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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.

orchid-bud-blast

WHAT IS ORCHID BUD BLAST?

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.

WHAT CAUSES BUD BLAST?

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.

orchid-bud-dying
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.

orchid-bud-drying-up
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.

HOW TO STOP ORCHID BUD BLAST

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.

RELATED CONTENT

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.