Orchid Death

by | Aug 24, 2016 | 6 comments

My daughter received a Phalaenopsis orchid as a gift about a month ago. I don’t have pics of it then, but believe me when I say it was gorgeous! It was covered with white blossoms.

When I arrived today, all the flowers were gone, the stem was yellow and I was appalled! What happened to the orchid? SHE FOLLOWED THE DIRECTIONS ON THE TAG!!  It was placed in bright light and watered once a week with the amount of water called for. And the result? An over watered, drowning plant with no flowers.

Here are the front and back of the tag.

The Phalaenopsis orchid is an easy to grow orchid. If you can grow an African violet, you can grow one of these. (Some people think they can’t grow those either, but you get my point.) It likes to stay reasonably moist, and needs bright light, such as an East window. Tags or people that direct others to water anything on a schedule drive me crazy! Nothing should be watered on a strict schedule. It depends on the weather, the humidity, the light, the media and the pot it is growing in. The point is, don’t always believe and do everything a plant tag says. If you have a week of cloudy days, a plant won’t need as much water, as the photosynthesis is greatly reduced and therefore the plant isn’t using as much water. Now, if the tag had said to CHECK the plant EVERY WEEK to see if it NEEDS water, that would have been helpful. Most of these orchids come in a cache pot or decorative container with no drainage. The plant itself is usually in a see through plastic pot with drainage holes which is then placed into the decorative pot. So why doesn’t the tag say to take the plant out of the decorative pot, water it, let it drain, and then return it to the pot? Is that so much to ask? I don’t think so. And ice cubes?! Ridiculous and not good for the plant at all.

Maybe to some people this is an obvious thing, but to people who receive the plant as a gift, have never owned a plant, or are just “direction followers”, this is not obvious. Because of this experience, my daughter thinks she is a plant killer. I’m not sure, but I may have caught it in time to save the plant. I removed the plastic orchid pot from the ceramic cache pot and squeezed the water out of it and cut off the dead stalk. It is planted in sphagnum moss and so stays wet I’m hoping that the plant itself will continue to live and grow for my daughter. Only time will tell. I told her to feel the moss, and look at the roots before she waters again. I really think the plant companies need to be more aware of the directions they put on the tags. They may be responsible for thousands of houseplant deaths! How do they sleep?!

I really want everyone to be successful and happy with their houseplants. Killing a plant because of the directions on a tag is not instilling a love for plants in anyone. Success in the form of a healthy, well placed, correctly watered plant will do that. All they need is correct, easy to understand directions and success is more likely to follow. Wake up plant growers and find a way to rewrite your tags. Thank you. Rant over!

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  1. Julia Hofley

    It’s interesting that they took the time to give exact water measurement, i.e. 1/4 cup. Too bad there was no drainage and no advice on how to check the orchid to see if it needed watering or how to do that. Houseplant Guru to the rescue!!!

    • thehouseplantguru.com

      I know, Julia! Why can’t they put helpful hints on the tag. Why does everyone insist a plant be watered “weekly”? Thanks for your comment!

  2. Beth

    You are so right — I killed one before realizing that you need to take the plant out of its outer decorative pot before watering it. And that’s such easy advice. I know the companies want to make it seem like plants are easy, but they’re kind of shooting themselves in the foot if their plants are dying all the time (although maybe they want people to have to buy more replacement plants….). Probably there’s just little thought behind the advice. Thanks for pointing out this important care requirement. -Beth

    • thehouseplantguru.com

      If you are a plant person, you might know the directions are just wrong, or at least just a suggestion. But if you are new to growing houseplants, you will probably follow the directions. I mean, it the people who are growing the plant don’t know how to grow it, who does? I have thought of the fact that probably they want to sell more plants, but I think if people are successful, they WILL want to buy another plant or give one as a gift. Thanks for your commments!

  3. Lynn Krawczyk

    I really hate the just add ice directions. It’s like you said – you have to watch the plant to see if it needs to be watered. Good news that the roots look really healthy – it will live to bloom again!

    • thehouseplantguru.com

      I know Lynn. I don’t understand it. Whoever thought of putting ice on plant roots?!


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