Do You Cut Off Dead Orchid Stems?

Caring for a fading or dead orchid raises many questions for novice florists. Opinions about whether or not to crop an exposed stem may be the exact opposite, and this confuses newbies even more about do you cut off dead orchid stems. This article will help you figure out what to do with the peduncle after the orchid has faded.

Do You Cut Off Dead Orchid Stems

Stem Pruning In Orchids With Simple And Repeated Flowering

The first thing a florist should do is to understand the peculiarities of the flowering of a particular genus or type of orchid. They all behave differently after flowering, and it is this information that should form the basis for making a decision.

The vast majority of orchids do not bloom again on the same stem. In such plants, after flowering, the peduncle dries out and dies off. But there are also such orchids that can form new buds at the tip of the stem and release flowers. This type of flowering is called “revolving”:

Orchids with simple floweringOrchids with “revolving” flowering
some varieties of paphiopedilum.

Take a look at Best Bark For Orchids.

Pruning a faded or dead stalk in simple flowering orchids is just a matter of time. Some orchid growers prefer to remove it immediately, while others believe that it is better to let the stem dry on its own. Which of the options to choose can be decided by the florist himself.

What to do with a peduncle in orchids that are prone to re-flowering depends on the type of orchid:

  • Revolving paphiopedilums are not pruned after the flower wilts. Many varieties of the lady’s shoe can bloom more than 10 times on one hand. Therefore, pruning of the peduncle is performed only after it begins to dry out itself.
  • The tip of the phalaenopsis can be cut off and left if there is a living kidney on it. This bud, upon awakening, will give a flower, but most often only one. How much it is needed is up to the florist to decide.

Thus, simple flowering orchids are pruned after flowering anyway, but sooner or later depends on the beliefs of the grower. Orchids forming a continuation bud at the top are pruned as appropriate.

Important! If the orchid itself is weak, it is better to cut the faded stem after it has completely dried. Nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, or sulfur can easily move through plant tissues and move away from dying parts to growing ones. This phenomenon is called battery recycling (recycling).

Double Spike Orchid Trimming

You may also like Dendrobium Orchid Care After Flowering.

double spike orchid trimming: full or partial cutting

The next important point that is taken into account when deciding on cutting is the presence of lateral buds on the peduncle. These buds can wake up and give flower lateral branches or form babies. Therefore, orchids with branching peduncles can be trimmed either completely or partially:

  • Full pruning of the stem stimulates the orchid to enter the next phase of development – to grow a new leaf and form a young peduncle. It is also performed if the plant needs a transplant. However, this method makes it impossible to get re-flowering on the arrow or to propagate the orchid by children.
  • Partial pruning allows the orchid to reach its full flowering potential at each stem. However, it delays the formation of new young peduncles.

Thus, both pruning options have a right to exist. This is also indicated by the reviews of florists:

“I always look, whether a new tubercle has appeared in the leaf axil or not, and only after that I decide how to cut the stem. If there is a tubercle, I cut it completely, because all the same, flowering from a lateral bud is not very abundant – 3 flowers at best. If there is no hint of the appearance of a new peduncle yet, I cut it off to the upper lateral bud and give the orche a chance to think a little more”.

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Choosing a tool for trimming a peduncle

In order for the trimming of the stem to be as easy and painless as possible for the orchid, it is necessary to prepare a good tool. There are three main options:

Tools for cuttingAdvantagesdisadvantages
ScissorsThe tool is affordable, in every home, and easy to use.The scissors blades squeeze the stem from both sides, severely damaging the underlying tissue, and jam the cut.
Gardening or grafting knifeThe tool has a thin and sharp blade, allowing you to make an even cut without deformation and squeezing of tissues.Not available in every household, it requires skill and a “firm hand”.
SecateursThe tool makes a fast and even cut, easy to use.A perfect cut requires good sharpening and tool alignment.

Orchid flower stalks can acquire significant density, and not every florist can cut it with a knife in one motion. Therefore, the best option is a secateurs. However, many people do quite well with ordinary scissors – the main thing is that they are sharp enough.

Tip # 1. Instead of simple household scissors or pruning shears, you can purchase garden shears. This tool is less likely to wrinkle fabrics than simple ones and is easy to use.

Orchid flower stem trimming technique

The peduncle trimming technique is very simple and is performed as follows:

  • tool blades are thoroughly wiped with alcohol;
  • with complete pruning of the peduncle, the cut is performed 2-3 cm above its base;
  • with partial trimming of the peduncle, the cut is made 1.5 cm above the selected lateral bud;
  • if cutting was done on green tissue, the cut is cut to prevent infection.

In case of partial cutting, the cut is made at an angle of 90 0 , in no case oblique. Peduncles with oblique cuts lose more moisture, and the likelihood of the lateral bud drying out increases. With a full cut, the cut angle does not matter.

Cutting can be done using different means:

  • greenery;
  • hydrogen peroxide;
  • crushed activated carbon;
  • ground cinnamon.

Some growers use melted wax, but this is the worst possible option. Waxes or paraffin are used in wood gardening to prevent the cut from drying out. And when trimming the stem of an orchid, you need to achieve the opposite goal – to dry the cut faster. Under a layer of wax, it will stay moist longer, which increases the risk of decay.

Caring for pruned orchids of different genera

After trimming the stem, care is organized depending on which botanical genus the orchid belongs to:

OrchidFeatures of care after pruning
PhalaenopsisFeeding is performed with complex mineral fertilizer and watering is reduced. The lighting is kept at a high level, as is the humidity. Daily fluctuations in air temperature are required.
VandaFeeding is performed with full complex fertilizer. The rest of the care has no peculiarities, it is performed as usual.
CattleyaFeeding is performed with full complex fertilizer. Good light and air humidity of at least 60% are preserved. The air temperature decreases slightly, watering is reduced, but without long drying. After the orchids are completely immersed in the resting phase, feeding stops.
DendrobiumThe frequency of feeding for the growth of new stems and for the setting of flower buds is increased. The rest of the conditions do not change, the care is normal.
CymbidiumFeeding is performed with complex mineral fertilizer. The light intensity and air temperature are reduced. After the appearance of a new peduncle, the temperature rises slightly.
PaphiopedilumConditions are provided for the growth of a new outlet with a peduncle: the air temperature drops to + 16-20 0 С, complex feeding is set, watering is reduced.

Check out How To Build An Orchid Greenhouse?

The strategy for caring for orchids after pruning has the main goal of the normal formation of the next flower buds and the formation of a new peduncle. In this case, you need to focus on the physiological characteristics of a particular type of orchid.

I am an avid plant enthusiast and horticulture aficionado with a deep passion for houseplants. With years of nurturing green companions, my expertise in caring for indoor foliage is well-rooted. Through my journey, I've cultivated insights into optimal plant care, propagation techniques, and creating vibrant indoor ecosystems. Join me as we explore the verdant world of houseplants together. Let's turn your living space into a thriving oasis of botanical beauty. Connect with me on and Facebook and explore more at Houseplantspro. 🌿🪴

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