Orchid Problems

Can I Save My Dying Orchid?


Is My Orchid Dying?When we have a flowering plant in our home, it’s a sheer pleasure to watch it grow and bloom little by little.  It’s similar to watching our babies grow right from the day of their birth – learning to smile, crawling slowly, standing up and the learning to walk.  Growing an orchid plant at home right from the time it was a tiny plant can give you an immense sense of pride and joy.  You try to learn all that is there to learn about caring for it in the best way possible.  When the plant starts to flower, your joy knows no bounds.

If you have watched the growth of your orchids minutely, you can tell even the slightest change in them instantly – just the way a mother is easily able to notice a small, insignificant change in her child – and you don’t need a horticulturist to tell you that your plant is not comfortable.

You might notice the flowers looking fragile and falling off, leaves turning yellow and unhealthy, and all these signs will make you wonder, “Are my orchids dying?  Can I bring them back to life? Have I lost them forever?” etc.  Such doubts are not uncommon, but there is no need to panic.  Even if you feel that your orchids have reached a point of no return, there are ways to revive them, unless of course, situation is well and truly beyond repair.

Certain aspects like over watering, under watering, excessive light or heat, the leaves staying wet overnight, adding too much fertilizer due to over-enthusiasm, and insects attacking can prove disastrous for the healthy growth of orchid plants.  Most often, it is not very easy to make out if your orchid plant has any life left in it or whether it would even be worth trying to revive the plant, but then there is no harm in trying.

Normally, it is not impossible to revive an orchid plant, if the middle part of the plant is not decomposed and if there are some leaves and roots still intact.  There is one tried and tested trick which has proved effective more often than not and here is the trick:

One best method to rejuvenate an almost dead orchid is to repot the plant into a snug and tight pot that can hold the roots together and supply good humidity while using a humidity tray.  Remember to water your plant in the same way as you were doing earlier (unless overwatering got you in this situation to being with, of course!).

If the roots look damaged, remove the damaged part and wind some long, thin wires around the base of the plant and bend them slightly.  Now, support the plant in the pot with wires well inside the soil, acting as the roots.  These false roots can bring the orchid plant back to health.

However, if the part between the roots and the leaves has turned soft, decomposed or seems dead, then it is better to give up trying to revive your orchid plant.  In any other situation, you can try to breathe life back into the orchid plant by supplying adequate water, humidity, timely nourishment, and indirect sunlight.

Have you ever thought one of your orchids was a goner, only to have success reviving it? Tell us how you did it by leaving a comment below.

Need help repotting your orchid? Here are 7 easy steps to repotting your orchid.

Your Comments

175 Comments so far

  1. Jean says:

    Yes. I can save my orchids nearly dying by cutting the stem. I put it in a clean bottle with clean water. Everyday I change d water n sometimes I put some rice water then on d other day I change again. I will notice that the stem is still there n have an offshoot baby coming in d stem n then slowly grow up. After that I started to re-pot the orchids. Thanks 🙂 jean/ Philippines

    • Mary Ann says:

      That’s great! Thank you for sharing. – Mary Ann

    • John says:

      Hi Jean, how close to the base did you cut the stem? half of my orchids stem is dead and the other half still green, should I cut it right at the green part?

  2. Ana says:

    Can plants survive when there in the early stages of veg…the leaves all droopy n disclour think cos out heater in tent as was too cold but now it’s too hot?? Can anyone help

    • Mary Ann says:

      It sounds like you need to find a way to adjust your temperature. If you can’t find a way to control that, then your plants will suffer. I’m very sorry. – Mary Ann

  3. Jacky says:

    Hi. My hanging vanda had a fungus infection – which luckily only affected a few of the new and top leaves, however in my haste to cut these off (part of which were brand new leaves on the crown) I cut too low and cut the crown off! I am devestated! This was over 6 weeks ago and the lower leaves and roots are still healthy, but obviously there is no new growth. Is it the begining of the end for my vanda?

  4. Mary T says:

    I think i over fed my orchid with plant food. the blooms fell off. The leaves are still green and pretty, the stem is brown. I repotted it, should i cut the stem?

  5. Mary T says:

    and how often do i water?

  6. Arella S says:

    My orchid’s leaves are turning black what do I do

  7. Sue says:

    I have my orchid in an indirect lit northeast area of my house and I water 1/4 cup water every Friday. After the blooms were finished on my orchid I let the stem die back and then cut it as directed on another orchid care site and put some cinnamon on the cut to keep out infection as the site directed. After about a week the remaining stem started to turn an odd brown spotty color and feel hollow…this kept going down the stem and then all the leaves fell off as if the rotted from the bottom…but the leaves were still green. Any advice or ideas as to what happened?

    • Mary Ann says:

      What kind of orchid is it? I’m sorry but I’m a little confused. What state is your orchid in now? Is there a new stem with green leaves? If so, that’s a good thing. And did you sterilize your cutting tool before making the cut? Thanks, Mary Ann

      • Patricia Olguin says:

        I recived a beautiful Philaenosis Orchid garden on March 2014 i did not know with lucky banboo did not know they were sitting in there own pots n were sitting on top of bark its top was coverd with moss so i keep watering it cause they were dry to the touch lil’did i know that no drainage from pot as i was not watwring the plants as i was the bark sso the bark was so wet the plants stood in standing water for over 2 months now I took the pot n drained it but the bark was stull soaked just to relize i messed up now my plants still have blooms but mussy roots n as all ways made the mistake of just not cuting of the soggy roots can I stll repot it a 3rd time but cutting out the bad roots with in days of repotting again?

        • Mary Ann says:

          I think in this case you have to. If you don’t remove the bad roots, your plant will definitely not survive. Good luck! – Mary Ann

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Hello! I just got a phalaenopsis orchid about two weeks ago. It was blooming perfectly, up to 11 flowers. Just two days ago the flowers started to look as if they were wilting and today a number have closed up and all the flowers as a whole are still wilting. The leaves and stem look perfectly fine, still green and lively. Is my orchid dying? Should I remove the stem? Thank you!

  9. Mel says:

    I got a cymbidium orchid for valentine’s day, but had to leave on a two week trip three days later. The person taking care of it moved it in front of a door (I live in Canada, it’s been freezing cold), and now my stems are dark brown, though leaves are still green (some of them were brown though, and fell off). I have cut them and left about 10 to 15 cm of the stems standing. Should I cut them down even more? is it doomed? Will it ever rebloom or did I cut too short?

    • Mary Ann says:

      Hi Mel,

      It’s hard to say. Your plant has definitely suffered some trauma. For cymbidiums you want to make the cut at the base of the stem. You’ll want to be at least 1/4 inch above the pseudobulb. Put some cinnamon on the cut to prevent infection, and make sure you always use sterile cutting equipment. Then provide it with the proper care, and watch and see. I hope it goes well! – Mary Ann

  10. Marianne says:

    Help, yesterday my son pulled a leaf off what was a beautiful healthy orchid. Today all the flowers have drooped, is it going to die or can I save it?

    • Mary Ann says:

      In my opinion, it sounds like it could just be a coincidence and the orchid could have naturally been at the end of its blooming cycle when he pulled the leaf off. Or the flower was traumatized and is trying to conserve energy. It doesn’t sound like it’s going to die. Just keep giving it the proper care and watch it closely. It should resume creating new growths relatively quickly I would imagine. – Mary Ann

  11. Shaunette says:

    Hi!!!! I need help!! My cymbidium is dying. I noticed the leaves yellowing and browining, then falling off. I read a lot of information and decided to take it out of the pot. the roots are dry and white, there are none that are soft. There are several dry brown bulbs? then there are bulbs that are soggy and brown, i carefully pried loose the soggy one and lots of the dry white roots came off too. I have 3 bulbs left with a few leaves. they are a little shriveled but not too much. the cym was standing in a northfacing window. i fed it once a month and watered once a month untill i read i should water at least twice a month. I bought the plant last year May (in south africa, that is winter time)can i save it? i haven’t repotted it yet, its just suspended in a terracotta pot. what can I do? i live in South Africa PLEASE HELP

  12. Bianca says:

    Hello I just received a beautiful healthy purple orchid from my mother in law about 3 weeks ago I have it in front of my living room window where it gets adequet lighting everyday. Today I noticed the flowers started to droop and close up. The leaves are still green and healthy and one blub is growing in the middle of the three closing flowers.I spray the moss when it gets dry with water combined with Miracle Grow Orchid food, did I do someting wrong? This is my first orchid plant and it means a great deal to me I don’t want it to die on me help please!

    • Mary Ann says:

      It sounds like it reached the end of its blooming period and is still healthy. Keep caring for it, and wait for the next blooming cycle! 🙂 – Mary Ann

  13. Sam W says:

    I bought an orchid about October 2011, it bloomed and then the flowers fell off and died, but it hasn’t bloomed since. I thought maybe it was dead, but everyone told me that as long as it still had its leaves it was still alive, and that it may not have flowered due to it being too cold (I live in England, and its always cold haha), however, this morning I noticed that the leaves have all fallen off and the bottoms of one of them them, where it joined to the plant is looking a bit black and horrible. When I watered it on monday the leaves were all green and healthy looking, and still are green and healthy looking, but now they’ve just fallen off? I saw on another website that if the roots are still firm then it isn’t dead, and the ones I can see are still quite firm, I just don’t understand whats happened? I’d like to know tho, as I just inherited another orchid from my grandfather who passed away recently and would be devastated if the same thing happened!

    • Sam W says:

      Also, as I’ve seen with other orchids, and as is the case with the one of my grandfather’s the roots on the orchid in question never came out of the top of the pot? Is this normal?

      • Mary Ann says:

        Orchid roots going out of the top of the pot are signs of new growth and usually that you need a bigger pot. It doesn’t necessarily mean your orchid is in trouble, but it would be better if they were more plentiful. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

    • Mary Ann says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your orchid. It may have needed to be repotted. It sounds like if the roots are ok, then it might be ok. But if it’s an infection, then it might just be best to get rid of it. I’d say repot it at this point, and watch it closely. Separate it from any other plants you have just in case. – Mary Ann

      • Heather says:

        Hi, I took an orchid from my sister about two weeks ago as it was left out in the sun and rain with no drainage. It had no leave, crown dried out and root rot. I left it outside under three where there was partly sun and Sade to dry out. I then removed the root rot and old soil. I repotted it and then gave it orchid food. I water it ever 2 days and drain it well. And at my last water I saw a bright healthy root starting, I’ve been told if an orchid has no leaves then tos it. Should I believe what I was told or should I carry on treating the orchid because of the new growth?

        • Mary Ann says:

          No! If you see new growth, keep going. It sounds like you just might be saving it. 🙂 I’ve seen orchids with one root totally regrow. I’ve also seen orchids with no roots totally regrow. So it depends on a lot of factors as to whether you can save one or not. Sometimes you can’t – and that’s sad but it happens. But it sounds like you are headed in the right direction! Good luck! Let us know how it’s going! – Mary Ann

  14. yasmeen says:

    Hi, I have a phalaenopsis orchid that I think may be dying but I’m not sure. It still has leaves that are very green and not drooping and have been like that for months with no flowering stem (cut it when the flowers fell off). When I recently repotted, I noticed many roots look dead/rotting, should I cut these away? If my leaves are still green, does that mean the orchid is still alive? Thanks!

  15. Bianca says:

    Thank you and I have but now I’m noticing that the stem is turning yellow slowly of course should I cut it where the stem is still green? And I heard putting cinnamon would help keep away infection. Thank you for your time and patience Ms. Mary Ann.

  16. Khoua says:


    I got my full bloomed orchid phaleanopsis in january and the blooms fell off. i repotted it twice-first time i didnt inspect the roots. The second time i noticed the roots were brown and mushy and i didnt observe any more roots. Im trying to revive it. For the past month my orchid has grown 3 bloom spikes with 4 buds on each spike. None of them has bloomed and the leaves are now wilted and soft. What happened? It gets indirect sunlight, water when soil is dry, make sure foilage is clear of water and spray the moss on top of the soil once in awhile.

    • Mary Ann says:

      Were you able to remove all of the bad roots? It sounds like it might need a little more sun to get it to flower, provided you’ve taken care of the root problem. – Mary Ann

  17. danielle says:

    My orchid is a violet one. I purchased about six weeks ago. Itnwas blooming and looking great up until about 3 weeks ago it started dying..leaves turn yellow fall off then the blooms. The roots ended up above the dirt somehow and i was ready to throw it away i am so worried. I reported it BC the roots looked cramped new soil. Have I done all I can?

    • Mary Ann says:

      Yeah – it sounds like you’ve done the right things. I’m not sure what kind of orchid you have, so it’s hard to give you better advice. I’d say figure out what kind of orchid you have and then see what kind of care they need after they are done blooming. Thanks! Keep us posted. – Mary Ann

  18. katie says:

    I have had a collection of Phalaenopsis orchids for 3-4 years. early this month I left on vacation only to return to find that ALL of my babies were dying. I tried to give them some tender loving care but over the past couple of weeks they have all lost their leaves! 🙁
    Is there any hope in them coming back to life, even though they are nothing but roots? I have never had to rehab one of my orchid before but I don’t want to just give up on them.

    • Mary Ann says:

      It depends on the condition of the roots. Do they look all look healthy? Try the suggestions in the blog post that you commented on. Stay optimistic, but prepare yourself for the worst. – Mary Ann

  19. Dani says:

    My flourishing orchid was left in the hot car all day and now appears wilted! I’m not sure what to do! I don’t want to do the wrong thing because I don’t want to lose my orchid!

    • Mary Ann says:

      Get it in the correct temperature and water it. Let it adjust to the new environment, and try to provide the most ideal conditions you can so it can thrive. – Mary Ann

  20. Christopher says:

    Hi Mary Ann, can you help explain why one of my orchids lost all of its flower in about three days. The plant looks fine, vibrant green roots and leaves, watered once a week along with my other four well flowering orchids, same quantity of feed, same east facing window, same temperature. Just cannot understand it! Any help would be most appreciated. Kind regards, Christopher. (Nrth Cornwall)

  21. Andra says:

    I bought a couple of phalaenopsis on discount. The flowers were withered and they were done blooming but the leaves were healthy and they looked like they had some nice roots. I brought them home thinking I would cut the spikes and re-pot them in bark medium. But when I opened up the pot I found that most of the roots were actually mushy and rotted. Now the nice, firm, green, glossy leaves on my 2 phals are turning yellow and falling off! HELP!

    • Mary Ann says:

      That is very unfortunate! Cut off the rotted and mushy roots, and try to salvage the rest of the plant. Do your best… Good luck! – Mary Ann

  22. chels says:

    I have a Phalaenopsis orchid that my boyfriend gave me. The flowers died and fell off after about two months. On a website, I saw that I was supposed to trim the stem. The stem is still green, but the tip had begun to turn yellow.

    I cut about 1/4-1/2 inch above the top bulb. Is this too short? Should I move down to the next bulb?

    Also, the stem is very green, but the bulbs are a bit brown. Does this mean I should cut it all the way down to the base?

    Thanks! Definitely a newbie…

  23. grace pagay says:

    I have phalaenopsis orchid the leaves turn to yellow may be its too much fertilizer … my orchids dying?help

    • Mary Ann says:

      That can be perfectly normal for a phal. If your leaves are turning yellow and then being replaced by new leaves, then everything is fine. If that’s not the case, you might want to play with the amount of light it’s receiving. It may be receiving too much light. We have a guide that might help you out – Phalaenopsis Orchid Guide.

  24. Cindyn Green says:

    I have had a great deal of good luck with my Orchids. I will even save them the trash (long story).
    My friend has started saving tow hem also.
    But know all of hers are wilting and she thinks DYING.
    How can I help her? Is there some kind of bug spray that is safe? I just don’t know what to do????????????????

    • Mary Ann says:

      If they have an infestation, then yes there are safe things you can use. You would need to identify the pest and then treat it accordingly. We’ve put out some posts about this. Is there a nursery nearby that could look at the plants and help you? Or an orchid association? You didn’t give me a lot of information, so I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful. – Mary Ann

  25. Tina says:

    When I bought my phalaenopsis orchid the stem was already brown. This is my first time growing an orchid so I didn’t think to look for a green stem. The leaves are a dark green and it still has flowers but the stem is completely brown. Should I be worried?

  26. Alli says:

    Hi Mary Ann,

    I received a white orchid as a gift from a flower service – it is probably a standard kind, very elegant and tall, but with no care instructions attached. It was delivered on a snowy day and it sat outside my door wrapped loosely in flower plastic for at least an hour while it was snowing before I got home and took it inside. The blooms drooped after a day or so and now they are hanging off the stem. There is an unopened bloom at the end that is hanging on and I’m hoping it might open, though I doubt it. I am sure the plant got traumatized in the freezing cold. I have watered it twice in the past week since it came since our home is very dry – the humidity in the winter is around 16 or 20% on the lower levels, and I don’t run a humidifier there. How do I trim the blooms off and care for it in these conditions? The stalk and leaves are still green and mostly healthy looking. two of them are a touch yellow. Do I cut the entire stalk down and hope a new one grows next year? Any advice welcome. Thanks.

  27. Jennifer Sivils says:

    My orchids live at work. While I was out with surgery, nobody watered the babies. I normally watered them once a week and they were very happy. The leaves are very wrinkled now – shriveled would probably be a better term. A couple of top leaves look ok. What can I do for them, if anything other than getting them back into their regular routine. They are like my twin babies. I got them when a close friend died and they are very sentimental. They are the same size and same bloom and I got them at the same time – so I call them the twins or the kids or the babies. I admit that I am crazy about them. Thanks! Jennifer

    • Mary Ann says:

      I’m not sure how long you were out, but it just comes down to if the roots are healthy or not. If the roots look ok, then you just need to re-wet the potting material either with frequent waterings or by soaking it until its completely wet. If the roots have died, then you need to repot with fresh potting material. Then keep the potting material barely wet until new roots develop. Then once you have new roots, you may go back to your normal watering schedule. 🙂 Thanks! – Mary Ann

  28. lyndsey says:

    I have a Phalaenopsis Orchid and I’m usually good with taking care of them. I recently moved though and I noticed my orchid suffering because of the lack of light and cold temp. I water him once a week and never forget but he looks so dry. All the blooms and leaves have fallen off but then the root started to look really bad. I’ve tried moving him to a better location and watering him like normal. Nothing is helping though and the roots look terrible. Should I replant with fertilizer? Or is it time to give up? Please reply!

    • Mary Ann says:

      I’m so sorry to hear this! I don’t think you should throw in the towel quite yet. The roots could look bad because they are dehydrated. I’m guessing a little bit here just from what you’ve said. Perhaps up the watering. Since you’ve moved the orchid may need more water now in these new conditions. If your orchid looks dry, then water based on that. You’re going to have to find a new schedule in this new environment. Do you have a decent window you could put him in to improve the light intake? – Mary Ann

  29. Violet says:

    Hi, over a year ago, I bought my first orchid. It’s a Spider and it had 13 blooms on it which lasted a couple weeks at least. When the blooms dried and fell off after the flowering cycle, I waited until the stem dried up almost 2/3 way down and cut it where it felt like a separation from living stem vs dead stem.
    I continue to water it, but it has not sent up another stem of blossoms in the meantime. The broad leaf is still green, but is a little wrinkly. It has sent out a thick root which is jetting out of the top of the potting medium and is @ 4″ long.
    What can I do to nurture it back to a growth period and blooming cycle again???
    It’s flowers were breathtaking!

    • Mary Ann says:

      It can take some time for your plant to rebloom. It depends on the type of spider orchid you have as to when your blooming cycle happens. I suggest doing a Google search for “[type of orchid] blooming cycle”. You need to repot every 2 years, but you might want to evaluate if it’s time to repot it now since you are seeing new root growth. Hang in there! Patience is the name of the game with orchids! – Mary Ann

  30. Peter Cartwright says:

    Hi, what a lot of people, who are new to orchid growing receive orchids as gifts from boyfriends/girlfriends etc., and they have no idea how to cultivate these exotic blooms. With the Phalaenopsis especially, these are usually bought from stores or garden centres and some are in bloom maybe with a few buds or vice versa. The problem being with bud drop or buds shriveling is mainly due to a different environment. Don’t give up, especially if the root structure is sound and the leaves are healthy. Bottom leaves on Phals. will eventually yellow and drop off, this is normal, no leaves live forever. Another great mistake is getting water into the crown of the plant. THIS IS A NO NO – otherwise a rot will set in and you might lose your precious phal., though saying that, keikis (baby plants) have been know to grown from the domed plant. On another footing do not let orchids stand in water. They hate having their feet wet and this will eventually set up root rot. If you’re going to mist, then do it early morning and any reside water in the crown can be sucked up with a tissue. I’ve been growing these delights for almost 40 years and I’m still learning.

    • Mary Ann says:

      These are great points. 🙂 Thank you for commenting. Please feel free to comment whenever the mood strikes you. – Mary Ann

    • Katarina says:

      What if I accidentally got water in the crown and thought nothing of it. I’ve only done it once though and haven’t done it again. Will it be ok? Also, is it a sign my orchid is finished its blooming period of the stems of my blooms are yellowish compared to the new blooms being green. And I know my orchid is probably a bit shocked from being walked home on a bit of a windy day and being in a new environment, but what if more than a few blooms dropped and my new buds are shrivelled and dying? I’ve been watering and letting drain once a week and keeping out of direct sunlight… I’ve had it about a week. It’s a phal. From pao toa or whatever lol idk how to spell it..

      • Mary Ann says:

        If there is new green growth, then it sounds like your plant is doing ok. You will notice some reactions to the movement of course. With phals as long as you provide their requirements as soon and as consistently as you can, they are usually pretty forgiving. I recommend reading up on phal care specifically and putting those things into practice. Here are some articles that I hope are helpful to you. Favorite Phalaenopsis Phalaenopsis Orchid Guide Phal re-bloom Thanks! – Mary Ann

  31. Lexi says:

    Hello! My orchid has been quite neglected unfortunately. But now that summer has come, I feel like I can keep up with it again. My leaves, flowers, and most of my roots have browned and shriveled, but some roots on the very bottom of my orchid are still green and look moist-Can I save my orchid? Or is it done?

    • Mary Ann says:

      If you have healthy roots, there is still hope. You need to trim the sickly parts and repot and give it some TLC. Then hope for the best! 🙂 – Mary Ann

  32. Fran Hamilton says:

    I recently moved and my once flourishing orchids started suffering as I did not have a home for them and had to just keep them outside under a wooden stairwell where they are semi sheltered.
    My dendrobiums started falling over and when I checked it had rotted at the base.
    I cut the cane away from the rotted area and treated it with cinnamon. The cane is still strong and looking good but no roots.
    is there hope for this one and if so how do I go about saving it?

    • Mary Ann says:

      Dendrobiums tend to be dormant this time of year, so you should just try to give them the optimal care. Read here to make sure you avoid these common mistakes with dendrobiums. Here is a forum about rootless orchids. Hope this is helpful for you! You’ll know when you’ve tried everything and it’s not working, or hopefully you’ll see improvement. 🙂 – Mary Ann

  33. Megan says:

    Hi There,

    I live in south Africa and received a Phalaenopsis in May 2014 , it bloomed very well for 3 months and then flowers fell off. I cut the stem between after the flowers fell off, but now one of the three leaves fell off, also leaves look limp and flimsy. It looks dry as we had very cold winter this year. Please help I don’t want to lose it. I took it out of the pot it has drainig holes and saw brown hollow roots? Should I repot and cut them off? Also found small sized stones in the bottom of the pot with what seems like fine wooden saw cuts on top.

  34. Sheryll Raine says:

    I got a orchid as a present I don’t know what type it is but it’s the usual ones you can buy out of a supermarket.
    It’s leaves are nice,thick, green and healthy but the stem roots are dead and hollow. I’ve got to repot it but it came with bark all around it. Can I repot with a type if soil or should I go back to bark again? Do I cut all the dead roots as I’m afraid it might damage the leaves.

  35. Courtney S. says:

    My husband got me my first orchid for my birthday. However im confused and think the person who sold it to him didn’t know what they were doing. I recieved a long stem (no leaves, no roots…just stem with flowers) i think its a Phal or moth orchid, based on comparing pictures ive found to what I have. Im wondering….is there anything i can do to help this little guy thrive? Can roots come back? Or is this a lost cause? Im new to this whole growing plants thing, and i want to save it….but dont know if thats possible. Right now i have it in a vase with water (its how it was sold) and the buds are falling off…please help. I would love to save it, but i cant seem to find any information on helping an orchid that has no roots….just stem.

  36. Mary-Anne says:

    Hi Mary ann I have 8 Phal in my bedroom. they are doing very well, flowering non stop for 6 months already. Suddenly one of them lost nearly all the flowers at once, at least 10 blooms, leaving only 4/5! Normally, they dry on the spike and then drop off. these were still “live”. was it too much water, or too little?

    • Mary Ann says:

      It could be either of those… or that orchid could be sick. Have you looked at possible sicknesses or pests?? – Mary Ann

  37. Lisa says:

    Hi there – I have a Cymbidium orchid that I got about 2 1/2 to 3 years ago. I haven’t been good with plants, and about a week ago, realized that my plant was dying. I did a lot of research online (youtube, etc) and re-potted it, cut off all the dead roots (which was just about everything), got rid of pests (scale, crown & root rot, snails), and was left with one little leaf. It died, so now I’m down to just one little root, and no leaves. Looks pretty hopeless. Anything you can think of that I could do? Could you get an orchid to sprout from the leftover psudobulb? Any suggestions?

    • Mary Ann says:

      Perhaps try sphagging and bagging at this point. I would suggest doing a Google search about sphag and bag. There are many great videos about this out there. 🙂 Good luck!! – Mary Ann

  38. robyn says:

    I have had my orchid since August. my flowers have fell and I have trimmed my stems(clean scissors and cinnamon) in early October. I am not sure what kind of orchid I have but the leaves are still green and now have just fell out of the base with black ends as if the plant is rotted. I have it in a ceramic pot with holes. It is made specially for orchids. Is it dead? What can I do?

    • Mary Ann says:

      Were you able to check the roots for rot as well? Did you use any other treatment on the plant? If the roots are rotten, then you will need to remove the bad roots and repot with all new potting medium. You could try StopRot as well. Let me know and good luck. 🙂 – Mary Ann

  39. Jen says:

    Hi Mary Ann,
    I have two beautiful purple Orchids,one is speckled the other full colour, but unfortunately no name labels.
    Both flowered and stayed like it for months, my first orchid went through her dropping flowers bit and has thrown up a lovely new stem with buds starting to form, big Yay… my other orchid, the same.. except she hasn’t thrown a stem but just started a new stem on the side of the old one, so I’ve been keeping a close eye on her and one week ago I was gutted to find the new stem on one of the flower heads has started going a funny colour and this morning she’s now drying up and wilting. So far the other flower heads are fine.
    I’ve checked all the roots and they seem fine and green, appears to be no rot! The leaves are lovely and green, she’s been kept in the same East facing kitchen Window since I got her, (along with her friend) no cold chills that I can feel… Oh and I only water them every two weeks but I check them daily, they don’t go dry but not swimming either… Help please? :O

    • Mary Ann says:

      Is it possible that your orchid has a mite? What color did it turn? What did it look like? Do an image search on fusarium wilt and see if that looks like what happened? I’m sorry but I need a little more information. Thanks! I’ll keep an eye open for you. – Mary Ann

  40. Laura says:

    I received 3 phal orchids around Thanksgiving and of course had to buy a few more. The first 3 that I received have green leaves and are done flowering, but the leaves are wilted. I repotted in bark medium and cut away any dead roots. These 3 have maybe 4-5 good roots, but the leaves are very wilted. They are in an east window away from drafts/vents and I water them once a week with a good flush of water and let them dry out. I don’t do the ice cube method. The rest that I bought have great root systems, but one is starting to have wilted bottom leaves. Suggestions? I’ve read every internet site possible and it could be over-watering/under-watering…it is so confusing and I want these babies to live!

    • Mary Ann says:

      You could try the sphag and bag method since the roots are struggling. There are many great videos on YouTube. If you do a search for sphag and bag, you will have many options. I hope that helps! – Mary Ann

  41. Kayla says:

    I forgot my new orchid in my car overnight in the dead of winter, I’m praying that there is some way to save this poor guy. He’s looking a little worse for wear this morning now that I’ve got him in the office.

    • Mary Ann says:

      You want to let the potting medium dry out. Keep the environment humid, but cool. And of course avoid direct sunlight. Once new growth sprouts, then you can resume watering with plain water. I hope this helps! Good luck! – Mary Ann

  42. Melissa says:

    Hello I recently brought a big orchid that had 2 big stems after the blooms died. I cut the stems down to the base and weeks later I noticed the leaves are still green,but are very limp an soft plus roots was brown soggy and mushy but still had 4 good green roots. I pulled off all dead roots an put back in plastic container. 1) will it come back to life? 2) an when will new spikes start to grow no sign of them yet. PLEASE HELP

    • Mary Ann says:

      Hi Melissa – it sounds like it might be a good idea to use the sphag and bag method with this one. I would encourage you to Google/YouTube that and see if you feel that would be a good idea. It can definitely come back, but it’s going to take some time. We’re going to do a blog post about this method soon. Thanks! – Mary Ann

  43. Toni says:

    I got a Phalaenopsis for Christmas. I watered it once a week as per the tag that came with it.
    Well a month later all the flowers fell off a week after that all the leaves fell off. Now the stem is limp and drooping. How can I fix my orchid.

  44. Stephanie says:

    Recently, after I had repotted a phal I realized that I both overpotted/overwatered it. The center become black and when I took it out of its pot, the only two leaves it had detached from the center. So, I have two healthy looking, but severed green leaves and the crown section (dark in the center) but it still has some green roots. Can I pot up the roots w/no center? Will that grow new leaves? Can I root the separated leaves? Can I cut a section of the leaf and put it down to root like an african violet or streptocarpus? Thanks!

    • Mary Ann says:

      Here lately I feel like a broken record, but I think the sphag and bag method is something you should look into. I know people who have saved plants with no viable roots using this method. Here’s a great video for you. Sphag and bag video I recommend looking at some other examples as well. Good luck! – Mary Ann

  45. amanda says:

    I have a phal moth orchid and as it being my first i over watered it there is not a single root left i was wondering can i cut the actual stem where the roots were and put a rooting hormone to reproduce roots

  46. Theodorea says:

    All that is left is the roots of my plant, they look healthy. Is it to late for the plant??

    • Mary Ann says:

      No! If you have healthy roots, it is not too late. It will take time and patience, but you can definitely save a plant with healthy roots. – Mary Ann

  47. Jesci Kent says:

    I have a phalaenopsis that i bought from the grocery store. It has been in my basement with artificial lighting and did well for some time. It only had 2 or 3 big leaves and i noticed the other day that they had fallen off and the stems turned black and yellow (dead?) Only to find a good deal of standing water in the container! Most of the roots are still green especially below the surface, though some on the surface have areas that look more brown or dried up. Is there any returning from this point?

  48. Tammie says:

    Hi Mary Ann, I just got a pot of yellow Phal orchid the beginning of this month. Water them with 3 ice cubes weekly as instructed. Now flowers on one side starts dying off one by one, one flower just bloomed last week and already start wilting 🙁 On the other side, things are still looking good. But then there are also buds on both sides that still grow. I can’t tell if this is normal or if I am doing something wrong. Please help!

    • Mary Ann says:

      It sounds like your plant is still healthy and growing. As long as the rest of the plant looks healthy (no rot or discoloration anywhere), it sounds like it is doing ok. 🙂 – Mary Ann

  49. Jester says:

    The leave of my phalaenopsis looks like brought and soft. I think its dying and some of its roots are rot. I already cut the rot but I’m worrying about it.. Tnx

    • Mary Ann says:

      Hang in there, and treat it the best you can. Cinnamon is a good thing to use if you didn’t already. – Mary Ann

  50. Ariel says:

    I have a dendrobium orchid. Since i got it the leaves began turning brown and falling off one by one from the bottom. It started to bloom and by the time the blooms fell out, all the leaves were gone too. I bought fertilizer and started fertilizing once every 2 weeks. Now I see the top of the orchid is starting to get brown. What is causing this and how can i save it?

    • Mary Ann says:

      Without seeing it, it’s hard to tell you. It might be a normal cycle where the growing period is over and you need to remove the stem. Or your orchid may have an infection. You should remove the infected parts and put cinnamon on the cuts. That is a natural fungicide. I highly recommend doing an image search on Google for dendrobium infections and comparing your plant to those pictures to make sure. Good luck! – Mary Ann

  51. adrienne says:

    I left an orchid in a hot car for about 3hrs…it is now wilted but otherwise. Looks healthy. The roots are firm and green and the leaves are plump and green as well. Any chance of revival?

  52. Marissa says:

    Hi, I have ordinary purple orchid and it was fine for MONTHS And last week it dried out. The soil was too wet and moldy and smelled like rot. l repotted it in the same pot with fresh potting soil but don’t Know if the roots need trimming or how much to not hurt it . It was a gift and very important.

    • Mary Ann says:

      You should remove all dead or infected roots. If you do an image search on Google for healthy orchid roots and orchid root rot, you should be able to see the difference. 🙂 I hope this helps! – Mary Ann

  53. kristy says:

    Hi i cut the stem of my orchid about half way down they were green but are now dry and a yellowish brown i got it as present and its store bought what can i do to bring it back to its flowering state please help thank you

    • Mary Ann says:

      What kind of orchid do you have? 🙂 – Mary Ann

      • Laura says:

        I have a similar problem. My orchid is in full bloom with 8 gorgeous flowers but the stem is now turning brown starting at the top. Roots look good. Not sure what kind it is because it was a gift but the flowers are white.

        Is there anything I can do to save it?


  54. B. G. Zenquis says:

    I’ve received a vanda plant with a 4″ stem before the leaves beging. I’ve done my research on arial rooted orchids but nothing seems to inform me well enough for answers. The stem is slowly turning black and the leaves are fully green. Growth doesn’t seem to be coming from this orchid. I have pictures for a view of whats going on. What are my do`s and don’ts?

  55. Jocelyn says:

    Hello! So I am trying to nurture my first orchid and I recently I discovered root rot. I had no idea because the plant has been nothing but beautiful with multiple blooms and big green leaves. I repotted and cut the dead roots off. It has just finished blooming on one spike which I cut down to the base. However, there is another full spike that looks like it may try and bloom. Should I cut this spike so more energy goes to the root repair? Thanks!

    • Mary Ann says:

      Hi – That’s a hard question and a judgement call. I think the new growth is a good sign showing that it is doing better/thriving. I would allow that spike to flower and then proceed from there as usual. 🙂 But it’s your call! – Mary Ann

  56. Terri says:

    Hello, I think I may have drowned my lovely orchid 🙁 I have been watering it but didn’t think to drain the water out of the pot and now the blooms are drooping. Is there any way to save it?

  57. PV says:

    Hey Mary,

    Great Site! I recently just chopped off a larger proportion of my Pymenolopsis Orchid cos the roots were mouldy (black) and rotted (mushy). So I had a choice of giving a shot or let it die eventually. So decided the former.

    At that point I have 3 more buds to bloom, today it some of the leaves look a little droopy but still green, top 3 leaves are still ok firm, bottom 2s are little flabby. 2 more buds to go, 1 of them is blooming..

    My question is does it mean my orchid is pulling it through or more like dammit it, just going to spend the rest of my energy to bloom and die in dignity?

    • Mary Ann says:

      LOL! 🙂 They don’t usually bloom to die in dignity, but that made me laugh. 🙂 Usually if the plant has enough energy to flower, that points to you doing the right things for it. Keep at it! It sounds like there’s still hope. – Mary Ann

  58. Bonnie says:

    i give my orchid 3 ice cubes every Friday however my husband and I went out of town. We left on Thursday and returned on Sunday. Almost all of the blooms fell off. What is the best method to revive it?

    • Mary Ann says:

      This is hard to answer without more information. Did you water it before you left? Is it possible that it’s just at the end of its blooming cycle, and this was just terrible timing? How is the rest of the plant looking? Can you see the roots? – Mary Ann

      • Bonnie says:

        No, I did not water it before we left. So there was a 9 day period between the watering instead of the 7. I woke up this morning and all of the blooms have fallen off.

        Yes I can see the roots. What should I do?


        • Mary Ann says:

          How do the roots look? How does the rest of the plant look? If the rest of the plant looks ok, then it will be ok. It might have been at the end of its blooming cycle at this same time and it was just bad timing, or the extra days of no water might have jump-started the process. Check the roots the best you can, and make sure the potting material looks good and doesn’t have any odd smells. If it does, then you will need to repot. Otherwise, just be consistent with it. Underwatering is easier to recover from than overwatering. 🙂 – Mary Ann

  59. Bonnie says:

    It’s is a Phalaenopsis. I went ahead and trimmed the stalks last night.

  60. LH says:

    Unfortunately my phalaenopsis orchid has frost damage on all of it’s leaves, it looks like they have frozen and the cells have burst. We live in Canada and the it was left out in -5 degrees Celsius frost overnight by mistake. Every leaf are droopy and look like frost damages tomatoes, watery. The roots still look okay, and I’ve removed any unhealthy looking rotting roots. Is this plant salvageable and should I remove the damaged leaves? My only concern is that all the leaves are damaged and the plant will not be able to provide sustenance for itself. Any advice? Thank you for your time and assistance.

    • Mary Ann says:

      You’d be surprised what some plants can recover from. Even if you only have a tiny bit of roots, you can still save it under the right conditions. That’s not a guarantee that yours can recover, but it’s definitely worth a try. I hope this article is helpful to you. Good luck!! – Mary Ann

  61. Adri says:

    Hi….please help…looks like my orchid is dead…..all the flowers and leaves have fallen off…it tip of stem is dried out and brown
    The roots is mauldy and squished theres a few green ones…the obes thar are on top off the soil is also dried out.

    The stem where the last leaves ha fallen off ..looks black and mauldy.

    Can i still try ans repot it ????

  62. olivia says:

    my orchid is super moist and has no more leafs, and not even a steam anymore, it got neglected while I was moving 🙁 I cut off all the dead roots but most of the roots are still alive, is there any chance it will regrow a new stem? and come back to life? please reply, THANK YOU! 🙂

    • Mary Ann says:

      Yes, if you have healthy roots, there is a good chance it can recover! Pay close attention and adjust as needed. I’m assuming you repotted with fresh potting media, so the moisture has been corrected. Make sure you have good air flow and keep trying! Let us know how it’s going. – Mary Ann

  63. Anne says:

    I have a phelanopsis it has 2 leaves that are dark green and wilted looking I repoted it shortly after getting it and realized it has almost no roots. Since then it does not seem to have gotten more, about a month or so. However the plant is still blooming with 2 open blooms and buds forming and developing. What is going on with my plant is it blooming then going to die ? Or am I worrying for no reason.
    Also One of my other phalenopsis orchids has small yellow spots on its leaves and flowers should I be concerned? It’s blooming vigorously and has many light green leaves. It is a bit root bound but I didn’t want to transplant it till it stopped blooming. Should I worry?

    I have several other phalenopsis on the same window ledge and they are all doing very well I mist them all almost every morning, with a heavyer watering as I feel them dry out. All plants are in a mix of bark and spagnum in clear pots with good dranage into a secondary pot.
    Please help with my 2 trouble plants

  64. Lucky says:

    I rescued an orchid from a neighbor. It has two new shoots with buds at the ends but ALAS, the roots were sitting in water and are completely rotten. Plus the LEAVES FELL OFF! Is there ANY hope without leaves? Can I put the shoots/stems in any kind of medium that would allow them to bloom without leaves???
    SO SAD that this orchid had so much promise…
    Please advise.
    Ever hopeful about living thing,

  65. Charles Watt says:

    I recently purchased a Miltoniopsis ( Pansy ) Orchid (which was 3 Days in Transit on Delivery) and a couple of Flowers were Shrivelled ! I stood it in Water for a short period of time and placed it at a window which had Sun! Is there any chance my Orchid will Recover ? Please advise . Thank you .

    • Mary Ann says:

      Yes, of course there is still hope. 🙂 Just pay very close attention to it and watch for any changes and respond accordingly. Make sure you have good air flow and you don’t overwater in response because that can cause rot and disease. Let us know how things are going! – Mary Ann

  66. lisa says:

    Bought a orchid about a year and a half ago, the flowers fell off a week later. I watered it every week with 3 ice cubes. As time went on the stems turned brown, so I cut them back. The leaves remained green so I thought everything was ok. Watered as usual. Then was wandering why the flowers never came back? The leaves were still green. Then the leaves started dying. To make the story short, I went online to see what I can do. I tried to repot the orchid and 2 weeks later,the last of the 2 leaves snapped off and crown started getting mushy and dried up. So, I took it out of the pot after repot it and noticed that there are still green roots on the bottom. So I didn’t want to give up hope on the orchid. I put it in a glass of water and hoping it will come back? This is the first time I have ever owned an orchid. Please help me out. Should I throw it away, or can I save it.

    • Mary Ann says:

      It sounds like you may have not provided enough air flow. Orchids need good ventilation. If there are viable roots, you could save it, but you must have patience. Provide good ventilation and don’t overwater it. 🙂 – Mary Ann

  67. Judi says:

    I was given the most beautiful phaleanopsis with big blooms, opening about 3 more until after about 2+ months the blooms started closing and dropping. My problem is that the leaves have all turned soft and/or yellow and today the last one came off. The stem still feels fairly solid. I had taken the plant out of it’s larger pot of soil and found the clear pot with the roots. Several looked almost rotten—about 1/2 of them did. I trimmed them off and packed (lightly) the rest with some bark that was with it, then watered and drained it and put it back. The flowers lasted healthily about 6 weeks more. I drop a little water into it about every 5 days. It didn’t seem to be dry or wet. Now I saw a root(?) peeking up a little yesterday and today the last leaf dropped. Is it possible to grow this orchid even though the leaves are gone?

    • Mary Ann says:

      Yes! It sounds like you have done a great job! New root growth is a wonderful sign of the plant returning to health. Keep a close eye on it and respond as you’ve been doing if you notice any problems come up. Make sure you have good air circulation. 🙂 Let us know how it’s going! – Mary Ann

  68. Bree says:

    My orchids flowers are wilting and falling off. The leaves and roots look healthy. We re potted it.. Not sure what to do to help it become healthy again…??

    • Mary Ann says:

      It might just be at the end of its blooming season. 🙂 With the rest of the plant looking good, you did the right thing repotting. Do some research about your type of orchid and when its blooming season is and what it needs after it’s finished blooming. Good luck! – Mary Ann

  69. Shahrokh says:

    My orchid has just roots, no stem no leaves. Is it possible to revive it? How?

    • Mary Ann says:

      Yes it is possible. But what kind of orchid do you have? If you have healthy roots, that’s always a good sign. 🙂 The plant can regrow. – Mary Ann

  70. Juan says:

    I was given a den Briana jade that looked like it was ready to die. Had been In a pot with a bromiliad and got overrun. I repotted and used a little bit of superthrive for the roots. 2 months later I have new growth can’t wait to see what Her bloom looks like after the years she has had

    • Mary Ann says:

      That’s awesome! Thank you so much for sharing! It’s wonderful to hear encouraging stories. – Mary Ann

  71. ericka says:

    I have a Phalaenopsis Orchid, I keep it in my office, which always has an A/C blasting, and has no direct sunlight. I keep it under my lamp on the desk, it has a lip to protect it from direct A/C. There are beautiful flowers, but some are wilted now after a week of ownership, and the roots are turning dull green and brown!!! I iced it the first day until soil stayed wet, and a few days ago I poured enough water in it to keep the soil wet but not to the point the water line was visible. Now its still wet, everything is green and vibrant still but the roots connecting to soil. What should I do?

    • Mary Ann says:

      It sounds like it’s too wet and cold. It sounds like it’s starting to rot. It needs air flow, drainage and sunlight. It might be smart to take it home where you can control the conditions a little more. Good luck! I hope this is helpful. – Mary Ann

  72. Kathryn says:

    I purchased about 10 orchids from our local market about a year ago. Since then I learned a few things. Never water your plants with ice cubes. They are grown in tropical regions in which ice cubes do not fall from the sky. Use not cold and not hot water.
    Another things I learned, take your newly purchased orchid out of its container except when it is in bloom as this will stress the plant. My plants had the roots buried and packed. They were not receiving air. Most orchids have the roots out of the plant mixture. I left mine in the original container and they started to die. I purchased moss, took each one out of the container, filled the bottom with the moss and allowed the roots to remain outside of the container.They sit in a bed of rocks with a small amount of water so the humidity is correct. I live in Colorado where it is dry. Water once or twice a week being careful not to get water in the center of the plant. If you do, wipe it out with a bit of napkin. Orchids like their leaves rinsed off. It took me some time to figure this out as a good deal of information on line is wrong. Good luck.

  73. Katrina says:

    My orchid was going down a path that I had lost several orchids on before. The leaves were wrinkling and going limp, the tips were turning yellow then one of the spikes started losing its recent blooms. So I placed it next to a window with indirect light and even temperature instead of on my desk next to the AC. I then gave it two ice cubes every three days for about 3 weeks. This worked wonders on my plant the leaves are firm and raised! It was a long process but one quick check of the roots gave me some insight. This site really helped me figure things out, thank you! I can’t believe that’s it’s thriving now, I usually have the touch of death for orchids.

  74. Jamie says:

    I have one root that is green can I grow a new plant from that one root and how. Please help it is an emerald orchid.

  75. Drea says:

    Hi, I was recently given a Phal. It looked all healthy and good until the point i removed it from its plastic wrapping a few hours later. The leaves were quite stiff and green, however they have now dropped (3 weeks). It had thee layers of leaves, but now it only has 2 , with the others having fallen off. The parts which connected to the stem seemed to be overwatered and yellowish.

    The blooms seem to have reached the end of their cycle, however, due to some concerns I had about the roots, we decided to repot the plant. This turned out to be a good idea as the roots, bar one or two, were all very brown and papery at the touch. In fact, they seemed rotten. Upon closer inspection, we noticed a sponge-like material in the middle of the plant (about the size of a wine cork), which was clearly very wet.

    We are now hoping that with the little healthy roots left, together with 2 aerial roots, which have now turned a nice green color from the silvery color they were before repotting, the plant will pick up and get healthy once again.

    Should I do anything to the plant, besides hope for the best that some new roots will grow and hopefully get blooms on its next cycle ?

    • Mary Ann says:

      Drea – That is very unfortunate. It sounds like you’ve done the right things so far. I would consider this method in addition to what you are doing. Thank you. – Mary Ann

  76. Allison says:

    I noticed my potting mix was starting to mold a bit on top so I went to repot my orchid(apparently someone thought they were being helpful by watering it), all my roots appear to be rotted but its still sprouting new leaves and I’m assuming air roots. Can I save it?

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