Orchid Care Tips: How to Deal with Yellowing and Drooping Leaves

By: Matt Slaymaker
May 1, 2024
Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow Or Drooping
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Many indoor gardeners and plant lovers don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the exotic beauty of orchids at home. And although orchids are relatively low-maintenance plants, they can still suffer from common leaf problems or other issues. From leaves turning yellow or brown to root rot and pest infestations, your orchid may suddenly lose its vibrancy and aesthetic appeal.

But don't panic! These are common issues that you can usually fix. You just need to pay attention to your plant’s growing needs, such as light, watering, soil, and humidity. 

Our comprehensive guide will look into what causes the most common problems with your gorgeous orchids and offer helpful tips on how you can fix them. So, keep reading to find the answers to all your orchid-related questions. 

Common Orchid Leaf Problems: Causes & Solutions

Common Orchid Leaf Problems
Source: Reddit

Orchids may display problems like discolored or droopy leaves, rotten roots, buds falling off, and more. But don’t worry! If you investigate the reasons, you can fix the issue. 

Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow: Reasons and Fixes 

Yellowing leaves is a common problem with orchids, even if you provide your plant with the best care. The reason could be as simple as the natural aging of your orchid. Or it could be down to incorrect exposure to light.

Why Are My Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow?

Yellow leaves on orchids mean it's affected by one or more of the following issues:

  • Natural aging: As your plant ages, it’s normal for the leaves to turn yellow. Eventually, they fall off before new growth.
  • Overwatering: Soggy soil suffocates the plant roots and causes root rot. They can’t absorb nutrients, making the leaves yellow.
  • Underwatering: If an orchid is dehydrated, its leaves may turn yellow and wrinkled.
  • Sunburn or excessive light: Exposure to too much sunlight can scorch orchid leaves. It results in leaves turning yellow or getting brown spots.
  • Temperature stress (extreme hot/cold): Orchids hate extreme hot and cold, and sudden temperature fluctuations. 
  • Nutrient deficiency: Orchids may also have yellowing leaves, due to nitrogen, magnesium, or iron deficiency. 
  • Repotting shock: After repotting, an orchid may fail to root well. The roots may dry out, causing the leaves to turn yellow.
  • Infections: Fungal or bacterial diseases lead to yellow spots and then turn the foliage yellow. They also cause leaf, stem, and root rot.

How Do You Fix Yellow Orchid Leaves?

To fix the yellow leaf issue, first set up your watering routine. Give your orchids a drink once every 7-10 days in winter and twice a week in summer. Avoid overwatering your plant by ensuring all the excess water has drained out.

Also, place your flowering plants in a spot with bright but indirect sunlight, especially if you have Moth orchids. The ideal temperature range is 50°F-85°F, with a humidity of 50%-70%.  

During the growing season, fertilize the orchid 1-2 times a month using a balanced fertilizer. 

Orchid Leaves Turning Brown: Causes and Solutions

Orchids Browning Leaves

Orchids can be sensitive plants, and any stress can cause the leaves to turn brown. You may notice the entire leaf blades changing color or the appearance of brown spots or tips.  

Causes for Orchid Leaves Turning Brown

There are many reasons for brown leaves in orchids. Most of them are similar to the causes behind your orchid’s leaves turning yellow. Common reasons include:

  • Overwatering or underwatering 
  • Excess sunlight exposure
  • Cold shock
  • Chemicals or additives in the water
  • Lack of nutrients in the soil
  • Overfertilization
  • Lack of humidity
  • Pests and diseases
  • Transplant shock
  • Need for repotting
  • Age

What to Do When Orchid Leaves Turn Brown?

If your orchid leaves turn brown, pay attention to its water, light, humidity, and nutrient requirements. Don’t go overboard with watering, fertilization, or light exposure.

Repot the plant once every 1-2 years. It’s a good idea to clean the leaves monthly by wiping them with a damp cloth. This will remove debris and pests and prevent them from affecting the plant. 

Remember that proper plant care will prevent future browning. But the existing brown leaves will not recover. It’s best to remove them to encourage new growth. Doing so will also stop your orchid from wasting unnecessary resources, as well as the spread of diseases. 

Why Are My Orchid Leaves Drooping? 

If you find droopy leaves on your orchids, it might be due to overwatering, which also causes root rot. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and make them weak. Environmental stressors, like temperature fluctuations or low humidity, are other likely causes of orchid leaves wilting.

How Do You Fix Droopy Orchid Leaves?

The good news is that you can revive droopy orchid leaves. You just have to make a few changes to your plant’s watering schedule, ensuring the soil doesn’t remain soggy. Your orchid will best grow in a spot with stable temperature and consistent humidity. It should receive bright but indirect sunlight.

Orchid Leaves Wrinkled: Reasons and Prevention Tips

Your orchid's leaves might be wrinkled, due to underwatering. Signs of dehydration also include wrinkled flowers with visible veins. You can confirm if it's dehydrated by checking the roots. If they appear dry and brittle or change color to greyish-brown/white/silver, then your orchid needs a drink. 

How Do You Fix Wrinkled Orchid Leaves?

To help your water-deprived orchid, hydrate it properly to dampen the soil. If you don’t see signs of changes in 1-2 days, soak the roots in a water-filled sink for a few minutes. Place your orchid plant in a spot that doesn’t get harsh light or low humidity, which can cause dry soil.   

Other Common Orchid Issues

Orchid Root Rot
Source: Reddit

Orchids may also experience some other common problems. These include the following:

  • Orchids are not blooming: Orchids need sufficient light during the day and a drop in temperature at night to bloom. Wrong environmental conditions can prevent it from producing its gorgeous flowers. 
  • Buds falling before they bloom: Bud blast is a problem that appears, due to overwatering and underwatering. To confirm the cause, check the roots to see if they’re soft and mushy (rotten) or dry and brittle (dehydrated). 
  • Orchid leaves falling off: Orchid leaves may fall off, due to overwatering, underwatering, improper fertilization, or pest issues. Do orchids lose their leaves naturally? Yes, they do, during the resting period, usually during the fall and winter.
  • Pests and diseases: Orchids can be infested by mealybugs, scale insects, thrips, and more. You may have to wipe and clean the leaves to remove pests manually. Fungicidal or insecticidal sprays, etc., can also help.  
  • Orchid root rot: When orchid roots remain in soggy soil for too long, they develop fungal infections. The roots start to rot and turn soft, mushy, and black. You should remove the rotten roots and replant the orchid in a new potting mix.   
  • White spots: A common cause of white spots on orchid leaves is mealybugs. However, the plant may also be dehydrated, sunburned, or experiencing salt buildup in the soil. Orchids need regular cleaning, proper watering, and indirect sunlight.    

Unhealthy Orchids Leaves: FAQs

Q: What are the bacterial brown spots on my orchids?

A: Bacterial brown spots on orchid leaves are caused by a bacteria called Acidovorax (syn. Pseudomonas. They are small, soft blisters on the leaves that eventually appear sunken. Remove the infected leaves and spray bactericides on the plant. 

Q: What does it mean when orchid leaves curl?

A: Orchid leaves curling can indicate light and temperature problems. Exposure to excess light can cause light burn, and the leaves curl as a defense mechanism. If the temperature is too high or low, the leaves curl to reduce the surface area that may be affected by the respective issue.

Q: What do diseased orchid leaves look like?

A: Diseased or unhealthy orchid leaves may show signs like brown spots, blisters, thinning, shriveling, change of color, and wilting. You may notice yellow streaks or brown tips, too. The lower parts of diseased leaves may collapse. The leaves may fall off quickly.

Q: Should I remove a yellow leaf on an orchid?

A: You do not have to remove yellow orchid leaves. Change the plant care routine to prevent further leaf problems. Wait for the yellow leaves to fall off naturally. However, if you notice brown leaves, remove them to prevent your orchid from wasting energy. 

Q: How do you get rid of black mold on orchids?

A: To remove black mold on orchids, clean the leaves using a soft, moist cloth. Make sure to clean both sides of the leaf blade, and do it gently to prevent abrasions. You may also spray a fungicidal solution on the leaves to eliminate the mold.  


Despite providing the best care for your orchid plants, you may notice yellow or brown leaves., and other issues. But there’s no need to worry or feel disheartened, as these are common issues that can be remedied. The first thing you can do is to eliminate any mistakes with watering your orchid and meet its light requirements. Note that how much light your orchid needs will depend on its specific variety.  

In addition, beware of other common issues like failure to bloom or bud blast, which can be fixed by feeding your plant correctly and providing it with consistent temperatures and sufficient natural light.