My Orchid Has Limp, Wrinkled Leaves

Standard

Droopy, wrinkled leaves on a phalaenopsis are generally a sign of watering problems. Source: soo neaty, http://www.youtube.com

Question: I have an orchid whose leaves are limp and wrinkled. What should I do?

Bourdet

Answer: Note that in the following answer, I’m presuming your orchid is a phalaenopsis (Phalaenopsis cv), by far the most commonly sold orchid. However, the information also applies to many of the other orchids grown as houseplants.

Usually, the presence of soft, droopy leaves wrinkled lengthwise indicates that not enough water is reaching the leaves and there are two main reasons for that: chronic underwatering or overwatering.

Underwatering

20181112C myorchiddiary.wordpress.com

Shriveled roots combined with wilting leaves indicate a chronic lack of water. Source: myorchiddiary.wordpress.com

If the plant is regularly being underwatered (very common with the unreliable ice cube watering method), the roots will appear pale green or white yet shriveled. If so, you can plump up your phalaenopsis fairly quickly by watering it more effectively. Ideally, that would be by soaking the pot in tepid water—yes, even right up to the pot’s rim!—for 10, 15, 20 minutes, even half an hour, then letting the excess water drain off before putting the plant back in its place. Then, when the substrate is dry to the touch, soak the roots again.

Depending on your growing conditions, you’ll probably find your phalaenopsis needs watering about once a week to 10 days.

Overwatering

If the plant has received too much water for too long, the roots or at least a good part of them will be brown or yellow and either rotting or rotten. This is a much more serious problem and it isn’t always possible to recuperate an orchid with dying roots, but you can certainly try.

20181112B Randy from Maui, www.youtube.com.jpg

Prune off the yellowed and brown rotting roots. Source: Randy from Maui, http://www.youtube.com

Unpot the plant, cut off the dead roots (disinfecting the pruning shears in rubbing alcohol after each cut) and repot into a clean pot with fresh orchid mix. Give the plant a few days to recuperate from the shock, then take up regular watering. With a little luck, new roots will grow and most of the old leaves will become turgid again, although you may lose a few (just pull or cut them off).

In the future, be careful to only water when the mix is dry to the touch. However, when you do water, always do so abundantly. Again, soaking the roots in tepid water, then letting the surplus water drain away, is the best way to water any phalaenopsis … and, in fact, pretty much any orchid.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s