The beautiful flowers of your carefully tendered orchid gave you seemingly endless days of delight and have finally faded and dropped off. Now what?
Don’t worry; you’re orchid is not dead. In time, your orchid will re-bloom and give you more beautiful flowers.
Most orchids will not re-flower on an old spike (flowering stem) so once the flowers have faded, you will have to wait for a completely new spike to emerge again. The old, spent spikes are somewhat unattractive and will eventually need to be removed. It is always best to wait for the spike to dry out completely (turn brown) before you cut it off, as cutting a green spike with dirty tools can spread various fungal, bacterial and viral infections. Whenever you do need to cut an old, green flower spike (or any other plant part for that matter) always use a clean cutting utensil and cut the spike at the base, as close to the soil as possible. Cutting utensils may be sterilized by flame or by soaking them in a 10% bleach solution for at least 10 minutes.
A few groups of orchids, like Phalaenopsis, have little knubs along the spike that are actually dormant buds (can form either new plants or spikes) and may re-flower on the same spike with some coaxing. This is only recommended for plants that are in very healthy growth as the flowering process does use quite a bit of the plant’s available energy. If you have a very healthy Phalaenopsis whose flowers have faded on the main spike and the spike is still green, try cutting the spike back about 2” above the third node from the base of the spike (that is, start at the base of the spike, count three nodes up and cut about 2” above this node). This does not guarantee that a new spike will form but it is your best bet at extending the bloom time of your precious orchid.
Remember, using sanitary techniques when handling and caring for your orchids will go a long way to keep them healthy and disease free.
For more orchid care tips, visit www.EasyOrchidGrowing.com. Happy Blooming!