Orchid Problems

Help! My Orchid Was Damaged by the Heat!

10 Comments

Orchid Heat DamageWith the summer approaching, heat damage can affect your orchids. If your plant is showing the common signs of heat damage, then continue reading below to assess the damage and salvage your orchid!

Signs of Heat Stress and Damage

One of the best advantages of having orchids is that they let you know immediately if there is a problem. If you have accidentally left your orchid outside, in the car, or under an artificial light for too long, then immediately check for these signs of heat stress and subsequent damage.

• Freckles
• Red or purple tint
• Withering of leaves or flowers.

Much like humans, an orchid can burn, and it will show immediate signs of it. If you see any red or purple on the leaves, then your orchid was likely burned. However, even if you don’t notice any immediate symptoms, that does not mean that your orchid was not damaged.
Other symptoms of a heat stressed or damaged orchid that may show up within 24-48 hours after exposure are:

• Yellowing leaves and/or stems
• Withering leaves
• Brown leaf tips and roots
• Bud blasting (loss of buds)
• Flowers dropping prematurely
• Withered pseudobulbs

Browned and burned roots in combination with the dried up pseudobulbs means that your poor orchid has little to no chance of recovery because the pseudobulbs are the moisture reserves. Under these conditions, pseudobulbs will only drain in cases of extreme heat exposure.

What To Do For a Heat Damaged Orchid

Most people have an immediate response to over water anything that is dehydrated. Unfortunately, like most things, orchids can only absorb so much water at one time. This means that if you were to pour in copious amounts of water to “help” the heat damaged plant, then you can cause even more problems associated with overwatering – mainly root rot.

Follow these steps to help begin the recovery process for your plant:

1. Immediately remove the orchid from the sun/heat and place it in a cool area with plenty of ventilation.
2. Assess the damage to the plant and look for leaves and blooms that are heavily affected. If there are areas that are completely damaged, remove them and the blooms to prevent the orchid from spending unnecessary resources on them and focusing more on the rest of the plant.
3. If there are exposed roots that are severely damaged and burned from the sun, cut them as well. Your orchid will likely go into shock from the dehydration alone as well as the trimming of roots, but preventing root rot is essential.
4. Avoid fertilizers for a few months. If your orchid has been burned, putting chemicals and fertilizers on it may only increase the damage. This is a common mistake and should be avoided on burned or sun damaged orchids.
5. Water the orchid normal amounts, but slightly more frequently. Check the moisture levels in your moss to ensure that it is being properly soaked up and no rot is setting in.

Sometimes it may be necessary to cut back the orchid completely and leave just the stem and roots. This should only be done in the event of severe sun damage and dehydration. Once you have determined that all significant damage has been removed from the plant, you should look for a snug clay pot for your orchid to replant it. Use plenty of long strand sphagnum moss that has been soaked the previous night and make sure that it is kept in a well-ventilated area to prevent water retention and further damage.

With luck, your orchid should grow back. Avoid fertilizers for a few weeks until you see regrowth. Once you have determined that your repotting is successful and that the orchid is growing, you can use diluted fertilizers to aid it until it has made a full recovery.
Also keep an eye open for pests or viruses because they are more susceptible after a trauma like heat exposure.

Orchid Types and Heat Damage

Some varieties of orchids react more strongly to heat than others, like mounted orchids. These orchids are highly sensitive to heat because they lack the protective pot and extensive moss that helps keep the roots safe in potted variants.
Expect more frequent watering for mounted orchids, and expect more root damage in the event of these orchids being left in the sun for too long. Since the roots are completely exposed, a mounted orchid can have its entire root system irreparably destroyed by the sun thanks to the lack of protection

Did you ever save your orchid from heat damage? Leave a comment below with any tips!

For more information about if your orchid is salvageable, read this article about saving your orchid.

Your Comments

10 Comments so far

  1. Rob Cantin says:

    I unfortunately left two of my orchids in the sun after watering them.
    One was not harmed at all, but two leaves of the other plant are now soft in part. Can I cut the soft parts, or remove the whole leaf,

    Looking forward to your response.

    Kind Regards,

    Rob.

    • Mary Ann says:

      To be safe, remove the entire affected leaves. Then treat the cut with cinnamon to prevent infection, and make sure your cutting instrument is sterilized. Good luck!! – Mary Ann

  2. Milena says:

    I left a new orchid out in my car during the hot summer South Texas heat for a couple hours, the flowers and bulbs are now droopy and shriveled as well as the leave yellowing at the ends. Is my orchid dead for good? What can I do to save it and how can I tell if it is improving?

    • Mary Ann says:

      I’m sorry to hear that. Please try following the steps listed in the article above. 🙂 I hope that you are able to turn it around! – Mary Ann

  3. Shanna lee says:

    I’ve had my orchid for a year and it droppes all its flowers we moved shortly after, didn’t give up. Had the orchid in the sun on window as I thought it would work. She grew in the sun and has 6 beautiful flowers right now. The leafs were showing all signs of being burnt. I have now cut them off as well as the bad roots and hope for even more stems! 🙂

    • Mary Ann says:

      Good work! 🙂 I’m glad you are having success with your orchid and have been able to adjust as it was needed. – Mary Ann

  4. Ashlee says:

    I saved an orchid – someone at work assumed the plant was dead and put it outside in the Texas sun. One leaf has already dropped off, three large leaves are burned and yellowed. There’s a new leaf that has gotten bigger in the week I’ve had it and it’s light green and very healthy looking.
    Roots inside the pot are green and healthy looking, some roots at the top of the plant are darkened.

  5. thaher hussain says:

    i have 4 Dendrobium Orchids plants in this year its too hot climat for us 45degree temperature so the plant stem is compressing and tree is bending down so plz suggest me how to recover my plants

    • Mary Ann says:

      Hi – did you follow the steps in the above article? You could also consider bringing it inside and providing air circulation and using a damp cloth tent to make humidity for it. Good luck! – Mary Ann


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