How to Revive an Orchid Plant

This beautiful flower is tough to grow—here's how to make yours healthy again

Dying orchid with blooms falling off

Nora Tarvus / Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0

Learning how to revive an orchid and coaxing it back to health can be a rewarding challenge. Failure to bloom, though, is only one way to know that the orchid is struggling. When it's not in bloom, paying attention to the foliage and growth of the plant will help you identify problems early and allow you to take the steps necessary to fix them. Here are important tips to help you bring your ailing orchid back into good condition.


All plants are identified and classified by family, genus, and species. With orchids, however, an extra layer is added between family and genus. This additional classification is "tribe." Most orchids sold include the tribe classification which will give you the best information about general care requirements for that specific plant. Understanding your orchid's tribe will help you provide the care necessary to keep it healthy and blooming.

Why Won't My Orchid Bloom?

Unless you are a fan of waxy, spathe-type leaves, bulging stems, and sproingy air roots, most orchid foliage will not be a particularly attractive feature. From colorful dancing butterflies to baby booties, the blooms of nearly 30,000 species of orchid represent the fine art of the plant world. The good news is that most orchids have a long bloom time of up to three months and some species will even bloom twice a year. So when your orchid has failed to bloom at least once annually, but the leaves are reproducing, have good color, and are pest and blemish free, you likely will need to adjust your maintenance schedule.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sterilized cutting tool
  • Mister or spray bottle


  • Dry orchid potting medium
  • Orchid pot
  • Pebbles (optional)
  • Orchid food/fertilizer
  • Fungicide (optional)
  • Pesticide (optional)
  • Mild dish soap (optional)
  • Neem oil (optional)


How to Revive an Orchid

  1. Trim After Blooming

    Trim your orchid after it blooms to encourage the healthy growth of leaves and roots. Use a sharp, sterilized cutting tool to cut the flower spike back to its base.


    It helps to know what type of orchid you have. The phalaenopsis is the only orchid species that will set a second bloom on the same flower spike, so if that's the type you have, don't cut it after it blooms.

  2. Adjust the Watering Schedule

    Watering requirements can differ significantly depending on orchid species. A once-weekly year-round watering will not keep your plant in ideal condition. You will need to adjust the watering schedule to meet the specific needs of the orchid you are growing.

    • Reduce the orchid's watering needs when the plant goes into dormancy following its bloom period.
    • If leaves become limp and growth at the base of the plant becomes soft, withhold water and repot the orchid with dry potting mix.
  3. Repot at the Right Time

    Repotting could help revitalize your orchid, but you need to know the right time to do so. Here are some parameters about when to repot an orchid:

    • Overgrown: Repot when the orchid is obviously overgrown with hanging roots over the edges of the pot, if it's too top-heavy for the container it's in, or if it keeps falling over.
    • Depleted media: Repot with fresh material annually or every other year. Most orchid growing media is depleted of nutrients after a year or two which makes repotting with fresh material a necessary step for good orchid care. Use only orchid potting media in an orchid pot.
    • After bloom: Repot right after the bloom period has ended, but never during its bloom.
    • Before growing season: Repot the orchid in the spring, just before the plants' growing season begins.
  4. Provide the Right Light

    Position your orchid plant in a location to receive the correct type of light so it can photosynthesize. It can make a big difference. Follow these steps:

    • If your orchid refuses to bloom, review the plant's natural growth and rest periods and keep it in darkness during the night.
    • Research to find out if your orchid prefers indirect light or full sun to maintain its health.
    • Find the right location for your orchid. An east-facing or south-facing window may be best. A north-facing window may not be bright enough and a west-facing window may be too harsh.
  5. Find the Best Temperature

    Determine what temperature your species of orchid requires. It may need consistently warm temperatures, cooler night temperatures, or it could prefer both a warm and cool period. Find out if your orchid is a warm, intermediate, or cool-growing orchid to determine the right temperature:

    • Warm: 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit days and 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit nights
    • Intermediate: 70 to 80 degrees F. days and 55 to 65 degrees F. nights
    • Cool: 60 to 70 degrees F. day and 50 to 55 degrees F. nights


    Move the orchid to a location with more even temperatures. Too much fluctuation in temperature can cause bud drop.

  6. Keep the Plant Humid

    Orchids are epiphytic so they will take up the moisture in the air through their foliage and roots. Here's how to make sure your orchid has enough humidity:

    • Mist your orchid to encourage it to grow and bloom.
    • Set your mister to avoid wetting the leaves, or use a spray bottle to lightly moisturize the air surrounding the plants.
    • Keep your plant on a bed of moistened pebbles to help raise humidity.
    • Avoid misting when your orchid is flowering.
  7. Add Fertilizer

    Adequately feed your orchid. These plants are heavy feeders that grow best in a slightly acidic environment with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Here's what to do:

    • Most growing media for these plants will not contain the required amount of nutrients so adding orchid food or a balanced fertilizer should be an element of routine care.
    • Choose convenient water-soluble orchid food that can be added to your watering schedule as recommended in product label instructions.
    • Fertilizer should be withheld when watering is reduced during the orchid's dormancy period. Water-soluble orchid food can help you easily maintain that schedule without over-fertilizing.
  8. Adjust Care During Dormancy

    After bloom, most orchids will go into dormancy for a period of time during which you won't see new growth or new leaves. This is a part of the orchid's natural growth cycle. New growth can also slow or stop in winter during extended periods with inadequate light. During this period, here's what to do:

    • Keep the potting mixture evenly moist
    • Decrease water
    • Withhold fertilizer


    Yellow leaves may be normal. The loss of the bottom-most leaves is also a natural occurrence with orchids. As new leaves form, older leaves will yellow and eventually drop. Leaves may also turn yellow with too much water or sunlight. If this is the case, move the plant to a cool place and withhold water for a few weeks.

  9. Identify Orchid Diseases

    Orchids are susceptible to viral, fungal, and bacterial diseases.

    Viruses produce different symptoms in different orchids. If the plant manages to bloom, the colors may be fractured and the blooms will be short-lived. If you suspect a virus, have the plant checked at an agricultural experiment station.

    Unfortunately, there is no cure for orchid viruses. To avoid infecting other plants in your collection, dispose of the ailing plant and sterilize the pot before using it again. Here's what to watch for:

    • Cymbidium mosaic virus: Causes pitting in the leaves of cattleya orchids
    • Other viruses: Cause light and dark streaks in the leaves or abnormal patterning in shades of yellow and brown

    Bacterial and fungal infections look different. These types of infections cause the leaf tissues to collapse giving a water-soaked appearance and often result from too much humidity. They include:

    • Brown rot: Starts as a light brown spot on a leaf and spreads quickly throughout the plant
    • Bacterial leaf spot: Produces sunken brown, yellow, or reddish spots or streaks on leaves

    To avoid orchid diseases, take these critical steps:

    • Water correctly: Water your orchids early in the day which allows the foliage to dry before nighttime temperatures dip.
    • Isolate: If you suspect an infection, immediately isolate the orchid, remove the diseased parts, and replace the potting medium.
    • Use fungicide: Treat any cuts made to remove diseased parts with a fungicide. Decrease water and humidity until the plant is recovering.
    • Clean well: Clean the pot with a solution of mild soap and water before repotting any orchid.
    • Sterilize: Sterilize tools to avoid spreading the infection to other plants when you are working with any orchid.
  10. Treat Pest Infestations

    Orchids are susceptible to insect pests that include weevils, sowbugs, springtails, snails, scale, thrips, mealybugs, and spider mites. Look for chewed leaves or leaves with white powdery deposits on the undersides. Here's what to do:

    • Remove light infestations by hand.
    • Brush off a light infestation with a soap and water solution.
    • Spray neem oil, hydrogen peroxide, or isopropyl alcohol onto the leaves to eradicate heavy infestations.
    • Apply pesticide for a heavy infestation, especially for thrips and spider mites.

Tips to Keep Orchids Healthy

From tropical jungles to mountain rainforests and to woodlands, orchids grow in different habitats all over the world. The best thing you can do to keep your orchid healthy is to learn where your orchid grows naturally and mimic the conditions of that climate as closely as possible. Orchids have the same needs as all other blooming plants, but they require a more consistent care schedule.

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Orchid. Rainforest Alliance.

  2. Temperature Ranges. American Orchid Society.