Do You Cut Off Dead Orchid Stems

Do You Cut Off Dead Orchid Stems?

Do you cut off dead orchid stems as well as how to cut the stems? are some of the concerns that orchid owners have struggled with at one point or another. Yes, you should cut off dead orchid stems but the technique of cutting depends on the orchid variety.

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In this post, we look at how to cut off dead stems in some of the common orchid varieties. It is important to note that when cutting off the dead stems you should use a sharp and sterile tool. You can use a sharp knife, shears, or clippers. You can sterilize the tools using rubbing alcohol or hold it above a flame and then allow it to cool down.

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Phalaenopsis Orchids

To cut off the stems of the Phalaenopsis Orchids you have to wait until all the flowers are dead. The top of the stem should also have signs of yellowing. Cutting off the stems in this variety is done to promote reblooming. However, this type of pruning should only be done to mature plants because they are the only ones which are more likely to rebloom.

You begin by locating the inactive bud which is normally located below the widest bract. Cut off the stem above the bud. The cut should be about a ¼ inch above the bud. Leaving a small portion of the stem is necessary so as to avoid damaging the bud.

The portion of the stem above the bud contains hormones that prevent the bud from growing. When the portion is cut off, the bud is allowed to grow and can even flower again.

Dendrobium Orchids

The dead cane of the orchids should be cut off when the flowers have died and the cane is turning yellow or brown. It is important to avoid cutting healthy stem. The spike begins right at the tip of the stem. It is easy to identify the spike and the stem because the stem is usually green while the spike is already turning brown and so it’s green-brown in color. Furthermore, the spike has no leaves growing on it and is easy to identify.

Hold the spike in one hand and give it a clean-cut right at the bottom. Make sure to use a sharp tool so that you get a clean cut.

Oncidium Orchids

Just like all the other varieties, you should cut off the stems after the flowers have faded and died off. The stem that had bloomed should have clear signs of yellowing. To determine the cutting point, follow the spike all the way down until you reach the point it connects to the pseudobulb. The pseudobulb is the portion of the stem that is visibly thick and it has an oval shape. In the majority of the cases, the pseudobulb lies above the ground. The spike if found between the pseudobulb and a leaf.

The idea is to cut the spike as close as possible to the pseudobulb without cutting it or causing any damage. It’s advisable to leave about an inch of the spike to avoid damage to the pseudobulb.

Cattleya Orchids

Cutting off of the dead stems are done after the flowers wither and die. The spike or old stem in this variety emerges from a green section of the plant’s stem which is referred to as the bud sheath. The bud sheath can also be identified by its green or papery brown color.

The function of the bud sheath is to protect the immature buds as they grow. When the bloom and the stem they had flowered from dies, the sheath bud does not die. Before making any cuts, it’s good to gently squeeze the sheath and make sure that there are no new and healthy buds inside.

Follow the sheath down to the point where it meets the stem. Typically, it’s at the pseudobulb and it’s usually protected by leaves. It’s easy to identify the pseudobulb because it’s bulb-shaped or oval in shape. It also emerges directly above the ground.

To cut the dead stem, hold the sheath together with the stem and cut through them both. Give it a clean cut using a sharp tool making sure not to damage the pseudobulb or the leaves.

Cutting Orchid Roots

The process of cutting off the roots is the same in all varieties. Trimming of orchid roots should be done when re-potting the plant. Lift the plant from the current container and examine it for any unhealthy roots. If there are any, cut them off with a sharp and sterile tool.

To identify unhealthy roots look for any that are brown in color or that have a soft feel (normal and healthy roots are white in color). It is advisable to cut off a small part of the root first to make sure that it is dead or dying. If you find that the root is okay just leave it alone and check the others. You should also work carefully when making your cuts to avoid accidentally cutting off healthy roots.

Cutting Orchid Leaves

The process of cutting off the leaves is the same in all varieties. It is a good habit to regularly inspect your orchid plant and check for any black spots on the leaves as well as any other forms of damage. Orchid leaves can become black due to various reasons including fungal and bacterial diseases, overwatering, or over fertilization.

When cutting the leaves, only cut the portions that are affected. You should only remove whole leaves only when the entire leaf has been affected. It should be withered or yellow and has weakened to the point that you can remove it simply by tagging on it with your fingers.

In general, when working with orchids, you should cut off dead, dying or unproductive parts of the plants. If you liked this post on do you cut off dead orchid stems? or found it helpful, please share it and also follow us on Pinterest for more helpful posts.



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    1. I got my first orchid in May of 2020. I read a post to cut the whole stem off so I did…now I have read several posts not to do this. My orchid is still alive and it’s the end of March 2021, but I do not have a new stem growing. I am going to try the shock method and see if that works. Good luck, you are not the only one!

  1. Very informative, I do use this methid. But always be sure to lean the cutting tool that you used, it is very important to do so.

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