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Phalaenopsis Orchid Care: What to Do With Broken Leaves and Stems

March 29, 2016

You come home to find your orchid on the floor. You pick it up, scoop up any spilt potting media, place it back where it once was, and then you notice it: A broken leaf.

Despite our best efforts, sometimes leaves and stems on our Phalaenopsis orchids get broken. Perhaps a pet knocked it over or a curious child got the best of it. Maybe something fell on it, you bumped it, or the plant has a particularly heavy stem full of blooms. But a broken leaf or stem doesn’t mean the end for your plant. A few simple measures can help you repair the damage.

Broken Leaves

Whether split in half, up the middle or just inflicted with a small tear, leaf damage can be unsightly. But don’t reach for the scissors just yet. Injuries to a leaf won’t damage the plant. In fact, broken leaves can still provide nutrients to the plant. You can leave the leaf in place and sprinkle some ground cinnamon on the damaged area. Cinnamon has antimicrobial properties and can help prevent infection.

If you’d like to remove the damaged area for display purposes, use sterile scissors or a knife to cut it a half-inch from the central stem of the plant.

Broken Flower Stems

Unlike cut flowers, orchids add a touch of style to any environment while still attached to flower spikes, so we don’t usually think of cutting and displaying their flower stems. But cutting off and displaying a broken flower stem like you would a vase of flowers could be an option. Cut the damaged stem with a sterile knife or scissors above the break and put it in a vase with water—the stem will last one to two weeks in a vase. Then remove the rest of spike down to the stem of the plant.

You also can leave the damaged stem in place. The plant may be able to repair the damage to the stem if you use a stake to stabilize the broken area. Think of it like putting a splint around an injured limb.

Get a small stick, chopstick or a floral stake and some floral tape or string, insert the stake about an inch into the potting media and tape or tie the damaged stem to the stake above the damaged spot. If the stem heals, you might notice that the area where the damage was looks thicker.

If you notice damage to your plant, leaving it be or removing the damaged area can be all the plant needs to heal. Thanks to their hardiness, Phalaenopsis orchids can weather a few bumps and bruises along the way.

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