Why Orchid Buds Dry Up and Fall Off? What Can You Do About It?

by Kremy

New orchid buds are a sign of reward. You have been caring for your orchid for almost a year and an inflorescence has formed. As a keen orchid lover, you are awaiting with great joy the new orchid blossom 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 life – without any signals. No warning signs, no signs of change, nothing… Then the second orchid bud withers and dies for no reason. What should you do? Why does the orchid shed its buds?

Orchid Flowers Fall Off Before They Bloom?

orchid new buds drying up

This is called a “bud blast” and occurs when the orchid is unable to adapt to abrupt environmental changes and stops flowering in order to conserve energy. These changes can involve temperature, light, humidity, watering, environment, or even disease. To keep the rest of the buds from dying, you need to find the cause and treat it quickly. Below are the most common causes of dried up orchid buds.

Orchid Buds Turn Yellow Due To Changes in the Environment

orchid flowers fall before they bloom


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

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Overripe fruit
  • Stagnant humid air

Temperature changes as a cause of dried up orchid buds

orchid care buds fall off

Sudden drastic changes in temperature are the most common cause of withered buds in orchids. For example, if you transported the orchid in the car after buying it in winter and then brought it into the house when the temperature was not so pleasant. Getting a blast of cold, icy air through an open window is enough for your orchid to shake its fight-or-flight response system, causing the orchid buds to dry up and fall off.

Overwatering or Lack of Water

orchid buds do not open

Excessive watering is usually not a reason for dried up 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 do “more care”. So water more, spray more, more light… You get the point.

Incidentally, 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 out of the buds, keeping it closer to the roots.

Incorrect Light/Heat Causes Dried Buds

orchid has many buds but not flowering

Light and warmth go hand in hand. Sometimes it is not the light that causes the orchid to shed buds, but rather the excessive heat that comes with the light. Too much light can cause the delicate orchid bud to “boil” in its protective covering and later fall off.

Even if there is too little light, the orchid will sprout a flower stalk and form small buds. But due to the poor light conditions, the orchid will realize that this was a mistake and the flowers will not sprout.

Orchids Shed Buds Due To Lack of Humidity

orchid buds turn red and dry up

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

When an orchid is near an air conditioning or heating system, extra moisture is especially important. It is almost impossible for the orchid to develop healthily there.

Orchid Loses Buds Due To Pests

healthy phalaenopsis orchid buds

Orchid buds can wither and fall off for reasons unrelated to sudden changes, such as pests. Thrips and aphids can cause orchid buds to die before flowering. Buds are naturally juicy as they retain moisture and they are tender. The perfect meal for these beasts.

why orchid drops buds

When the pests eat the buds, they can still open, but unnatural flowers emerge that are deformed. Most of the time, you can’t get rid of the insects before significant damage has been done, and the bud falls off.

Any orchid treatment will take time to heal and in case of a budding orchid, time is crucial. Repeat the insecticide treatment a week after the first application to ensure no more insects hatch. If the problem is not treated, the orchid will not only lose its buds but you also risk dying as the insects continue to eat and destroy the orchid.

why orchid buds wont open


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