Why Is My Orchid Wilting: The Principal Reasons and Fixes

Why is my orchid wilting is a question you will ask yourself if you don’t take care of it properly. Generally, orchids wilt due to poor soil health, improper watering, temperature stress, disease infections, and insect damage.

Orchid Wilting and Looking Weak

Fortunately, some easy ways exist to stop the wilting and revive the orchids. Continue reading this article to learn about the explanation of these causes and how you can fix them without any hassle.

Why Is My Orchid Wilting and Looking Weak?

Your orchid is wilting and looking weak because of the unsuitable or poor soil it has, or you may be adding too much or little water, or it has heat or cold shock. It may also have undesirable humidity, disease and insect damage, or it’s a natural default.

– Unsuitable or Poor Soil

Soil or potting medium is a home of orchids where they get critical nutrients and water. That is why health matters a lot. In short, when the soil becomes bad, it is understandable that orchids will face lots of complications, and one of them is wilting.

The biggest soil problem is poor drainage, and this would result in having a soil with big clay clumps keeps the excess water from passing through. Such soils cause waterlogging conditions and can lead to fungus attacks. Similarly, roots cannot grow and even breathe air in such soil. As a result, orchids start to wilt with time.

Another soil problem is pH imbalance as well, which would cause the plant to look unhealthy. Orchids love slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6.0. When it is more acidic or alkaline, then nutrient absorption slows down. This leads to nutrient deficiency in the plants, which causes them to wilt.

– Adding Way Too Much Water

If your orchids are wilting, then take a good look at your potting medium. If it is soggy, and you know you have applied lots of water in the last few weeks, then the reason behind the problem is overwatering.

Orchids need water to survive, but adding too much of it can cause root problems. How this would happen is first, the oxygen supply gets restricted when the soil or potting mix is saturated with water. This causes oxygen stress, which greatly impacts the orchid roots; as a result, you would see how the root and stem tissues can also start to die if the water stays still for hours.

Furthermore, an overwatered orchid is also at risk of disease infections. We all know that fungi like damp or humid conditions to grow; keeping this in mind, when you over-add water, you fulfill its wish.

Fungus like Armillaria mellea, Clitocybe tabescent, and Fusarium attack the roots first, which harms their health; just as the roots would weaken the plant begins to look sick. This is because the nutrient and water uptake slows and eventually stops. This leads to wilting and, ultimately, orchid death in a prolonged manner.

– Applying Less Water Than Needed

Some gardeners need to add more water to prevent overwatering conditions. Little do they know underwatering is also a big cause of wilting.

Applying Less Water Than Needed

It’s no surprise, as every life depends on water to survive and thrive. It plays a key role in every internal process in an orchid, which generates food, maintains the inner temperature, and does much more.

So, when you keep the soil or potting medium dry, every internal process will stop. This will cause plants to lack energy, and their inner temperature will also become unstable. When these things happen, wilting is just a few days, which is why you should take this sign of the stress.

– Heat Stress

Are your orchid buds wilting on a hot summer day? Then heat or high temperature is the main culprit—orchids like bright indirect light for at least six hours to thrive. If you grow them under direct sunlight, then it’s a no-brainer that they will face problems, including wilting.

When you expose orchids to heat, the water starts to evaporate more. A time will come when there will be water stress in the orchids, which will occur when the temperature rises. When this happens, the leaves will start curling up, and the flowers will shrink. After some time, the wilting will start, leading to plant death.

– Cold Shock

Another reason behind the wilting leaves is cold temperatures, and now the plant would become duller looking. Most orchid plants can tolerate 50 degrees Fahrenheit and not less than it.

What happens when the temperature drops lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit is the physiological and internal processes slow down. This leads to a lack of food and energy in the orchids, eventually making it hard for them to hold their shape.

In the cold shock, orchid leaves first droop down and you will see how it is not in its normal and healthy range. You may also then see discoloration marks on the stem too. Most orchids don’t flower in the winter; as a result, you will only have to examine leaves and stems carefully to detect cold stress early.

– Undesirable Humidity Levels

Orchid leaves can also wilt if the humidity levels are lower than 50 percent or higher than 75 percent, they will start to stress and look weaker because the plant is not in its normal range. Evaporation gets affected when the humidity is not in the optimal range which is 55 to 70 percent.

When the humidity is lower than 50 percent, it means there is dryness in the surroundings. So, orchids evaporate more water, leading to water stress. To elaborate, when there is a water shortage, leaves drooping, discoloration, and wilting can happen.

Similarly, if humidity is more than 75 percent, there is a lot of moisture in the surrounding. In this situation, the excessive water in plants will find it hard to evaporate, leading to overwatering conditions. Furthermore, the fungus also loves high humidity, and you will see this issue because of both overwatering and fungus can cause wilting in orchids.

– Disease Damage

Disease attack is another leading wilting cause; root rot disease is generally the main reason behind this orchid problem. It is caused by fungi and mainly attacks when you must be more careful with the watering schedule, and these diseases would increase their strength when the surrounding isn’t cleaned or as hygienic as it’s supposed to be.

In addition to root rot, fusarium wilt, and bacterial wilt can also cause wilting. In these diseases, the yellow and brown spots first appear on the leaves and stem of an orchid. When they get severe, leaves fall off, and the plant ultimately wilts.

– Insects Feasting

Insect infestation can also be the reason behind wilting orchids. Spider mites, thrips, and mealybugs are the common orchid insects that love to feed on the sap of leaves. When their population goes to hundreds, no leaf and flower get spared, what they do is attack the sap in the leaves, and it gets depleted when insects feast, which leads to wilting.

– Nature’s Own Decision

Sometimes, wilting is not anyone’s fault, you may be giving the care in the right way possible, but the plant is sick since nursery. It may be the end of the orchid’s natural life cycle. Just like us, orchids can’t live forever, so, if you see orchids wilting and the end of their season or life span, there is nothing much you can do.

What To Do To Revive a Wilting Orchid?

To revive a wilting orchid, you should first strengthen the soil by adding organic compounds. You should also ensure optimal moisture in the soil to avoid watering stress.

Revive a Wilting Orchid

Protect them from temperature and environmental stress, and make sure to deal with diseases and insects.

– Make Soil Stronger

Orchid leaves recover greatly if you make the soil more suitable for them. For this, You can do lots of things, but the most important ones are trying to change the soil to a new medium

First, remove the topsoil layer and add potting mix or well-drained soil to improve drainage. Then, you must go ahead and apply organic fertilizer doses to reverse wilting and support orchid blooming, and add compost if the soil has water logging problems.

If the soil is more acidic, add a layer or solution of lime. If it is more alkaline, then apply wood ash or sulfur. Changing the medium and strengthening the soil will surely reverse orchid leaves wilting.

– Add Water the Right Way

It will help if you water orchids smartly when they start to wilt. To add water in a sufficient way, you must wait for the soil to dry partially before adding water.

To know about soil moisture, you can always use a moisture meter, but of course, if you don’t have this device, don’t worry; using your index finger to sense the moisture is also a good way to determine whether the soil has become dry as well.

If the soil needs water, you should carefully add it. Ensure you don’t spill it on other parts, as it can increase the chances of fungi growth. If you don’t like pouring water into the soil, then try spraying water or using ice cubes as a watering method.

– Protect Them from Temperature and Environmental Stresses

The temperature change can hurt orchids in many ways. When you see orchid flowers wilting before opening, they face heat stress. In this case, you can transfer the pots to a shady area to counter high temperatures. If relocation is impossible, using a shade cloth is the best option.

If there is cold stress, you should bring the pot into your home as the temperature is much warmer there. You can also use the heater to make orchids feel cozy. Place them at least 12 inches away, so they don’t get burned.

If the problem is low humidity, spraying plants with water frequently will help them deal with the damage. For high humidity, make sure there is enough plant-to-plant distance. In addition, you should prune off extra shoots to improve air circulation.

– Get Rid of Insects

It is important to control insect infestation to revive wilted orchid leaves. For this, you must aim to apply organic repellents first. The most effective ones are neem oil spray, baking soda, and wood ash.

Get Rid of Insects

If the insect population keeps growing, spray the chemical insecticides. It is better to apply in the morning as more insects are visible in this part of the day. Remember to wear a mask and goggles to protect yourself from fumes.

Furthermore, look for weeds and remove them as soon as you spot them. The reason is that they can support infection spread and insect attacks. Moreover, prioritize organic fertilizers over inorganic ones as they don’t cause soil problems. When you follow these care measures, your orchids will never face wilting problems again.

– Deal With Diseases

If the reason for wilting is disease infection, you should take specific measures immediately. You may also think to yourself, “should I remove wilted orchid flowers?” Yes, you should because they may spread the disease to other parts.

How to cut wilted orchid flowers is a process that should be done with sharp scissors or knives. You can also try plucking by hand. Similarly, you should also cut any infected leaf and shoot too.

Moreover, since overwatering is the leading cause of diseases, you should ensure the soil has excellent drainage properties. For this, remove some soil from the top and add a layer of compost or organic manure.


No one wants to see orchids wilt. If you know what is causing this problem, it becomes really easy to revive the plants. Here are the key points to revise every important information:

  • Make sure the soil has a balanced pH with exceptional drainage properties.
  • Water your orchids sufficiently. Moisten the soil only when it becomes partially or fully dry.
  • When the temperature is high, relocate the orchids to a sunny area and spray some water. Bring the pots inside the home and place them near a heater if it is colder.
  • When insects attack, use organic insecticides first. If they don’t show the result you want to see, then go for chemical ones.
  • To deal with the disease, prune off infected parts and ensure adequate moisture. The most important one is to clean your garden daily, as pathogens are present in the debris.

When growing orchids, it is crucial to follow care measures to avoid wilting in the future. Stick to these suggestions, and the orchids will start thriving again!

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