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Orchid Bud Blast: 5 Top Causes for Drying/Dying Flower Buds

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There is nothing more frustrating than watching your orchid’s flower buds grow and get ready to bloom, but only to have them dry up and die before they even open!

There are many reasons why orchid bud blast occurs, so keep reading to find out the 5 top causes and what you can do to prevent this from happening again in the future.

In this post, I’m illustrating with Phalaenopsis or moth orchids, but bud blast can occur with all sorts of different orchids and even other plants. What does bud blast look like? Look at the photo below.



Bud blast is simply when developing orchid buds dry up and fall off before they even get a chance to open up. They’ll often turn yellow or brown in color and drop off your plant.

Knowing the causes is important so that you can prevent it from happening in the future.


Orchids like to have fairly stable, consistent environments, especially while they are in bloom.

Any sudden or drastic change in environment can cause your buds to blast. The following are the most common reasons for bud blast in your orchids.

1. Extremes in Moisture

Keeping your potting mix too dry or too wet can cause bud blast.

For Phalaenopsis orchids, I would say that it can be very easy to let your plant go too dry. Moth orchids lack the water-storing pseudobulbs that many other orchids have, so they are not too drought tolerant and it is important to make sure they don’t go completely dry.

Take a look at my orchid below. I let the potting mix dry out completely by accident, and notice the buds that blasted near the tip of the flower spike. In this case, they turned a pinkish color.

Bud blast on a moth orchid due to the potting medium drying out completely.

On the other hand, bud blast can also occur if your potting medium stays too wet, especially if your plant has started to experience root rot.

According to the American Orchid Society, when your potting mix goes too dry, the plant will draw moisture from the buds in order to help the plant survive.

On the same note, if your plant has started to experience root rot, it ironically can not take up water through its roots (since they rotted), so essentially your plant is dehydrating as a result, and it will take up moisture from the buds as well, causing bud blast.

Watering with cold water can also shock your plant and cause bud blast. Or worse yet, watering with ice cubes. Be sure not to miss my blog post on why you shouldn’t water with ice.

Check out my tips on watering orchids for further guidance on watering properly.

2. Extremes in Temperature

I’ve encountered this one many times myself when purchasing an orchid that is in bloom at a shop, and then have to carry the plant to my car during cold weather.

Even if you cover the plant with a plastic bag and take a short walk outside for 1 minute in very cold weather to get to your car, it can be enough to cause bud blast within a few days or weeks of taking your plant home.

That’s exactly what happened to the plant in the photo below.

Bud blast resulting from exposure to brief cold temperatures.

This is just one example. Other examples of abrupt temperature changes that can cause this are:

  • Keeping your plant near an air conditioning or heating vent.
  • Bringing a plant in bud back indoors after it spent a warm summer outdoors.
  • Keeping your plant near a door that opens frequently, exposing your orchid to cold or hot drafts.
  • Or even if you had a plant that was shipped while it was in bud.

3. Insufficient or Too Much Light

A drastic decrease in light, for example, if your plant was just purchased and was growing in a greenhouse and then moved to a dim location in your home, can also cause bud blast.

On the other hand, too MUCH light can also cause it. Particularly too much direct sun shining on developing flower buds. This can cause them to overheat and dry out.

4. Low Humidity

Phalaneopsis orchids love high humidity.

If the humidity in your home is too low, especially during winter months if you are running central heat, this can result in bud blast.

Especially if you just brought your orchid back home from the comfort of a greenhouse where it was growing in ideal conditions.

Always aim to increase humidity for your orchids, at least if you’re running forced air heat in your home.

5. Pests

Latsly, pests can also cause bud blast, particularly aphids and thrips. Both of these will suck plant juices out flower buds (and other areas of the plant).

This can result in bud blast, or even flowers that actually do open but are disfigured. Look closely for any pests or holes on the flower buds or elsewhere on the plant and treat with an appropriate pesticide if you do have pests.


In short, any drastic change in the environment of your orchid can cause bud blast. Sometimes it’s inevitable, but as long as you’re aware of the causes, it will no longer be a mystery.

Once orchid bud blast happens, you can’t reverse it, but you can try and provide more even conditions for your plant while it is in bud in order to save the rest of the unopened buds.

The best orchid bud blast remedy is providing a stable, environment with appropriate levels of moisture, good light, stable temperatures free from cold or hot drafts, and humid environments.

If you follow the tips in this post, it will help you minimize your orchid buds falling off before they open.


If your flowers HAVE actually opened, but they have died, check out my blog post on Orchid Flower Dying: Important Things You Need to Know.

If you’ve enjoyed these tips, check out my very succinct eBook, Moth Orchid Mastery, that will give you all of the basic knowledge that you need to be able to grow thriving Phalaenopsis orchids.

Charlotte Ranz

Sunday 17th of December 2023

I'm heartsick! These orchids are several years old and have repeatedly bloomed. Now they have bud drop except for one that is just growing straight up in the air, spindly. I'll gladly send phots if you like. Nothing has changed that I'm aware of - just the sadness at seeing these buds drop. What to do?


Sunday 17th of December 2023

Sorry to hear that Charlotte! It is frustrating for sure! Have you identified the potential causes based on my blog post? I'd need more info to help.


Monday 26th of June 2023

The buds on my phaleonopsis have been sitting for 2 weeks now. Doing nothing. The plant sits in a north window, never gets direct sun but gets light all day. The spot is calm and undisturbed, nothing changes, except I have turned the plant around to accommodate the buds that were getting shoved against the window. It gets watered regularly. The roots look healthy, the leaves looks happy, I fertilize every 2 weeks....what is going on? This is the first time I have grown an orchid and although I am very good with plants, maybe not this one. It had 6 buds and now has 2. It is growing another new stem (yay) and new leaves. How long does it take a bud to open?

I do see sticky sap around the buds, and buds only. That usually means to me, that there are bugs sucking the sap. But I can find none at all; I have looked very closely.


Tuesday 27th of June 2023

Maybe the buds that were shoved up against the window ended up blasting. The buds can take quite a while to open from the time you see them until they open. It can be at least a few weeks or more. The sticky sap should be ok if you don't see any bugs and if it's only on the buds. It is thought that it can help attract pollinators. If you see the sap on the leaves, it's probably from a pest (scale, mealy bugs, etc).


Thursday 23rd of March 2023

Any suggestions on how to get more air roots to grow and should air roots get water on them?


Friday 24th of March 2023

Air roots will come naturally with good care. And yes, you should always water the air roots so that they don't dry out.


Friday 6th of May 2022

Do you have to get a new plant or will the petals regrow after budblast


Saturday 7th of May 2022

Hi Mara! The buds that have blasted will not regrow from where they fell off. The plant can still continue to bloom in the future though!

Jennifer hillman

Saturday 22nd of January 2022

My orchid flowers haven't opened yet but they are very soft are they ok


Saturday 22nd of January 2022

I would have to see a photo to be sure, but as long as they aren't dried up and they are firm, they should be ok.