Phalaenopsis orchid blooms turn brown


Thanks for being there, master gardener. I received the orchid, my first, as a gift 4 months ago. After a few weeks, the blooms fell off and it is now blooming for the second time. But the blooms are turning brown and falling off even before they open. It looks like the orchid is planted in bark. There are 2 roots growing outside the pot. The instructions say to water with 3 ice cubes once a week, which I have been doing. Thanks for any advice you can provide.


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your query about the blooms falling off your orchid before they open.

This is a commen issue with Phalaenopsis orchids and it acutally has a name – bud blast!  Orchids can be very tempermental if their growing requirements are not met to a “T”.  However, once they are met, orchids are easy to care for and their blossoms will last on the average for 3-4 months. What a bonus, especially since the flowers are so beautiful and interesting!

The most common cause of bud blast the shock experienced by the plant in response to  a change in the orchid’s environment , whether it be temperature, light level, water schedule.  Did you move the plant to a different location? Is there a difference in temperature, a draft or forced hot air?  I note that you are watering regularly with your ice cubes.  You may want to change that and water with room temparature, standing water (to allow the clorine in the water to dissipate) when the medium in which the orchid is growing is dry.  Stick you finger into the medium to about the second knuckle to test for moisture.  If it is dry, water thoroughly and allow the water to drain immediately.  I usually do this in the kitchen sink.  Orchids grow in nature attached to the bark of trees and you would want to replicate the kind of watering (from rain) that they get in that environment.

The Toronto Master Gardeners have created a garden guide that describes the cultural practices of growing and propagating orchids that I think you will find very interesting and helpful.  Just click on this link

Good luck with your orchid.  Keep in mind that with the right conditions it will bloom every year.  This really is the gift that keeps on giving!