conditions may be the number-one reason orchids fail to bloom or rebloom. Most popular indoor orchid types, such as phalaenopsis, dendrobium, cattleya, and cymbidium orchids, require bright, indirect light to bloom.

“Ideally, place your plant out of the path of direct rays, but make sure it’s in a sunny room. For many orchid plants, south or east-facing windows are best. The expert noted that if orchids are kept in a dim room with little natural light, such as an office or north-facing room, they may need a grow light to encourage healthy and consistent bloom. “

Reason two: Exposure to direct sunlight 

Orchids are very sensitive to light conditions. In their natural habitat, orchids typically enjoy dappled sunshine, and they’re mostly protected by thick tropical canopies. 

If an orchid is positioned in full, direct sunlight, gardeners may notice “sunburned or bleached leaves”, according to Claire. She said: “This is a symptom that will likely prevent bloom since your orchid will spend its valuable resources on healing rather than budding. If your orchid is positioned in full sun, you can simply move it a few feet back from the window or hang a sheer curtain to filter direct sun rays.”

Reason three: A lack of varying temperatures

The orchid expert said: “Orchids produce big, long-lasting blooms when they’re able to engage in normal energy cycles. Typically, orchids produce energy in the form of carbohydrates during the day when temperatures are high, and rest at night when the temperatures typically drop.”

She suggested that if orchids are not getting adequate light and still are not blooming, try dropping the temperature a bit at night. Claire noted: “The lower-temperature resting period is essential for triggering healthy, full blooms.”

Reason four: The orchid has outgrown its pot

When orchid growing mix breaks down, their roots may not get proper ventilation. This can prevent bloom and affect the overall health of your orchid since epiphytes require air to “survive and thrive”. 

Choosing when to repot your orchid can be tricky. Some plants may not bloom for six months to a year after repotting. And some orchids actually prefer to be root-bound and will bloom best when they’re tightly contained in their pots. 

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Claire advised: “The best way to determine if your orchid needs a new pot is to evaluate its root system, as opposed to its foliage or stems. If your orchid’s roots appear brown, mushy, or densely packed, it’s time to give your orchid a new pot. Additionally, if some roots are protruding from the soil and growing over the pot’s edge, your orchid may need some more room to grow. When you repot, you can divide your orchid plant to maintain blooming vigor and encourage additional growth.”

Choose an orchid pot that’s slightly bigger than the last. Giving your orchid too much room to grow suffocates its roots in the growing mix and can be detrimental to its bloom cycle.

Reason five: Overwatering orchids

If you’re overwatering your orchid, it will drop its buds and – what’s worse – it may be close to dying. Gardeners will want to avoid letting their orchid sit in wet growing mix since its delicate root systems are prone to root rot. 

The houseplant pro said: “As a general orchid-watering rule, always err on the side of under-watering. Keeping an eye on the root system can pay dividends too. If your orchid’s roots are turning brown or appear mushy, you’re watering too much. A good orchid potting mix is key to draining excess water and encouraging a healthy plant that’s ready to bloom. If the growing mix allows for excellent drainage, your orchid will be less likely to suffer from root rot.”

Reason six: Underwatering orchids

Of course, there is such a thing as under-watering your orchid. Like all plants, orchids need access to water. If your plant is thirsty all the time, it won’t bloom. Orchids that become too dry will begin drawing water from developing buds in an attempt to self-preserve. 

Claire urged: “Remember, orchids are mostly tropical plants that enjoy jungle-like conditions. Even though their roots won’t hold up to over-watering, orchids love humid air and are subject to gentle rain showers in the wild.” Be sure to place your orchid on a humidity tray so it can bask in the moisture-filled air even if you’ve skipped a watering. 

Reason seven: It isn’t your orchid’s blooming season yet

Each orchid type has its own bloom cycle. Some orchids bloom in spring and summer, while others prefer to show their blooms in autumn or even during the winter. 

For example, the expert explained that vanda orchids bloom two to three times per year, and each bloom cycle can last up to six weeks. On the other hand, cattleya and cymbidium orchids only bloom once a year, but their stunning shapes make them popular choices for orchid growers. 

Buying an orchid plant in bloom isn’t necessarily a good indicator of its blooming season. Growers and producers can easily induce bloom in greenhouses by manipulating light and temperature conditions. Make sure you know the bloom cycles of your particular orchid. A little research can save you months of wondering why your plant isn’t flowering. 

Reason eight: Incorrect fertiliser being used

Orchids aren’t heavy feeders. Their root systems are complex and delicate, unlike the root systems of other, more traditional houseplants. But don’t forget that your orchid needs food and nourishment to bloom and thrive indoors. 

The plant pro said: “Regular fertilisers can be too harsh and burn your plant, so the best orchid fertiliser will be gentle and specially designed for your orchid. If you’re looking for the perfect orchid fertiliser, we recommend our easy-to-use Premium Orchid Food. 

“We’ve diluted the standard orchid fertiliser ratio so you can safely fertilise your orchid at every watering without burning its roots. Our fertiliser spray is formulated to supply the correct nutrients to your orchids and requires no mixing or measuring. Just spray and watch those blooms explode.”

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