How to Get Orchid Plants to Bloom

My orchid plant get lots of leaves but NO flowers. What am I doing wrong???

Hi Alice,

There are several things orchids need in order to bloom.

Water: Not too little and definitely not too much! Over watering is the main reason orchids die; it is also one of the reasons orchid buds drop off. Most orchids need to dry out between watering and they should never sit in water. It is more difficult to over- water an orchid if it is growing in special orchid medium. The amount of water that an orchid needs is influenced by the pot size, the potting medium, the temperature in the room, air circulation, and humidity. Roots turn brown from too much water. Sadly, leaves become wrinkled from both too much and too little water.

Light: Not enough light is often the reason orchids do not bloom again but there is a delicate balance; not too little and not too much. Knowing your orchid variety helps determine how much light it needs. Dendrobium, cattleya, and cymbidium orchids need quite a bit of bright indirect light. Full sun burns the leaves and suppresses flower bud development on most orchids. Like many other flowering plants such as gardenias, orchids need several hours of nighttime darkness for the buds to set. Never leave lights on all night in a room that contains orchids, or buds will never form.

Temperature: Each variety has its own optimal temperature,  but orchids bloom better when the temperature at night is 10 degrees cooler than the temperature during the day.

Fertilizer: I find that feeding “weakly” “weekly” is a good plan. That means diluting the plant food to 1/3-1/4 the recommended strength and using it weekly. Always use a plant food made for orchid plants, never use any fertilizer that contains urea.

Container: When an orchid gets too big for its container the planting medium starts to break down. Planting medium also breaks down when it gets old; this prevents air circulation around the roots which is vital for the plant to grow well and produce flowers. Some orchid varieties may not bloom for 6 months after re-potting.

Hope this helps!


Learn about common houseplants that are considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children in Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants.