Orchids are beautiful tropical flowers that come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. They are one of the most popular houseplants because they require little care and add a beautiful touch to any home. Orchids, like any other plant, can develop a variety of problems over time.
Browning leaves are one such issue, which can be caused by a variety of factors such as too much sun or insufficient watering. Let’s look at thirteen reasons why your orchid leaves might be turning wilted and what you can do about it. From fungal infections to nutrient deficiencies and more, read on to discover all of the potential causes of your orchid’s browning leaves!
Common Symptoms of Wilted Orchid Leaves
Wilted orchid leaves is a common problem that can be caused by a variety of factors. Here are some signs to look out for.
Wilted orchid leaf turns brown
This one may seem obvious, but it is crucial. If one or two of your orchid plant’s leaves are turning wilted, there is something wrong with your plant that needs to be addressed before it destroys the entire plant.
Leaves in Brown and Yellow
An orchid with brown and yellow leaves has different problems than one with only brown leaves. This symptom could be caused by a variety of issues, including over- or under-watering, pests, disease, and other factors.
Brown and yellow orchid leave typically appear as either the very end of the leaf turning yellow or the entire leaf rapidly turning a yellow-orange color. There may be brown on the edge with a yellow transition to the green portion of the leaf, or there may be splotches of yellow and brown throughout the leaf.
Spots of brown
Brown spots are one of the most common types of brown leaves on orchids, and they can be caused by a variety of issues, including pests, disease, excessive sun, and others. Brown spots on orchid leaves can range in size from tiny pinpricks to larger spots as large as a dime! They may have a small yellow ring around the spot, a brown spot with black in the middle, or they may be completely brown.
Please keep in mind as you read through these potential causes that fixing the issue that is making your orchid’s leaves wilt won’t “cure” the current brown spots or brown leaves. Once the issue has been resolved, you might need to remove the impacted leaves so that your plant can focus its energy on growing new, healthy leaves.
Causes of wilted orchid leaves
Not always is more water better. In fact, overwatering is one of the most frequent causes of orchid death, and brown leaves are one of the first signs that your plant is receiving too much water.
What’s happening: When an orchid receives too much water, its roots become oxygen-deprived and begin to rot. The leaves might eventually turn brown and die as a result of this. The entire plant could die if the issue is not fixed right away. Plants with root rot die off quickly.
Check the roots of your orchid to see if they are soft or mushy if you suspect overwatering. The entire plant needs to be unpotted, and the soil around the roots needs to be loosened. Once you take the plant out of the pot, any root rot will be readily apparent. Instead of being bright and healthy, the roots will be soft and brown in the wet soil.
It can be fixed by repotting your plant as soon as you can if your orchid’s roots are rotten. Take out all of the current soil, washing it off if necessary. Examine the roots thoroughly and cut off any rotted roots with clean, sharp pruning shears.Repot your orchid in a new orchid potting mix after removing all dead roots.
It may be tempting to replant your plant in the same soil, but please resist the urge to do so. In order to keep any potential bacteria that may have developed in the soil from further damaging your plant’s roots, it is crucial to replace the soil.
Underwatering is another common cause of wilted orchid leaves.
The leaves of orchids will begin to wilt and turn brown when they don’t receive enough water. This is an obvious indication that your orchid needs more water to quench its thirst. Your plant might not show much change at first, but if you don’t give it enough water, eventually it won’t have the energy, nutrients, and oxygen it needs to survive.
Feel the orchid’s leaves. Are the brown leaves dry and crumpled up? Examine the soil next. Your brown leaves are definitely the result of underwatering if the soil is dried out.
Make sure to regularly water your orchid, especially in the summer when they require more water. Use a moisture meter to make sure you’re watering your orchid properly, and you might want to set a reminder on your phone to check on its water level every 5-7 days. While your orchid is healing, you might need to water it more frequently.
Conditions of the Soil
Your plant’s health may be significantly impacted by the soil you use. The browning of your orchid’s leaves may indicate that the soil is deficient in nutrients or drainage.
What’s happening: Your orchid is essentially starving if your soil is old, contains too much or too little water, or has no nutrients left. If that isn’t fixed, your plant might die as a result of the browning of the leaves.
Examine the soil! Take a close look at it, and if necessary, rummage through it. When you water it, check to see if it is holding a sizable amount of moisture. Your soil is probably the cause of your orchid’s brown leaves if you observe that it completely dries out a day after you water it or if it takes weeks.
You can do a few things to make your orchid’s soil more favorable. To the potting soil, you can incorporate some organic material, like bark chips or sphagnum moss. This will aid in supplying nutrients and enhancing drainage. You could also completely change the soil and repot your orchid in a container made for orchids and other tropical plants.
Lack of Humidity
Another frequent cause of browning orchid leaves is a lack of humidity.
What’s happening: The ideal humidity range for most orchids is between 40 and 60%, and when an orchid’s environment falls below these levels for an extended period of time, it can result in leaf browning.
Where to check: Verify the humidity levels in your house. You can probably guess that your orchid doesn’t have enough humidity if the air in your home is especially dry. By using a humidity meter, you can also verify this metric.
How to fix it: Put your orchid on a humidity tray with water filled in, or put a humidifier nearby.
Less can sometimes be more. Although fertilizers are loved by orchids, using too much of them could be harmful.
What’s happening: If you give your plant more fertilizer than it can handle, fertilizer burn will result. If not treated, it burns the plant’s roots and eventually kills it. Usually, the browning of the leaves is the first indication of over-fertilizing.
Where to look: Fertilizer burn is typically not visible. Deductive reasoning is required to solve this puzzle. Over-fertilizing is probably to blame if you’ve just fertilized your plant and all of a sudden notice that the leaves are turning brown and the plant is looking sickly.
It can be fixed by immediately flushing your soil. For at least 10 minutes, flush water through the soil in the pot by placing it in the sink or shower. Hopefully, this will remove any excess fertilizer that your plant hasn’t yet absorbed.
Your plant should be fine if you caught the issue in time, but it will take a few weeks for this problem to pass. After your orchid has recovered from fertilizer burn, wait at least two months before fertilizing it again. When you do, start at a quarter strength and gradually increase the strength each time you feed it.
Anyone who owns indoor plants—and I’ll show you—hates indoor plant pests. They are among the most frequent causes of plant illness.
What’s happening: Either your soil is too wet, or a pest has accidentally gotten close to your plant and decided to settle down. Pests include everything from spider mites that live on leaves to fungus gnats that thrive in moist soil, as well as those that are typically only visible under a microscope.
Where to check: Inspect the soil and the top and bottom of each leaf on your plant. If you spot any tiny scurrying insects, they are probably to blame for your orchid’s brown leaves.
How to fix it: The best ways to get rid of pests on your plant are typically insecticidal soap or neem oil. Although there are many other all-natural ways to get rid of pests, the majority of infestations can usually be resolved using these two methods.
Transplant shock is among the most typical causes of wilted orchid leaves.
What’s happening: This can occur when a plant is first replanted or when it is transferred from one pot to another. The plant needs time to adjust because the environmental change has stressed it. Usually, the browning of the leaves begins at the tips and progresses downward. The leaves may become severely damaged and turn brown all over before eventually falling off the plant.
Where to look: This is another issue where it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. The leaves may become severely damaged and turn brown all over before eventually falling off the plant.
Another issue without a standardized method to identify it as the root cause is this one. The leaves turning brown soon after being transplanted or moved across town to a new home is probably the result of transplant shock.
How to fix: The best course of action if you suspect that your orchid has transplant shock is to leave it alone and give it some time to recover. Wait until the leaves begin to turn green again before fertilizing or watering it. When they do, gradually increase the water and fertilizer you give it until it returns to its regular behavior.
If your well water or city water is too contaminated with chemicals or additives, orchid leaves frequently turn brown for this reason.
What’s happening: Orchid leaves can become brown due to damage from chlorine and other chemicals in tap water.
Where to look: It can be challenging to look for this one and may require extensive research. While you can always have your water tested, a quicker and less expensive test to see if this is the cause of your orchid’s brown leaves is to give it distilled water for a month or two and see if the problem goes away.
Fix: If you’ve tested the theory and discovered that the brown spots disappear, you might want to switch over to only using distilled or purified water for your plant going forward. To allow the chlorine in tap water to evaporate, you can also leave it out overnight before using it on your orchids.
Overexposure to the sun
Tropical plants called orchids do best in humid, shaded environments. They can withstand a certain amount of direct sunlight, but the excessive sun will wilt their leaves.
What’s happening: Orchids don’t like direct sunlight very much, so when they get too much of it, their leaves burn. This will cause the leaf to turn brown rather than red like a sunburn would on you or me. It may even burn a hole in the leaf if sunlight is focused in one area, as it would be in a glare.
Where to look: Examine the brown areas on your orchid’s leaves. The entire leaf may turn brown if the plant as a whole receives excessive sunlight. It might resemble the pattern where the sun is most intensely hitting the leaves if it only receives strips of sunlight (as it would through window coverings).
How to fix it: If you notice that the leaves on your orchid are turning brown, try moving it to a more shady location or putting something between it and the sun’s rays. To shield their plants from the most intense rays while still allowing some natural light to enter, many people decide to use sheer window curtains.
Orchids are tropical plants, as was previously mentioned, and they dislike the cold.
What’s happening: Your orchid’s leaves may turn brown if it is exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The orchid cannot properly maintain itself in extremely cold temperatures. If your orchid is close to (or touches) a window during the colder months, cold damage may also result.
Where to look: Examine the surroundings of the orchid. Your orchid’s leaves may be turning brown because your house is kept on the cold side. This could also be the case if your orchid is situated close to a drafty or chilly door or window.
How to fix it: You must relocate your orchid to a warmer location if this is the cause of its brown leaves. You might also be able to give your plant the additional warmth it requires by placing a space heater nearby (but not too close, obviously). Just watch out if you decide to use a space heater not to lower humidity levels.
Although it is a challenging diagnosis, a disease could be the cause of your orchid’s brown leaves.
The possibility exists that a fungus or bacteria may be attacking your plant and causing the browning of the leaves. The brown on the leaf may be spots, edges, or the entire leaf, depending on the disease.
It can be challenging to check for this issue. If you want to identify the precise disease that is affecting your plant, it is usually best to use a disease diagnosing guide.
The best way to treat the illness that is causing the browning of your orchid’s leaves is with a fungicide or a natural remedy supported by science.
Has to be replanted
A pot that is too small will stress your plant, even though it may not always be the first thing you consider when your orchid’s leaves start to turn brown.
What is happening: An orchid’s roots may eventually crowd together, placing stress on the plant. You might notice the browning of the leaf tips at this time.
Where to check: Take a look at the pot’s bottom. It’s time for a bigger pot if you notice roots attempting to emerge from the drainage holes. Check the roots by gently removing the plant from its current pot if you don’t see any roots trying to emerge. It’s time for a new pot if they are crammed close together or if there are any signs of rotting.
The solution is simple: Pick a pot that is just a little bit bigger than the current one and fill it with brand-new orchid potting soil. Repot your orchid after that, put it back in its original location, and water it normally.
One of the more aggravating causes of an orchid’s leaves turning wilted could be this.
What’s happening: A leaf may occasionally be simply too old. A leaf will start to turn brown and eventually fall off when it has given the plant its all.
Where to look: If your orchid’s leaves are turning brown for no other reason, it might be time for that leaf to pass away so that space can be made for new leaves to emerge.
There is no cure for this issue, and a plant going through this process is entirely normal.
Although there are a variety of causes for browning orchid leaves, carelessness is typically to blame. The most frequent mistakes made when taking care of an orchid include overwatering or underwatering, too much or too little light, and using the wrong potting soil. You can easily avoid these issues and maintain your orchid’s health and beauty for many years to come with a little research and practice.