Orchid Stem Brown? Here’s What to Do…

Questions of the Week:

“Hi Ryan!
After my moth orchid finished blooming, the twoPhalaenopsis Orchid Stem Turned Brown
long stems that held the flowers started turning brown. Both are now completely brown and they even feel hollow. I want to see my orchid rebloom. Is my plant dying? Is it too late to save it?”

-Becky Salter
Warwick, RI

“The stem on my orchid is changing color. The tip of the stem is yellowish brown and I think it is spreading. The bottom is still green but probably not for long. What do I do?”

-Michelle Longson
Bountiful, Utah

“After my Phalaenopsis orchids bloomed this spring the stems that held the blooms started to go brown. They are now almost all brown with just a bit of green near the base. There has been no position change and no watering change. I also haven’t noticed any insects. What is happening to my orchid?”

-Edward St. Amand Jr.
Marietta, GA


Ryan’s Recommendation:

Dear Becky, Michelle, & Edward,

As you can see from this post, you are not alone in wondering what exactly is happening to your orchids. In fact, I receive this question (or some variation on it) at least a few times a week! I wanted to address this question this week to put everyone at ease.

Brown Phalaenopsis Orchid StemA brown stem is a dead flower spike. Sadly, that flower spike will never bloom again. But, there’s no need to be alarmed and you certainly don’t want to throw your orchid away! (You won’t believe how many people throw orchids away after they are done blooming thinking the plant is dead!) Your orchids are not dying and there is a great chance you’ll be able to get them blooming over and over again if you follow some of the easy tips I share in this post.

You see, it is completely normal for flower spikes to turn brown after an orchid is finished blooming. Most orchids go into a state of rest, or dormancy period, after their showy blooms have fallen. A great deal of an orchid’s energy goes towards keeping its blooms on display. So once the show is over, an orchid can relax a bit and shift its attention to new leaf and root growth (thus making itself stronger). It is also during this dormancy period that your orchid will prepare for a new blooming season. Once fully rested, a new flower spike (or spikes) will emerge which will then (hopefully) be followed by a brand new season of blooms!

There are a few simple things you can do to give your orchid the best chance of producing new spikes and blooms again. Here they are, explained step-by-step:
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