Orchids have a singular way of delighting their owners with their exoticism. These delicate beauties are popular in households worldwide and promote calmness.
Although originally hailing from warmer, more tropical climates, there are now endless species and hybrids available to enjoy everywhere on the globe.
Fortunately, they’re also relatively easy to care for, and if one pays attention, they will show you when they need something.
As a rule, orchid leaves are thick and rubbery. So, if they start to look a bit dry and wrinkled, take it as an indication that something is amiss.
Why do I have wrinkle leaves on orchids?
Wrinkled leaves on an orchid are generally the result of overwatering, root rot, underwatering, or low humidity levels. Wrinkled leaves on an orchid indicate that the plant is not taking up water through its roots, and therefore water is not reaching the plant tissue.
Overwatering an orchid can be extremely dangerous and potentially fatal for the plant.
If there is too much water in the potting medium, oxygen cannot reach the roots, and over time they will start to rot.
Naturally, rotting roots can no longer absorb water, and thus the plant will become deprived of the vital nutrients that it needs for continued growth.
Tell-tale signs of overwatering are wrinkles or pleats on new leaves, yellow discoloration on older, lower leaves, and foul-smelling soil.
If any of these symptoms are present, I know that it’s time to remove my orchid from its pot and inspect the roots.
If they are rotting or gone altogether, the plant has been overwatered.
Luckily, if this is caught early and provided some healthy roots remain, the orchid can still be saved.
I recommend laying the plant on its side and gently removing it from its growing medium. Then, with sterile shears, remove any rotting roots. Allot up to 24 hours to dry out.
Thereafter, thoroughly clean and disinfect the pot and carefully replace the orchid in a new (moistened) soil or bark mixture, ensuring proper drainage.
Make sure never to let the orchid sit in excess water in a drainage tray.
It is important that you discard its diseased soil, as it will be infected with root rot fungus.
The symptoms of overwatering and underwatering orchids are remarkably similar, so if you find yourself with an orchid that has wrinkled or yellowing leaves but healthy roots, it may actually just be dehydrating.
Specifically, water is not reaching the plant tissue, and it is unable to maintain strong, healthy leaves, flower spikes, and buds.
To determine if your orchid is underwatered, inspect its roots. They may be a healthy green or white color, or in severe cases of dehydration, the roots are greying and drying up and lacking growth tips.
Solving this is relatively easy.
You can re-wet the growing medium through several thorough and frequent watering sessions or by soaking the plant in water until the soil or bark is very moist.
An orchid requiring a higher level of humidity will also indicate as much through displaying wrinkles on its leaves.
Low humidity levels speed up transpiration, and as such, the plant cannot keep up sufficient water stores and becomes dehydrated.
Orchids do well in humidity levels of 40% to 70%, but if this cannot be managed in the room where the orchid is kept, some remedial steps can be taken.
Humidifiers, humidity trays, or grouping an orchid together with other plants may help raise humidity levels.
In severe cases, a makeshift “greenhouse effect” can be created by covering an orchid with a plastic bag.
In this event, just be careful to keep it away from too much sunlight, as overheating the plant could become a risk.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why Orchid Leaves Have Wrinkles
Should I fertilize my orchid?
I recommend fertilizing orchids to provide them with the nutrients and minerals they need for optimal growth. Using a balanced fertilizer is best, and most orchid growers recommend using diluted, weaker, and more frequent dosages than one strong full dosage at a time.
Where should I plant my indoor orchid?
An area receiving plenty of light’s the best place to grow orchids. The living room is a good option as it’s where most light comes in. Indirect light from a north- or east-facing window is ideal, but it should be shaded by a sheer curtain or blinds if it is very harsh or strong. Afternoon sun, in a dining room, for instance, is also good for them. Bathrooms make good homes for orchids, too, as they tend to be quite humid. Kitchens give off warmth and thus can also be a good fit.
Why are my orchid’s buds falling off?
Bud blast, the term used for an orchid’s buds dropping off, can result from dehydration or inadequate light. If an orchid has become too dry between watering sessions, valuable moisture may have been eradicated from the buds, causing them to fall off. Insufficient light will also render an orchid unable to flower.
Whether you find orchids difficult to care for or not, the one thing that is for certain is that they are undeniably worth your time.
With regular maintenance and proper care, and by paying attention to what they are trying to tell us, orchids can live a lifetime.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.