Orchids are one of the most beautiful and captivating plants that you can have in your home. But, once their blooms have faded, it can be tough to know what to do with them. Should you throw them out? Can they be saved? The answer is no and yes, respectively—but it’s important to know where to cut orchid stems after flowers fall if you want your plant to live a long and healthy life.
Trimming Orchids After Blooming
When your orchid’s flowers fall, it’s time to cut back the stem. But where do you make the cut? And how can you tell if your orchid is healthy enough to keep growing?
It is essential to trim orchids after blooming to ensure that they remain healthy and continue to produce flowers. The best time to trim orchids is immediately after the flowers have fallen off. Follow this guide to learn how to trim your Orchid’s flower spike.
Tools And Equipment
Gather a few simple supplies, and you’ll be ready to take care of your Orchid and remove the dead flower spike.
- Sharp, clean, and disinfected pruning shears
- Paper towel, bag, or vase for the cut spike (optional)
- Magnifying glass (optional)
You really only need pruning shears for this job, but as this is a good time to inspect your whole plant, having somewhere to put the spent flower spike while you inspect your plant may be nice to have on hand. A magnifying glass will also help you ensure that you’re cutting as close to the main stem as possible without nicking it. A magnifying glass is also helpful when inspecting the rest of your plant after you’ve pruned off the spent flower spike.
Cutting Back A Healthy Spike
Cutting a healthy spike on an Orchid is not necessary, but it can help to encourage new flower growth a few months down the road. To do this, you simply take your pruning shears and cut the spike as close to the main stem as possible.
Doing this will typically signal the Orchid to put energy into creating a new flower spike, where a new flower will soon bloom.
Trimming Dying Orchid Spikes
It’s a good idea to trim dying orchid spikes after the flower has faded and fallen off. It won’t damage the plant if it’s left on the plant, but it will help the plant focus its energy on creating more blooms, and it will look better when the dying spike is gone. All you need to do to prune the dying spike is use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the spike at the base, near the stem.
After this, it’s a good idea to prune off any older, browning, or dead leaves from your orchid also. Just don’t remove all of the leaves, as that can quickly send your orchid into shock, and could possibly kill it.
Cutting Double Spiked Orchids
A double spiked Orchid is not too different from an Orchid with a single flower spike, the only difference being that extra spike. Sometimes they will bloom at the same time, and sometimes they will be between a week to a month apart when they each bloom. When trimming away the spent spikes, you can choose to cut both off at the same time, or cut one off, wait a week or two, and then cut the other one off.
When you prune off the flower spikes after the flower has bloomed and died, you’re signaling the plant to send its energy elsewhere, and that could mean your plant will soon create more roots, grow taller, or grow another flower spike that will bloom soon.
What To Expect After Trimming
After you trim your Orchid flower spike, you can expect the plant to look neater and more attractive. You may also notice new growth emerging from the trimmed stem if you’ve left a growth node on. This new growth is normal and indicates that the plant is healthy.
Sometimes after trimming your orchid stems, you may notice some problems with your plant. This is either normally due to the plant going into shock from the pruning, or because the pruning shears used were not clean and sanitized. Look out for these signs to determine if your plant is struggling after pruning the flower spikes off:
- Leaves turning yellow and falling off
- The stem becoming soft and discolored
- No new growth from the flower, stem, or roots
- An overall “sickly” appearance
These symptoms are not common, as long as you use clean tools and your plant is already relatively healthy, but it’s always good to keep an eye out for symptoms like these to tell you how your plant is doing.
After the flowers of your orchid have fallen, it is important to continue caring for the plant like normal. Here are some tips to keep in mind for after the blooms have faded from your Orchid:
- Cut back the stem of the flower that held the bloom, using sharp scissors or a knife. Cut just above a node, which is a raised area on the stem where new leaves and flowers grow.
- Do not remove all the leaves from the plant, as this will weaken it. Instead, remove any that are yellowing or browning.
- Give your orchid more water than usual after it has flowered, as this will help it to recover and grow new flowers. Water should be applied directly to the potting mix, not on the leaves. Use a moisture meter to ensure you are not over-watering or under-watering your Orchid.
- Use a fertilizer that is specifically formulated for Orchids, and follow the manufacturer instructions carefully. When switching fertilizers, always start with half-strength to make the transition easier on your plant. We recommend Orchid Plant Food, as it has everything your Orchid needs, and is designed to be given to your plant each time you water, ensuring it never runs out of the nutrients it needs.
About Trimming Phalaenopsis Orchids
A Phalaenopsis Orchid is just a little different than a regular Orchid. After the flowers on your Phalaenopsis Orchid have fallen, you will need to trim the stem back to about one inch above a healthy node. A node is a small, knob-like growth on the stem where new leaves and flowers can emerge. To find a healthy node, look for one that is green and slightly plump. Make sure to prune off any nodes that are brown or mushy.
Once you have found a healthy node, use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut the stem about 1-2 inches above the node. Be sure to make a clean cut so that the stem can continue to grow new leaves and flowers. This Orchid will continue to give you multiple new blooms for several months, and does best when pruned during the dormant period, before new flower growth has begun. But once blooms die back, it’s important to remove them to ensure the Orchid can send its energy to the rest of the plant.
FAQ Trimming Orchids After Flowering
How long does it take for new orchid stems to grow and flower after cutting back?
After cutting back an orchid stem, it takes about six to eight weeks for new growth to appear. Once the new growth appears, it takes another two to three months for the stem to flower.
Do you water an orchid after the flowers fall off?
Watering your Orchid should not change much before, during, and after flowering. Orchids are tropical plants, so they like moist substrate, but avoid over-watering, as it can quickly rot the roots. Watering after the flowers fall off may increase or decrease, depending on the individual plant’s needs, but will generally stay the same. Use a moisture meter to take the guesswork out of when to water your plant.
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