The orchid Phalaenopsis is characterized, among other things, by its thick, shiny and green leaves that rise almost majestically from the pot. Changes in a single leaf, such as when the orchids get yellow leaves, does not always have to mean a care error or that the orchids are affected by diseases or pests. It is a natural process when these plants drop older leaves. However, if leaves of orchids become wizened and get ridges, it may have its reasons. And these you should identify to fix the problem. We explain what can be the cause when leaves become soft and shrivel in orchids.
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Why do leaves become shriveled on orchids?
First of all, let’s say that if leaves of orchids become shriveled (usually gradually all), it is related to the water supply. The only question is – does it get too much or too little water? In both cases, orchid leaves can become wrinkled.
So, if all or several orchid leaves are shriveled, you can assume that the wrong care is the cause. However, if you notice that the lowest or the two lowest orchid leaves are leathery, it may be the normal shedding process of the old leaf, as we mentioned earlier.
Orchids have wizened leaves due to drought conditions.
What happens when you don’t provide the plant with enough moisture? Quite simply, the roots can no longer transfer enough water to the leaves. This, in turn, causes the pressure in the leaf cells to decrease as well and the orchid leaves become limp. The solution is to water the plant immediately. After all, if you wait too long, the roots also dry out and can no longer absorb moisture. If during the flowering phase the buds also fall off , you can assume that lack of water is the reason for withered leaves on the orchid.
The orchid has shriveled leaves due to overwatering.
How is it that two opposite care mistakes cause one and the same symptoms, that is, that in both the orchid leaves become shriveled? Well, if you overwater the orchid, it will also cause damage to the roots – they rot and then also can no longer conduct water to the leaves. So, paradoxically, the leaves dry out due to too much moisture – therefore, even then orchids get wizened leaves.
Diseases, pests and location?
Soft, wilted leaves in orchids can also be caused by diseases and pests, but this happens in rare cases. Then simply proceed according to the disease or type of pests and treat the plant.
The wrong location is also a possible cause when leaves become wizened in orchids. For one, strong sunlight causes the leaves to wilt. Temperature fluctuations of more than 5 degrees a day also cause stress to the plant, so in this case you should choose it a more suitable place with a temperature as constant as possible.
What can be done?
So, your orchids have shriveled leaves – what could you do? Since in both cases the problems with the roots cause leaves to become wizened on the orchids, you can also determine what to change based on them. Take a look at the roots:
Reduce watering if leaves are wizened on orchids.
If they are rotten, reduce watering or check the planter for waterlogging. If waterlogging turns out to be the problem, you can replace the planters with clear ones. Then you’ll always have an eye on whether excess water has collected, which needs to be removed. You should also take immediate action by removing the plant from its substrate and removing any rotten roots. Then you should repot the orchids and plant them in fresh, dry substrate. Do not water/water again for another 2 weeks. By removing the rotten roots, you will prevent the process from spreading to the still intact roots as well.
If the roots are no longer fresh and green, but look dry (grayish-white), again increase watering. The very first thing you do is soak the plant extensively in warm water until you see that the roots are a nice green again. In order for the plant to recover well, it is important to act as soon as possible. In the future, also make sure to provide the plant with sufficient moisture.
If dry air is the reason why the orchid leaves are wrinkled, you could also spread a few bowls of water around the plants, for example. In this way, the important aerial roots will also be supplied with moisture. If the plant is near a heater, you will benefit from changing the location. Can’t estimate when to dip again? If you take the plant out of the planter and it is very light, this is an indication that it is already very dry and needs water.