Why is my orchid growing leaves instead of flowers, is a question I have heard asked a few times.
If you have put time and effort into your orchid and not got the results you expect it can be incredibly frustrating.
There might be a few reasons why your orchid is only producing leaves.
But it doesn’t mean it won’t ever bloom.
So let’s take a closer look at the reasons why this might be happening.
Why Is My Orchid Growing Leaves Instead Of Flowers?
The most common cause of an orchid growing lots of leaves but not blooming is because it isn’t getting enough light to bloom. It could also indicate deeper issues with either its soil or its care routine that could be damaging its root system. Aside from that, it could just be a case of being patient and sparking flower spikes by giving it a temperature change.
Reason #1: Your Orchid Isn’t Getting Enough Light
Quite simply, if your orchid isn’t getting enough light then it is much less likely to bloom.
A good amount of bright light is needed for orchids to flower, but if they are outside it should be filtered or diffused light, not scorching full sun.
You should be more concerned with the duration of sun your orchid is getting, rather than the intensity.
That said certain species require more sun than others.
Phalaenopsis orchids are usually happy with filtered light on a windowsill, whereas dendrobiums, oncidiums, cymbidiums and some other types of orchids need more light.
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The leaves of your orchid are the best indicator of whether it is getting enough light:
- Grassy green leaves (light or medium green with yellowish tones): the amount of light it is receiving is right.
- Very light yellow-green leaves: it is receiving too much light
- Very dark forest green leaves: it is receiving too little light
If you are going to keep your orchid inside, try placing it in an East or South facing window that is not too bright and not too hot.
If you want to supplement the amount of light your orchid is getting you can always try putting it in front of some fluorescent lights.
They don’t have to be expensive, any cheap, full-spectrum LED or fluorescent light will do.
For more details, you can always view my roundup of the best LED Grow Lights.
Reason #2: Your Orchid Might Need a Change in Temperature to Spark Growth
Certain types of orchids, most notably phalaenopsis, require a temperature change to initiate flower spikes.
A reduction in temperature by around 5°C should induce blooming.
Phals grow best at warm temperatures, but require a lower temperature to shift their metabolisms to blooming.
Some ways of doing this effectively include putting them out on the porch overnight when the temperature falls or putting the orchid next to an open window at night.
Once the spike is initiated you can return the orchid to its normal routine, without exposing it to a drop in temperature.
There isn’t even an ideal temperature, it is just a reduction into temperature by around 5°C to ‘shock’ it into flowering.
Reason #3: Your Orchid’s Root System Might Be Struggling
The bottom line is a healthy root system will almost always lead to healthy blooms.
If your orchid keeps growing new leaves but no flowers, then it is time to take a look at its roots.
Healthy roots are white to green in color.
However, if the roots are brown in color and appear shriveled they could be underwatered. If they are stringy and mushy, you are likely overwatering them.
You will need to adjust your watering routine if this is the case, and remove any roots that are rotted.
You should also consider repotting your orchid.
Reason #4: The Soil Might Be Causing Problems
Linked into the above, poor soil can also cause issues.
If your orchid’s roots are overly stringy and mushy, its soil could be holding in too much water.
Likewise orchids like fresh potting mix every year or so.
You can buy good quality orchid potting mix from any garden store or make your own with a mix of charcoal, pumice and perlite, and also coarse pieces of wood bark.
Try a change of soil if you think this could be the problem
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Reason #5: Your Orchid Might Be Getting Too Much or Too Little Water
Poor soil, a struggling root system and too much or too little water go hand in hand.
Overwatering is the biggest danger.
Your orchid should be watered just as the potting medium begins to dry, not when it is still wet. Too much water can activate the growth of leaves.
Water with lukewarm water that has settled for a few minutes, as this reduces chlorine. For the best result use distilled water.
Avoid using cold water as it can chill the roots of the plant.
A good way to water your orchid is to lower the pot into a container of water and let it sit for around 15 minutes until it absorbs the water sufficiently through the drainage holes in its pot.
Reason #6: Your Orchid Might Be Getting Stressed
Orchids like nice stable environments most of the time.
The only exception is when a change in temperature is required to spark blooms.
If you are constantly moving your orchid from location to location in your house, the plant will become stressed.
All of its energy will go into adapting to its new environment, not into the growth of flowers.
Reason #7: It Might Not Be Time for Your Orchid to Bloom
If your orchid is growing new leaves but no flowers, don’t worry, it might just not be time for it to bloom yet.
Some orchids only bloom once a year, and often they are forced to bloom before they go to market.
That means it can take an orchid time to get back into its normal blooming cycle.
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In fact, the growth of new roots and leaves is often a sign you are doing everything right and it is preparing to bloom.
Do some research into the type of orchid you have and see when it is expected to bloom.
If everything else looks good then it is likely all that is needed is a bit of patience.
When it finally blooms it will be worth the wait.
Reason #8: Your Orchid Could Be Having a Baby!
Now if you are here because you are asking yourself, why are orchid leaves growing on the stem of my orchid, the answer might surprise you.
Your orchid could be having a baby!
If you see what looks like a flower spike at first, but then it starts sprouting new leaves and roots, there is a strong likelihood these could be Keiki.
Keiki is the Hawaiian word for baby and they are baby orchids.
Once a Keiki has roots a few inches long you can use a disinfected razor to remove it along with the little chunk of the stem that it is on.
You can then put it in its own pot and establish a care routine for it.
Often it is a good idea to plant the Keiki and its mother in the same pot with fresh mix for the first year.
After this, you can move it to its own home and begin looking after it as you would any other orchid.
But if your orchid is growing leaves on its stem, this could be why.
If your orchid is growing leaves instead of flowers it could be due to any number of factors, but more often than not it is down to a lack of light.
It can also indicate an issue with its root system, which might come from the soil it is potted in or its care routine.
If your orchid looks otherwise healthy, then it might just be a case of being patient or giving it a change in temperature to spark it into blooming.
Or, duh duh duh… your orchid could be about to become a mother!