Yellow Leaves Causing Problems for Your Orchid?

Find Out What You Can Do About It

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yellowing leaves - orchids

Yellowing leaves are a symptom that something is not right with your orchid. Find out what your orchid is telling you.

If you’ve only had the orchid for two days and the leaves are already turning yellow, the problem started before you acquired the orchid. You could try and return the Cymbidium and get another one. Sometimes the abundance of flowers and buds on Cymbidiums can be distracting.

Let’s talk about what may have caused the yellowing leaves in the first place. Yellowing leaves can indicate several different problems: age, too much sun, lacks nutrients and Pests.

Find out how to treat your orchid's yellowing leaves

Aging Leaves

This is the simplest answer, which isn’t even a problem. It’s just part of an orchids natural growth-cycle. Older leaves will turn yellow, shrivel up and die. New leaves grow and take their place. If all the leaves, or newer leaves are yellowing, then that isn’t the problem.


Too much sun can cause orchid leaves to turn yellow. Before assuming that your orchid is getting too much sun find out what color your orchid leaves should be. Cattleyas, for example, bloom best when their leaves are a light, bright green.

Cymbidiums require a lot of light. Usually as much light as you can give them, if you are growing them indoors. It is possible that your orchid was given too much light before you got it. If you are growing your Cymbidium outdoors, assuming you live in a temperate climate, place the orchid where it will receive filtered sunlight.

Give Your Orchids the Right Light

The right light will encourage flowering!


Nutritional Deficiency

Sometimes yellowing leaves indicate a lack of nitrogen or iron. On my orchids I use DynaGro. The fertilizer come in a 3-pack. For yellowing leaves use Foliage Pro. This fertilizer has a nitrogen content of 9%. Dilute the fertilizer recommendation by 1/2 to 1/4 of the recommended dosage, mix with water and apply 3 out of 4 weeks in a month. Use a light hand when fertilizing orchids.

Are You Fertilizing Your Orchids?

Fertilize with a light hand and see big results.



Augh bugs! This is the worst case scenario. Boisdubal scale can be a nightmare. These insects have a thick detached shell that is difficult to remove. Even once the bugs are gone the leaves will remain discolored. Treat scale by scrubbing leaves, sheaths and even rhizomes with 70% alcohol using an old toothbrush. Spraying with horticulture oil will also help treat scale.

Treating Orchid Pests and Disease

For your orchids' sake, I hope you won't ever need this info., but here it is anyway - just in case.


You’re the Doctor

Now that you know what may be causing your orchid’s leaves to turn yellow, it’s time to take action. Your orchids will thank you. Don’t expect immediate results. Sometimes it can take a while for the orchid to recover.

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For optimum health, repot your orchid every 1-2 years. Come learn how.


  1. Jane Marinello says:

    Anna, I’m so glad I found you. Reading thru the questions and your answers help a lot. I got bitten by the orchids bug 3 years ago with my 1st purchase of a beautiful blooming Vanda. I’ve since learned that’s not the one to start with….never have had a bloom since and roots refuse to grow long like I see in the stores. Any suggestions. On the bright side I do have 5 blooming others out of 6.:) They are on my lanai in Fl. Looking at them makes me so happy even though I don’t have a clue.

    1. Anna says:

      It sounds like you know more than you know. Congratulations on your 5 blooming orchids! You’re right, Vandas are not a beginner orchid. I don’t grow any myself as I can’t give them the right growing conditions here in Utah. That said, Vandas need lots of bright light, water and humidity. Since you live in Florida, you can give them what they need. Many people successfully grow Vandas attached to trees. Water the roots daily.
      I’d love to hear how it goes. Vandas do produce exceptional flowers.

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START HERE to Learn More About Caring for Orchids

Find Out What I Wish I Knew When I First Started Caring for Orchids