Should I cut my orchid stem back, after it's done blooming?
This post will cover what you should do with your orchid stem once your orchid is done blooming. When I say “done blooming” I mean ALL the blooms have fallen off and your orchid stem is turning brown. The stem may only turn brown half way down the shoot or it may turn brown completely. The picture below is a Phalaenopsis spike dying back after blooming, it is brown half way down the shoot.
After your orchid is finished blooming you WILL want to cut off the shoot (stem) that produced the blooms. You will want to do this because the process of an orchid blooming takes energy from the plant. By cutting the shoot back it conserves any energy that is still going towards the shoot which allows the orchid to focus its energy into growing new leaves and new roots. Orchids work in a cycle between new roots, new leaves and the production of blooms.
You have two options in this scenario;
- Option #1 – Cut the orchid stem at its base, way down by the leaves. By cutting the shoot back entirely it allows the plant to gather more energy for a greater bloom next year. I always use this option because I am looking for a fuller bloom in the coming year. I especially do this with a young plant or one with a smaller or weak root structure so that it can gain a bit more energy for the future. I also don't wait for my orchid stems to turn brown. I immediately cut it back once the blooms have fallen.
- Option #2 – Cut it back right below the brown part of the stem. If you choose to cut the shoot halfway (just below the brown part) you may have more blooms sooner because sometimes orchids do give off a second bloom, from a dying shoot, but it will often result in smaller blooms. In this case you would want to cut it right above a node (shown below). I know alot of people who choose this option, IF the plant has a large root system. That way it allows the plant to potentially branch off an existing shoot.
A node looks like a half envelope on the orchid shoot.
How do you cut an orchid stem back?
- You want to use a clean sharp cutting tool
- Clip the shoot
- Then sprinkle cinnamon, yes the natural stuff in your cabinet, on it to help it fight off bacteria. Cinnamon is a natural bacteria fighter:)
- At this point you will also want to repot your orchid because your orchid will focus on growing new roots and leaves as it prepares for new flower spike in the Fall. By repotting it you are giving it fresh new mix that has extra nutrients (all orchid mix breaks down overtime and needs to be replaced).
Here is a great video, from http://www.repotme.com that will guide you in cutting back your orchid stems.
Hope that helps,
Feel free to leave comments or questions.