Orchid Flowers Dying: Important Things You Need To Know

It can be a little worrying to watch your orchid flowers fade. They usually open for such a long time that the plant looks utterly bare and sad without them, and you may be worried that there is something wrong with your plant!

While losing flowers can be a sign that something is wrong in the growing conditions, this isn’t always the case.

Here’s what you need to know about orchid flowers dying (see also How To Fix A Dying Orchid).

Why You Should Avoid Buying Any Plant In Full Bloom

Before we get started, it’s a good idea to mention that you should avoid buying any plant when it is in full bloom. That is, when there are no flower buds left and the flowers are completely open.

This doesn’t just apply to orchids, but to a whole range of plants.

If you’ve gone to a houseplant shop or even a garden center before, you may see the more seasoned plant enthusiast looking through a specific display, putting back any that are fully in flower, and only picking up those that aren’t.

There is a reason! You have no idea how long the plant has been in bloom for, and there is a good chance that the flowers will fade pretty quickly.

That doesn’t mean the plant is dying (unless it’s a bromeliad), but you won’t get to enjoy them for long. 

The Lifecycle Of An Orchid

With any plant, it’s a good idea to know the lifecycle of that particular species, as it makes it easier to distinguish a natural process from a problem.

Flower Spike Forms

Orchids will bloom every year, producing new flower spikes during that time, provided that the plant has everything it needs to thrive.

Orchid Blooms Die Off

Once the plant has put on its dramatic and beautiful display, the flowers fall off, and the spike may shrivel, or it may stay on the plant. 

It’s a good idea to cut these off the plant once it has finished blooming, as the plant will produce a fresh spike in the following year.

New Roots And Leaves Produced

Once the flowers have finished, Moth orchids will produce fresh roots, and maybe one or two leaves in an entire year (see also How To Revive A Droopy Moth Orchid). 

Things To Remember When Your Orchid Flowers Die

No Flowers Last Forever

One of the things that makes flowers so beautiful is that they don’t last forever. While orchid flowers can last for months, they will eventually die. 

The flowers at the bottom of the orchid spike will fade first, as those are the ones that open first, and this will continue up the flower spike.

If the plant has the right conditions, you can expect each flower to last anywhere between a month and two months.

If there aren’t many flowers on the spike, this may even stretch to longer.

Orchid Flowers You’ve Triggered Last Longer

When you get a Moth orchid to survive its first year (and this is an achievement in itself when you are first learning how to keep orchids), when it grows its next flower spike, you may notice that the new spike will produce flowers that last longer than if you bought a plant with an existing flower spike.

This is mainly because you have no way of telling when the first spike formed, or how long the plant has been in bloom for before you bought it. 

So when the new flowers open, try to remember how long they last for, so you have an idea of how long the flowers should last in the unique growing conditions you give your plant.

This sort of knowledge is invaluable, as it gives you a baseline for what is normal for your plant, and what isn’t.

Typically, Moth orchids will produce flower stalks in the last few weeks of fall or the first few weeks of winter, and should continue to flower through spring.

Bud Blast: Orchid Flowers Dying Before They Open

If you notice with a sinking stomach that your orchid flowers are falling from the plant before they even open, this is known as bud blast.

This is usually caused by dramatic changes in the growing conditions, or inconsistent orchid care to the point where the plant drops its buds to redirect the plant’s energy into surviving.

One of the biggest reasons bud blast occurs is huge changes in temperature. Cold drafts, for example, will cause bud blast, but there are other reasons for this, too.

Final Thoughts

All orchid flowers that open will eventually fade, and this is part of the plant’s natural lifecycle. 

If you can gain an idea of how long your orchid flowers usually last on the spike, you’ll be able to easily tell the difference between a plant that’s going through its natural life cycle, and a plant that is suffering.

Leave a Comment