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Orchids buds dry up and fall off? What is the reason and what can you do about it?

New orchid buds are a sign of reward. You have taken care of your orchid for almost a year and an inflorescence has formed. As an avid orchid lover, you are eagerly anticipating the new orchid bloom with all its bright and exotic colors. Out of the blue, the first orchid bud turns yellow, dries up and falls off. It not only stops growing, but simply gives up on life – without any signals. No warning signs, no indications of change, nothing… Then the second orchid bud withers and dies for no reason. What should you do? Why does the orchid drop its buds?

Orchid flowers fall off before they bloom?

orchid new buds dry up

This is called a “bud blast” in English and occurs when the orchid cannot adapt to abrupt environmental changes and therefore stops flower growth to conserve energy. These changes may involve temperature, light, humidity, watering, environment or even disease. To save the rest of the buds from dying, you need to determine the cause and treat it soon. Below are the most common causes of withered orchid buds.

Orchid buds turn yellow because of changes in the environment

orchid flowers fall off before they bloom

Like any houseplant, orchids sense the changes in their environment. So it is normal for an orchid to lose its buds immediately after purchase. Orchids also react to chemicals and pollutants in the air. These include, for example:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Paint
  • Overripe fruit
  • Stagnant humid air

Temperature changes as a cause of withered orchid buds.

orchid care buds fall off

Sudden drastic temperature changes are the most common cause of withered orchid buds. For example, if you transported the orchid in your car during the winter after buying it, and then brought it indoors when the temperature was not so comfortable. If your orchid gets a blast of cold, icy air through an open window, it’s enough to shake its “fight-or-flight” response system, whereupon the orchid buds dry up and fall off.

Overwatering or lack of water

orchid buds do not open

Excessive watering is usually not a cause of dried buds if you have always watered the orchid in the same way. Sometimes when a new orchid grower sees the first bud, they get excited and want to “give more care”. So water more, spray more, move closer to the light… you get the point.

By the way, cattleya orchids are more sensitive to overwatering than other orchids. It leads to root rot and brown buds.

Lack of water is another problem when it comes to watering. In this case, the orchid pulls the water from the buds and keeps it closer to the roots.

Wrong light/heat causes dried up buds.

orchid has many buds but does not bloom

Light and heat go hand in hand. Sometimes it is not the light that causes the orchid to drop buds, but the excessive heat that accompanies the light. Too much sun can cause the delicate orchid bud to “cook” in its protective covering and later drop off.

Even with too little light, the orchid will sprout a flower stalk and form small buds. But due to low light conditions, the orchid realizes that this was a mistake and the flowers will not come up.

Orchids drop buds due to lack of humidity in the air.

orchid buds turn red and dry up

During budding, orchids need more moisture than usual. They are more sensitive to changes in humidity, so the percentage should be gradually increased until the flower blooms.

If an orchid is near an air conditioning or heating unit, extra humidity is especially important. It is almost impossible for the orchid to develop healthily there.

Orchid loses buds because of pests

healthy phalaenopsis orchid buds

Orchid buds can dry up and fall off even for reasons that have nothing to do with sudden changes, like pests. Thrips and aphids can cause orchid buds to die before flowering. Buds are naturally succulent because they retain moisture, and they are tender. The perfect meal for these beasts.

When the pests eat the buds, they may still open, but they will reveal unnatural flowers that are deformed. Most often, you can not get rid of the insects before significant damage is done, and the bud falls off.

orchid drops buds

Any orchid treatment takes time to heal, and in the case of a budding orchid, time is of the essence. Repeat the insecticide treatment a week after the first application to make sure no more insects hatch. If the problem is not treated, the orchid will not only lose its buds, but also run the risk of dying as the insects continue to eat and destroy the orchid. You can read more about the diseases of orchids here .

orchid buds do not open