Skip to Content

6 Signs To Tell If An Orchid Is Dead

6 Signs To Tell If An Orchid Is Dead

Orchids, breathtaking in their full blooming glory, can be fussy plants.

If their environment isn’t 100 percent to their liking, they can easily sicken and die.

But how can you tell if your orchid is dead or simply resting?


How to tell if an orchid is dead?

Orchids rest in between blooming seasons, which is when they replenish lost nutrients and prepare for the next flowering. Signs that your orchid has died may include yellow or mushy roots and faded or blotchy leaves. If your evergreen orchid has suddenly dropped all their leaves, you can be sure they are dead or dying.


Signs My Orchid Has Died

I usually know how to tell if an orchid is dead when I see the following signs:


1.Brown Or Mushy Roots

When the orchid roots have turned mushy and brown, it is a sign that the plant is unable to absorb nutrients, and it has died.

This often happens with overwatering, which encourages root rot in orchids.


2.The Crown Is Brown Or Blackens

A sure sign of orchid death is a blackened or mushy brown stem or crown. This is the area where the main leaves attach to the central stem.

It’s an area that’s susceptible to rot and parasitic activity.

I always think of this as the heart of my orchid plant, and if this is rotten, the orchid is dead or beyond recovery.


3.Yellow Leaves

When the topmost leaves have turned yellow or pale white-green, I also know the orchid is past its due, and it’s time to let it go.


4.Shedding Leaves

If my orchid, if it’s of an evergreen variant, starts to drop its leaves and doesn’t replace them, I know it is dying or dead.

Normally, an evergreen orchid will replace a leaf as it loses one, which is a normal growth process.

Suddenly losing leaves can mean the orchid has died and is rotting.


5.Brown Or Mushy Roots

When I repot my orchid, I examine the roots to see if the orchid can still be saved.

If there are no firm roots remaining and all the roots are mushy or withered, I know there is little chance of saving the plant since it won’t absorb any nutrients.


6.Skipping A Blooming Season

If your orchid hasn’t been able to absorb the correct nutrients from the soil, or they have been exposed to harsh light or a lack or overabundance of water, then they may skip a season of blooming.

Normally, your orchid may bloom later when they manage to correct the imbalance of elements.

However, if your orchid simply continues not to bloom and makes no new leaves, they may also have died.

Often, when I see this happening to my orchids, I repot them, but the chances are big that they will already have suffered root death, and there is little to be done then.


What Does A Resting Orchid Look Like

Your orchid normally rests between blooming sessions, as growing and sustaining blossoms is a draining process.

Orchids bloom for several weeks or even months on end, and when a blooming session has ended, they will go dormant to rest and absorb nutrients from the soil.

During a resting period, an orchid will look healthy with firm green or white roots. The leaves will remain dark green, and the plant’s crown will also be dark green.

There should be no mold, discolored areas, or blotches visible. The leaves should be springy and firm to the touch.

Understanding orchid death and what causes it is essential to ensure the survival of rare or endangered species of orchids.

Sickly or dying orchids can cause first-time orchid keepers to have many questions.

Here are some you may also have been asking:


Frequently Asked Questions About How To Tell If An Orchid Is Dead


What do orchids look like when they die?

I find that dead orchids always lose their flowers, the leaves wilt or turn a pale and sickly white-yellow, and the roots will rot. Rust-colored roots or leaves are also a sign of orchid death.


How do I know if my orchid is resting or dead?

Dead orchids show no growth, they lose the glossy appearance of their leaves, and the roots wither as they rot. A resting orchid will look healthy with dark green leaves, healthy stems, and dark green roots. Or the roots will be white with a green tip, and the roots will be firm to the touch.


How do I save my dead orchid?

A dead orchid can’t be saved. However, if your orchid is dying, you can take immediate action to save it. Firstly, I try re-potting them. If this is my first option, I am careful to trim off any damaged or dead tissue such as yellow or wilted leaves or rotten roots. However, I try to intercede before it comes to this by monitoring my orchids daily and adjusting the watering, lighting, and nutrition routines. If the dead leaves or roots remain on the plant, they could spread bacterial infections or drain the remaining nutrients from the plant. Placing the “dead” orchid in an area with better lighting conditions, using a humidifier to help increase the humidity in the air, or changing the potting soil composition can all contribute to saving my prized orchid.


The Final Growth

While you may wonder if your orchid is dead, I find that the most important thing is to regularly inspect your orchid.

If you can see the signs of your orchid being ill or dying, then you can save them.

I have managed to save numerous exotic and costly orchids by simply being observant and acting before my orchid began to die.

Orchids appear dead when they are really just hibernating and resting.

This allows your orchids to prepare for the next blooming season.

Dead orchids slowly degrade and rot away, with little sign of recovery.