Problems With Orchids

Living up to 100 years, orchids can thrive when the conditions they are being cultivated in are suitable and as long as any and all problems, including disease and a weak environment, are quickly resolved. Experiencing both highs and lows, there is a chance they may degenerate but will after some time return to a successful bloom. Your orchids will live for many years if you keep this pattern and their required conditions in mind at all times.

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Problems with blooms

Non-flowering pseudo bulbs

Description
Foliage is produced from the new pseudo bulbs, but yield no flower spikes. Cymbidiums and orchids that carry pseudo bulbs cymbidiums are affected.
Causes
The orchid will be of flowering size when the maximum size of the pseudo bulb is reached, a process undergone by the flower each year. A flower spike will then be produced. However, the orchid will not undergo flowering if the pseudo bulbs instead begin to grow smaller, and in many cases this is due to the greater amount of foliage shed by the older pseudo bulbs.
Cure
Removing older pseudo bulbs, especially those lacking in leaves, as well as repotting the orchid will assist in re-establishing the orchid’s balance because now fewer bulbs are being supported. Therefore, larger pseudo bulbs and eventually flower spikes will be produced.
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Non-flowering, other types

Description
No flower spikes, but an ample amount of foliage is produced.
Causes
Cool-growing orchids: Flourishing growth but no flowers will be produced if temperatures are above an optimal level.
Warmer-growing orchids: A too-warm environment will lead to no flowers and weak, dark green foliage.
Cure
Cool-growing orchids: The orchids will begin to flower again once they are placed in a cool environment.
Warmer-growing orchids: In order to instigate flowering in Phalaeniopsis, the plant should be exposed to cooler temperatures for about 2 to 3 weeks. However, this should only be done when after many months the expected flower spike is not seen.
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Bud blast

Description
Right before opening, regularly developed buds found on the flower spike will become yellow and fall off the plant.
Causes
Bud blast can occur due to a wet and cold conditions, a very dry and warm conditions, and an inadequately ventilated environment.
Cure
Keeping up the optimal conditions for orchids is essential. For example, do not change the orchid's environment and temperature or even its location within a room once it is ready to flower, but rather wait until fully bloomed flowers are observed.
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Flower-wilt

Description
Although the blooms of the orchid normally last for numerous weeks, the flowers are seen wilting prematurely.
Causes
Excessive dryness as well as overheating both lead to wilting flowers. For example, orchids sold in stores may be wrapped in plastic for too long, creating a unfavourable conditions for the plant.
Cure
When battling wilt, it is essential to prevent the problem in the first place. Eliminate wrapping and restrictions on the plant when it is first bought, making sure to pick out the healthiest orchids. As always, make sure to place the orchid and/or surround it with the proper conditions.
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Red lips

Description
Observed most frequently on cymbidium orchids. The flower ends up turning red and dying where pollen has been lost or where the flower has aged.
Causes
Animals such as birds and mice, as well as any rough handling of the orchids can cause the pollen to be displaced, resulting in the death of the flower. The pollen can rot, too, which is characterized by it turning black. Once this occurs, the flower will die.
Cure
Taking precautions to avoid any damage being done to the orchids, either by animals or rough handling, will help in preventing this problem.

Spotting

Description
Spotting is commonly seen on phalaenopsis flowers and cattleya. Botrytis, a fungal disease, causes spotting on fresh flowers, however spotting is natural as the blooms age.
Causes
A damp, cold, inadequately ventilated environment, or simply low winter temperatures result in the growth of fungus.
Cure
Make sure the orchid is growing in a ventilated environment with low humidity, and remove as well as isolate infected flowers on the orchids or any nearby infected plants in general. These precautions will help to prevent the growth and spread of fungus.

Problems with foliage

Black marks

Description
The tips of the leaves may develop markings, either brown or black, in which the colour will progress down the leaf. However these markings do not necessarily start on the tips only, and can be formed on any point of the leaf.
Causes
Black tips found on young leaves may be a result of low temperatures at night and excessive watering. However, these markings may simply be a part of the aging process. For example, in the natural life cycle, these spots may appear on the leaves before they are removed by the plant itself.
Cure
Anti-fungal spray helps in the prevention of black markings due to a fungal infection, and removing dead or infected parts of the plant will help in avoiding the spread of the infection. Also, if the plant has been overwatered, it can be placed into another pot or the surrounding temperatures can be increased.

Sunburn

Description
Visible signs of sunburn include black patches or patches outlined in black. The leaves of the flower may sometimes instead turn red during summer months, as is seen in some purebred crossbreeds of Odontoglossum.
Causes
Sunburn patches are a result of the leaves being in direct sunlight for too long (the problem can occur in under an hour). Odontoglossums have a natural redness to them, however they too can experience sunburn.
Cure
The effects of sunburn are permanent, but precautions can be taken in order to prevent this problem from occurring. Protecting the plants from too much exposure to sunlight is essential.

Black rot

Description
Rot can occur in one or many newly produced pseudo bulbs, starting at the base and spreading throughout the entire plant. The rot makes the pseudo bulbs wet and brown, and the most vulnerable orchids are Cattleya and miltoniopsis. However, a rotting pseudo bulb can also be dry. In the aging process, an older pseudo bulb typically found near the plant’s back will naturally become brown and wither.
Causes
Creating excessively wet conditions, such as overwatering or leaving the plant in soaking conditions for too long, will lead to rot. New and young growth can also experience black rot if water has been trapped within the foliage for too long.
Cure
Any diseased pseudo bulbs should be removed. Cut through the rhizome of the plant, and after removing the affected parts, what remains should be treated with fungicide by dipping the plant into it.

Viruses

Description
When determining whether plant has a virus, look for white lines on the younger leaves running parallel to the vein or exhibiting a diamond-like pattern. Sometimes the virus takes on the form of black pitting on the leaf, such as on orchids with broader leaves like cattleyas and phalaenopsis. Any blackened area on a leaf signifies damage to its cells, and this occurs as a result of a secondary infection surviving in the dead cells of the leaf as the foliage undergoes the aging process.
Causes
An orchid would have to be unhealthy in order for a virus to infect it, according to the belief of many botanists: Viruses lie dormant in all plants and only when the plant is weakened or becomes unhealthy does the virus manifest itself. This is because a weakened plant is not able to fight off the virus due to the greater stress it is dealing with.
Cure
Once a virus infection strikes, the only way to deal with the problem is to dispose of the plant so that other plants do not experience an attack as well.

Yellow leaves

Description
An orchid with all yellow-green leaves may be lacking nitrogen. Otherwise, in the natural life cycle of the plant, older leaves will become yellow and eventually fall off.
Causes
The foliage of an orchid could become yellow if there is excessive exposure to sunlight, which is more common for orchids growing outdoors without sufficient shading or in a greenhouse rather than indoors. An example of this is the cymbidium orchid. An orchid growing in old or depleted, and therefore already decomposed, compost can lead to nitrogen deficiency as there is an inadequate amount of nitrogen and other nutrients in the compost. Similarly, not properly and sufficiently feeding the plant during its growth phase can also lead to yellow leaves.
Cure
Determine the state of the compost being used, and if new compost is required then repot the orchid. The orchid should create a new root system, and afterwards it is necessary to provide the plant with a nitrogen-based feed with every second or third watering at consistent times. A regular foliar feed is also to be given to the orchid as it grows its new roots, making sure to lightly mist the leaves in order to cover them with very small water droplets, eventually returning the plant to its green and healthy state.

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