What to Do with Orchids After They Bloom: 4 Options

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Orchids are stunning houseplants that can bloom for months, captivating us with their beautiful flowers. But what should you do once the flowers have dropped off and the plant looks bare?

Don’t worry, you have several options to choose from to ensure your orchid continues to thrive.

In this article, we will explore four different approaches and provide you with tips and guidance on how to care for your orchid after it has finished blooming.

Option 1: Discourage Repeat Blooming

Most orchids available today are hybrids bred to produce abundant blooms. While this may be visually appealing, it can be detrimental to the plant’s long-term health.

If you want to prioritize the overall well-being of your orchid over frequent blooming, this option is for you.

There are a few situations where it is advisable to discourage repeat blooming:

  1. Unhealthy Plant: If your orchid is not in optimal health, it is important to address any care issues before attempting to make it rebloom.
  2. Limited Leaves: Leaves are essential for the production of beautiful flowers. If your orchid has only three or fewer leaves remaining, it’s best to allow the plant to focus on growing replacement leaves.
  3. Poor Root Health: Healthy roots support the leaves and flowers of the orchid. If you notice that the roots are not in good condition, prioritize encouraging the growth of new roots before attempting to trigger blooming.
  4. Recent Forced Bloom: Orchids can become stressed if forced to bloom too frequently. If you have already encouraged your orchid to rebloom recently, it is advisable to give it a rest and avoid triggering blooming again using this approach.

In these situations, it is important to prioritize the overall health of your orchid. You can achieve this by cutting the flower stems off at the base right after flowering.

Any new flowering stems that emerge can be promptly removed, redirecting the plant’s energy towards growing new leaves and roots.

If your orchid meets any of the criteria mentioned above, it is crucial to focus on improving its health first. Check out our Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid) Care Guide for detailed instructions on how to care for your orchid and promote its overall well-being.

Option 2: Don’t Do Anything

When the flowers fall off, your orchid will still have at least one “alive” stem, sometimes more. In this option, you simply leave the stems as they are and allow the plant to naturally produce new blooms.

It is important to note that the new flowers may be smaller in size compared to the previous blooms, and the overall display may be less impressive.

However, if you don’t mind smaller blooms and are looking for a quick and hassle-free approach, leaving the plant alone is a viable option.

Keep an eye on the stems, as sometimes they may start to go brown and dry up. If this happens, you can either cut them back to the base or, if there is still green and alive stem lower down, you can cut above a node to encourage regrowth.

Option 3: Cut the Flowering Spike Back to the Base

There are several reasons why you might want to choose this option. Cutting the flowering spike back to the base allows your orchid to rest and redirect its energy towards the rest of the plant. It is also a suitable choice if the existing stem is bent or not growing as desired.

If the flowering stem has turned completely brown, it has reached the end of its life cycle, and cutting it away from the plant is the best course of action.

To cut the stem, use a sharp knife or a pair of scissors and snip it as close to the base as possible. Be careful not to damage any aerial roots or leaves in the process.

After cutting the flowering stem back to the base, the plant should have a neat and clean appearance. The cut edge will callous over, and the remaining stump will eventually turn brown.

While some orchids may produce a new flowering shoot nearby, the removed stem will not produce any more blooms.

Option 4: Cut the Flowering Spike at a Node

If you want to stimulate your orchid to produce a second flush of flowers, cutting the flowering spike just above a node is the way to go. This method is simple and has a high success rate.

To cut above a node, look for little raised bump areas along the stem. These bumps are nodes, and by disrupting the flow of plant hormones and fluids at these points, new growth can sprout from here. Choose a node that has sap flowing, which you can identify by its green and healthy appearance.

Make the cut just above the node, ensuring that you don’t damage the growth point. The exact height to cut above the node is subjective, but it is best to cut as close as possible without harming the node. After making the cut, a new flowering stem should start to grow from the node within a few weeks.

Sometimes, instead of a new flowering spike, a baby plant known as a “keiki” may grow from the node. Although it may look unusual at first, the keiki will eventually resemble a baby orchid. If all goes well, you will witness the growth of a new flowering shoot at the node, signifying the success of this method.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for orchids to rebloom?

The time it takes for orchids to rebloom can vary depending on various factors such as growing conditions and care. With proper care, you can expect to see more flowers within two to nine months.

Leaving your plant alone or cutting above a node can trigger repeat flowering relatively quickly, but the number of flowers may be fewer compared to the initial bloom.

On the other hand, cutting back to the base or discouraging repeat blooming may result in a longer wait, possibly up to nine months, but it often leads to a more abundant display of flowers. Patience is key when waiting for your orchid to rebloom.

Why is my orchid not reflowering?

If your orchid has not rebloomed within the expected time frame mentioned earlier, several factors may be contributing to this issue. Here are some common reasons why orchids may not reflower:

  1. Insufficient Light: Orchids require bright indirect light to thrive and produce blooms. Make sure your plant is receiving adequate light and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or low light spots.
  2. Lack of Fertilizer: Orchids need regular fertilization to obtain essential nutrients. If you haven’t been feeding your orchid, it may lack the necessary nutrients for blooming. Consider using a water-soluble orchid fertilizer every couple of waterings.
  3. Incorrect Care: If your orchid is not looking its best overall, it is crucial to reassess your care routine. Check our comprehensive Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid) Care Guide for detailed instructions on how to properly care for your orchid.

Can you pick multiple options at once?

If your orchid is healthy and has multiple flowering stems, you can certainly try multiple options simultaneously. Keep in mind that not all options may work, but it doesn’t hurt to experiment.

By utilizing different methods, you increase the chances of encouraging your orchid to rebloom.

What time of year do orchids flower, and does it affect what I should do after blooming?

Orchids can flower at various times throughout the year, thanks to modern hybrids that are bred to bloom year-round. Therefore, the time of year does not significantly impact your choices for post-blooming care.

Whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, you can follow the guidelines and rules mentioned earlier to determine the best course of action for your orchid.

Does using ice cubes encourage blooming?

There is a common misconception that using ice cubes can stimulate blooming in orchids. However, this method is not recommended.

While ice cubes can slowly provide water to the roots, especially when orchids are potted in a well-draining medium like orchid bark, it is not an ideal approach for overall orchid care.

Orchids require proper watering techniques, and using ice cubes can be time-consuming and inefficient.

Focus on watering your orchid when the roots appear silvery, ensuring they receive enough moisture for healthy growth and blooming.

Is It Worth It?

Reblooming an orchid is a rewarding experience that allows you to witness the natural life cycle of your plant. It requires minimal effort and costs nothing but a little time and attention. By following the appropriate post-blooming care, your orchid will continue to thrive and delight you with its blooms for years to come. Happy orchid care!

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