Why is Your Orchid Leaf Wrinkled and Pleated and Can It Be Fixed?

by | Apr 12, 2023 | 1 comment

Why is your orchid leaf wrinkled and pleated? Can it be fixed? Let’s talk about what can be done.

I purchased an orchid last year at a local orchid show. It was perfect when I bought it. All was going well until I noticed a couple of leaves that were wrinkled and pleated. What is happening and what can I do?

New orchid

Last spring, I purchased this Galeopetalum Starburst ‘Parkside’ (Galeottia fimbriata x Zygo. ‘Jumpin’ Jack’) at a local orchid show. I’ve been caring for it in a way I thought was good for the plant until I saw these wrinkled leaves below.

wrinkled orchid leaf
Why is this orchid leaf wrinkled?

My Orchid Leaf Wrinkled

Why is my orchid leaf wrinkled and pleated? Because while the new leaf was expanding, my watering practices were less than stellar. These leaves wrinkled because of inconsistent watering. While they were actively growing, they weren’t receiving the correct amount of water to support the new growth.

orchid leaf wrinkled
You can see two of my leaves are wrinkled

Phone (or Facebook messenge) a friend

To make sure I was on par with my findings, I contacted an orchid society friend, Lynn. She also has had this happen to her orchid.

Low humidity can also cause this to happen. I have no problems with my ferns or huperzia, so humidity is not the problem with my plant. I am sure it is inconsistent watering because that does happen at my house.

What orchids are affected?

Does this happen to all orchids? The answer is no. It usually only happens to orchids that have thin leaves. These include dendrobium, miltonia, cymbidium, and others.

If you have a phalaenopsis or moth orchid, you know those orchids have thick, leathery leaves. You may have had leaves wrinkle on that orchid, but the wrinkles run lengthwise along the leaf or may look like your fingers after being in the bathtub too long.

That type of phalaenopsis wrinkling is also from too little or inconsistent watering. If caught in time, watering your phalaenopsis should help smooth those wrinkles out.

Can wrinkled orchid leaves be fixed?

As stated above, if it is a phalaenopsis, those wrinkles can be fixed by watering the plant. (Unless the plant is at the point of no return.) The wrinkles on the thin leaves orchids, such as mine, cannot be fixed.

If your orchid has more than a couple of leaves that are wrinkled or the leaves have begun to collapse, you may have a root problem. If the whole plant seems to be struggling, always check what is going on in the container. The roots may be damaged and if so, they will not be able to get water to your plant.

Orchid with orchid leaf wrinkled
This is the orchid flower on the plant with the wrinkled leaf

Orchid leaf wrinkles can be prevented

Though the ones on my orchid cannot be fixed, they can be prevented in the future. I need to make sure that my plant is well-watered on a regular basis, not letting it dry out completely or stand in water.

I will place my orchid on a pebble tray to be sure the humidity is elevated.

Making sure the potting medium is not compacted is also a good idea. Repotting your orchids into new orchid potting mix is recommended at least every two years.

Do you have orchids? Have you had this happen to your orchid? Tell me in the comments.

Have a great week, plant friends.


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1 Comment

  1. Ayla Harper

    I have found orchid care hard to master. Good idea with the pebble tray. I will have to try that one!


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