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My orchid won’t rebloom.  What do I do?

This is the most frequently asked question we hear.  You have an orchid plant that is just sitting there, obstinately refusing to bloom.  Well, what is going on?

There are different recommendations that are appropriate for different types of orchids, but here is a list of tips that will apply to most types of orchids that you’d have in your home. 

First of all, is your plant healthy?  Are the leaves droopy or wrinkled or do they have a sense of vigor?  A healthy plant is primed to bloom, where a stressed-out plant is not.  The exception to this rule is that when an orchid believes it is near death, it will make one last heroic effort to put out a blossom to perpetrate the species by getting pollinated, which is valiant but pointless.  The plant doesn’t have the energy to bloom and it definitely doesn’t have the energy to carry a seed pod to fruition.

Is your plant getting enough light?  If the leaves on your orchid are large, glossy, and gloriously dark forest green, it is not getting enough light.  These traits tell us that the leaves are storing too much chlorophyll which is indicative of too little light.  If this is your case, don’t just shove the plant into more light.  Over a two week period, nudge the plant into more light.  This allows it to happily adjust.  The old adage is that the prettier your orchid’s leaves are, the less likely it is to bloom.

Is your plant staying too warm?  In the fall, your orchid is expecting to have a full four weeks where it never, not even for five minutes, gets above 72 degrees.  It doesn’t like to go below 60 degrees, but wants to stay below 72 degrees.  In essence, this is your plant’s alarm clock.  Now in most homes, this temperature drop will occur naturally between Columbus Day and Christmas.  If you have your orchid in the kitchen where you’re cooking, or a bathroom where you take hot baths or showers, or in a sun room or bay window, this drop is not occurring.  Every time during that four week period that the temperature rises above 72 degrees, it’s the equivalent of hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock.  Put your orchid in a cooler spot in the house, such as the guest room.  The light requirements aren’t as fussy during this month, though I wouldn’t go to the extreme of putting it into a dark closet.  Likewise, your plant needs to be cooler for a month, but there is a limit.  Don’t let your plant sit at temperatures below 58 degrees, as this also discourages them from blooming.

Your orchid will bloom when it thinks that the conditions are optimal for blooming.  Adjust the conditions in its environment to more closely mirror the conditions it had in nature when it was a weed and it will bloom and grow like a weed.  Good luck and enjoy.