Subscribe to our blog to get articles delivered directly to your inbox

Good Orchid Care: Avoiding Orchid Sunburn

June 25, 2010

For a great dose of advice regarding sunburn for humans, we’ll refer you to the lyrics of the song “Sunscreen” which advises (among many other wonderful things): “If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.”

We actually have found a sunscreen for plants but so far it only seems like it’s made for use on large crops. For our small relatively small orchid collections, we’ll just have to plan ahead, just as you do when you apply sunscreen before putting yourself in the sun.

Though Phalaenopsis orchids are from warm climates, they’re not necessarily exposed to direct sunlight, since they spend most of their time attached to trees, enjoying the dappled sunlight and shade and humid, watery air. Here’s what you can do to help recreate that setting for your orchid plants during the hot summer months:

  1. Move the orchids into a shady spot that still gets some light
  2. Water more often to make sure the roots stay hydrated
  3. Provide a breeze to cool the plants, especially if closed indoors
  4. Mist plants in the morning to create orchid humidity and bring down the ambient temperature
  5. Hose down surrounding benches, floors, and ground to keep them cooler
  6. Have someone take care of your orchids if you go on vacation

Just like people, plants turn red when they’re burning. If they’re turning red, act fast to prevent the leaves from turning yellow, withering, or sporting white or brown splotches. Photos and more info can be found at My Orchid

The Five Docks Orchid Society also warns that sunburned orchids are susceptible to infestation and orchid disease and fertilizer may burn orchids even further.

So enjoy the summer sun, but be sure to protect yourself and your orchids!