Root or Flower problems

Symptom Link Description
Flower spotting Botrytis fungus
This problem is more common during the cooler months of the year. The Botrytis fungus prospers at cooler temperatures coupled with high humidity. Keep your growing area clean, and destroy any affected flowers to address this problem. Also raising the temperature a bit will help prevent the problem from recurring. Click here for more information.
Flowers have color streaks Mosaic Virus
Occasionally this can be induced culturally. Try blooming your plant several times, and ensure that you are growing it properly. If the problem persists through 3 bloomings, then this is likely a viral problem. Click here for more information.
Flower buds don't develop properly Cultural Flower buds become flowers, but there are abnormalities in the flowers. Most of these issues are cultural and can be corrected. Following are the most common causes :
Thrips
These little bugs are barely visible to the naked eye. They typically cause the flower to be very deformed or twisted, due to the damage they are causing as the bud develops. They are quite common on Vandas and Phals grown in tropical areas, and sent here in bud. Refer to the Pest Page for more information.
Cold shock
This can cause the flower edges to be translucent, or brown. Plants in bud should always be protected from cold draughts, or blasts of hot/cold air coming from furnace vents.
Flowers face different directions
This is primarily an aesthetic issue, since orchids provide their most impressive displays when the flowers are properly arranged in one direction. See the point below under "bud drop" for more information.
Flowers don't open properly
If the flowers appear "stuck" as the bud is unfolding, then either your humidity is too low, or the plant is not drawing in enough moisture.
Missing or fused segments
This is usually linked to some major environmental change. Typically there was a cold shock or sudden root loss while the buds were developing. If the cultural problem is addressed, then the next blooming should be normal.
Once the cause has been determined, addressing it should correct the problem.
Flower buds drop off or shrivel up Cultural
Juvenile plant
A plant must be mature to bloom properly. If the plant looks too small, then it probably is.
Ethylene Gas
Ripening fruit is a common cause for bud drop, since the ethylene gas that is released during the ripening process is toxic to buds.
Light direction
Orchid buds are photo-sensitive. This means that they will always try to orient themselves towards the light source. If the light source direction changes more than 6 times, the buds will weaken to the point of dropping off. An easy way to avoid this is to place the plant tag facing you. Then if you carry the plant to the sink to water it, when you return it, you can easily tell if you have put it back in the right position.
Environment or Cold shock
Blasts of cold air from a doorway, or hot/cold air from a furnace vent will often cause the buds to shrivel and drop off. Sudden changes in humidity or other environmental factors will have the same effect. It is best to avoid any sudden changes in temperature or environment during bud development.
Plant is stressed
Often when a plant is stressed, it will try to bloom. I refer to this as the "swan song" blooming, in an attempt to reproduce before it dies. Under no circumstances should you let an unhealthy plant bloom. It drains the last bit of strength out of the plant, thus ensuring it's death. Cut off the bloom spike, and address the cultural problem. Then the plant can bloom again when it is healthy.
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