Why Is My Orchid Stem Turning Brown

Why Is My Orchid Stem Turning Brown | Causes & How to Fix

A brown orchid stem can be quite unsightly, and can make any plant parent go into a panic, but it doesn’t always spell disaster. There are several reasons why this might be happening to your plant, and luckily, most of them can be easily fixed.

Reasons Why Orchid Stems Can Turn Brown

Orchid stems can turn brown for any number of reasons, and it can be quite overwhelming to go through an entire list of reasons, so we’ve compiled a list of the most common reasons behind brown stems, and included ways to fix the problem so you can get your plant back to optimal health.

Causes of Brown Orchid Stems & How to Fix It

Natural Color Change After Flowering

After the beautiful display of blooms, you may notice that your orchid’s stem starts to turn brown. This is actually a natural color change that occurs after flowering. It’s a sign that your orchid is entering a new phase in its growth cycle.

During this time, the flowers fade and eventually fall off. As the energy from these spent blooms is redirected to other parts of the plant, the stem may start to turn brown. This color change indicates that your orchid is conserving energy and preparing for future growth.

The browning of the stem can be seen as a positive sign – an indication that your orchid has successfully completed its flowering stage and is now focusing on building up its strength for future blossoms. It’s important not to panic or jump into any drastic measures when you see this natural color change occurring.

Instead, continue providing proper care for your orchid by ensuring it receives adequate light, water, and humidity levels according to its specific needs. Remember that each variety of orchid has different requirements and preferences.

Insufficient Watering

One of the most common causes of brown orchid stems is insufficient watering. Orchids are tropical plants that require a specific level of moisture to thrive, and when they don’t receive enough water, their stems can turn brown.


So, how do you know if your orchid isn’t getting enough water? One sign is when the potting medium feels dry to the touch. Another indication is when the leaves start to wilt or become wrinkled. You can also use a moisture meter to measure the amount of moisture in the potting media.


Overwatering is a common mistake that many orchid owners make. It’s easy to think that more water will keep your plant healthy and hydrated, but too much moisture can actually be detrimental to the health of your orchid.

When you overwater your orchid, the roots become saturated and oxygen cannot reach them properly. This lack of oxygen can lead to root rot, which in turn affects the overall health of the plant. As a result, the stem may start turning brown as it struggles to receive nutrients from damaged roots.

To fix overwatering and underwatering, first make sure that your Orchid has the right potting media. It should be light with an abundance of airflow and organic matter. Next, check that you’re watering your orchid properly. Finding the right balance when watering is key. Run water through the Orchid’s pot until it flows out of the drainage holes in the bottom, and then let it drain completely before placing it back in its home. You should need to water it again for 1-2 weeks depending on how humid or dry the overall environment is.

Splashing Water on Stem

One mistake that orchid owners make is splashing water directly onto the stem. While it may seem harmless, this can actually cause the stem to turn brown.

When water comes into contact with the stem, it can lead to rot and fungal infections. The excess moisture creates a breeding ground for pathogens that attack the plant’s tissues, which can result in discoloration and browning of the stem.

To prevent this issue, be mindful when watering your orchid. Instead of spraying or splashing water onto the stem, focus on watering at the base of the plant or use a dedicated watering can with a narrow spout. This will help ensure that water reaches only the roots and avoids unnecessary contact with the sensitive stems.

Excessive Light Exposure

Orchids need light to thrive like all houseplants, but too much direct sunlight can actually harm them. Orchids are native to tropical regions and are adapted to thrive in filtered or diffused light. They will typically grow along the stems of other plants or the trunk of some trees, so the only light they receive gets filtered through several layers of leaves above them from the other plants.

When an orchid is exposed to intense sunlight for extended periods of time, it can cause the leaves and stems to become scorched and turn brown. This is because the intense heat from the sun’s rays can damage the delicate tissues of the plant.

To fix this issue, simply move your orchid to a location with less direct sunlight. Try placing it near a window with sheer curtains or in a spot where it gets bright but indirect light throughout the day. If you notice that only certain parts of the stem are turning brown, you may also consider rotating your plant periodically so that all sides receive equal amounts of light. Try to catch this issue as quickly as possible, because if left for too long in direct sun, it can kill your plant rather quickly.

Incorrect Humidity

Humidity levels outside of the ideal range for your Orchid can be another culprit behind your Orchid’s stem turning brown. Orchids are tropical plants that thrive in environments with high humidity levels. If the air around your orchid is too dry, it can cause the stems to turn brown and become dehydrated. If it’s too high, it can begin to rot the plant from too much moisture.

The only way to combat incorrect humidity is by placing a humidity meter near your Orchid. Use the meter to adjust humidity levels between 40-70%. If it’s higher than this, place a fan near the plant to circulate more air. If it’s lower, place a humidifier close to your plant. This will help create a more suitable environment for your plant’s needs.

Exposure to Cold Temperatures

When Orchids are exposed to cold temperatures, their sensitive stems can turn brown as a result of damage caused by the chilling effect. Orchids are highly susceptible to temperature fluctuations, especially if they experience prolonged exposure to cold air or drafts.

This is because cold temperatures can disrupt the orchid’s metabolic processes, making it difficult for them to absorb nutrients and water effectively. This leads to browning of the stem as the plant becomes weakened and unable to sustain itself properly.

To prevent your orchid from succumbing to cold-induced browning, it is crucial to provide them with a suitable environment. Avoid placing them near drafty windows or doors during colder months. If you live in a region with harsh winters, consider moving your orchids indoors where you can control the temperature more easily.


Diseases can also be a common reason for your Orchid’s stem turning brown. Orchids are susceptible to various fungal and bacterial infections that can lead to discoloration and deterioration of the stem.

One such disease is root rot, which occurs when the roots are constantly exposed to excess moisture and the roots begin to actually rot in the soil. To fix this disease, you’ll need to repot your Orchid, taking care to prune off any diseased roots. Only pot up your Orchid with Orchid-specific potting media, and do not water it heavily for about two weeks to allow the plant to recover. Only give it a drizzle of water so the soil doesn’t dry out completely.

Another disease that can affect orchids is crown rot, where the crown – the base of the plant from which new growth emerges – becomes infected and turns brown. This is a tricky one to fix. Remove any pieces that are rotted through carefully with sharp, disinfected pruning shears, and treat your plant with a fungicide to help it fight off any further damage.

Fungal infections like Botrytis or bacterial infections like Erwinia can also cause browning of the stem, and they can also typically be fixed by treating your plant with a fungicide or bactericide.

You will need to remove the parts of your plant that are affected by any fungus or bacteria already, and make sure to discard it properly to prevent it from spreading.

To prevent diseases in your orchid, maintain good hygiene practices. Avoid overwatering your plants and ensure proper drainage for their pots. Additionally, make sure there is adequate air circulation around your orchids to keep humidity levels in an optimal range.

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Removing Brown Sections of Stem

To remove the brown sections, you will need a clean pair of pruning shears. Start by sterilizing the cutting tool with rubbing alcohol to prevent any potential spread of diseases. Gently cut away the affected parts of the stem, making sure to cut just above a node or joint where new growth can occur.

After removing the brown sections, it’s essential to monitor your orchid closely for any signs of infection. Keep an eye out for new shoots emerging from healthy green areas on the stem. Provide proper care and maintenance following removal to ensure successful recovery.

Remember that prevention is key when it comes to maintaining healthy orchids. Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of trouble and address issues promptly before they escalate into bigger problems.

FAQs Orchid Stems Turning Brown

Why is my orchid stem turning brown after cutting?

There are several reasons an Orchid’s stem will turn brown after cutting, but most likely, it’s just the plant redirecting resources to other areas of the plant. It could also be that the plant is stressed from the pruning, or there may be another underlying cause behind it.

Why is my orchid stem turning brown and wilting?

If you notice that your orchid stem is not only turning brown, but also wilting, it could be a sign of more severe issues. Wilting stems indicate that the plant is under extreme stress and immediate action is needed to save it. It could be root rot, underwatering, extreme temperatures, or any number of reasons.

More Orchid Resources

To learn more about how to care for your orchid, check out our other recent articles or visit our online shop to stock up on supplies to ensure your orchid-growing success. Ask your orchid questions inside our helpful Orchid Community!


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