Orchid leaves turning yellow? Here’s what to do!

In short, the reason why your orchid leaves are turning yellow is that the orchid’s roots are slowly dying. This means they can no longer deliver vital water or nutrients to the orchid’s leaves, causing them to turn yellow and eventually die.

The leaves turning yellow are an indication that they are under stress -and this can be down to several reasons, mainly, from a lack of water or overwatering. Orchids can also become yellow as a result of temperatures being colder than 55°F or sunburn from direct exposure to the sun for prolonged periods.

Yellowing is common in orchids, generally as a result of disease or unfavourable conditions contrary to their natural habitats and environments. We know you love your orchids as much as we love ours, so we want to help you save them! In this article, we go into great detail about the reasons why your orchid leaves can become stressed, and more importantly, what you can do to prevent them from dying.

Orchid leaves turning yellow snippet image

Table of Contents

Why your orchid leaves are turning yellow at a glance

  1. Overwatering – can lead to root rot (Orchids should only be watered once every 7-14 days).

  2. Not the right potting mixture – The most common reason for a failing orchid down to too much moisture in the potting soil. This can happen when using standard potting soil, which retains far too much moisture around the roots of the plant.

  3. Orchids in pots with no drainage holes at the bottom – Orchids dislike water accumulating around their roots. Water should easily be able to escape from the bottom of the pot.

  4. Orchids need an adequate amount of water – If the roots are not adequately moisturized, they will die and the plant will die (watered too lightly causes orchids roots to dry out, killing them so that they can no longer supply the leaves with water and nutrients.

  5. The leaves get scorched yellow if they are exposed to the sun too often – Orchids are tropical plants and do not like direct sunlight (if the leaves are in direct sunlight, they will get sunburned and turn yellow).

  6. Fertilizer for ordinary houseplants – (Orchids need a special fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen. Using the wrong fertilizer will cause orchid leaves to turn yellow).

  7. Temperatures less than 55°F – May cause orchid leaves to yellow (orchids are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures).

orchid leaves turning yellow

Orchid leaves turning yellow due to root rot - overwatering

One of the main reasons orchid leaves can turn yellow is due to root rot, which is caused by overwatering. When orchids are watered too frequently, the roots become waterlogged and start to break down and die. This process will eventually kill the orchid as it can no longer receive vital water or nutrients from the roots.

To prevent your orchid from getting root rot, it’s important to only water it once every seven to fourteen days. Allow the top two inches of soil to dry out completely before watering again. If you’re unsure whether your orchid needs water, stick your finger into the potting mix – if it feels dry, then it’s time to water.

It’s also important to make sure your orchid is potted in a well-draining potting mix. If the potting mix doesn’t drain well, the roots will become waterlogged and start to rot. The best way to test if your orchid’s potting mix is draining well is to water it and then wait an hour or so. After this time, check the bottom of the pot – if there’s water sitting in the saucer or dripping out of the drainage holes, then it’s draining too slowly and you’ll need to repot it into a better-draining mix.

orchid roots

How to Save Orchids with Yellow Leaves as a Result of Overwatering

Reduce the watering frequency to once every week 

If you are watering your orchids more than once a week, then you can quite confidently assume that your orchid leaves are turning yellow because of watering too frequently. To save your orchid, you need to reduce the watering frequency to once a week. This will give the roots a chance to dry out and start to recover. As a rule of thumb, try to limit watering to one every week in the spring and summer and once every two weeks in autumn and winter.

Remove your orchid from its current pot and look at the roots

Once you have reduced the watering frequency, it is important to check on the roots of your orchid. The best way to do this is to remove your orchid from its current pot and have a look. If you see that the roots are waterlogged and mushy, then they have been overwatered and will need to be removed as it can cause them to infect the healthier roots and cause them to rot too.

Once you have reduced the watering frequency, it is important to check on the roots of your orchid. The best way to do this is to remove your orchid from its current pot and have a look. If you see that the roots are waterlogged and mushy, then they have been overwatered and will need to be removed as it can cause them to infect the healthier roots and cause them to rot too.

Snipp off disease-ridden roots

If the roots are yellow, brown, mushy, or entirely shrivelled, they are no longer capable of transporting water or nutrients throughout the plant and should be cut off to avoid disease spread.

Use a prepared orchid potting mix or pine bark mix

When replanting your orchid, it is important to use a potting mix that has been designed specifically for orchids or a pine bark mix. These potting mixes are well-draining and will help to prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged in the future. You can also use pine bark which essentially works in the same way.

over watering

Should I Remove Yellow Orchid Plant Leaves?

Do not remove the yellow orchid leaves unless necessary. If a lack of nutrients causes the yellowing leaves to fall off, they will naturally do so once they have died back. You run the danger of harming the plant if you remove the leaves yourself.

The majority of orchid leaves turn brown and fall away on their own. When the leaves drop on their own, they do not leave a gaping wound, as occurs if the leaf is plucked from the plant.

When the yellowing leaves are removed, fungal diseases can get into the wounds and cause further damage to your orchid. It’s always best to let the leaves fall off on their own as a result of stress caused by forcing or cutting them off.

Yellow and Wrinkled Orchid Leaves (Drought Stress)

If your orchid leaves are turning yellow and wrinkled, it is a sign of drought stress. This happens when the plant does not have enough water and the leaves start to dry out and wrinkle. The best way to solve this problem is to increase the watering frequency until the leaves plump back up.

While orchids are usually watered less frequently than other house plants, the potting soil must be thoroughly soaked every watering to allow the plant’s roots to access moisture in the mix and absorb water vapor from the air around them.

If the orchid is watered too little, only the upper inch or so of the potting mix will be wet, causing drought stress and yellowing leaves.

Orchids, like other succulents, require watering once a week or every seven days during the Spring and Summer seasons and once every 14 days in the Fall and Winter.

dead orchid from incorrect temperature

Save Orchids With Yellow Leaves Due to Underwatering

Place the orchid’s pot in a bowl of water 

The best way to save an orchid from underwatering is to give it a good soak. This will help to rehydrate the plant and revive it back to health. Once removed from the water, allow the excess water to drain off

Wait until the top inch of the orchid potting mix has dried 

It is important to wait until the top inch of the orchid potting mix has dried out before watering it again. This will help to ensure that the plant does not become waterlogged and that the roots have access to oxygen.

Every two days, mist the orchids’ leaves, stems, and roots

Another way to help an orchid that is suffering from underwatering is to mist it with water every two days. This will help to increase the humidity around the plant and prevent the leaves from drying out.

Make sure your orchid is kept at the proper temperature 

It is important to make sure that your orchid is kept at the proper temperature in a place where it won’t be exposed to heat or air currents. Orchids prefer a temperature between 55-80 degrees Fahrenheit and should be kept out of direct sunlight.

Humidity is reduced by air conditioning and draughts

Make sure your orchid is in a draught-free room of the home. Air conditioning or heating can dry out the air and reduce the humidity around the plant, causing the leaves to turn yellow.

keep it away from any direct sunlight or heat sources

While the orchid is stressed from drought, it is important to keep it away from any direct sunlight or heat sources. These can further stress the plant and cause the leaves to turn yellow.

Remember this

The most crucial thing to remember when conserving orchids with yellow leaves from drought stress is to alter your watering habits. Allow the potting mix to dry out completely rather of fully drying it up before watering. Another essential component of caring for your orchid is to maintain it in the proper temperature zone and keep it away from open flames and draughts.

misting orchids

Sunburn on Orchid Leaves Due to Excessive Exposure to Light

If the orchid leaves are turning yellow and have brown spots, it is a sign of sunburn. This happens when the plant is exposed to too much direct sunlight or heat. The best way to solve this problem is to move the orchid to a shadier location.

Orchids are accustomed to growing in forests, but they do not tolerate direct sunlight. They can survive in some filtered light, however, orchids should ideally be grown under bright, indirect light since this provides the plant with enough energy for blossoming while avoiding sunburn.

Sun-burnt orchid leaves appear yellow and somewhat brown scorched, with the most apparent on those facing the sun. While the orchid as a whole may survive, sun-burned leaves will not recover from their burned appearance or return to green.

The scorched leaves, on the other hand, are unable to function properly, which leads to a general deterioration of the plant and declining foliage. If a plant is sunburned, it’s usually also suffering from drought stress, as the intense sunshine dries out the leaves, potting mix, and roots more quickly, causing drooping leaves, stems, and reducing any blooms.

too much sunlight

How to Avoid Sun Burn on Yellow Orchid Leaves

Place in a location that receives bright, indirect sunshine regularly

It’s critical to recreate these forest conditions when growing orchids in the house by avoiding direct sunshine.

Wait for them to fall off on their own rather than removing them

If you have a lot of damaged leaves, wait for them to fall off on their own rather than removing them. This will minimize the stress on the plant and give it a chance to recover.

Repot in a clear plastic container 

If you think that your orchid can recover from sunburn, repot it in a clear plastic container. This will help to direct the light straight onto the plant’s roots.

white orchid

Too much fertilizer causes orchid leaves to yellow

If you are using too much fertilizer, or if the fertilizer you are using is too high in nitrogen, it can cause orchid leaves to turn yellow. The best way to solve this problem is to flush the potting mix with water to remove any excess fertilizer. You should also reduce the amount of fertilizer you use or switch to a different type of fertilizer.

Fertilizer may cause orchids’ roots to burn, killing the plant. The burnt roots are no longer capable of transporting water and nutrients around the plant, suggesting that it is under stress.

How to Preserve Orchids With Yellow Leaves After Using Too Much Fertilizer

Mild stream of water

This can help dissolve extra salts that may build up as a result of frequent fertilizer application. The roots are able to absorb more water when less salt is in the potting medium since they are better able to take it up. This is a short-term measure that works best if the orchid’s potting medium is replaced completely.

Drainage holes – let the top inch of the potting mix dry out

This will help to reduce the amount of salt that builds up in the potting mix and also help to prevent root burn.

After a week, it’s time to check your orchid’s roots.

If you have a clear plastic pot, this is simple; otherwise, remove the orchid from the potting medium to check its roots. The roots of orchids should be green or light grey and feel full, indicating that they are healthy.

Brown, black, or thin and white roots

Trim these roots back to the orchid’s base, since they are no longer able to distribute water or nutrients throughout the plant.

Repot your orchid into a new potting mix of pine bark chips 

The new potting mix is free of the accumulated salts and other negative influences of overfertilization, allowing the orchid to recover more quickly.

Brown leaves are more susceptible to injury from the weather

Do not attempt to remove the leaves while they are still linked, as this may harm the orchid.

orchid fertilizer

Orchid leaves become yellow as a result of cold temperatures

Orchids are tropical plants and don’t like cold temperatures. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius), orchid leaves will start to turn yellow. The best way to prevent this is to keep your orchid in a warm, Draft-proof room or place it on a heating mat designed for plants.

Heating mats raise the temperature of the potting mix by a few degrees, which can make a big difference for orchids that are sensitive to cold temperatures.

If you live in an area with harsh winters, it’s best to move your orchid indoors before the first frost. When moving an orchid indoors, put it in a south-facing window if possible. This will give it the most light possible.

If you can’t put your orchid in a south-facing window, don’t worry. Any bright window will do, as long as it doesn’t get too much direct sunlight. Too much sun will scorch the leaves, causing them to turn yellow or brown.

People also ask

Why my orchid leaf turned yellow?

Overwatering your orchid may result in root rot, which can cause its leaves to turn yellow. If your orchid has root rot and needs to be repotted, do it in fresh new potting media to help the plant get back on track. Three ice cubes are enough even if many stems are coming from the same plant.

Should I cut yellow leaves off orchid?

No, you should not cut yellow leaves off orchid. Orchid leaves become yellow as a result of cold temperatures, overfertilization, or root rot. You can only do your best to make sure the rest of your plant doesn’t die, allow the yellow leaves to either revive themselves or drop off naturally.

Can a yellow leaf turn green again?

The green colour of a leaf is due to chlorophyll. The plant drops the leaf once it loses its chlorophyll and begins to absorb the remaining nutrients from it. That’s why, when the leaf becomes yellow, you generally can’t make it return green again.

chlorophyll gives the green colour

What is best potting mix for orchids?

There is no best potting mix for orchids since they come in many different varieties. You can use a variety of materials, such as bark chips, sphagnum moss, or perlite. It’s important to choose a potting mix that has good drainage to prevent root rot. If you’re not sure what type of potting mix to use, ask your local nursery or plant store for advice.

What does it mean when orchid leaves turn yellow and brown?

If orchid leaves turn yellow and brown, it generally means that the plant is getting too much sun. Orchids need bright light but not direct sunlight, which can scorch their leaves. Move your orchid to a spot that gets indirect light or put it in a south-facing window if possible.

Can I use regular potting soil for my orchid?

No, you should not use regular potting soil for your orchid. Regular potting soil is too dense and will not allow enough air to reach the roots of the plant. This can lead to root rot, which can kill your orchid. Choose a potting mix that is designed for orchids or has good drainage to prevent this from happening.

orchids need proper soil

Is charcoal good for orchids?

Is wood charcoal a good potting medium for your orchids? Charcoal is an excellent potting medium for orchids since it eliminates odour, breaks down the formation of germs, absorbs salt residue (therefore reducing the risk of root burn), and doesn’t degrade.

Are coffee grounds good for orchid plants?

Coffee grounds are a great fertilizer for orchids and African violets, in particular. They contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are all nutrients that orchids need to thrive. Coffee grounds also help to lower the pH of the soil, making it more acidic.

Are eggshells good for orchids?

Yes, eggshells are good for orchids. Eggshells contain calcium carbonate, which is a key nutrient that orchids need. Eggshells also help to lower the pH of the soil, making it more acidic.

egg shells help orchids grow

How often should I water my orchid?

You should water your orchid about once a week, or when the potting mix is dry to the touch. Be careful not to overwater your orchid, as this can lead to root rot. Allow the potting mix to dry out completely before watering again. If you’re not sure whether your orchid needs water, check the leaves for signs of wilting or yellowing.

What is the best fertilizer for orchids?

The best fertilizer for orchids is one that is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are the three key nutrients that orchids need to thrive. You can find fertilizer specially formulated for orchids at your local nursery or plant store.

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