Why Orchid Buds Fall Off Without Blooming

My orchids had buds ready to bloom, then they all fell off. What am I doing wrong?

Hi Noreen,

Purple and white blooming orchid plant.
Blooming Orchid Plant with Buds

It sounds like what is called Bud blast. Bud blast is when buds wither on a healthy orchid. Cattleya buds are very sensitive and are easily affected by things in the environment. Here are some things that might be causing the Bud Blast.

Light: Too much light and the buds over heat and die; too little light and the buds wither and die.

Water: Under- or overwatering is a common cause. If the soil gets too dry, it takes moisture from the buds and they die. If the soil is too wet, roots die and the plant doesn’t get water. The first place to plant goes to get the missing water are the buds. .

fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.: Too much plant food, FungicideLearn what fungicides are and how they are used to treat fungal and bacterial plant infections., or pesticide.

Temperature: Orchid buds do not like extreme changes in temperature, cold drafts from windows, doors, or air conditioners; warm blasts from heaters.

Humidity: Orchid buds need high humidity at all times.

Pests: Plant insects such as AphidsSee a picture, learn to identify, and read about Aphid houseplant pests in the Glossary of Houseplant411.com. and thripThrip are tiny winged brown insects that feed on the surfaces of plant leaves, flowers, and buds. They leave silver spots around their feeding areas and dark dots of excrement. Thrip not only weaken plant growth and distort buds and flowers, they transmit viruses from plant to plant as they fly around. The Green Solution, Neem Oil, and Yellow Sticky Cards all are effective in eliminating thrip.s suck on the buds and drain the moisture from them. buds, sucking the plant juices. If you see any insects I recommend to start by wiping the plant with warm soapy water. If that doesn’t solve the problem try insecticidal soapInsecticidal Soap is defined as any of the potassium fatty acid soaps used to control many plant pests and diseases. This product is typically sprayed on plants in the same manner as other insecticides. It works only on direct contact with the pests. The fatty acids disrupt the structure and permeability of the insect cell membranes and the insect quickly dies. Soaps of this kind also work well on fungus infections such as botritis and leaf spot as well as on common houseplant pests such as spider mite and mealy bug. or Neem OilLearn about Neem Oil, a natural, organic, non-toxic product for treating houseplant insects and diseases.. Be sure to always read the instructions provided with the product.

Diseases: Keeping the buds wet encourages bacterial and fungal infections that destroy the buds.

Environment: Orchid buds are sensitive to things in the air: smoke from cigars, cigarettes, pipes; paint fumes, carpet cleaner, fireplace smoke, and anything else that should not be in the air.