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How To Tell If An Orchid Is Dead – 2 Quick Ways

Orchids have an undeserved reputation for being difficult to care for, but this is far from true of all species. If you learn a little more about the plant, it is very easy to keep them healthy. 

Even if it seems to you that the orchid has withered or died, it can be revived many times. This means you need to know how to tell if an orchid is dead.

Different orchids have very different needs depending on their broad morphology. For instance, the Phalaenopsis type is an epiphyte and the most common in most homes. 

They grow on other plants without getting food. These plants grow, for example, on the bark of trees, have aerial roots, and develop alternative methods for obtaining water and nutrients. 

How To Tell If An Orchid Is Dead
via Reddit

How to tell if an orchid is dead

  1. The main reason for the possible death of an orchid is damage to the root system caused by improper care or disease.
  2. Frequently, the orchid develops some signs, which help to tell if it is dead. This include:
    • The withering of the main leaf mass
    • Wrinkling of leaf plates and their yellowing
    • Drying of leaves along the entire length of the stem
    • The instability of the plant in the container
    • Loss of more than 70% of roots.

How to determine if an orchid is dead in the early stages

The first sign by which one can judge the possible death in orchids is a change in the leaves’ structure, color, and condition. The appearance of parasitic pests or rot at the junction of the leaf and stem must be eliminated early without waiting for development.

This will help to prevent the drying of the plant. Resetting buds and flowers can also be caused by improper care and cause trouble.

How To Tell If An Orchid Is Dead 2
I think my orchids dying can anyone help? – via Reddit

How to revive a dried orchid

Orchid is a plant of tropical origin that requires a fairly high humidity environment. In temperate climates, it usually requires weekly watering, which maintains a certain substrate moisture level in between, increasing frequency during the warmer months. 

When this does not happen, the orchid begins to dry out. If you want to revive a dried orchid, follow these steps:

  1. The first thing you need to do is remove the dried parts of the plant (leaves, stems, and buds) above the ground, which can be numerous if you haven’t met their moisture requirements. This way, you can save orchids from feeding or providing water to useless parts.
  2. Pour water over the orchid so that the entire substrate becomes wet, and let it drain well before putting it back in its usual place because if you do not, puddles may form at the roots.
  3. Also, do not water the plant, i.e. try not to water one area of ​​the substrate for too long. You can also submerge the bottom of the orchid pot in water for a few minutes and then let the excess water drain before returning it to its permanent location. Remember that the container must have drainage holes.
  4. The next step is, after watering, to inspect the roots of the orchid. If they are completely white and dry, your plant is probably dead and cannot be revived. On the other hand, if you see that the roots are turning green again, at least at the tips, this means that the orchid still has life and strength to recover.
  5. Spray living leaves with water to create the right environment and facilitate photosynthesis. At this stage, it is important to remember that you should not spray the leaves if they are in direct sunlight, as they may burn.
  6. Having done all this well, you will see that the plant will restore its condition and become beautiful again in a few days.

Follow the rules for watering and caring for orchids so that your flower does not dry out again and does not die.

How to revive dry orchid roots

If you’re still in doubt about orchid roots, then do this. Use damp sphagnum moss to provide the necessary moisture, as well as a plastic bag to create a greenhouse effect that suits you perfectly. To do this, remove the orchid from the pot and clean its roots.

Use well-disinfected secateurs to remove dry, dark or so-called lignified roots. Prepare a container with warm water and add a special agent for rooting orchids to it, and then soak the plant for an hour.

In a clear plastic bag larger than an orchid, put sphagnum moss soaked in water (in the corner of the bag). After an hour, remove the plant from the water and lightly treat the root zone with a fungicide.

Place the plant in the bag, ensuring the roots are in the corner against the sphagnum moss. Close the bag completely, being careful not to crush the plant.

Keep the package indoors, where it is warm and well lit, but not in full sun. After such resuscitation, the plant will have new roots about 2-3 centimeters (usually after a few weeks). 

Then you can transplant it. It is very important to observe its growth at this time, but without opening the package.

If you notice white spots while the orchid is in the plastic bag, this will signify that you did something wrong in the process, as fungi appeared. If new roots have not appeared after some time, the plant cannot be returned.

How to restore an orchid without leaves

It is often necessary to restore a plant with only leaves or has directly lost everything. In this case, aggressive pruning is necessary. Thus, by removing flower stalks, if any, to the newest, in good condition, we can restore the orchid.

Move the plant to a well-lit spot, water carefully, and ensure adequate drainage. In this case, a specific foliage strengthener can also be a great ally to restore your plant and use an orchid fertilizer as well.


Now you know how to tell if an orchid is dead. This is important because you will be able to observe other orchid plants. Also, you have known how to save it.

It will take a lot of time and effort to restore the plant, but the result will please you if everything is done correctly. The flower will again acquire an attractive appearance.