5 Reasons Why Your Orchid Leaves Drooping

Although orchid leaves aren’t their crowning glory, seeing them droop can be worrisome. Leaves will speak so much about the overall health of any plant including your beloved orchids. So, if ever you see them droop, Plantly suggest not to overlook them. It’s time to do some serious investigation.

Orchid Leaves Drooping: 5 Most Common Reasons

orchid leaves

There can be several reasons why your orchid leaves are drooping. There are times when it’s caused by a single factor. Other times, it’s a combination of many factors. The growing conditions of your plant are mainly responsible for its health. Hence, any form of stress could negatively affect your orchids.

Now, we’ve listed the common reasons why your orchids have droopy leaves. This is going to help you find out which one is causing your plant trouble.


excess water

Water is good until you overdo it. Every plant needs water to survive. But, if you provide it over what your orchid needs, that could be dangerous. If you treat your orchids as indoor plants, less watering applies compared to the ones that are outdoors.

Over-watering often results to root rot. When the orchid’s roots sit in excess water for too long, they may suffer from drowning. This means that there’ll be little to no oxygen available for them to consume. As a result, the cells die.

In such a case, the rotten roots will no longer be able to perform their main function which is to channel nutrients and water to the upper portion of your plant. That’s the time you’ll see visible signs like yellow, mushy, or even droopy orchid leaves. Even the flower buds will fail to open. In worse scenarios, crown rot also develops.

It’s crucial to check the roots of your orchids to confirm if this is the real problem. If the roots appear brown to black with mushy touch and foul smell, then, it’s certainly rotting.

Now, how do these droopy orchid leaves recover? The key is to prevent further rotting by re-potting the plant itself. Follow the step by step process:

  1. Remove the orchid from its old pot. Do this gently in order not to damage the root system. Orchids suffering from root rot may have a tender base.

  2. Wash the root ball. Inspect the roots and trim off the rotten portions using sterilized scissors.

  3. Prepare a new pot with a fresh orchid potting mix or substrate.

  4. Place the orchid in its new container.

  5. Water it accordingly and allow excess water to drain well.

  6. Place your orchid in a partially shaded area.

When the drooping subsides, that’s a sign that your orchid roots are already recovering. In due time, your orchid plant will be vigorous again.


lack of water

Under-watering is as much as dangerous as over-watering. Dehydrated orchids will show signs of stress like drooping leaves. When water is lacking, the cells of the plant shrink resulting in an overall wilting of the leaves, stems, roots, and even flower spikes.

If you water less frequently or too lightly, it’s possible that the substrate doesn’t get well saturated. Hence, the orchid roots won’t have enough access to moisture. If not much moisture is retained, your orchids will always be thirsty.

To know if you have a dehydrated orchid, check for signs like shriveled and greyish roots or pseudobulbs, wrinkled orchid leaves, droopy leaves (cattleya), and bud blast. When such things occur, then, that’s a call for you to quench your orchids.

Treating dehydrated orchids is a lot easier than treating an overwatered one. Just follow the steps below:

  1. Remove the orchid plant from its pot and get rid of the surrounding potting media.

  2. Wash the roots to get a better view. Inspect if there are dead roots visible. Trim them off as they’re no longer functional. Leave only the healthy roots.

  3. Once trimmed, repot it in a container with fresh potting soil. Make sure that it has a good water retention quality. You can add sphagnum moss because it has a high water holding capacity.

  4. Water your orchid after repotting. Increase water frequency than your previous schedule. Just make sure any surplus water seeps out of the drainage holes.

Some droopy orchid leaves may recover while the others may not. It’s okay. As long as new leaves grow, then, your orchids are fine now.

Temperature Stress

temperature stress

Aside from too much or too little water, another source of stress can be caused by temperature. Heat stress, specifically, can lead the orchid leaves to droop. When there’s too much heat around, the plant’s leaves lose much water through transpiration. Since the rate of water loss is high, the leaves will be dehydrated too. This results in wilting. Make sure to bring your orchid indoors if they are treated as an outdoor plant during the dry or hot season.

The common signs of heat stress in orchids include limp leaves, sunburn or leaf scorching, brown roots and dead root tips, and premature bud or flower fall.

Thankfully, there are simple ways to recover your orchid plants from temperature stress.

  1. Relocate your orchids into a shaded location where there’s good air circulation and high air humidity.

  2. You can cut off severely drooping leaves. They may no longer recover anyway so might as well remove them.

  3. You have the option to repot the plant if the damage is huge. It’s also a good opportunity to check the orchid roots.

  4. Water the plant by giving little but frequent water. Since the plant is dehydrated, giving it a thorough drink will help the limp orchid leaves recover their turgidity. Be cautious not to overwater.

  5. Wait for the wrinkled leaves to recover fully before resuming fertilization. Do this lightly in order not to shock the plant.

To protect your orchids from heat stress, it’s important to keep yourself aware of the existing temperatures. Always check how your plants are doing outside or inside your home, especially during sudden changes in the environment.

Nutrient deficiency

nutrient deficiency

If the drooping orchid leaves are coupled with necrosis or chlorosis (yellowing), your plant may be suffering from nutrient deficiency. In this case, you have to treat a more serious problem than just removing the yellow and limp orchid leaves.

Growing orchids that lack any essential nutrient can potentially die. The symptoms would normally manifest during the growing phase. Instead of dark green leaves, you’ll notice yellowing either on the older or younger leaves.

Identifying the lacking nutrient can be tricky unless you’re an expert at looking at its symptoms. But most of the time, nutrients such as NPK are commonly deficient because they’re required in large quantities. Calcium, sulfur, and magnesium are also among the micronutrients that are mostly needed by orchids.

To avoid problems associated with nutrient deficiency, make sure to provide fertilizer consistently. It must be a combination of macro and micronutrients.

Poor air circulation

exhaust fan

Believe it or not but poor air circulation can also be a reason for your orchids to have limp leaves. Remember that they’re epiphytes where they live up high in trees enjoying the breezing air.

Good ventilation has many benefits for your plant. It helps dry the standing water on the surface of your orchid’s leaves. It alleviates the negative effect of too much heat, preventing scorching. And it also prevents the growth of molds and other bacteria.

To improve air circulation, here are some tips that you could also apply:

  1. Open the doors and windows during the summer seasons. Allow the natural air to flow in and out of your home.

  2. Use an exhaust fan to keep the stagnant air moving inside your home.

  3. Place your orchids outside during the day to receive some fresh air.

We all want to have healthy orchid plants. And it’s quite easy for new orchid growers to go into a panic whenever we see problems like droopy leaves. But our advice would be to relax and be ready to observe and look closely. Once you identify the real cause, you’ll be much more confident to find solutions and help your plant recover.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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