Wilting Blooms

by Julia K
(New York, New York)

We purchased two moth orchids and placed them on a North/east window sill (the best light available in our apartment). They get about one hour of side glancing sunlight and about nine-ten hours of indirect light. I water them once a week. After dropping all the flowers in the first week of being brought home, they started forming blooms again; however, as soon as the bud gains color and looks like its almost about to open up they pucker up, wrinkle and fall off. The orchids leaves seem healthy and both of them are sprouting new leaves, so i need an explanation as to what am i doing wrong to cause them not to fully open up and bloom.
Thank you very much!

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Jul 13, 2011
Why Are My Blooms Wilting?
by: Melissa

Hi Julia,

Thanks for your question. Sorry it took a while to answer but I have been traveling.

I am not sure that you have quite enough light for your moth orchids in the long run in the situation that you describe. But as you said it is the best that you have to offer so you will have to see how they do in the long run. That said, low light is NOT why the blossoms have fallen off shortly after you brought the plant home.

Initially the bud/blossom drop could be from the radical change in temperature and/or humidity from where they were (or had been in the grower's greenhouse) and your home. This will sometimes cause "bud blast" or blossom fall.

Another thing that can cause the blossoms to fall in a home is if they are near ripening fruit. The gas that fruit naturally gives off when ripening can make the buds fall. Sometimes orchids from the big box stores are near the produce sections and this can also be the cause.

It is unusual for moth orchids to form buds so quickly after losing blossoms but perhaps you have a free blooming Phalaenopsis. The fact that these newer buds "pucker up, wrinkle and fall off" suggests to me that there is not enough humidity in the air for your orchid. You could remedy this by putting pebbles in a saucer and putting water in the saucer and creating a little humidity tray for your orchids. Make sure it does not leak on any furniture by protecting the furniture by keeping the plant on a water proof container! And make sure to put the orchid ABOVE the water on the pebbles not in it. This will make the humidity around the plant higher.

As I mentioned before, if ripening fruit and the production of ethylene gas from the fruit is around the orchid then this could also be the reason.

The fact that the orchid leaves are healthy and growing new leaves is a good sign for the general health of the plant.

I would suggest that you continue to read up on what Phalaenopsis orchids like to thrive (http://www.orhcids-plus-more.com/phalaenopsis-orchid-care.html) and see how it goes.

Good luck,


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