Orchids produce beautiful flowers, but these flowers eventually die and drop off. The question is, will they grow back like other plants’ flowers? Or does an orchid die when its flowers die?
Do orchid flowers grow back? They don’t grow back in the same place, but your orchid will produce new blooms. Your orchid can either grow a new flower spike, or grow flowers from a new node on its old flower spike. If you don’t take care of your orchid, it won’t bloom again, so keep watering it and feeding it fertilizer until it does. It will likely bloom 6-9 months from the time it wilts, although with exceptional care, orchids can bloom twice per year.
Are orchids that lose their blooms dead, or dying? Do you still water orchids after flowering, and how do you get an orchid to bloom again? All of these questions, and more, are answered in the guide below.
Will My Orchid Bloom Again?
The idea that an orchid which loses its flowers is necessarily dying or even already dead is a strange misconception! We all know that trees and bushes which bear flowers don’t wilt and die the moment they drop off—and the same applies to orchids. If you care for it correctly, your orchid will bloom again.
One of three things will happen:
- Your orchid will grow a new flower spike to grow flowers from
- Your orchid will grow a new flower spike from a node on its old one
- Your orchid will not flower again (if you don’t take good care of it)
To ensure that your orchid makes more flowers, provide it with sunlight, adequate temperature and humidity, and water. The only other thing you need is patience!
Why Are The Flowers on My Orchid Falling Off?
There are two reasons why your orchid’s flowers may be falling off.
The first is that flowers dry up and die because that’s what flowers do. They aren’t intended to be permanent features. Flowers are very costly in terms of energy for a plant to produce and maintain, taking lots of water and carbon to make. They then lose lots of water through evaporation while they’re alive. It’s because they’re so costly that orchids (and other plants) go through phases: one period when they grow flowers, another when they grow roots and leaves, and another when they rest. So it may simply be the flower’s time to wilt.
The second reason is that poor care can contribute to them wilting and falling off. Let’s say, for example, that you don’t water your orchid at all when it has flowers. Well, the flowers will more quickly dry up and die. The same applies to giving your orchid food (fertilizer) which will contribute to longer, brighter blooms.
But even if that’s true, don’t despair. They’ll grow back eventually.
What to Do With an Orchid When the Flowers Fall Off
When your orchid’s flowers fall off, you can do with it what you will. If you don’t mind spending money buying new orchids, then you can just keep buying new ones and enjoying their blooms.
But you don’t need to do that. You can keep your orchid and wait for it to bloom again. The conditions you keep your orchid in don’t need to change, either: so if you have a particular place for it that gets enough sunlight, and if you have a routine where you water or mist it, then you don’t need to change that at all. And we would definitely recommend taking this approach, since it’s so much fun watching and anticipating before you get the excitement of a new flower spike and a new bloom!
Do Orchids Bloom More than Once, Twice, Etc.?
All orchids are capable of blooming more than once. Think from an evolutionary perspective: it makes sense for a plant to bloom many times, produce many seed pods, and produce as many offspring as possible. This ensures the survival of the plant’s genetic line, and of the species in general.
So long as you take good care of it, your orchid will continue blooming. There is no known limit for the amount of blooms an orchid can produce. Orchids can effectively live indefinitely, whether through continually producing new leaves and roots, or by producing keikis. That means you can continue to enoy your orchid’s blooms every year, even to the point where you can pass the orchid on to your children or grandchildren!
How Do You Get an Orchid to Bloom Again?
Your orchid has needs like any plant. It needs sunlight, water, the correct humidity and temperature, and food (fertilizer). That may sound like a lot to think of, but in practise it isn’t, and orchids are far more forgiving for bad care than their reputation suggests.
Where Do You Cut an Orchid After the Flowers Fall Off?
The first thing you can, maybe should do is deal with the flower spike that’s in place. After the flowers dry, droop and drop off, the flower spike will stay behind. In some cases it will stay green, whereas in others it will turn brown. You can leave it in place and your orchid will remain perfectly healthy, but you can also cut it off for aesthetic reasons and to encourage new blooms.
One way of cutting it off is to cut it off at the base. This will leave a small nubbin that dries out and stays where it is. It’s a sign that your orchid is old and mature that it has lots of these all the way down its stem! This is a good choice if you want to allow your orchid time to recover, and perhaps to grow some new leaves and new roots. The orchid will eventually grow an entirely new flower spike further up along its stem.
The second option is to cut the flower spike at some point along its length. Look at the flower spike and you’ll see that it has small lumps all the way along it. These lumps are called nodes. It looks like the flower spike has sections like those of a telescopic antenna on a radio (if you remember those!) If you cut the flower spike at some point along one of these sections, a new flower spike will grow out of the node below the cut. It won’t grow straight up, but to the side; you can train it back upwards, but be careful as it’s easy to snap this new section of the spike.
Beyond that, there’s no need to cut any other part of your orchid (its leaves, roots, stem or crown).
Do You Water an Orchid After the Flowers Fall Off?
Your orchid still needs water even if it doesn’t have flowers. Orchids need water to maintain their leaves and stems in healthy order. That’s because they lose water through respiration, just like we do.
To understand how and why this happens, we need to understand why and how plants breathe. They need to take in air to get access to carbon dioxide, which is necessary for photosynthesis (the transformation of the energy in light into edible sugars for the plant). They then breathe out again, just like we do. They breathe both in and out through tiny holes on the undersides of their leaves called stomata (singular stoma). When they do, small amounts of water are lost.
This water needs to be replaced. A store of water is found in every single plant cell, in a place called the vacuole. The job of the vacuole is to store water for later use, store nutrients, get rid of waste products, and more. You then have to account for growth—since plants are mostly water, it stands to reason that they need lots of water to grow, whether they’re growing leaves, roots or flower spikes.
If you don’t water your orchid when its flowers fall off, it will slowly become wrinkled and brown. It will eventually die.
Humidity & Temperature for an Orchid
If you want your orchid to survive until it next blooms, and to produce a large bloom when it does, you should keep it at the ideal humidity and temperature. These will simulate its native environment, so will help it thrive.
Orchids do well in homes because they enjoy household temperatures. Temperatures between 75-65°F (18-24°C) are optimal for orchids, with a slight variation from daytime to nighttime acceptable. Orchids can survive and thrive in temperatures higher and lower than this, but can experience sun damage or cold damage, so it’s good to stick to that rough average. This should be roughly the temperature of your house anyway.
Orchids also enjoy humidity (the measure of how much moisture there is in the air). Growers disagree as to the exact humidity level required, but what’s certain is that they prefer humid conditions to dry ones. Somewhere betewen 50-80% humidity seems optimal.
How Long Does It Take an Orchid to Rebloom?
Orchids typically bloom once per year, just like other plants. That means it will probably be between 6 and 9 months until your orchid blooms again. That’s because they want to bloom in spring, when there are lots of bugs and bees around to pollinate their flowers. As such, how long it will take depends on both how long it will be until next spring, and how well you take care of your orchid.
If you take really good care of your orchid, it may even bloom twice per year. Orchids can do this because the home environment doesn’t change much over the course of the year. The temperature and humidity remain roughly consistent, and the level of sunlight available in fall/autumn is roughly similar to what it would get in spring anyway. If you want your orchid to bloom twice per year, keep to a schedule of feeding and watering for optimal health.
What Does a New Orchid Spike Look Like?
Flower spikes are instantly recognizable.
All flower spikes come from the gap between a leaf and the leaf above it. So, most orchids have four to six leaves or so. The old flower spike may have appeared between the bottommost leaf and the leaf above it (at the time it appeared, these leaves may not have been the bottommost ones). The next spike will appear one notch above the last one, between that upper leaf and the one above that. It will not appear on the outside of the stem like a root, but will poke out from between the gap where the two leaves meet. If you’re not sure what any of this will look like, just look at the old flower spike, but picture it somewhere higher up the orchid’s stem towards its crown!
The flower spike will be green, often a light green. Its head will be divided into parts, rather than smooth and pointed like that of a root. It won’t look almost woody like mature flower spikes do, but will appear fresh, shiny and green like a new shoot or a new stem.
Because of the place the spike will grow from, it may take you a week or so from it first emerging for you to notice it. Once it’s long enough, you can train it upwards. You should do this if you want your orchid’s body to remain upright in appearance, as the weight of a flower spike and flowers will make the orchid lean if they aren’t trained.