You’ve heard of the winter blues but what is making your orchids turn purple? “The purple coloration you see on the underside and sometimes topside of orchid leaves is a winter phenomenon,” says Robert Palmer, head grower at Better-Gro. “But don’t worry, this is completely natural. Many orchids that are grown outdoors either in pots or on trees go through this annual cycle.”
Just as autumn leaves turn red, orange and purple in the fall, some orchids go through a similar change although they don’t shed their leaves. Purple leaves occur for several reasons.
As you may remember from school, chlorophyll is what allows a plant to absorb light and produce energy. Purple leaves are a natural sign that your orchids have cut back on producing chlorophyll during a time of winter dormancy. Essentially, the orchid is saving energy for the spring time. In contrast, orchids that are dark green in winter are likely continuing to expend energy producing excess chlorophyll. What’s wrong with healthy dark green leaves? Nothing, however, it’s likely that your plant is focusing on its leaves rather than reserving energy to produce spring blossoms.
Purple leaves can be an indication that your plant is receiving too much light. This light exposure is common with orchids grown outdoors due to reduced winter tree canopies. As long as your orchid is not getting burned, the excess light and purple leaves are not harmful.
Orchids that were exposed to winter cold spells will exhibit purple leaves if they are magnesium deficient.
How Can You Reduce the Purple Coloration?
Although purple leaves are not harmful, you can give your orchids a leg up on spring and boost the flower-initiation process with Epsom salts. Simply mix 1 gallon of water with ½ to 1 Tablespoon of Epsom salts. Generously spray your plants once a month. This inexpensive treatment can be applied year-round and will help reduce purple leaves.
Happy Blooming from Better-Gro!