How to Give Intensive Care for Your Orchid

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Saturday mornings I send out an exclusive email sharing my best tips on how to grow healthy orchids.

cold damage - orchids

How to save an orchid from cold damage

I brought my cymbidium indoors when it got down in the low 40°s F/4.4° C, but on a beautiful sunny day, in high 40°s F/9° C, I brought it back outside…and forgot about it. It spent a very chilly night out on my back porch. Now, I’m working to saving orchids from cold damage. Not fun.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you need to know to help you save an orchid from cold damage.

how to save orchids from cold damage

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First, how cold is too cold for your orchid? 

While most orchids don’t want temperatures below 50° – 60° F/ 10°-15° C, cold damage isn’t likely to occur unless water on the leaves freeze. This occurs when temperatures plummet down below 30° F/0° C.

Second, identifying cold damage:

Squishy, brown lifeless-looking pseudobulbs and blackened leaves, brown, limp leaves, brown or black pits, indicate cold damage and manifest themselves the day after exposure.

As the orchid warms us, the appearance of cold damage becomes more apparent.

Third, what to do if your orchids have suffered cold damage:

  1. Hold off on water and let the potting medium dry.
  2. Place the orchid in a humid environment – a clear plastic bag will help.
  3. Keep the orchid away from excessive heat – i.e. heaters, vents, wood-stoves, etc.
  4. Keep the orchid direct sun – don’t set the orchid right under artificial lights or on a windowsill.
  5. Water only when new growth appears.
  6. Fertilize lightly – 1/8 recommended dose.
  7. Wait and see.

Cool is Good – Too Cold is Not

Many orchids benefit from cooler temperatures. In fact, without a bit of a chill, many orchids won’t produce flowers. When I set my cymbidium outdoors my intention was to give it a chance to initiate some buds.

Take it from me, don’t let your orchids get too cold. For most orchids, low 50°s-60°s F / 10°-15° C is enough of a chill to get those bud going.

Preventing Cold Damage

If you bring your orchids indoors during the winter months, don’t do what I did. Instead, play it safe and bring your orchids inside once the temperatures begin to dip.

Windowsill orchid growers, don’t set your orchid too close to the window. Even a thin curtain will provide some insulation between the cold outside and indoors. Open the curtain during the day and close it at night.

If you grow orchids outdoors year-round, place a frost cloth, blanket or towel over your orchids if cold temperatures are forecasted. Mulch around your bedded orchids.

Need More Tips on Caring for Your Orchid this Winter?

I’ve got you covered. Check out this post with important information to help you properly care for your orchids through the winter. These winter-care tips will help your orchids prepare to rebloom.

Winter Care for Orchids

Baby, It's Cold Outside: What to Do for Healthy, Blooming Orchids

  1. Beverly Jo S Coombs says:

    Thank you once again for teaching me to care for something I really love and enjoy caring for. I cut my flower stems back and waiting for rebloom! Thank you

  2. Myrna Roxburgh says:

    Thank you for all this info.My orchid sits on a small table in front of a south window. Temp. In the house remains at a steady 26 c, day and night. Outside remains between 0 at night to 5-7 during the day. My orchid is Phalaenopsis. My question is should I be protecting the plant at night. Myrna

    1. Anna says:

      Your phal should be just fine. Just to be sure, you could set a thermometer beside your orchid so you can check the temperature.
      Have a great day,

  3. Olivia says:

    Thank you
    Happy New Year!!!

  4. Vanessa says:

    My boyfriend sent me an orchid for Valentine’s Day but it didn’t arrive before I left for work and sat on our front porch in single digit temperatures (Fahrenheit) for about 6 hours. I brought it in and I wrapped it and the flowers are extremely mushy and wilted. Is there anything I can do to save the flowers? If not, is the whole plant a total loss as well?

    1. Anna says:

      I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the orchid is probably dead. I recommend treating yourself to a new orchid.
      I wish you all the best and wish I could wave a magic wand over your orchid!

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the ONE email you'll open every week

Saturday mornings I send out an exclusive email sharing my best tips on how to grow healthy orchids.