Why Are Orchid Leaves Shriveling? Reasons and Fix (Guide)

orchid leaves shriveling

Orchid leaf plates are mostly hard and leathery. However, they can also shrivel. Often this signal arrives too late.

There can be only two main reasons for orchid leaves shriveling:

  1. natural aging;
  2. Poor operation of the root system or its death.

From the first, everything is clear: old leaves tend to die off, giving away their supply of nutrients to the orchid.

The second reason for orchid leaves shriveling is break down in different ways, but very important cases, since their onset can lead to the death of the entire plant:

  • lack of moisture;
  • overheating, including the root system;
  • excessively cold content;
  • diseases and pests.

Leaves can shrivel for various reasons.

Why are orchid leaves shriveling?

In order to take any action to save the orchid leaves from shriveling, you first need to establish the causes of orchid leaves shriveling.

lack of moisture:  dehydrated orchid leaves

First you need to remember how long ago the plant was watered and how often it needs to be watered:

  1. If it’s Phalaenopsis , then the substrate should not dry out too much. Watering is carried out every 7-10 days in sunny weather. Otherwise, every 2 weeks;
  2. Vandy, grown with an open root system, is soaked for 30 minutes every 1-2 days;
  3. Cumbria during the growth period prefer a moist substrate without dryness. During the dormant period, the soil between waterings should dry out completely for 5-7 days;
  4. Shoes always prefer slightly moist soil;
  5. Cattleya , which are in a dormant period, are very negative about frequent and abundant watering. During growth, they also need to arrange small drying;
  6. Cymbidiums are watered no more than once a month in winter, and from the beginning of spring the substrate should always be wet.

If it’s about watering, then the plant should be given a good drink, without overdoing it with fertilizer. Since Phalaenopsis, has rather tender leaves and quickly begins to shrivel, it is recommended that they apply compresses with a solution of succinic acid to the leaf plates once a day, 1 tablet per liter of water.

Succinic acid can be used to restore turgor.

This method is applicable to restore the turgor of orchid leaves that do not have a lanceolate structure of the leaf plate. The rest, in order to reduce the area of ​​​​evaporation of moisture, the leaves are dried and discarded.

Important! Drinking an orchid does not mean flooding it. The frequency of watering should not be increased, it is best to keep the flower in the water longer.

Do you want to know the reasons for Orchid Leaves Turning Red.

Orchid leaves Heat Stress and Overheating

The orchid has been watered recently, the substrate has not yet dried out, and the leaves have shriveled, then you need to pay attention to the ambient temperature or, if it is winter outside, how hot the batteries are.

At high temperatures and low humidity, orchid leaves begin to evaporate moisture intensively. Wet soil also heats up, water evaporates, roots cool – this causes a slowdown or complete cessation of moisture absorption.

Thus, the following happens: the leaf plates evaporate moisture, but the roots do not absorb it – as a result, dehydration occurs, the leaves begin to shrivel.

What to do to prevent the death of an orchid:

  1. Remove the plant to another place, and give it the opportunity to recover;
  2. Increase humidity around the flower. Spraying within 2-3 hours is not recommended. It is better to put on a pallet with wet expanded clay;
  3. If batteries are to blame for the problem, hang them with wet towels. If the sun – rearrange the plant to another place.

Despite the fact that orchids grow in tropical forests, where the temperature is quite high, we must not forget that there is 100% humidity.

A comfortable temperature for growing any type of orchid is a temperature of + 15 … 30 degrees. For a short time, some tribes can withstand temperatures up to +42 degrees, but at high humidity.

Cold Damage to orchid leaves

When choosing a place to keep a tropical beauty, it must be remembered that it is tropical, that is, with a strong drop in temperature, the orchid can freeze. Only Cymbidium is able to withstand temperatures down to -3 degrees, and then with a dry substrate and for a short time.

When airing, frostbite may occur on the ground parts of the orchid . The sign is a spot/spots of a darker shade, transparent in appearance, wet and slimy to the touch. If this happens, then the stain must be cut out and treated with activated charcoal or ground cinnamon.

You also need to take into account the temperature of the window sill in winter – hypothermia of the root system leads to the death of the roots and, as a result, the loss of leaf turgor. To determine this, you need to shake the orchid in a pot. In case of death, the root plant will hang out in the container.

To save an orchid, it is necessary:

  1. Pull out of the pot;
  2. Check for live roots, and remove dead ones;
  3. In the event of the death of the entire root system, it is necessary to remove everything rotten, peel the stem to green, treat with cinnamon or coal powder and place in a greenhouse. After a while, the meristematic buds responsible for root growth will wake up;
  4. So that the increased evaporation of moisture does not completely destroy the flower, you can shorten the orchid leaves by ¾.

Check out orchid leaves wrinkled and limp.

Pests involve in orchid leaves shriveling

pests involve in orchid leaves shriveling

Not all pests directly spoil the root system. Most of them affect it indirectly. Through wounds caused by insects, pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungal infections enter the orchid.

Spider and flat mites

It is extremely difficult to notice the pests themselves due to their very small size . You can identify them by the traces they leave as a result of their life activity: the leaf is shriveled and silvery, turns yellow, and disappears. You can run over the leaves, especially in the axils, with a damp cotton pad and tiny red dots will remain on it. You can get rid of the tick with the help of multiple, at least 3, treatments with insecticides and acaricides with different active ingredients. Check out Home Remedy For Mealybugs On Orchids.

Butterflies and moths

The flowers and young shoots are eaten by caterpillars and larvae that settle in the upper layer of the substrate. Therefore, in order to get rid of them, the orchid must be removed from the pot, thoroughly rinse the plant and the pot in an insecticide solution, and planted in fresh soil.

Mealybug, scale insects

It is quite simple to see these pests: white velvety formations and sticky sugar coating appear on the orchid – honeydew.

It is practically useless to poison them, therefore mechanical methods of struggle are used. The most effective method is to wipe the places where insects accumulate with cotton swabs dipped in vodka once a week. If at least one insect appears on the surface of the substrate, the orchid must be transplanted into fresh soil, having previously been processed.


They are larger than ticks, but it is difficult to notice them themselves, as they settle on the inside of the leaf plate. The lesions inflicted on the orchid are very similar to those inflicted by the tick. It is most effective to destroy thrips with the help of gastro-contact drugs, but sprays should not be abandoned either.

Attention! All these pests pave the way for such fatal diseases as fusarium and late blight.

orchid leaves shriveling due to different Diseases

orchid leaves shriveling due to different diseases

Only orchids weakened by improper agricultural practices begin to get sick. Root diseases are dangerous because the onset of the disease is not visible. The owner observes only the consequences that occur when the root system dies.

Fusarium wilt

The most insidious disease for orchids. Roots through a transparent pot may look quite healthy, but the leaves have already lost turgor and have begun to shrivel, because the bases of the roots have already died. It is urgent to get the orchid, rinse and carefully examine the base of the stem. If it has darkened, it will have to be cut to a green fabric, treated with a fungicide, then treated for a long time.


Spreads rapidly at high temperature and high humidity. Most often, orchids grown in a greenhouse are affected.

Phytophthora pathogen causes black rot to appear on the outer parts of plants, and then penetrates the stems, tubers and roots. read out Orchid Leaves Turning Black.

At the first appearance of such spots , they must be urgently removed, the sections should be disinfected, and the entire plant should be treated with a fungicide and a bactericide.

Rhizoctonia or brown rot

Starts at the roots, rising higher up the orchid, the roots become brown and empty. Remove the plant from the pot, rinse thoroughly, remove all affected areas. Treat the orchid 3 times with fungicides with different active ingredients, without planting it in the ground. Do not be afraid to keep a flower for several days without a substrate, you need to make sure that all infected places are removed.

soil fungi

If a white cobweb is visible through the walls of the pot, balls similar to eggs are visible in the upper layers of the soil and the smell of mycelium is felt, then the orchid must be urgently transplanted into a new substrate, thoroughly washing the root system and the container in which the flower grew. Before planting, soak the roots of the plant in a fungicide for 10-15 minutes. The first time you need to water the plant only when the entire substrate dries well.

Dry rot or southern sclerotial rot

An infectious fungal disease characteristic of monopodial orchids. It is quite difficult to cure an orchid, since the disease spreads very quickly and fungicides rarely work on it. You can try to remove all affected tissues and periodically treat the plant with various types of fungicides.

Important! It is possible to determine exactly which disease affected the orchid only in laboratory conditions. Therefore, if an accurate diagnosis is not established, it is better to use broad-spectrum fungicides, coupled with bactericides and preparations containing copper.

How do you fix shriveled orchid leaves?

how do you fix shriveled orchid leaves

Everything that was written about above is based on the mistakes of orchid agricultural technology, these are:

  • excessive watering;
  • low or high temperatures;
  • poor lighting;
  • agglomerated saline substrate;
  • non-compliance with quarantine rules for newly acquired plants.

All this leads to the fact that the root system of the orchid dies. Consequently, pseudobulbs begin to deflate and lose turgor leaves.

It is very important to choose the right substrate for each orchid species , change it in time, preventing it from caking and salting. Do not get carried away with the addition of peat and polystyrene, it should not be more than 10-15%.

On the one hand, peat prevents the soil from quickly salinizing, and on the other hand, it makes it more acidic. Styrofoam is a neutral component that contributes to better aeration of the substrate, but beneficial microorganisms do not settle around it, preventing the mass reproduction of fungi.

Substrate components also affect soil moisture retention . Tribes such as Cattleyas and Vandy’s require a fast- drying substrate based on bark and charcoal, especially since Vandy’s are best kept with ACS.

It is recommended to add peat to the soil for Phalaenopsis , since the roots of this species suffer more from the salinization of the substrate than from its degree of moisture.

Cumbria and Slippers prefer a moisture-absorbing compound, but with good breathability.

If you follow certain rules for the maintenance of orchids, you can avoid most problems:

  1. Preventive inspection at each watering for the presence of parasites and diseases. In case of detection – immediate treatment;
  2. Providing optimal lighting for this type of orchid. Shading in too bright sun;
  3. The temperature regime is selected for each category separately. There are cold, moderately cold, warm varieties. By placing a plant of warm content on a cold windowsill, you can easily lose a flower and vice versa;
  4. Adjust watering schedule . Better to underfill than overfill; Orchids don’t like overwatering.
  5. Adequate nutrition. An excess of nitrogen lowers the immunity of orchids. Use only balanced mineral fertilizers marked “For orchids”;
  6. Do not allow a high concentration of top dressing so as not to burn the roots. It is best to take ¼ of the recommended dose, but at each watering;
  7. Humidity must match the temperature. At low temperatures, high humidity is detrimental and vice versa;
  8. Compulsory ventilation is necessary, but drafts should be avoided, especially in winter;
  9. Preventive treatment with insecticides or acaricides at least once a year – in the fall.


Compliance with the above points will help maintain the health of the tropical beauty and recover orchid leaves shriveling and save her from losing the root system.

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 admin@houseplantspro.com and Facebook and explore more at Houseplantspro. 🌿🪴