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3 Reasons Your Moth Orchid Refuses to Bloom

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If you’re wondering “why won’t my orchid bloom,” then you’ve come to the right place. There are 3 main reasons that your moth orchid refuses to bloom. Let’s explore those topics and get things fixed!

The truth is, Phalaenopsis orchids (moth orchids) are not hard to grow, and you just need to be aware of their basic needs and be consistent with your approach to care.  

You can’t just plop your plant in your home and ignore it and expect it to flourish.  

There are numerous reasons why your moth orchid won’t bloom. Here is a list that will help you get your moth orchid to rebloom.

Why Isn’t My Orchid Blooming?

1. Light

The number 1 reason why your Phalaenopsis orchid isn’t blooming is light. Moth orchids are considered among the “low light” orchids, but they still need sufficient light to bloom!

I want you to walk over to your orchid and look at the color of the leaves.  Is it a deep, dark green?  If so, your plant probably isn’t getting enough light. Move it to a brighter location.

I keep my Phalaenopsis orchids directly in front of Eastern-exposure windows.  

And by directly in front, I mean within 1-2 feet of the window. You can’t expect plants to flourish, especially flowering plants, if they are too far from any window.

The morning sun is great for them, but just be careful not to expose your Phals to too much sun.  

You know that your moth orchid is on the high end of it’s light tolerance if you start to see that the edges of the leaves are reddish in color.  That’s OK, but your plant is warning you not to get any brighter.

There is one exception that I make when it comes to light.  When my moth orchid is in bloom, I move it to various areas in the house purely for display, even if I normally wouldn’t place it there for normal growth.

What’s the point if I can’t enjoy my plant while it is in bloom? 

After the plant is done blooming (which could be months!), I’ll return the plant back to its window so it can continue growing.

2. Lack of Proper Watering and Fertilizing

Walk over and visit your orchid again.  How do the roots look?  Are they dry and shriveled up?  

If so, you’re probably keeping your orchid much too dry.  

Some orchids such as cattleya have pseudobulbs which store water and this makes them more drought tolerant.  

Moth orchids don’t have pseudobulbs to store water so you need to be more attentive to the watering. They simply don’t like to dry out completely.

Healthy orchid roots should be plump and look greenish, white or silver.  

If they’re shriveled like your grandmother’s neck, or wrinkly but still firm, your plant needs more water.  

If the roots are mushy and stringy, you’ve probably overwatered your orchid and caused the roots to rot.

And PLEASE whatever you do, do NOT water your orchid with ice!  I don’t care what the label says. Moth orchids originate in the jungles of southeast Asia.

There are monkeys in those jungles.  Have you ever seen a monkey with a popsicle?  I think not.  So don’t give your orchids ice to water them. This is just asinine!

I feel so strongly against this that I wrote a blog post on why you shouldn’t water your orchids with ice. Please read it when you’re done reading this post!

Don’t let your orchid pot dry out completely, if you can help it, but at the same time, don’t let your plant sit in water at any time.  You need to strike a balance in between!

Orchids need perfect drainage.  In nature, they grow on trees.  They are often exposed to rain and deliciously humid jungle air, but they have perfect drainage.  

They’re never sitting in water.  If you slip your orchid into a decorative pot with no hole, that is fine.  

Just make sure that when you water your plant, that it has fully drained into the sink before you slip it back into the decorative pot.  I do this all the time.

Once you learn proper watering, be sure to fertilize your orchid!

When I ask people if they fertilize their orchid, I normally get a sheepish “no.”  

Well, hell!  Every plant needs nutrients to survive, so go get some fertilizer!  I’ve used a couple different fertilizers with good results, and are available on Amazon. 

My fertilizer of choice for all of my plants is Dyna Gro Grow. I use it on almost all my plants, including my orchids. It is an amazing general purpose fertilizers. All my plants are growing beautifully!

Whatever you do, please fertilize.  A good rule of thumb is “weekly, weakly.” Moth orchids don’t need a ton of fertilizer, but a very dilute application weekly for most of the year except during the middle of winter if your plant has stopped growing.

If you let your plant get too dry, water it with plain water first, and then apply a solution of fertilizer.  This is so you don’t shock your plant.

And please use room temperature or warm water when you water your orchids. Never cold water.

3. Insufficient Temperature Drop at Night

Moth orchids are tropical plants and need warm temperatures, so if you are comfortable in a room inside your house, your orchid probably is too.

If you have a stubborn orchid, something that often triggers bloom is a temperature gradient between day and night.  

Often times, if you expose your orchid to night temperatures that are 15F (or more) cooler at night versus the day, this may kick-start your orchid into bloom.  

Just be sure to keep your plant above a minimum night-time temperature of around 50F or above.

One easy way to get this temperature drop in the evening is to place your orchids outside in the summer!

A Summer Outdoors

Summering your orchid outdoors does miracles for your plant, whether it is an orchid or any other houseplant that you have.  I can’t emphasize this enough! 

If you do bring your orchids outside, it is extremely important to harden your plants off so that they don’t burn.

If you live in an area with cold winters like I do, wait until the night time temperatures are consistently 50F (10C) or above before placing your orchid outside.

For my region of the Earth, this normally happens around mid-May or so, but I always keep my eye on the weather report and adjust accordingly.  

Summer your plants outside whenever possible.  Let them reap the benefits of the air circulation, rainwater, and humidity.

Leave your orchid outside all summer until the night time temperatures threaten to go below 50F (10C) and bring your plant back inside at that time.  

A few words of caution though if you summer your plants outdoors.

Make sure that your orchids are not sitting in water. If you have it slipped in a decorative pot with no drainage hole, you may need to remove it and place it into another pot with a drainage hole.

Otherwise, after a rainfall, you will constantly have to go and drain the pot.

Keep your plants in a protected area from the wind.  You don’t want your plants thrashed around and damaged.

Be especially careful when you first move your plant outside to keep it protected from any sun.  

The intensity of the sun outside is different that the sun coming through your windows into your home.  Your plant will burn outside, so it needs a period of hardening off in complete shade.  

Ideally, put it in complete shade, especially when you first bring them outdoors.

Need More Help With Your Orchids?

If you have more serious woes with your orchid plants, other than just not blooming, you may want to check out Help My Orchid Is Dying!

In this blog post, I describe many possibly problems that you might be having with your orchids and how you can fix them.

If you want the most complete, quick and easy to understand guide on orchid care, please check my eBook, Moth Orchid Mastery.

In under an hour, you will be equipped with everything you need to easily grow these elusive plants! From light, watering, repotting, fertilizing, what to do after your plant is done blooming, and more!

Looking to purchase a special Phalaenopsis orchid? One of my favorite and most convenient one-stop-shops to buy practically any plant is Etsy. Check out the Phalaenopsis orchid selection (link to Etsy) today!

Do you have any questions? Comment below!

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media because it will help me spread the Ohio Tropics houseplant care tips to the masses! Also, check out my shop on Amazon for all your houseplant care needs:

OHIO TROPICS PLANT CARE STOREFRONT

Maria

Monday 22nd of January 2024

Hi. So glad I found your page! I love all the content! I live in New York and I want to grow orchids outside during the summer months, then bring them inside for the colder months. Is this possible? I’ve seen beautiful orchid plants growing on trees, do you think I can grow something like that?

Raffaele

Thursday 25th of January 2024

Hi Maria! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. The orchids will freeze and die where you live if you mount them on trees and leave them there. It only works year round in warm/tropical climates. But you can definitely put your potted orchids outside during the warm months, and then bring them in before it gets too cold. They will love that and you will get good blooming this way! Just make sure that when you move them from indoors to outdoors, place them in complete shade. Then either leave them in full shade or if you want a little direct sun, introduce a little morning sun if you'd like.

Amanda

Thursday 16th of March 2023

I stumbled onto your blog this morning while looking for ways to help save my orchid with droopy, limp leaves. Now, 3 or 4 posts later, I'm so glad I found this! These posts are so helpful. I have had several orchids over the course of my adult life, but I really only got interested in gardening about 10 years ago,and houseplants about 5 years ago. I currently have 2 orchids that I've managed to keep alive for 3 and 2 years respectively. One rebloomed for me once, but it did not this year. We moved, though, and I wonder if its relocation and repotting didn't affect that. The other was a Walmart rescue, and I wasn't surprised when it didn't bloom again this year. That is the one with droopy leaves. Anyhow, sorry for rambling. I'm looking forward to subscribing and learning more!!

Amanda

Monday 20th of March 2023

@Raffaele, thanks so much! The oldest of my 2 orchids that I didn't think would bloom this year has now got a bloom spike. I noticed it right after I found your blog. And thanks to your posts, I now know not to rotate the plant in its window! The other one that has droopy leaves, I have pulled out of its pot and trimmed the roots (I now know that when I repotted it, I should've soaked the bark. I didn't and the roots were rotting.) It's in an east-facing window and I'm hopeful that it'll recover. Thank you again for your amazing tips!

Raffaele

Friday 17th of March 2023

Hi Amanda! Glad you are enjoying my blog, and I'm confident that the orchid posts will help! :-) Good luck!

Mary Kay

Thursday 9th of February 2023

I have one that does not have flowers but is growing sets of leaves. Can I repot these?

Raffaele

Thursday 9th of February 2023

Yes, you should be ok to repot now :-)

Linda S

Thursday 12th of January 2023

Thank you for your article. I seem to be doing almost everything wrong. I have 4 Moth orchids that I have had for about 3 years. I have the in my kitchen south window. I haven’t cut the steam off after blooming. And I have always used Ice cubes to water once a week on Sunday morning. Each of the plants have sent a new stem, after it has finished flowering, soon I find the new stem with new buds. After I read an article I talk with friends & get there opinion. Most say mine are so beautiful not to change what i’m doing.

Raffaele

Thursday 12th of January 2023

Hi Linda, if you're happy with your plants, don't change a thing. If it's working, why change? There is no right or wrong. Whatever works is right! :-) Just be careful though if you repot into bigger pots. You might have to adapt/change things. I would never recommend using ice for a variety of reasons (I have a blog post on that).

Joan LoCastro

Monday 25th of October 2021

Why do my orchids plants grow off to on side. They are flowerowerless right now but I feel like he leaves should grow upwards or somewhat evenly around the pot.

Raffaele

Monday 25th of October 2021

Hi Joan, that is a great question. If you don't regularly rotate your plants, they will eventually all lean over to one side and grow that way. There isn't anything necessarily wrong with that, but if you'd like the plant to grow straight upwards, you'll have to rotate your plants regularly so they get even light exposure on all sides. Hope this helps!