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Bud Blast

How to Prevent Orchid Buds from Drying Up Before Blossoming

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The orchid’s buds are the most fragile part of the orchid and most susceptible to damage. Believe me, I know from experience what it’s like to have my precious orchid buds fall off. I’d be surprised if everyone who grows orchids doesn’t experience this from time to time. While not uncommon, it is 100% possible to prevent your orchid buds from falling off. 

Changes in watering frequency, pollution, insufficient light, temperature fluctuation, and environmental shifts cause healthy-looking orchid buds to fall off, wither and shrivel. Phalaneopsis orchids are particularly susceptible to their buds falling off due to inconsistencies in care and their location.

If your orchid’s buds prematurely dropped, the best course of action is to discover how to stop it from happening again. This article will show you how to stop your orchid buds from shriveling up and falling off.

Find out what you can do to prevent your orchid bud from dying

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Changes in Watering Amount and Frequency Can Cause Buds to Drop

Over and under-watering can cause bud blast. To prevent the orchid buds from withering, this is especially true for Phalaenopsis orchids, try to prevent the orchid from sitting in water as well as from getting too dry. Additionally, keeping to a regular watering schedule will help the buds to develop normally. 

Orchids are Sensitive to Air Pollution

When bringing home an orchid, do what you can to protect it from exhaust fumes. Don’t let your orchid ride in the trunk. To avoid exhaust fumes turn your car’s air system to recirculate. Once at home a heating source that emits air pollution will cause bud blast.

Insufficient Light Can Lead to Bud Loss

Lack of sufficient light can cause the buds to drop. Try moving your orchid closer to the window. By the same token, avoid setting an orchid too near a lamp or other bulb that puts off a lot of heat.

Frequent Fluctuations in Temperature Can Damage Orchid Buds

Check to see if your orchid is in a place where there may be extreme changes in temperature. Being too near heating and cooling systems is not a good idea. Check for drafts near your orchid.  Proximity to exterior doors could pose a threat if you live in an area of extreme hot or cold temperatures.

Environmental Changes Can Cause Trauma to Buds

A change in the environment may trigger bud blast. If your orchid was accustomed to a paradisaical greenhouse and must now acclimate to your windowsill, it may take some time, but it should adjust. When I brought home some Cattleyas I lost just about every bud. Now though, they are doing fine and in the bud.

TIP: Even moving orchids from room to room may trigger bud blast. Before moving your orchid to enjoy the flowers, make sure that the bud have opened.

Orchid Buds Falling Off? 

Here’s how to keep it from happing again. Remember the basics:

  1. Changes in watering frequency and amount can abort buds
  2. Orchids are sensitive to pollutants
  3. Lack of light can lead to bud blast
  4. Frequent fluctuations in temperature can damage orchid buds
  5. Environmental changes can cause trauma to buds

Sometimes you’ll never know why an orchid suddenly loses its buds. Just do the best you can to can for your orchid. Learn what the best care practices are for your particular orchid, then do what you can to provide the best care possible.

Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids, are prone to bud blast, though other orchid varieties certainly may lose their buds. If your Phalaneopsis has lost its buds, simply cut it back to a fresh node, or notch along the stem and a new flower spike may begin to grow. Once an orchid is in full flower and no buds remain, you can place this orchid in a less than ideal location.

Don’t Give Up

Whatever you do, keep trying. Orchids are resilient and can bounce back from environmental disruption. Next time, those buds will follow through with flowers. No more orchid buds falling off for your orchids!

32 Comments
  1. Roisin says:

    I have seven beautiful orchids. They are in a sun-room that gets cold at night, but the
    orchids are thriving! I have two very large white ones the others are all different shades of pink.
    I give them a table spoonful of water every Sunday and every three weeks I feed them ONE DROP OF FERTILIZER IN TWO SPOONFULS OF WATER.
    GOOD LUCk

    1. Anna says:

      Roisin,
      I envy your sun-room! Thanks for your tips!
      Anna

    2. Myrna says:

      I am going to try your method of watering

  2. Lovely just what I was looking for. Thanks to the author for taking his time on this one.

    1. Anna says:

      Your welcome! I’m glad you found what you were looking for!
      Anna

  3. Linda says:

    Thank you ever so much for being a positive cheerleader
    regarding our growing orchids. It seems sometimes we hear
    all the terrible things we’re guilty of and not much positive feedback.

    1. Anna says:

      Linda,
      Your kind words mean a lot to me as I do try to be a positive voice!
      Have a great day!
      Anna

  4. chris Logan says:

    How can i get some seeds of the diffrent orchids .

    1. Anna says:

      Chris,
      I haven’t ever grown orchid from seed, but I’d love to hear how it goes for you. Here is an Etsy link for orchid seeds. If you purchase through this link, I will receive a commission.
      I am not sure which type of orchids you are interested in growing, so this link will take you to several different types of orchids to grow from seed:

      ORCHID SEEDS

      Good luck!
      I’d love to hear how it turns out,
      Anna

  5. Rose says:

    Hi Anna it’s Rose i have been so busy and losing sleep my Phals have been getting Black Rot in stem i have been trying so hard to fight this and I have used Masterfood Cinnamon Ground it’s used by date is out of date but i still used it i have lost 3 to death i have 5 still fighting to stay alive please let me know what I can use to save the rest I’m sad and worried that I may lose my orchids to Black Rot i don’t want anymore getting this deadly disease cause it moves very fast thankyou bye for now cheers.Gold coast Australia.

    1. Anna says:

      Rose,
      Black rot is terrible. Using sterile scissors, cut away the affected area. Sterilize scissors, or knife, between each cut. Cut a bit past the diseased portion and so that you are cutting into healthy tissue. After removing the diseased portion, use a fungicide. Cinnamon is a good natural fungicide, but you may want to use a commercial fungicide to prevent black rot from spreading throughout your collection.

      Provide plenty of space between plants, as black rot can easily spread between plants. If your plants are outdoors set them at least 3 feet off the ground. Place orchids where they will not be constantly wet.

      The key to prevention for both indoor and outdoor growers is air movement. If you are growing indoors, a fan is essential.

      Warm regards,
      Anna

  6. Susan says:

    I have a phal that looks like it has a bud with a second bud emerging from it, almost like an egg with a double yolk. Am wondering if this is bud blast or something else.

    1. Anna says:

      Susan,
      Interesting. I’ve never seen this before. Bud blast is when a bud aborts due to changes in the plant’s environment. Could you send me a picture? My email address is [email protected].
      Thanks,
      Anna

    2. Anna says:

      Susan,
      This sounds interesting. Bud blast is when a bud aborts due to changes in the environment. Can you email me a picture? My email address is [email protected]
      Thanks,
      Anna

  7. S watt says:

    Have several orchids, had multiple reblooms, ready for traditional February rebloom. Suddenly, no heat, Northeast, now all dropping buds. Should I cut off stems?

    1. Anna says:

      S Watt,
      That is disappointing! You could wait and see if all the buds drop before cutting the flower stalk. But yes, if you aren’t going to get any flowers anyway, cut the stalk.
      Best,
      Anna

  8. S Pranav says:

    Hi Anna, Pranav from India here…liked your page a lot… I have a few questions…my phalaenopsis has botrytis and is losing a few leaves from the bottom…is it normal for it to do that?
    Also, my other phalaenopsis has some wrinkled leaves and its flowers are becoming droopy prematurely… what should I do?

    1. Anna says:

      Hello Pranav,
      If your orchid has botrytis, a fungus that often appears during periods of cool, weather with high humidity and is manifested by small brown spots on the flower’s petals. There are 3 main ways to prevent botrytis. First, keep your orchid area clean. Remove dead leaves, flowers etc and use sanitized tools. Second, use a fan. Though orchids love humidity – stagnant air promotes the growth of fungus and bacteria. Air movement is your friend. Third, when watering, use care not to splash water on the orchid’s leaves and flowers. Botrytis is difficult to remove – but here is one method worth trying: mix 4 teaspoons baking soda with 2 teaspoons refines horticulture oil with 1 gallon of water. Reapply every 2 weeks.
      About your phal, check out the roots – they will tell you if you have a watering problem. You may also need to re-pot.
      All my best,
      Anna

  9. S Pranav says:

    What will the roots look like if I have a watering problem?

    1. Anna says:

      Pranav,
      Great question!

      Healthy phal roots = green when just watered, silvery-green when dry, but healthy with bright green tips that may have a bit of red in them. The texture is firm and plump.
      Unhealthy underwatered roots = brittle and tan-colored
      Unhealthy overwatered roots = limp, stringy, black, brown

      Good luck! Even if many of the roots are unhealthy, if you still have some good roots, your orchid can make a come-back. While the old leaves will not regain their former stiffness, new leaves will grow firm and uprights.
      Best,
      Anna

  10. S Pranav says:

    Thanks a lot Anna

  11. Kristen LoGiudice says:

    Anna, kudos to you as well, you’ve nailed it! As we say in the hort world, orchids are the divas of the natural world, and any success is monumental!
    As a certified horticulturist and caretaker of 80+ orchids of varied genus, I must give you props for a perfect general guide to watering/fertilizing the babies. Anyone reading would be wise to heed your advice. Just wanted to second that notion!!

    1. Anna says:

      Thanks Kristen!
      Your stamp of approval means so much!
      Thanks again,
      Anna

  12. Wendi Stark says:

    I’m newer to growing orchids and honestly it happened by accident! I live in Florida and had left my 2 Phal’s outside on my husband’s work bench (well ventilated and shady). One day I realized they were sprouting beautiful green leaves and were loving their new home, and now I’m an addict. Sadly, I found your amazing tips a little too late. I repotted last week when I saw that one (I call him Phil) was severely withered and the roots looked awful. Phil has 2 stalks; one was drying out, but has a small new branch with tiny bulbs, the other is smaller but seems to be making healthy strides. The other Phal (I call her Ophelia) has 3 stalks full of buds, and I repotted that one as well. I’m nursing Phil back to health, but I’m nervous about my poor repotting timing. Any tips?

    -Phil & Ophelia’s mom

    *and thank you for creating such a great resource for us newbies!

    1. Anna says:

      Wendi,
      Thanks for sharing your story! To help Phil along with his recovery, keep him away from direct, bright light. You live in an area with lots of humidity, which is very good. Keep an eye on the potting media and his roots. Phals like their potting media to be barely damp. The roots should be silvery before watering again.
      All my best to you and your orchid babies,
      Anna

  13. paula van jaarsveld says:

    Dear Anna
    Thank you so much for the wonderful tips regarding blooming. It helps so much.

  14. Alex says:

    Hello there!

    I have a big beautiful orchid with white flowers, and they have been there for a three weeks now – however there are several more buds that are just not wanting to bloom. They’re getting fatter but still nothing. I noticed one of the bulbs has a ‘cut’ on it so I can peer inside. The flower is waiting to come out it seems but the outside of the bulb has turned a bright yellow. What’s going on with this bulb?

    1. Anna says:

      Alex,
      Sometimes, particularly with cattleyas, the flowers can get stuck in the sheath. You can use a sterile razor blade to cut the sheath so the flower can more easily emerge. Otherwise, if the orchid is a phalaenopsis, the bud may be aborting. Let me know what happens.
      Best,
      Anna

  15. Mitsuko says:

    I have Phal. The only its end of new bud is red is no longer green and it seems it’s dying. The rest is flowering. This is the second shoot and I am very happy about it till I saw this problem. How should I do now. Thank you.

    1. Anna says:

      Mitsuko,
      Take care to regulate watering and temperature. Any abrupt changes in care can cause new buds to wither and drop.
      Anna

  16. Abi says:

    I have a question base on your statement “If your Phalaneopsis has lost its buds, simply cut it back to a fresh node, or notch along the stem and a new flower spike may begin to grow.” Should cut the section off that has experienced the bud blast while the other section have flowering blooms? Or should I wait until all blooms have died naturally then do the big cut? I am new to growing orchid and I really want my first one to thrive but I think I’m getting a bud blast 😞. Thanks for your help Anna.

    1. Anna says:

      Abi,
      Just cut off the flower spike where the bud blast occurred.
      Wishing you the best,
      Anna

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Are your orchid leaves limp and wrinkly?

Get your FREE cheat sheet on how to prevent limp orchid leaves.

YES! THANK YOU!