Orchids belong to a huge family of blooming plants, the largest in the world. The tropical regions, notably Asia and Central and South America, are home to the greatest number of orchid species.

Stunning in appearance as well as scent and form, they have a wide range of characteristics that make them a favorite among gardeners and botanists. It’s hard to beat the joy of watching orchids grow and bloom.

It is possible to grow many orchids well if you have better experience and knowledge. When talking about orchids, leaf color is light to medium green in healthy plants. But many gardeners have a common problem regarding the leaves because their orchids’ leaves turn brown. By reading this guide, you will be able to know, Why Are Orchid Leaves Turning Brown and How to Fix: Guide.

Why Are Orchid Leaves Turning Brown and How to Fix Them

Let’s start,

Depending on how quickly the leaves turn brown and die, the leaves are either falling off or dying. What should you do?  This indicates that the orchid has an issue that has to be addressed before it spreads to other parts of the plant.

What are the different patterns of brown leaves of orchids?

For some reasons, the leaves of your orchid plant turn brown with 3 different patterns.

1. Brown spots on leaves

On the plant leaves, random spots emerge, sometimes forming circles that grow over time or in unexplained patterns. If left untreated, the patches might spread throughout the entire leaf.

2. Brown leaf tips

A brown and papery appearance develops at the tips of the leaves in this scenario. After being touched, some of the leaves would disintegrate. A typical concern with orchids is brown leaf tips, which are linked to water issues.

3. Completely brown leaves

You’ll see that it begins to change from green to yellow before turning brown and drying out before falling off the plant. In most cases, it affects the lower leaves of the plant, but it can also occur in the middle or at the top. To bring about leaf rot, plant hormones in the cells of the plant are activated.

What causes the orchid leaves to turn brown?

It is the most common cause of your orchid’s brown leaves to be overwatered. The leaves may turn brown if they are overfed with fertilizer or exposed to too much sunlight. Additionally, you should keep an eye on the plant’s temperature and any illnesses it may be suffering from.

These are the reasons why orchid leaves turn brown and how to fix them well.

1. Sunburn

Sunburn can also lead to brown leaves. At any time of day or night, this can happen. The leaf’s sunburned areas will begin to become a faint yellow before eventually turning completely white. They can turn brown or black with time.

How does sunburn affect the orchid leaves to turn brown?

These signals will be visible on the upper leaves, but not on the older, lower ones. The orchid can cause harm if it is exposed to direct sunlight in any location.

Direct sunshine isn’t the only cause of sunburned leaves. If you located your orchid in a brightly lit area, but it was directly above a floor heater, the hot, dry air may also burn the leaves.

Orchid leaves that have been sunburned will become brown because of the high temperatures or direct sunshine.

How to fix it?

If your orchids are suffering from overexposure to the sun, try moving them.

In the winter, an orchid plant should be placed near a north-facing window. In the summer, open a window that faces south. Your orchid will benefit greatly from this type of soft indirect light.

Put a drape or cover over any windows that don’t face south or north to keep the light out. As time goes by, your plant may begin to thrive.

2. Improper Temperature

For an orchid plant’s growth and development, temperature is an important component. The growth of plants is influenced by a variety of factors, including light, carbon dioxide, air humidity, water, and nutrients, as well as temperature. Temperature affects the plant both immediately and over time.

How does humidity affect the orchid leaves to turn brown?

Orchids thrive in temperatures between 60F to 80F. However, it’s possible that your plant has been exposed to temperatures that are too high or too low for it to survive. Consequently, the leaves begin to wilt and turn brown.

How to fix it?

To determine if the temperature is within the ideal range, get out your thermometer. Otherwise, you may have to move it to a new location. As an alternative, you might use a heater or a cooler to regulate the temperature in the space.

There are plant temperature control systems available on the market that can help with this. A grow tent heater is what they’re known as. They’ll help you keep your plants at a consistent temperature.

3. Dehydration

Dehydration usually occurs due to underwatering. This is one of the most common causes of the browning of orchid leaves. Gardeners frequently face the problem of running out of water. Because they don’t have time to tend to their plants.

Your plants’ ability to absorb nutrients from the soil is reduced when they are under-watered. As a result, the orchid’s leaves begin to turn brown.

How does dehydration affect the orchid leaves to turn brown?

The orchid’s leaves will turn brown if it doesn’t get enough water. It will not be limited to the sides of the tips of the leaves. Roots may have ceased absorbing water, causing the plant to turn brown and then dry out. It will become limp before it becomes brown. The orchid will have the appearance of deep folds and grooves, similar to those found on a lifeless, floppy leaf.

It’ll eventually become brown, though. Orchid leaves are smooth, firm, light green to medium green, and shiny when they are healthy.

Indistinguishable signals will be visible on both the younger and older leaves. Your orchid’s leaves will turn a uniform shade of brown.

How to fix it?

Increasing watering to twice or three times a week may solve the problem, but in certain cases, the roots have stopped functioning and absorbing water, and the dehydration is a warning. When watering the orchid, be sure to check the soil level in the pot.

Please do not hesitate to add water if it’s too dry. Orchids require a variety of watering techniques, so make sure you have a few options on hand. You can either water more regularly or more thoroughly if your roots are healthy.

It’s possible to resuscitate your orchid by eliminating the root problem, improving the environment, and removing dead roots. You may have to repot the orchids in the worst-case scenario.

4. Acclimatization

Sometimes important to transplant plants to a new place or to repot them into a new container. In order for plants to become accustomed to their new environment, replanted and shipped to their eventual destination.

How does acclimatization affect the orchid leaves to turn brown?

This shift in the environment may put your plant into shock, even if you try to adapt it gently, causing entire leaves to turn brown and ultimately fall off.

Adaptation to a new home and environment can be drastic for certain plants. It is expected that lower leaves will die, droop or become yellow or brown.

After a few weeks of acclimatization, your new houseplant is likely to bounce back and begin to seem healthier.

How to fix it?

Don’t worry. Watering, sun exposure, fertilizing help to recover your problem. Follow the caring tips well. Check the leaves regularly. You can also repot your orchid plant.

5. Root Rot

Root rot causes brown tips in leaves and turns them into brown. The roots may be injured. If the location where the plant is has been inundated by water or if the soil around the plant is overly compacted, this might cause root damage.

How does root rot affect the orchid leaves to turn brown?

When the roots become damaged, there is not enough of a root system for the plant to adequately take up enough water. In this scenario, fix the problem that is causing the root damage and then cut back the plant some to lower its water needs while the root system recovers.

How to fix it?

You can make a watering schedule that helps to prevent overwatering. Using a moisture meter is an obvious way to prevent overwatering in orchids. You must also be aware of the watering requirements of your plant kind. The top few inches of soil should be kept moist as a general rule for plants.

Why Are Orchid Leaves Turning Brown and How to Fix Them

6. Bacterial and Fungal Diseases

It’s possible that your plant was infected by a variety of bacteria or fungi. Leaf spots in the color of yellow or brown are indicative of these illnesses. Because of this, don’t freak out if you detect an infection.

How do bacterial and fungal diseases affect the orchid leaves to turn brown?

There are two distinct types of fungal infections such as small ringed patches and huge, soft brown regions. Orchids that have been overwatered and are not receiving adequate aeration are more prone to infection.

As a result, the top of the plant cells are destroyed by water, and that tissue dies as a result of the water’s inability to accomplish gas exchange. Bacterial infections can also generate brown patches on the leaves’ surface.

The most prevalent causes of these illnesses are excessive watering and insufficient air circulation. Neither of these conditions is good for the sick orchid or any other plants that might be in its vicinity.

How to fix it?

Sick orchids should be separated from the rest of your plants as soon as you discover brown spots on them. Remove the plant’s diseased and damaged roots next. An infectious disease can spread quickly. Unless the infection is completely eliminated, the orchid will not be able to grow again.

Besides repotting the orchid, you’ll also need to apply a fungicide. Avoid overwatering the orchid in the future after you’ve dealt with the issue. Make sure your orchid gets plenty of air circulation.

7. Salt Damage

The browning of the leaves is not caused by fertilizer alone. Rather, it is the accumulation of salt that is to blame for this.

How does salt damage affect the orchid leaves to turn brown?

The leaves will turn brown and perish if the potting medium contains too much salt. Potting materials rarely include excessive salt. This can, however, occur if an individual utilizes an excessive amount of fertilizer.

Fertilizers have the potential to leave salt residues in the ground. As time passes, salt residue accumulates, leading to leaf discoloration.

How to fix it?

Make sure you dilute the fertilizer to one-quarter or half-strength because orchids can’t accept full-strength food. This will stop this and prevent it from happening again. Purified water or rainwater should be flushed through the soil at least once a month to remove salts without the addition of fertilizer.

8. Improper Fertilizing

Fertilizing plants is necessary since most soils do not have the nutrients necessary for optimal growth. These plant tissues would not have been possible without the help of the soil. You can ensure that this year’s plants get the nutrition they need to thrive by fertilizing your orchid garden.

How does fertilizing affect the orchid leaves to turn brown?

Lack of nutrients usually leads to the browning of orchid leaves. Because of a deficiency in phosphorous and magnesium, this problem exists.

Due to the orchid’s inability to absorb and create energy in the absence of these two components, this approach fails.

Phosphate deficiency causes the plant to slouch and flounder lifelessly as if it were suffering from some kind of plant depression. Your orchid can’t develop since there isn’t enough energy in the plant to keep it healthy.

While it’s technically a loss of chlorophyll in the leaf, it can be quickly reversed by fertilization. It’s a frequent misconception that the orchid’s reddish-brown pigments are a protective layer of natural sunscreen.

Anthocyanin, a purple-freckled dotted area that appears when the light is too bright but yet manageable, is produced by the orchid. The lack of phosphorus results in a more consistent reddish-brown color that is not affected by illumination.

Magnesium is the second element that could be causing your orchid’s leaves to turn brown. Spots of rusty brown will form in the midst of the orchid’s veins. Chlorophyll can’t function properly since there isn’t enough energy to sustain it.

Magnesium and calcium are essential to the health of an orchid leaf. The spots appear because they aren’t disseminated throughout the leaf.

How to fix it?

You can fertilize your plants well and you can’t remove fertilizer from the soil, of course. You can, however, follow the manufacturer’s directions and apply a small amount of fertilizer to your plants.

By reducing the dosage, you can reduce the fertilizer’s strength by a quarter to a half. Remember that if you follow the directions, your orchid leaves will not turn brown.

9. Insufficient Humidity

Humidity is essential for orchids to thrive in our homes. Orchids need water droplets in the air to survive and thrive, but there aren’t any.

How does humidity affect the orchid leaves to turn brown?

The absence of humidity in the air is the last cause of browning orchid leaves. Humidity levels of at least 50% are required for most orchids to thrive in their natural habitat.

How to fix it?

The ideal location for your orchid is one that provides adequate humidity. Light is usually correct, but humidity is a different story. Phalaenopsis, for instance, prefers a relative humidity of 40% or higher.

The relative humidity in some places will drop from 27 to 33 percent due to air conditioning and central heating systems. The orchid leaf turns dark and crumbles due to a lack of humidity.

The orchid’s aerial roots are the first to suffer from a lack of humidity. The roots that extend outside the pot will eventually grow hard and dry. One by one, they’ll perish. Observing this on a daily basis would be difficult because it could take up to a month or two for this to happen.

The orchid leaves will absorb the brunt of the damage when the aerial roots die. The leaf’s browning will begin with a dulling of its luster. It is common for orchid leaves to be shiny (when clean) and to have good gas exchange. A lack of humidity causes the orchid to wilt and die, turning it brown and limp.

This point is almost identical to the prior one, which was overwatering. Whether it’s a lack of water or a lack of humidity, it’s hard to know.

Recommend investing in a humidifier if you don’t already have one. Decide whether or not the plant may be rescued. It’s too late to salvage the plant if the roots are already mushy. However, if the plant still has some healthy roots, transplanting it in fresh soil with good drainage may help it recover.

10. Aging             

Every plant gets older over time. So, the leaves of your orchid plants can be turned due to aging.

How does aging affect the orchid leaves to turn brown?

As your plant grows and matures, it is typical for older leaves to totally turn brown and eventually fall off. In other circumstances, this is because your plant is striving to grow into a specimen with a longer stem, thus it drops the lower leaves as it climbs taller. In order for the plant to focus its limited resources on the growth of new leaves, the plant will turn brown and fall of its older leaves.

How to fix it?

Due to the fact that it is a natural process, there is no way to stop it from occurring. During this time, all you need to do is provide the plant with the best possible care conditions.

Should the brown leaves of the orchid plant remove?

It is not actually essential to remove brown leaves from the orchid plants but it is important to remove them when infected with diseases. The best time to prune your orchid is when it is dormant, or not blooming.

A little push on a browned or wilted leaf may be enough to remove it from the plant. Small scissors with sharp blades can be used to clip the sick leaf from the base if it is more securely attached to your orchid’s stem. Before handling any other plants, toss out the infected leaf and wash your hands.

To thrive, orchids prefer well-ventilated, brightly-shaded areas with no direct sunlight. Cold drafts can shock orchids, so keep them out of direct sunlight. Reduce the likelihood of plant disease by avoiding conditions such as excessive humidity and high temperatures.

A well-draining potting mix and regular watering will help avoid rot and fungal diseases. Your orchid’s roots should be watered from the bottom up, so that the water may drain from the pot. In order to prevent the spread of bacteria, avoid splashing water on the leaves.

Top low-maintenance orchid varieties to grow

Here are 6 low-maintenance orchid varieties to grow in your home garden.

1. Doritis

Orchids from this small, easy-to-care genus are currently included in the Phalaenopsis genus, with which they have undergone extensive hybridization. Inflorescences of medium-sized purple to pink flowers are upright and branched.

2. Cymbidium

You may get their flowers to bloom from June to September by moving the plants outside. They need a significant decrease in temperature from day to night for this to happen. It’s important for them to have bright, but indirect lighting at home. Learn how to care for cymbidiums by watching our video tutorial.

3. Dendrobium

A temperature range of 16-18°C is ideal for Dendrobiums, who prefer a drier atmosphere. Plants should be moved to a light windowsill or porch in the fall to keep them cool and dry until April. When the weather begins to warm up again, increase the watering and bring the plants indoors once more.

4. Miltonia

They are also known as pansy orchids because their flowers have “faces” like pansies’ do. They prefer temperatures between 12°C and 15°C but they can tolerate temperature swings. Don’t leave them in direct sunlight, but in a well-lit area.

5. Phalaeonopsis

Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids, are readily accessible and easy to grow. Ideally, they want a temperature of 16°C or higher, and a location with plenty of strong, filtered light, such as a room with south or east-facing window. They thrive in humid environments, such as toilets and kitchens.

6. Odontoglossum

Most orchids can’t thrive in low light, however odontoglossums thrive in the north-facing windowsill. Soak pebbles in water and set them on a tray of damp pebbles to keep them moist.

Watch how to treat for bacterial infections of orchids | Video

Top 5 FAQs & answers related to why are orchid leaves turning brown and how to fix them

Is it possible to bring back a brown orchid?

Your orchid must be alive in order for you to bring it back. This means your orchid is no longer able to absorb water or nutrients since its roots have turned brown and mushy; this means your orchid is no longer able to thrive.

Is it safe to use tap water for orchids?

Orchids, which belong to the Orchidaceae family, are a popular blooming plant. As long as the chlorine content isn’t severe, chlorinated tap water can be used to water orchids; nonetheless, it is preferable to use rain or distilled water from the shop.

How do the roots of a healthy orchid plant look like?

When dry, the roots of a healthy orchid are light green, but when wet, they turn a dark green color. Long, sharp, bright green growth tips are required. The longer the plant’s stem, the healthier it will be. When a dead orchid root is moist, it is brown and shriveled, and when it is dry, it is white.

Where orchid plants should be placed?

Most orchids thrive in indirect, strong light, so try to arrange your orchid pots near a south or east-facing window in your living room instead of a north-facing one to ensure that they receive adequate light for blooming.

Why is orchid stem turning brown?

An old, brown stem is a flower spike that has died. After an orchid has done flowering, its flower spikes are completely normal to become brown. As soon as their beautiful blossoms have faded, most orchids go into dormancy mode. Much of an orchid’s energy is directed toward maintaining its flowers for public consumption.


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