Blooming issues

Symptom Link Description
Healthy plant, but no flowers Cultural Following are some basic reasons for plants not flowering :
Too young
Plants must be mature enough to bloom, and even then will only bloom during their regular cycle (ie. spring, summer, fall, winter).
Overpotted
Orchids should be "tight" in their pots for best results. If the root mass is too small for the size of pot, then growth and blooming will both be at risk. In particular, dendrobiums MUST be in a tight pot to do well.
Wrong fertilizer
Orchids for the most part are not heavy feeders. They will however try to absorb as many nutrients as are provided. If the formulation of your fertilizer is wrong, then adjust it. In particular too much nitrogen will suppress blooming. The ideal target solution you want is a 3:1:3 or 4:1:4 ratio. This will encourage blooming and growth.
Improper light level
Leaf color is usually a good indicator of this problem. Leaves should be medium-green. If they are dark, lush green, then the plant is likely not getting enough light to bloom.
Night temperature too warm
Most orchids require a difference between night and day temperatures to grow and bloom well. This is referred to as the "diurnal range", which is the difference between maximum day temperature and minimum night temperature. The typical diurnal range needed for most orchids is 10 degrees. However, there are exceptions that require larger diurnal ranges like Sophronitis coccinea, which does best with a 30 degree diurnal range.
Rest period not respected
Some orchids require a specific rest period, with little water and NO FERTILIZER. If this period is not respected, then the plant will not produce flowers. Standard cymbidiums are notorious for this requirement. As a side-note, species are more typically affected by this than are hybrids. If it is a species, it is recommended to do some research on the plant requirements, or consult a LOCAL orchid grower or member of your society to find out what they do to get blooms.
Keikis are produced, but no flowers
Dendrobiums are very prone to this response. This is usually due to one or more of the preceding causes.
You must have a healthy plant to start with. Unhealthy plants rarely bloom well or at all. Address ALL culture issues first, and then work towards producing flowers.
Flowers are not the color I expected Cultural Click on the item below to see examples of these cases :
Green flowers
Green pigment is particularly tricky in Cattleyas and Cymbidiums. Too much light after the blooms have opened usually results in the green coloration taking on a brownish tint, making it look muddy. If you want to maintain the "green-ness" of the flowers, then reduce the light levels after they open.
Red Phalaenopsis flowers
Red pigment is often temperature-sensitive. With Phalaenopsis, warm temperatures can make red flowers become purple or yellowish. This is mainly due to the species bellina and gigantea being present in the background of the plant.
Red Cattleya flowers
Red pigment is often temperature-sensitive. With Cattleyas, warmer temperatures will give you orange or yellow flowers. Alternatively, if the flower has red markings, these will become reduced or completely absent at warmer temperatures. This is mainly due to Sophronitis coccinea being present in the background of the plant.
Black Vanda flowers
Dark pigments in Vandas can be suppressed at lower temperatures, giving you pink shades instead. This is mainly due to Vanda tessellata being in the background of the plant.
Blue Cattleya flowers
Sadly, so far there really is no such thing as a true blue Cattleya. This applies to most other genera as well. The term "blue" is applied to coerulea breeding, and at best can be considered "bluish". This color is more of a pale slate-blue or lavender in most cases, regardless of how enhanced the photograph is !
Harlequin phalaenopsis
Harlequins are popular for their unusual bold coloration in the flowers. At warmer temperatures, the markings usually become much smaller and more numerous, looking like just a regular spotted flower.
First blooming is not as expected Normal
Most of the time, the first blooming of your orchid plant will not show it's true potential. The form and size of the flowers tend to vary alot between the first blooming and a mature blooming. About the only thing you can rely on is the coloration, but this varies as well from one genus to the next. Never make a decision about keeping a plant based on it's first blooming ! You should bloom a plant a minimum of twice and preferably three times before getting rid of it.
My mericlone doesn't look like it should Genetic drift
Most of us buy mericlones, because we want to know exactly what we're getting. The term "mericlone" is misleading however, because the mericlone process itself is not 100% reliable. Also, because such small amounts of genetic material are used in mericloning, the chance of differences or mutations being introduced is high. Even with the best mericloning processes, you can only expect a maximum of 95% of the seedlings to turn out as true copies of the parent plant. If the original material comes from a mericlone instead of the original plant, then this number drops. That is why mericloned plants from many overseas labs do not turn out to be exact copies of the parent. That is not to say that the mutated plant will not be desirable, but it won't be a copy of the original.
My seed-cross doesn't look like it should Genetic variability
Seed crosses provide the opportunity for much variation in the outcome. The more complex the breeding of the parents, the more varied will be the outcome. In other words, species seed crosses are very consistent. Primary hybrids (between 2 species) are fairly consistent. The further you get away from species, the less consistent is the result.
My plant doesn't look anything like it should Mislabelling Suppliers vary in how careful they are about labelling their plants. Sometimes this is intentional, and other times it is accidental. I have personally had many disappointments with my own personal purchases. This is why we don't tend to bring in material from certain countries, and when we do, we bloom things out to ensure they are labelled correctly. I recommend that if you REALLY must have a species, then you should probably buy at least 5 of them in the hopes of getting one that is correct. I know this sounds extreme, but in one particular case there was a species I had to have. I ended up buying 25 before I actually got one that was correct. Of the remaining 24 plants, there were 5 different species ... sadly all of which I already had !
For your interest, here are examples of a few of the countries and states we have dealt with, and their associated correctness of identification (both hybrids and species) :

Ecuador20 % Peru25 %
Germany70 % Thailand60 %
Taiwan75 % Indonesia55 %
Colombia90 % Brazil90 %
Illinois50 % Florida60 %
California90 % Hawaii90 %

Please do not ask us for specific supplier names, just be cautious when dealing with suppliers in some of these areas.
Flower buds don't develop properly Cultural This is usually a cultural problem. Click here for more information.
Flower buds drop off or shrivel up Cultural This is usually a cultural problem. Click here for more information.
Start over Click Here I didn't find my answer, so I want to start over again.
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