Orchid Bud Blast: Top 5 Causes For Drying Or Dying Flower Buds

Orchids are very tough plants, but there are times that these stunning plants can absolutely break your heart, especially when you get excited about the forming flower buds, only to watch in horror as they dry and fall from the plant before they can open.

This is called orchid bud blast. The flower buds die off before they open, sometimes turning brown or yellow, but drying up and falling from the flower spike all the same.

There are many reasons why it can happen. The good news is that once you know how it can happen, you can prevent orchid blast from decimating the gorgeous flowers in the future.

Let’s get started.

Top Causes Of Bud Blast In Orchids

When you have a look down this list, you might see a common theme: drastic changes or sudden differences in the growing conditions can cause bud blast! 

Let’s take a look.

Moisture Levels Are VERY Wrong

If you keep your orchid too wet or too dry, this will cause the orchid buds to fall from the plant. 

This is especially true for moth orchids, also known as Phalaenopsis, as they don’t have pseudobulbs that other orchids do. 

Pseudobulbs act as a water and nutrient storage organ within the potting media, and it means that the plant can rely on this when conditions are less than ideal to survive.

As moth orchids don’t have pseudobulbs, they cannot weather dry spells, and drying out completely will cause bud blast and a host of problems.

Like many plants, when going dry for too long, moth orchids will draw upon the water in their flower buds to survive.

On the opposite end of things, bud blast can also happen when the potting mix stays wet for far too long. 

When there is too much moisture, the roots become damaged, and unable to take up the water they need. 

This dehydrates the plant, so it does the same thing as it would with no water in the potting mix: it uses the water in the buds to try and survive the dry spell.

Too Little Or Too Much Light

Orchid bud blast can happen when there is a dramatic change in the amount of light your orchid is getting.

A good example of this is when you’ve just brought a plant home from a garden center where it was in good light, and then you put it in a darker area in your home.

Frustratingly, giving your plant too much light, especially direct sunlight, can cause the buds to dry out and drop from the plant.

Temperature Extremes

Orchids are extremely sensitive to dramatic temperature changes, even in situations you might not imagine! 

If you’ve ever bought an orchid and carried it to your car or home in temperatures that are much colder than in the store, this can cause bud blast! 

This is even true when you are carrying it in a shopping bag. The cold air will still get to the plant, even if that’s just for a minute.

Depending on how cold it is when you get the plant outside, this may be one or two buds that fall from the plant, or it may be more. 

Bud blast caused by temperature changes can also happen in your home, too. If you keep the plant in a drafty area, or near sources of heat, this can cause the buds to fall from the plant.

If you have your orchids next to a high-traffic area that you walk past all the time, or near a door or window that gets opened a lot of the time, this can also cause bud blast.

If you like to summer your orchids outdoors, if you bring it back indoors when it has buds on the plant, this can result in bud blast if there are significant changes in temperature.

Not Enough Humidity

Moth orchids are humidity loving plants, and in very dry rooms, especially during winter, they can drop their flowers.

Try to increase the humidity for orchids where you can, especially if you have the heating on, or your home is drafty, as both cause dry air.


Pests on your plants are always an annoyance, but when it comes to orchids, they can also cause the buds to drop from the plant. 

A lot of plant pests suck out the moisture from the soft tissue of the plant to feed, and this includes the flower buds. This causes the buds to shrivel and dry up before they have a chance to bloom.

Pest damage such as this can cause bud blast, and not only that, but any blooms that do open may misshapen.

Check the leaves, including the undersides, the stems, and the flowers regularly for signs of pests. The sooner you can treat pests, the healthier your plant will remain, and the faster your orchid will recover.

How You Can Prevent Orchid Bud Blast

Orchids don’t like dramatic changes in their growing conditions, and any sudden sort of change within their environment can cause orchid buds to drop off from the flower stalk before they have a chance to open.

Keep The Environment As Stable As Possible

As you might imagine, to prevent bud blast, you need to maintain the growing conditions as stable as possible.

Keep your orchid somewhere bright, with no drastically dropping temperatures, drafts, or sources of heat. 

Ensure that you keep an eye on the moisture levels, not waiting to water your orchid when it is absolutely desperate for a drink, trying not to water it too much, either.

Never water an orchid with cold water, as this will shock the roots and cause the buds to fall off.

If you can keep your plant as healthy as possible, this will help avoid pests, as the damage they cause can lead to bud blast, but it isn’t enough on its own. 

Always quarantine new plants away from your existing plants for a couple of weeks, and this will ensure you will limit any pest infestations.

Final Thoughts

Orchids can weather different conditions, but if you let the changes be too dramatic or sudden, the plant will not be able to cope. 

The key to orchid care is to keep the conditions as stable as possible, giving the plant conditions that are balanced well: between enough light, plenty of water, airflow, and humidity.

If one care element is out of kilter, it affects the others, and causes problems such as bud blast, root rot, and pests. 

Leave a Comment