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Is My Orchid Dead? Here are Four Signs That Say It Is

February 26, 2019

This is no time to be asking “Is my orchid dead?” The season of life (spring) is almost here. If you're waiting for your orchid to come back, it's very likely it will— unless it's showing these four signs.

Orchid flowers are beautiful when your plant is finished blooming. But this time of year it can be tough to tell if your orchid is just resting or dead. While orchids are easy-to-care for plants, they do have ways to tell you that it’s time for a replacement.

Here are the four signs you should be looking for.

Is My Orchid Dead? 4 Telltale Signs

It Has No Roots

Healthy roots mean a healthy orchid. While it might seem odd that an orchid would have no roots, this can occur if your orchid has been overwatered.

Overwatering can lead to root rot, which if severe enough could damage most or all of your orchid plant’s roots.

Root rot makes roots appear brown and mushy, and because nutrients are delivered to the plant via its root system, having no roots is almost certainly a death sentence for a plant. When inspecting your orchid’s roots, remember healthy orchid roots should be plump, green and firm.

While most cases of root rot are fixable, if your root rot is extensive enough that all of the plant’s roots have turned brown and there are no healthy green areas left, it may be time to discard the plant. Another sign your plant’s roots are unsalvageable is if the area that connects the roots and leaves is mushy.

The Crown is Rotten:

Check the center of your plant. Is it discolored or brown? Or is the base of its leaves discolored and mushy looking? If so, you may have a case of crown rot. In nature, Phalaenopsis orchids are exposed to moving air, and because they’re placed in pots for home decorating, they’re more susceptible to crown and root rot.

Rot can spread quickly and it is possible to not notice your plant is suffering from it until its leaves have turned yellow or black.

It's Not Producing Viable Buds

Bud blast is a common affliction for Phalaenopsis orchids. It causes the flower buds to wither and fall from an otherwise healthy-looking plant. And while there are several reasons behind bud blast, sometimes an orchid has a genetic mutation and it cannot produce viable blooms.

It Has a Severe Mealybug Infestation

Mealybugs are annoying pests that feed on an orchid. Though an infestation can be eradicated using rubbing alcohol, insecticides or horticultural soap, there are times when the infestation is so severe the plant should be destroyed. If you notice signs of decline like unhealthy-looking leaves, buds or stem, and you’re unable to control or eliminate the infection, you should consider disposing of the plant.

Thankfully, Phalaenopsis orchids can endure a variety of ailments and still come out looking beautiful. But if you notice any of the above signs or your orchid isn’t recovering from an infestation or case of rot, you may want to consider replacing it with a new, healthy orchid.

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