Why are my orchid flowers falling off? These houseplant experts have the answer

Orchid flowers falling off? Plant experts explain what's happening to your orchid and how to fix the problem

A striped pink orchid in closeup
(Image credit: somnuk krobkum / Getty)

If you're wondering 'why are my orchid flowers falling off?' there's a chance that your orchid is in trouble. 

Orchids do drop their flowers when they've finished flowering and are entering hibernation, so if your plant is otherwise healthy and had a normal flowering season, you have nothing to worry about. However, orchids also drop flowers when they are stressed, and in many cases flowers that are falling off are the first sign that your orchid may not survive in its current environment.

Learning how to grow orchids can be daunting, especially if you're a plant novice. Orchids are unlike most other plants you'll grow indoors, with several unique requirements. Once you've mastered catering to these specialized needs, your orchids will be healthy and blooming again. 

flowering orchid in white plant pot

(Image credit: Nigel Cattlin/Alamy Stock Photo)

5 reasons your orchid flowers are falling off

These are the main reasons your orchid might be dropping its flowers and what you should do to resolve the issues. 

1. Incorrect watering

Orchids are different from most other houseplants; in the wild, they attach their roots to trees or rocks, drawing moisture from passing rains. So, if you are constantly watering your orchid, you almost certainly are overwatering it, and that can lead to flowers dropping from the plant because of stress. It can also cause your orchid leaves to turn yellow

Plant expert and founder of Rosy Soil Chad Massura says: 'orchids prefer a good soak once a week when they begin to flower,' but you should take care you don't overdo it. 

It's also better to water your orchids by quickly saturating them with water from the tap and then letting the soil drain completely than watering them a little every day. Following these watering tips is a good way to get your orchid to rebloom

Gardener holding white orchid flowers growing on window sill

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2. Incorrect potting mix

Another, related, problem that can cause orchids to drop their flowers is an incorrect potting mix. 

Chad Massura explains that 'a potting mix that holds too much moisture in between waterings will lead to root rot resulting in flower loss.' 

The solution is to 'look for a potting mix that holds moisture without being too dense. Potting soils that use earth-positive ingredients like biochar provide a light and airy mixture with an impressive water-holding capacity.' If in doubt, you can buy an orchid potting mix on Amazon.  

3. Large temperature fluctuations

Orchids are very sensitive to drafts and large temperature fluctuations where they are kept, which can cause them to drop their flowers. 

Ideally, keep your orchids in a room where the temperature does not fall below around 75˚F (23˚C) during the day or below 65˚F (18˚C) at night. Don't keep your orchid next to a window that's left frequently open either. 

Three potted moth orchids on windowsill

(Image credit: Nadya So / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images)

4. Insufficient light

Like all other flowering plants, orchids need plenty of bright light to produce flowers. They're not a good choice for a low light indoor plant, so if your orchid is far away from a window and dropping flowers, move it closer to or onto a windowsill. 

Top tip: Be careful not to expose your orchid to direct sunlight as that can also stress out the plant. Always aim for bright, indirect light. 

5. Insufficient humidity

According to horticulturist Mark Bennett, 'Orchids drop their flowers and flower buds if they experience drought stress due to low humidity. The low humidity saps moisture from the leaves, roots, and flowers, and if the potting medium dries out completely the flowers and flower buds drop.'

Getting a plant humidifier (available from Amazon) can help to solve this problem. You can also try growing your orchid as a bathroom plant as it will appreciate the humid environment, providing the room has natural light and isn't cold. 

orchid in a bathroom

Humid bathrooms can be a good environment for orchids

(Image credit: Andreas von Einsiedel/Getty Images)

What should I do if my orchid's flowers have fallen off?

Jean Bloom, an avid gardener for over 30 years and owner of Gardening FAQs, advises the following: 'Leave the flower spike (or stem) alone, trim it down to a node, or cut it off completely. Clip the flower spike off at the plant's root end to remove it completely. If the present stem begins to turn brown or yellow, this is unquestionably the direction to go.' 

Of course, if your orchid is succumbing to root rot, you'll need to treat that problem and repot your orchid. You can trim off any roots that have gone black: healthy orchid roots look fleshy and white and turn green when they're saturated with water.

Pruning an orchid correctly will also help to tidy it up and encourage your plant to produce more blooms in its next growing season.

Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.