Overwatered Orchid Leaves: How To Identify This Issue

Overwatered orchid leaves are an issue that would occur for various reasons, but knowing the signs such as yellowing, brown spots, drooping, wilting, and smell from the root zone.

Overwatered Orchid Leaves

But there are many more details behind these signs that every orchid grower should know. Curious to know what these are? Then stay till the end as we are explaining everything here.

How To Identify Overwatered Orchid Leaves

To identify overwatered orchid leaves, you would see that water is dripping from them. On another note, you will also start seeing brown spots on the leaves. Moreover, the leaves would be drooping, curling, and looking yellow. They would also become soft, look wilted, and release a foul odor.

– Water Is Dripping From Them

Watering an orchid in many ways, including misting it with a bottle. A lot of gardeners prefer this way because it is easy. Furthermore, orchids love it too when you mist them during high temperatures or in summer.

However, even with the spraying, overwatering is possible. Water droplets on leaves after spraying are normal. But if you still see them after hours, you have overwatered orchid plants. Water on leaves for a long time is not due to one or two spraying. It happens when you do it multiple times a day for some days.

Over-spraying is one of many times you will see water on leaves. Even if you pour more water on the soil, you will notice water dripping. When you make the soil overly moist, more water will be absorbed and travel to the leaves. The leaf cells can only handle a limited quantity of water; in short, when you overwater the soil, these cells can eventually burst and release the excess water.

This “explosion” will occur on the upper side of the leaf, and this is due to the excess water. Right after the bursting, you will blister-like tiny bubbles coming out, as they will slide down and fall to the ground, which looks aesthetically pleasing, but not good for orchids.

– Brown Spots on Leaves

One of the biggest orchid leaf problems is the emergence of spots. These spots vary in color and can also occur due to several reasons. The brown ones appear when you add water unnecessarily.

The thing is- the main affected part of over-adding water is the roots and not the leaves, but you will see the result of the damaged roots upon the leaves. Orchid roots do not like wet potting mix or soil. They cannot even absorb water and uptake minerals in such a medium. But things get worse for them when fungal diseases attack. The common one that occurs when you overwater is root or crown rot.

Brown Spots on Leaves

In this disease, root tissues start to rot and stop functioning properly. As a result, moisture and nutrient absorption slow down, and a time will come when these rotten roots stop the uptake, leading to chaos in the leaves.

Leaves need both moisture and minerals to do physiological processes like photosynthesis. As a result, their shortage slows down these processes, which causes brown spots to arise—furthermore, nutrients like nitrogen and iron form chlorophyll- a compound that gives green color to leaves.

This shows that a deficiency of these nutrients will also lead to a shortage of chlorophyll. When this happens, brown spots will start to emerge on the leaves. All these complications arise when you must be more careful with how much water you add.

The problem can aggravate more if the air circulation is less or the humidity is high, when the moisture starts exceeding 75 percent. Therefore, you must maintain distance between plants and prune off extra parts.

– Leaf Drooping

The leaves can also droop down if you don’t properly water orchids. Drooping is caused by overwatering as you would do without having a schedule to water them; however, you can discard the under-watering possibility if you apply water this week or last.

When roots get too much water, they feel stressed and unable to transport water to the leaves. The reason for the stress is restricted oxygen supply, and in this case, when root tissues do not get in touch with oxygen molecules, they will stop their function. As a result, dehydration will occur, and when you are adding more water can lead to dehydration as well.

When water is insufficient, internal processes cannot take place. These processes are critical for orchids because they generate energy, which is utilized to hold the vigor and shape. So, lack of energy will cause leaves to droop, and this is due to the excess irrigation and water in the sap.

– Leaf Curling

Overwatered leaves can curl up, too, indicating that you are watering wrong. Well, the leaves do it intentionally. The curling occurs due to the attack of fungal disease, when they get severe.

On another note, their performance declines when a fungal disease like crown rot attacks the roots; as a result, they cannot absorb water. The orchid will then have no choice but to curl the leaves, which means that it is done to minimize water evaporation. The same response can be seen when you don’t water the soil.

Dehydrated orchid also shows the same response when the soil becomes dry. Inexperienced gardeners can need clarification about whether they have overwatered or underwatered plants.

That is why you worry that if the case is an orchid overwatered or underwatered, you would go ahead and check the leaf’s features. The good news is that it is easy to determine whether you have over-applied or under-applied water. All you have to do is observe how the orchid looks!

What does an underwatered orchid look like? It looks fragile and discolored, and this is because the underwatered orchid roots are also dry and can easily break off when you apply pressure. In comparison, an overwatered plant feels soft, and its roots are soggy too; in short, identify overwatering by checking both the orchid’s appearance and roots.

– Complete Leaf Yellowing

Yellow leaves are another side effect of adding lots of water. The process of discoloration is the same as brown spots. The roots face the damage first, which impacts nutrient uptake. As a result, chlorophyll production declines, which causes yellow spots to appear. All the leaves turn yellow with time, and the rotting roots die.

Complete Leaf Yellowing

That is why when you notice orchid leaves turning yellow, you should immediately do something to protect them. You can remove the wet soil and add a well-drained one. It will be a big plus if the layer you add contains nutrients. Then, you should apply appropriate fungicides to stop the fungus from spreading.

– Too Soft Leaves

Overwatered orchids have extra softness; they would look very mushy; the extra water can travel to the leaves when the soil is overly moist. This will make them look like their sap is very heavy, so if you rub such leaves, you will also sense water or sap within them.

This mushiness is also a way that they are dehydrated, too; although this sounds odd, the initial stages, plants absorb lots of moisture, which makes leaves soft. The roots’ performance declines with time, and the water uptake slows; eventually, water absorption will stop, leading to dehydration.

– Look For Wilting

Leaves wilting may also mean you need to be more careful with adding water. The first step of wilting is the emergence of wrinkles. It would be best to take them as a sign of something wrong with the orchids.

The wrinkled orchid leaves quickly start having spots and curl down. If you don’t do anything to fix the problem they are facing, then these leaves will ultimately wilt. In wilting, the leaves become dark and droop down and this is because they have been weakened.

They will also feel lifeless when you touch them and usually detach from the orchids when you hold them. If the wilting is caused by overwatering, you will see bottom leaves facing the effect first, but yet again, you will see older leaves becoming dark, although, with time, the upper ones will take the damage too.

– Smelly Soil

Checking the soil is also a good idea to confirm if the orchid’s leaves are damaged by overwatering; this is because the soil would start to release a smell or a foul odor. To grow healthy orchids, the soil should stay sufficiently moist.

Even if you add water in controlled quantities, you should check the orchid potting mix. It is because there are chances that its drainage is poor, which is causing water logging. As a result, such potting media are home to diseases like root rot, and the leaves would look very yellow and droopy.

Carefully shake your plant out of its container and examine its root system. In case of overwatering, the roots will appear black and feel mushy. Touch them gently to confirm and you will check that the leaves and the roots are both looking heavy.

Moreover, you should also check the drainage holes of the pots. Sometimes, you’re watering and soil drainage is fine. These holes can get clogged, stopping the excessive water from leaving. As a result, roots will face water stress, and all the damages discussed above can arise.


– Is It Possible To Recover an Overwatered Orchid?

Yes, it is possible to save an orchid from overwatering. You must follow orchid care measures like removing the topsoil, adding compost, and letting it stay outside for days until the potting medium becomes dry, and the leaves will look green again after a bit.

If the fungus has already attacked, then use fungicides. Furthermore, cutting infected leaves and roots is a good strategy for dealing with diseases. That’s how to save an orchid that was overwatered.

– How Can You Dry an Orchid That Is Overwatered?

You can dry an orchid by putting it outside for some days. What you can do is remove as much wet soil as possible and adding orchid mix for better and quick results. If you don’t have it, then bark chips will work too.

– How Many Times Should You Water an Orchid?

You should water an orchid twice a week. However, the time to water depends on the soil condition. If it is partially dry, only then choose to water it, or put two ice cubes on the soil as a watering method.


All in all, overwatering orchids is never recommended. There are many signs to look for if you think an orchid’s leaves face water stress. Here, we explain all of these in detail and how they occur. It’s now time to check out the main points of the whole article to revise all the key details:

  • Orchid leaf cells can burst due to overwatering, which releases water in bubble form.
  • Brown spots can also emerge on the leaves, which indicates that root rot has attacked.
  • Leaf yellowing also means that you have added more water.
  • Do not take drooping and wilting lightly, as orchids usually die after these problems.
  • Keep checking the soil to find out about the moisture situation. If you accidentally overwater, give it time to dry or add compost.

You should prevent overwatering at all costs and follow proper plant care measures if you want the leaves to stay in their true shape and colors.

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