Orchid flowers won't open fully

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I have this lovely phalaenopsis orchid that I bought a few months ago. It had 2 bloom spikes & the other one had blossoms that were fully open. They have since fallen off, leaving the 2nd spike of blooms. As you can see, the 3 sepals are fully open but the 2 petals are still cupped around the throat. At first I thought that they were just a newer spike & would finish opening within a few weeks but they haven't. Can anybody tell me what could cause this & what, if anything, I can do to get them to open the rest of the way?
q why will my orchid flowers not open fully, flowers, gardening
  10 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Nov 12, 2014
    Perhaps the location is too bright? Supposedly the darker the space the more fully open the flowers will be. Within reason, of course. If the room is really dark the buds won't open.

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    • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Nov 15, 2014
      @Judy Thanks, Judy. There are definitely folks out there who know a lot more about orchids than I do. I basically ignore mine and if they ever bloom I am astonished at my luck.

  • Peggy Henderson Peggy Henderson on Nov 12, 2014
    I spent 29 years in the floral industry, here are a few tips. Orchids can last for months...if they are in the right location. I think Doug has a good point about the sunlight. Also, I would stress to not have them in a spot that receives air movement. ( under a vent, ceiling fan, by a door) Also, make sure when you water them that they don't sit in water for more than 5 minutes, or just run the water through the container. It must have drainage holes. When the last bloom falls off, cut your stem 1" above where the first bloom was. In 50% of the time, a new stem of blooms will appear. It is a slow progress though. Lastly, you can always keep the plant and put a good quality stem of silk orchids in. Harder to detect with the natural foliage!

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    • Judy Judy on Nov 14, 2014
      @Peggy Henderson I posted the question on more than one site & a nice lady emailed me with the information that these blooms are peloric. After further research I do believe she hit the nail on the head. Evidently it can be due to conditions or genetic. Since spike # 1 had normal blossoms it's probably conditional. Thought you'd like to know.

  • Rose Rhyner Rose Rhyner on Nov 12, 2014
    thank you thank you!! to @Douglas Hunt and @Peggy Henderson for the comments and the pointers. I'm off work from a surgery and my co-workers gave me an orchid from Pao Tau, Taiwan. It is my first - I've always been nervous owning one. I'm a little crazy attached to all my plants :) and nervous to not do right by an orchid - they are such an amazing creation! Beautiful just doesn't properly describe them!

  • Peggy Henderson Peggy Henderson on Nov 12, 2014
    It may be one last bloom. You can always give it a few weeks, and then cut it down to the 1" above the first bloom. I am very impressed with your watering! Orchids tend to bloom once a year when the cold weather hits, in Texas anyway. I'm glad you like the idea of the silk blooms. Just stick that in and wait for the cycle to continue. When it get ready to re-bloom, try the weak fertilizer each time you water. It really won't hurt to do it all the time anyway. :)

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    • Judy Judy on Nov 14, 2014
      @Peggy Henderson On my way to the kitchen with it to give it its weekly drink I stopped by the big window & took a good, close look in strong light. Seems all of the flower branches have that tiny bud like thing on the tip so I'm guessing it's just the way the branch ends. I also noticed that the lowest 2 nodes on the older spike (the one with no blooms) looked like they were trying to grow new branches so I pruned an inch above the top one & trimmed off the dead air roots while I was at it. Gave it a dose of weak fertilizer for good measure & put it back in its happy spot in the east window. Hoping for a 2nd bloom in the new year. We shall see.

  • PattyAnn PattyAnn on Nov 13, 2014
    The American Orchid Society website has information galore. Light, temperature, and correct watering are all important. On the www.aos.org site you can get specific information on your phalaenopsis and also on general orchid growing. Phalaenopsis are fairly easy to grow successfully so check out the site. That is a pretty one!

    • Judy Judy on Nov 13, 2014
      @PattyAnn Thanks for the link. They want me to pay $65 for the specific information.

  • PattyAnn PattyAnn on Nov 13, 2014
    Oh I forgot to mention that I would cut the spike and let the plant put its energy elsewhere. It won't put up another spike until probably Spring but then you will be rewarded with a beautiful long-lasting display of flowers.

    • Judy Judy on Nov 13, 2014
      @PattyAnn I think I'll wait a bit & then maybe cut the spike back to just above the 1st blossom node. It looks like it's trying to make more blooms on the 1st spike.

  • PattyAnn PattyAnn on Nov 13, 2014
    Sure wait and see what happens. For the AOS website info go to the website - right under the heading is the menu bar - click on All About Orchids and then pull down to AOS Culture Sheets. You will then see on the right side of the page a list of the orchids - click on Phalaenopsis and it will give you a printable PDF of the growing instructions. The $65 is for a membership which you don't need in order to use the site. Good luck on that and let me know if you have a problem.

  • JESS JESS on Nov 16, 2014
    First and foremost, do not touch the blooms. The oil in your hands will make them go bad fast. Second, so to the original question, take the plant back to where you bought it, ask for a replacement. Ask them for info on proper care of an orchid. They are very peculiar plants.

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    • Darlene McMillan Norton Darlene McMillan Norton on Feb 06, 2016
      Oops...I just read that you'd resolved your answer. Good for you! And honestly, orchids are not difficult...water only when medium is almost dry, or roots are silvery looking. When fully hydrated they'll be bright green - a clear plastic pot is great for monitoring roots. Bright, indirect light, fertilize every other watering at half recommended strength. Colder winter weather will bring on new spikes of flowers, which take about three months to mature and bloom.

  • Darlene McMillan Norton Darlene McMillan Norton on Feb 06, 2016
    This is what's known as "peloric," where the petals try to mimic the fancy lip of the orchid. It can be a result of genetics or chemicals. If it's genetic, it will always bloom like this; if it's chemical, it won't be like this next bloom cycle. Some people hate them, some people like them. I think they're very interesting and lovely because they're different. Yours is very pretty!

  • Jane Hammond Guerin Jane Hammond Guerin on Aug 13, 2017
    I bought an orchid that looks just like this, from Home Depot. I thought the blooms would open, but they are not. I think it must have to do with the growing conditions. I have another 4 year old orchid that started blooming again when I started watering with orchid fertilizer "weakly" weekly. One bloom shoot started in January and has 11 blooms on it - fully in bloom by May of this year. The other shoot has been blooming since last November. It's down to 4 blooms but another is coming. I believe in watering with fertilizer weakly weekly.