My orchids are dying!

by Decor&Dine
I have three orchids and they are all dying. The blooms are falling off of one and the bottom leaves have turned yellow. The other has it's main stem turning yellow so I am afraid the shoot from it will die before it blooms. Help!! Any suggestions to what I am going wrong, I water them once a week with three ice cubes, saw that on tv once.
my orchids are dying
  22 answers
  • Rob Handel Rob Handel on Aug 19, 2013
    I'm not an expert on orchids, but perhaps some kind of disease? If they're all dying at the same time it might suggest that there's a disease that's affecting all of them. A friend who grows them professionally once told me to water them twice a week and didn't mention anything about ice cubes.
  • Stacey Swift Stacey Swift on Aug 19, 2013
    That's what they do. They die then they come back. I had two that did that for about 3 years. They come back prettier than before. As long as the leaves still look healthy, a new stem will shoot up when you least expect. I kept watering as you did. What finally did them in were little white insects that got on them from another plant brought into the house. So inspect before you buy.
    • Decor&Dine Decor&Dine on Aug 19, 2013
      @Stacey Swift thanks, mine don't have bugs but I am concerned because they are dying before the buds actually bloom,
  • I agree with Stacey, I go through this with mine every year. Ususally when we have trouble with orchids it's because we either water too much or not enough. Can be a bit tricky.
    • Decor&Dine Decor&Dine on Aug 19, 2013
      @Sensible Gardening and Living one of the orchids was a gift and it came with other plants and soil instead of the mix. Do you think I need to remove it from the soil? It came from a florist, but I heard they are not suppose to be in soil.
  • Is the picture current? Because in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the Orchids. The blooms can last on an Orchid for several months (mine last about 4 months) and then it is another 7 months before they bloom again. And I do absolutely nothing but water it and leave it in the same spot! It has bloomed 3 times since my husband gave it to me Valentines day 4 years ago. I have had a leaf turn and die once but that is nothing uncommon. You need to cut the stems off after the flowers fall off which they will one by one. Putting ice cubes is the trademark for the Orchids sold in stores but I do not do that. About once a week I put about a 1/4 cup of water that runs through the peat moss and clay pot to the tray underneath. Unless you have a greenhouse and perfect temps and humidity, the Orchids are never going to look like they did when the nursery delivered them to the store.
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    • Decor&Dine Decor&Dine on Aug 19, 2013
      @The Garden Frog with C Renee thanks, I will leave them and try the 1/4 cup of water like you suggested :)
  • Brittani Oplinger Brittani Oplinger on Aug 19, 2013
    If all the blooms have fallen off you can just cut back to the healthiest part of the stem and next year you'll get a fuller bloom. If there are ants (they can cause the stem to turn), you can use diatomaceous earth to kill them. I get it here: It's really cheap and you'll get plenty to last for a long time. Otherwise, just soil supplementation and regular watering - not over-watering, just regular watering - and it's probably fine.
  • Margaret, yes I would. You can buy proper soil mixes for orchids.
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  • Donna Shipley Donna Shipley on Aug 21, 2013
    There are lots of sites with information, but I know a fellow who raises them for sale and this is what it says on his website. I have followed his suggestions and always done well with this type of orchid... "Orchids are like any other houseplant when it comes to care. They thrive when five basic needs are met: food, water, light, temperature, and humidity. 1 The best way to feed your new orchid is with regular, balanced (e.g. 12-12-12) liquid (it dissolves better in water) plant food. Feed it every other time you water, at ¼ the amount the instructions call for (unless it has specific instructions for orchids). We sell Peter's Cal-Mag and I use it in our greenhouses. 2.Water your orchid every 5(summer)-7(winter) days. Have a schedule to prevent over/under watering but be flexible. If it’s hot water more; if it’s cool, water less. When you do water it, soak it thoroughly. What I do is soak in fertilized water for 10-15 minutes and then drain well. Don’t ever let an orchid sit in water for an extended period of time. The roots will rot and the plant will die. If you have a clear pot, keep an eye on the condensation inside the pot. When there is very little condensation, it is time to water your plant. Remember if in doubt, wait a day to water. 3.Orchid plants in general only like direct sunlight in the morning when it is not so intense. Like humans, they can sunburn. The leaves will become discolored and may die. Phalaenopsis thrive in an eastern window, a protected southern window or an office with fluorescent lighting is perfect. Oncidiums like more light, like a southern window with an eave. Others, like the Cattleya, like even more light. If your plant doesn’t flower, it probably needs more light. Ask me about what kind of light your orchid wants and I’ll suggest a spot in your home or office. 4.In general, if you’re comfortable your orchid is comfortable. 72-80 during the day and 58-65 at night is fine. Don’t place your orchid near a heater vent or in an excessively drafty spot. Orchids come from all types of climates and most will adjust to moderate temperatures. If you have a specific spot you want to put an orchid, ask me and I’ll make a suggestion. 5.Humidity is vital to an orchid and usually lacking in homes and offices but that is easily fixed. Place rocks, marbles, or wood chips in a plant tray or saucer that is one or two sizes larger than your orchid pot. Fill the saucer with plain tap water to a level that is just below the top of the material in the saucer and then place the orchid on the saucer. This method allows water to evaporate at a constant rate and create a humid “microclimate” for your plant without letting the roots get soggy. The reason most orchids are considered hard to grow is people usually worry about them too much. The more you bother it, the more unhappy it becomes. The best way to alleviate this is to treat it like any other houseplant. A better option is to buy a whole bunch of orchids so you can spread the love around!" Good luck!
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    • Decor&Dine Decor&Dine on Aug 21, 2013
      @Donna Shipley I hope so, I love them :)
  • Lisa C Lisa C on Aug 21, 2013
    you may be over watering them? never let them sit in water. I don't know about ice cubes they like warm climates? let them dry completly try just misting them with water when they are dry every few days i live in FL mine hang under the trees and i only water when is hasn't rained for a few weeks. They survive off the dew and bloom twice a year.
  • Marilynne Rowland Marilynne Rowland on Aug 21, 2013
    I agree with Lisa! 5 ice cubes one time, once a week!!! That's it! Simplist plant I have ever grown!
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    • Decor&Dine Decor&Dine on Aug 23, 2013
      @Lisa C thanks, I think i was actually under watering them. I started to water like you and others have suggested and the leaves are already startingto look healthier :)
  • Nancy ONeil Nancy ONeil on Aug 21, 2013
    I have been growing orchids for many years and through trial and error I have found that this works best for me - I water every 7-14 days depending on the season. I fertilize by using a powdered fertilizer dissolved in water in a spray mister which I spray onto the leaves, exposed roots and the top of the growing medium after watering the plants. My plants get moved around quite often when in bloom and I have them in windows that face all directions, they don't seem to mind this at all. I never cut back the stems after blooming unless they yellow and die off on their own. Usually the spent stem will sprout off side stems with new buds and the existing stem will begin to grow bud stems from the end. Sometimes this will happen after a rest period and sometime it will do this immediately and the plant will continue flowering for well over 6 months. I have several varieties of orchids and treat them all the same. Over watering is the downfall of most plants, it is always better to underwater than over water. Hope this helps.
    • Decor&Dine Decor&Dine on Aug 21, 2013
      @Nancy ONeil your orchids are gorgeous!! Thanks for all the advise, I always cut mine back and only had then bloom again once. I am constantly buying new ones. I will take your advise.
  • April E April E on Aug 21, 2013
    ok I understand what everyone is saying about the ice cubes however the "ice cube orchid" is a specific type phalaenopsis orchid bred to be watered that way. other breeds and other phalies do not do as well this way. and orchids are easy anyway. once a week put your orchids in the sink, fill the sink with lukewarm water, enough to cover the tops of the pots and let them soak 20-30 min, pull the plug and let them drain for a hour, then put them back in their place. this can be done the easiest when getting ready to leave the house put the orchids in the sink to soak right before you start to get ready when you are about to leave the house pull the plug and when you get home they are ready to go back to their spot. most orchids are tropical epiphytes and do not like getting cold the ice watering method stresses them as well as it is not enough water for many varieties they "store water in their stems or root paddings depending on the variety feed them occasionally (every 2-3 month) by using a water soluble fertilizer high in nitrogen usually I recommend a 30-10-10 after they have been watered pour some dissolved food through the pots and then let them drain as usual
    • Decor&Dine Decor&Dine on Aug 21, 2013
      @April E thanks, I am going to stop the ice cube thing and start watering them as has been recommended. I do think I was not watering them enough.
  • Glenna Kennedy Glenna Kennedy on Aug 21, 2013
    I have an orchid that my kids gave me about 8 years ago and it seems to thrive on neglect like my Xmas cactus. Mine sits on the back of the toilet right beside a west window so it only gets indirect sunlight later in the day. It seems to love the humidity in the bathroom as I can get by with only watering it maybe every 7-10 days. It is not in soil, its in this ..looks like wood chips type material that came with it from the florist. I have never put it in soil and have only fertilized it about 3 times with a stick fertilizer. It drops leaves occasionally but only when a new leaf is growing. It flowers once a year and those flowers can last up to 2 months. Every six months or so I take it out of the pot and straighten it as it grows towards the light. Never heard of the ice cube thing? but sounds like maybe you are over-watering it.
    • Decor&Dine Decor&Dine on Aug 21, 2013
      @Glenna Kennedy thanks for your comment. I think I am actually under watering it as the nix is very dry ans the roots as well.
  • Sassy Townhouse Living Sassy Townhouse Living on Aug 21, 2013
    mine died too....several in fact. I gave up on them for now. I think I over-watered as well. I love them so much...shame. Try letting them go dry for a while and see.
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    • Leth Bridge Leth Bridge on Aug 25, 2013
      @Carolann What I have researched , the blooms come back in 3 to 6 months. water once a week per usual, the huge leaves at the top of the soil should still be healthy and green.
  • Jill Jill on Aug 21, 2013
    I am in the same boat as some of you, my orchids have all died. It is about the only thing I haven't figured out how to grow. I have tried many times over the years and after reading your tips it makes me want to try again. Thanks!
  • Taryn Taryn on Aug 22, 2013
    Hi - No - they aren't dying! The "spikes" that carry the blooms die off after a time. Sometimes you can stimulate a new bloom by cutting them off at about the third node. (these are the small bumps you see on the spike) But the spike does turn yellow and dies after blooming. Cut em down. As long as the leaves stay green and plump. About the watering with ice cubes - that practice is only effective during certain times of the year. Not necessary to do it all the time.
  • Taryn Taryn on Aug 22, 2013
    Orchids thrive on what I call "benign neglect" Many times I have heard from people that loved them to death. They need food - light - and water. And Location! I cannot stress strongly enough - orchids that grow in California dont' grow in Hawaii - Hawaiian orchids rarely grow in Florida unless special care is taken. Remember Orchids grow all over the world - some in cold climates - some in snow - some in tropical - some on mountains - some ...well you get the gist. If your orchids are dying it is probably not you - they are just not on home turf. My mother claimed she could never get them to grow. She brought them home from Hawaii. I Bought her an orchid grown in her area of California - Wow - it bloomed and thrived. Rule of thumb - the ones at the local grocery won't work. Contact a local grower. Feed em - water sparingly and in the early morning - check the light requirements with your grower. If they have long fat roots they are fine. Many Many people asked "can't I cut off those ugly roots" No. If you love orchids they are ugly for the most part as plants - we keep them for that incredible blossom. Hope this helps
  • Susan Susan on Aug 24, 2013
    I have a few orchids and I put sand in containers and set the orchids on top of the sand. All I have to do is keep the sand moist. The orchids love the evaporation of the water coming from the sand. I also use clay pots that has a wicking effect. I fertilize a couple times a year.
  • Suzanne Suzanne on Aug 24, 2013
    Mine are in my kitchen window. After I wash my dishes, I put the orchids in the sinks and spray them with warm water. I let them drain overnight and put them back on the window sill in the morning. They are beautiful and have rebloomed for me. I never understood the ice cube thing. Orchids are from the tropics and sub tropics...warm frequent rains.
  • Bobbie1 Bobbie1 on Aug 24, 2013
    Also keep your orchids away from any ripening fruit.
  • Sassy Townhouse Living Sassy Townhouse Living on Aug 25, 2013
    @Diana wow didn't know that. I guess I will buy another one and give it a shot. I do love them so much. Thanks much Diana!