Buds On Orchids Dry Up And Fall Off – What To Do?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:30 pm

With its flowers, the orchid in all its variations is a hit in the European living rooms and inspires especially with its eye-catching shape. Every year, new buds are formed so that the Orchidaceae can present their flower again. But it can happen that due to mistakes in care the buds dry up and subsequently fall off. Without the buds will not be able to form flowers, which should be prevented at all costs.

Causes of the loss of buds

Buds On Orchids Dry Up And Fall Off - What To Do?

When orchids lose their buds, it usually suggests a fault in the location or climatic conditions at the site. Less often, the cause here are errors in care, but also can not be ruled out. If you notice that the buds of orchidaceae are already beginning to dry up, be sure to find out the cause and act against it. The following causes are typical for the drying of buds.

  • change of location
  • cold draught
  • heating air
  • blazing midday sun
  • too little light
  • lack of water
  • low humidity
  • wrong substrate
  • etyhlen
  • pests
Buds On Orchids Dry Up And Fall Off - What To Do?


Change of location can be harmful

Orchids, like many tropical plants, are among the plants that are loyal to their location and do not like to get used to a new environment. If the location had to be changed for reasons of care or other problems, you should take care to facilitate a suitable location for the plant. This should ideally match the previous location or have the following characteristics.

  • bright
  • no blazing sunlight
  • avoid temperature fluctuations
  • avoid drafts

This should help the orchid to recover and subsequently be able to form buds again. However, since a loss of buds is often accompanied by a failure to bloom, don’t be surprised if flowers don’t appear until the next season.


Avoid cold shock from drafts

Cold is never good for an orchid. Species like Phalaenopsis are native to warm tropical areas with high humidity and can suffer greatly from winter cold if not kept properly. During the cold season, do not place your orchid near windows or doors that are frequently opened and allow cold air into the room. The drafts have an immediate effect on the sensitive roots, which are exposed in the majority of species. The only thing that will help here is a change of location, away from drafts.

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Note: If you buy an orchid in winter, please pay attention to the type of packaging in which you transport the plant home. If it is not extensively wrapped in newspaper or a cardboard box, it may lose all its bloom just because of a few minutes in the winter cold.

Heating air

Avoid warm heating air as well

Just as cold drafts are not ideal for orchid plants, warm heating air in close proximity to the orchid should also be avoided. This does not cause the shoots to die, but the air is so dry and circulates so strongly in the room that the buds feel as if they are in an oven. They dry out and subsequently fall off the shoots. You can avoid these problems by placing the plant away from a heater or, if possible, not turning it on over the winter.

Buds On Orchids Dry Up And Fall Off - What To Do?


Humidity for adequate water supply.

Orchids absorb moisture through the air, even the buds. Therefore, especially in winter, it is important to guarantee sufficiently high humidity, which should be between 50 and 60 percent. In winter, this tends to fall below 40 percent, which is also unpleasant for humans and manifests itself in dry, cracked skin. Humidity can be increased by various measures, as shown below.

  • daily spray the plant with soft water (free of lime)
  • fill bowls with water and place them on the heater
  • use a humidifier
  • fill saucers with a mixture of water and expanded clay, which leads to permanent evaporation, increasing the humidity in the immediate vicinity of the plant
  • watering

Avoid water shortage

The lack of water in orchids is manifested by silvery roots and the drying of leaves, buds and shoots. Since water deficiency is difficult to read from the substrate, you need to look at the roots first and foremost. A lack of water can be corrected very quickly. To do this, simply use an immersion bath and let the flower stay there for about 20 minutes. Depending on the species, the amount of water needed differs, and for some varieties just spraying the leaves is quite enough.

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The right light is crucial

Species like Phalaenopsis depend on a good supply of light, and there are two things in particular to keep in mind.

  • sufficient light
  • no blazing sun over midday

The tropical plant requires a large amount of light and receives extra care for it in the winter so that it does not suffer from a lack of light, which in itself should not be a problem in the summer. If your orchid is too dark, it will not be able to carry out important metabolic processes and will die. The buds will dry out first, followed by the leaves and shoots.

Compensate for a lack of light as follows:

  • from March to October it is placed in a window with plenty of sunlight
  • over the winter period it is placed in the south window
  • place LED plant lamp/daylight lamp above the orchid
  • fluorescent tubes can also be used
  • increase the amount of light via suitable reflectors

This way, the plant will get enough light to perform photosynthesis even during the winter. In contrast, the blazing midday sun is a completely different problem. This causes a form of sunburn that the buds cannot tolerate and subsequently die from the extreme amount of light. Here it is best to choose a shade to protect the orchid from too much sun on the balcony, windowsill or terrace.


The wrong substrate was chosen

For novice orchid growers, the question of the right substrate is often confusing and initially accompanied by many bankruptcies. There are extremely many orchid species found in the market, among which the moth orchid is the most common. It prefers a loose orchid substrate and is often mistakenly offered in pots with soil. Soil is used exclusively for ground orchids and can be deadly to epiphytic orchids that have open roots. When you purchase an orchid, repot it immediately if it is in soil or an unsuitable substrate for that variety.

Buds On Orchids Dry Up And Fall Off - What To Do?

What is ethylene and why does it harm orchids?

Ethylene is a growth regulator of numerous plants, including many types of fruit such as apples, bananas, citrus fruits or potatoes and onions. This gas is produced by the corresponding species and is colorless and odorless. Due to the composition of ethylene, the orchid matures faster and the buds dry up due to the aging process. This is quickly remedied if you store appropriate food at least one meter from the orchid, because the gas does not reach that far. This rule also affects fruit trees.

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Fighting pests

In the case of a pest infestation, it is mainly the buds, shoots and leaves that are affected, as these are supplied with nutrients via plant juices. Pests such as spider mites, smear mites and aphids feed on these. If you notice that your orchid is riddled with white webs, similar to spider webs, you should isolate the plant so that the mites do not spread to other specimens. Then proceed as described below.

Buds On Orchids Dry Up And Fall Off - What To Do?
  • thoroughly wipe the plant with a damp cloth, so you remove aphids
  • spray the leaves and shoots with soft soap solution.
  • Cotton swabs soaked in alcohol are effective against all types of mites, dab the pests with the swabs.
  • treat the tops and bottoms of the leaves, only in this way the buds can also recover
  • rinse the plant thoroughly with water and repeat the procedure until no more infestation is visible.

Tip: Australian ladybugs (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) are a perfect protection against mites and are offered in specialized stores. These are released in an enclosed space including the orchid and take care of the pests.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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