Reading Your Orchid's Leaves:
The leaves of your orchid can be a great source of useful information about the health of your plant. Identifying signs of orchid distress, as well as understanding the implications of changes in the appearance of your plant's leaves, can enable you to detect any existing problems and intervene before they seriously affect the health of your orchid.
Want to ensure your orchids are in tip-top shape? Here are some tell-tale signs to watch out for!
Signs of Unhealthy Orchid Leaves
Yellowing leaves: While it is fairly common for the bottom leaf to turn yellow and fall off over time to allow room for a new leaf to grow, yellow leaves could also be a sign that your orchid is receiving too much light, has endured some low temperatures, or has started to develop root rot due to over-watering. You should assess your orchid's surroundings and check its roots to further gauge the issue. An orchid with root rot will have slimy brown/mushy roots while healthy roots will be plump and green.
Very dark green leaves: Your orchid is probably not getting enough light. You should move it to a place where it receives plenty of bright, indirect sunlight and monitor for a while after.
White leaves: Your orchid is most likely receiving too much sunlight. Move it to an area that does not sit in bright, direct sunlight.
Limp, wrinkled, or torn leaves: This is a sure sign of dehydration in your plant. Look to increase your watering for a while and inspect your orchid's roots for signs of stress. Healthy hydrated roots should be firm and green while dehydrated roots will be white, brown, or shriveled.
Purple or reddish leaves: If the tops of orchid leaves turn reddish (reddish undersides are often normal), your orchid may be suffering from sunburn or a nitrogen or phosphorus deficiency. Move your orchid away from direct sunlight and apply fertilizer.
Signs of Healthy Orchid Leaves
Orchid leaves should be green, firm, and rubbery
Leaves are uniformly green, and not hugely varying in colour from each other.
Aerial roots are silvery/white and have green shiny tips. Multiple air roots are a good sign that your orchid is actively growing!
Potting mix is barely moist, and not bone dry or dripping wet
Why Are My Orchid's Leaves Wrinkled?
The presence of wrinkles on orchid leaves does not necessarily indicate that the plant is beyond saving. Wrinkled leaves just indicate a problem. As soon as you notice the problem and the quicker you act, the higher chance you have to fix the issue and keep your plant healthy.
Wrinkled leaves often indicate problems with plant care. Wrinkled leaves can be caused by bacterial infections, but more commonly stem from issues with water, sunlight, and nutrients. By observing carefully, it is possible to identify the issue affecting your orchid and implement necessary changes for its recovery.
How do I know if I'm Watering Correctly?
To determine if over-watering or under-watering is the problem, it is recommended to inspect the root system of an orchid if you notice the leaves becoming limp. New houseplant owners often think that wilted leaves are a result of insufficient watering, but in reality, it's more typical for beginners to over-water their plants. Too much water can be just as harmful to your plant as too little water.
Brown, mushy, or rotted roots may indicate over-watering of an orchid. Over-watering orchids can lead to suffocation of the roots, which then affects their ability to transport water and nutrients, resulting in leaves that become wrinkled.
Wait for the orchid's growing medium to become dry before watering again. It is recommended to use sterilized scissors when removing rotten roots and treating them with a root supplement. If there are sufficient healthy roots remaining, the leaves of the orchid have a decent chance of recuperating.
What's the best temperature for my orchid?
How Much Sunlight Does My Orchid Need?
How do I know if my Plant Lacks Nutrients?
Wrinkled orchid leaves may be caused by a deficiency in nutrients. The lack of nutrients is often caused by root damage, which hinders the transportation of nutrients throughout the plant. In some cases the issue is that the potting mix no longer contains enough nutrients to feed the plant. Orchids only have access to a small amount of growing medium, and over time, the nutrients in this potting medium are used up or rendered unusable due to over-watering.
To help your orchid, small amounts of fertiliser can be good, but be careful of adding too much fertiliser, as this can damage the roots and hurt your orchid's overall health. We always recommend to dilute your fertilser as it is far more harmful to add too much than not enough.