Orchid Health: Fungus

My orchid has fungus on it. What should I do?

Updated 12/11/17

20111113-210816.jpg20111114-143708.jpgFungus & Bacteria on Orchids

To prevent fungus & bacteria

Apply a solution of GET OFF ME! spray. This solution is a natural water based cinnamon herbal infusion with a few drops of baby shampoo as a surfactant. It’s used to control common insect pests on orchids while also protecting the plant from fungus and bacterial problems. I spray this on my orchids every time I water them. If you don’t have this you can;

1. Make a solution of

2. Then sprinkle cinnamon (yes the common spice in your cabinet it’s a natural fungicide) on the base of your orchid.

To TREAT fungus & bacteria

Okay, so you have found either fungus and/or bacteria or signs of rot (such as dark slimy spots) growing on your precious orchid leaves! This literally just happened to me last week with an orchid I saved.

Don’t panic! The best defense, I have found, against all of this is Physan 20 applied to the affected areas, which I purchased from www.rePotme.com.

Here is what to do…

1. Separate your orchid from the rest to prevent the spread of disease.

2. Apply Physan 20 to the affected area. Physan 20 is typically poured over the area of the plant you wish to treat but you can pour through the mix for extreme situations.

How to make a batch of Physan 20: mix at the rate of one tablespoon per gallon of water. You must use the batch within hours of making it up because it loses its effectiveness after that. You can use it when you spot trouble or to ward off trouble by applying maybe once a month or so.

If you don’t have Physan 20 then pour full strength Hydrogen Peroxide on the affected area. Repeat every 2 to 3 days until its stops fizzing. You can also make a mixture of this with a FEW drops of mild soap detergent and spray it on the affected area. Don’t use too much soap!

Hope that Helps,


Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com with pictures of your orchid.

61 Comments on “Orchid Health: Fungus

  1. Hi Hannah,

    Hello from San Francisco! I have an orchid that I have been trying to nurse back to health with the great advice from your blog. It’s been going well so far. I found your blog after it’s initial bloom finished and the plant started dying … bloom stalks browned and fell off … and then the youngest leaves started getting spotted, yellowed, and died. With your blogs advice on hand, I repotted in a proper drainage pot with a bark mixture (had been in dirt before), and -even though I discovered the roots (all of them) were already rotted during the repot – it had been doing very well since. All the leaves returned to a nice green and it was looking as healthy as ever for about a month and a half. Recently the leaves started to yellow again and now I’ve noticed that the bark is growing mold on the top layer. Not sure if this fits into the fungus category, as the plant doesn’t seem to be slimy, but is there any way to fix this? Do you think it’s from the wet and foggy climate in San Fran? Or may there be something else going on? I only water once the bark mixture has completely dried out from the last watering. Any help would be appreciated.


    • Yes it’s probably the humidity. I would treat it like fungus. You can pour some hydrogen peroxide over the mold part. And as long as the leaves that are turning yellow are on the bottom it’s normal.


  2. Hi again!
    So I have another orchid & this one I just recently got… when I purchased it the flowers were in full bloom, now a few days later, they already look like they are wilting and one of the leaves feels soft… also there are little white spots on the leaves… does this mean it has fungus growing ??? 😦 Not sure how this happened so suddenly it looked perfectly healthy..


  3. After reading your posts I’m pretty sure my orchid has root rot. It’s in a clear pot and I can see that some of the roots look mushy for lack of better word and like they have collapsed. They are a tan color, not green like others in the pot. My pot does not drain and while I water how you suggest, I don’t leave it out of the pot to drain long enough because I usually lift it out days later and there’s some water in the pot. I pour it out and though it was OK because it didn’t look like the interior pot was allowing it to sit in the water at the bottom. I would attach a picture but not sure how to do so. I see suggestions for treating crown rot, but what about root rot? Is there anything I can do other than changing my watering habits and/or the decorative pot to be one that allows drainage? Once it has root rot is it basically a matter of time before the plant dies? It looks otherwise healthy, although maybe a little darker green than others I see. It has 2 shoots that have bloomed for months. One is going pretty strong still while the other has dropped it’s flowers and the shoot turned yellow, and now more brown, which is what brought me to your website to begin with. It sounds like that might be part of the orchids normal process, but it did happen pretty quickly and all the way to the crown. Hopefully that’s not a product of the root rot.

  4. Thanks for keeping this post open and replying to it!

    I found a phalaenopsis orchid on top of a rubbish can and brought it home. I hate when people throw them away after they bloom.

    Anyway, so after I watered it one of the bottom leaves turned yellow and fell off. The roots are perfectly green throughout the 4″ pot. I may have over watered it that first time but I wanted to be sure it got a good drink.

    When I picked it up I noticed a dark spot on the 3rd leaf from the bottom. Today the leaf looked like it was yellowing more each time I looked at it. So I cut it off and put cinnamon on the wound. The next leaf will grow on top of the cut leaf.

    Do you think it’ll be okay? I mean as long as I remember to water it and make sure it doesn’t spend time in my west-facing windows 🙂

  5. I found an old (already bloomed) orchid with 5 leaves. After I watered it 1 leaf (alert the bottom) turned yellow and fell off. No big deal. But one top leaf has a dark spot on it and I SWEAR it’s turning more yellow every time I look at it. Otherwise it’s unbelievably heathy, green roots all through the 4″ pot.

    I just cut off the leaf and put cinnamon on the wound. It was the 3rd leaf from the bottom so the next leaf will come from that side.

    Do you think it’ll be okay? I just hate how people just toss these plants after they bloom. Sure it takes a while for it to bloom, but it’s such a beautiful flower (and plant).

  6. Hi Hannah, you advise use of “full strength” Hydrogen Peroxide. Are you referring to 3%? Thanks Laura

  7. What if my plants had a fungus and all the leaves already fell off. 😦 What do I do? I didn’t realize it was a fungus thought it was just too much sunlight. HELP

  8. Hi Hanna, I purchased a discounted orchid past summertime. It had 2 leaves and the orchid has nice roots. I did repot after I got it home in spagnum Moss Which is no problem because I live in Florida. I only water when the pot is dry and light weight. It formed a flower spike with buds but I’m afraid to say one leaf turn yellow and fell off then a week later the other leaf turned yellow. The flower spike still looks heathy. Will the orchid survive? What should I do?


  9. Hi Hannah
    I am so glad I found this site and I really like your hydrogen peroxide remedy, but I need to ask you more details on it. My phal orchids got a very bad fungus on the roots and most of the roots are gone, I have them in a bark. I removed them from the pots and that’s how I discovered that the roots are all covered in fungus and rotted. I diluted hydrogen with water half/half because I first found this remedy on the other site before I found you. I did first treatment spraying them and left the roots exposed to an air,’ did not cut them yet. Now, of course I will use the full strength but when do I have to repeat again and how often and how many total treatment I should do before repotting the ones that have some roots left. Also what to do with the ones that have no roots left, humidifier, water tray, plastic bag.? should I use cinnamon after cutting the roots? I am very discouraged
    Thank you for your help

    • I am so sorry this has happened to you. I typically do the the treatment and wait a day and then do it again. Basically every other day. I wouldn’t do this longer then a week.

      Orchids need roots and leaves to survive so if your orchid has no roots then there is nothing you can really do.

      How were you watering them? How much and how often?

      Don’t water them during the treatment but I am wondering how they got like this?

      Were they potted in a pot with drainage holes?

      Also you are more then welcome to send me picture at myfirstorchid@gmail.com


    • Hi Hannah,
      Thank you very much for such a quick response!
      I water them every 10 -14 days , letting the water run over them in a sink for a few minutes
      They are potted in a pot with drainage holes, for now they are not in the media ,just exposed to an air ,I am planning to repot them when I am done with the treatments, I hope that’s ok.

      I like your method when you repot ,plants take a dip in Physan 20, can I use hydrogen peroxide instead?
      And do I need to sprinkle cinnamon on any freshly cut roots during treatments?
      Thank you,

      • Yes I would sprinkle some cinnamon on them. Physan 20 is really good for rot and fungus. You may want to grab some.


  10. Hi Hannah,
    We spoke last year in regards to my phal which and cutting it back for the winter. That one is now thriving so thank you.

    My husband has bought me another today this time from the supermarket. It has some quite badly rotting roots coming out of the bottom of the pot ( which I expected given it’s probably been cared for by somebody with no idea in the supermarket). It is in full bloom so repotting isn’t something I’d like to do, however I have taken it out of the ceramic non-draining pot in which the plastic pot was placed. Will allowing air to the roots and refraining from watering until it’s dried out, stop the root rot spreading?

    Thanks, Christine

    • Christine,

      That is the best thing you can do! Let it air out and you can treat the rot with hydrogen peroxide if you like. Don’t water it till it’s completely dry and then repot after the blooms fall.


  11. I need some help. I recently picked up a couple orchids at the store, and one of them has been doing wonderfully. The other one has some sort of problem with the leaves, they started out green, but have since started turning brown. There was no yellow stage, it just went directly to brown. The first leaf that turned brown has curled up and looks somewhat moldy to me, but there is no issue at the base of the leaves. It also does not look or feel slimy. It almost seems like it has dried out completely. I don’t believe there are any bugs in the pot, but I have not repotted it yet. I am not sure what to do to help it get back to health!

    Thank you!

    • Alli,

      I would love to help! How long ago did you buy it?

      Are the leaves affected at the bottom or top?

      How do you water it? How much and how often?

      Is it placed near a natural light source?

      Is there a drainage hole at the bottom of you pot?

      Let me know and we will see if we can get to the bottom of this,


      • I bought them both about 2 weeks ago now.

        The affected leaves are the topmost leaves, but I can see that it is having an effect on the leaves directly beneath them.

        I have only watered it once, I followed the care instructions and put a few ice cubes in there to melt. I now know that’s not what I should do!

        It is placed next to a window that only has indirect light coming in. it is generally sunny, but never in direct sunlight.

        And yes, there is a drainage hole in the little plastic pot that is inside the ceramic pot.

        I am hoping we can save it!

      • Alli,

        This sounds very frustrating! But it sounds like you are doing everything right. And I wanted to assure you that this is most likely not your fault at all since you have only had it for 2 weeks.

        Many times when we get orchids into our homes they were mistreated before we got them. Mass production of orchids in green houses forces them into bloom and then they are shipped to stores. The shipping process is taxing to orchids and then they are placed in grocery stores etc., that over or underwater them and give then zero natural light.

        Then we get them and think we have killed/hurt an orchid because of all the stuff that happened to it before we got it.

        If I were you I would repot it (I have a link on this on the blog) and follow the instructions on the fungus and rot post. You can also send me a picture at myfirstorchid@gmail.com so I can take a look. My guess was it was way overwatered before you got it – causing rot. It may or may not be able to be saved. Let me take a look at it and we can further assess.

        Best of luck,


  12. I got a new free orchid. 🙂 The leaves look decent but unfortunately the stalk and roots seem in pretty bad shape. Should I cut the roots off before I repot it? And also are you able to ID this orchid?

    • Hi,

      I would love to help! Actually that orchid is in really good shape. That is a Dendrobium orchid – I have a post on them.


      There stalks look like that. Kind of like a bamboo rod and the bottom looks like it’s peeling a bit. This is all normal.

      These type of orchids need to be potted in really small pots with drainage holes. The problem with them is they get top heavy. I normally place then in a small plastic pot and then place that pot in a sturdier one for support. Both pots need to have drainage holes.

      And you need to water it this way.


      Don’t trim the roots just yet. Just pot it and wait to trim the roots in about two years when you repot it.

      Hope that helps,


  13. Hi Hannah,
    Thanks for such a quick response!

    I’m so happy that you said to spray the medium! That is just what I’m doing.

    Since I’ve started spraying I haven’t found any unwanted guests- if you know

    what I mean. I also credit it to the cleaning my leaves on a regular basis-

    and spreading them out- not overcrowding them. Humidity and air flow doesn’t


    Thanks again-

    Michele 17

  14. Hi Hannah,
    I was wondering-
    When you say that you spray Get Off Me on your orchid each time you water
    it- Do you mean- you spray the medium or the leaves or both?
    Thanks in advance-

  15. Hello,

    I have had my Phalaenopsis orchid 2 years in December. We just moved about 2 weeks ago, im not sure if it is just a change that caused the discoloration or what. but even the new roots are starting to die. It has already lost a leaf and seems to have a discoloration on them. its not gooey a funguas was stated to be, though. Any help would be much loved!~

  16. The buds on my Phal are whilting and starting to fall off. It is a new Phal i got to keep at my desk in the office. There is plenty of light in the space from the windows as well as office lighting which is kept off (sometimes) in the evenings. i water once a week with two or three ice cubes. It has opened up a few new buds but i have lost or in the process of losing three and i want to know what i can do to avoid any further loss. The roots, save for a few drying arials seem alright and i do have a couple of yellowing leaves which i hope will fall off eventually but I have noticed that there is a dark spot on one of these dying leaves. Should I be concerned about that too?

  17. Hi Hannah,

    Recently my orchid that I have had about 3 months has started to loose most of its bottom leaves (turning yellow then falling off). I don’t know how to prevent it from losing the last two leaves. I has not sprouted new leaves and the flowers are falling off at a very rapid rate. The root system on the outside look brownish with black spots. Is there anyway to help this plant survive? I have emailed you pictures. Thank you!!!

  18. hi hannah, i have 2 orchids, both phalaenopsis. they bloomed gr8 when i 1st got them, 1 nearly a yr ago and the other now about 6 mths ago. after i had them both for a few months the leaves gradually turned yellow fell off, so did the stems, now they both have no leaves, no stems but both have roots that r still a healthy green colour….is thr anything i can do 2 get new leaf growth??

    • Hi Bridget,

      I would love to help.

      So are saying there are no leaves at all on either orchid?

      It is natural for an orchid bloom stem to turn brown after it bloomed but I have never seen an orchid survive with no leaves at all.


  19. Hello everyone, i need help!!!!! İ bought an orkid about two months ago and it was and is in bloom. Just last week it Lost a leaf and then as i was looking at it closly saw that the plant is rotting like where the leafs are the main part of the plant. As i touched the leaves to of the just came right off. ( and ıt looks like the plant base is rotting. Then, İt has to stems in bloom and one got a mold like looking by the base of the stem. This morning the flowers on that stem looked like they are going to dıe. So i decıded to cut the stem and enjoy the one remaining flowers in water and to end my horror Story. The plant has these little whıte bugs and im afarid for my Other orkids. ( whıch are happy now). So how do i handle this after reading above i thought I should Change the bark and do an alchol wash to the roots ( which by the way look pretty good) also since it’s in bloom Will the changes kill ıt do you think i should just trim in now and enjoy the bloom I’n a vase.

    Looking forward to any and all help,


    • Silvana,

      I would love to help:)

      First MOVE IT AWAY from the rest of your orchids. That way your other orchids will not be harmed by the spread of bugs…

      If you have bugs then yes you need to repot it…that is the only way to get all the little bugs out of it that are deep in their roots. Use the alcohol method and throw away anything (old pot etc) that has bugs on it.

      If it just root rot then you can do the hydrogen peroxide method and go easy on watering it. Follow the How to Water your Orchid post.

      And sadly yes your orchid blooms could suffer from all of this but it may save your orchid for next year…

      If I personally found all these things happening. I would cut the stem off to save energy to the plant. I would then repot it. I would keep it away from other plants for awhile and I would not water it for at least a week.

      Hope that helps,


      • Thanks alot hannah! İ Will do my best…

  20. After you remove mold from a root, is the root wrinkled? And if the root is wrinkled is it still alive? I can see a few wrinkled but green roots from the bottom of the pot through the drainage holes.

    • John,

      Roots can be green, white and slightly yellow. They are not dead unless they are black or completely transparent.., transparent meaning that the inside of the root is shriveled up and the shell is remaining.

      They can live after having mold on them.


  21. Two of my orchids have springtails!! I really need help getting rid of them! They were recently repotted. About a month ago for one and two days ago for the other. Any help on how to remove these pests?

    • Leah,

      You need to repot it and try to get all the bugs off when doing so. You can pour rubbing alcohol on it as well to kill any remaining bugs.


  22. I have two orchids. When I bought them they were both in bloom and beautiful. After the blooms fell off I removed them from their pots, which were little metal buckets. I replace the buckets with orchid planters with holes in the sides and over water trays attached to the bottom, I cleaned up the root system and re-potted them both. That was Christmas before last. They have never re bloomed.
    I used orchid commercial potting material and long acting fertilizer for orchids. I used worm casting as a top dressing and water weekly as needed. What do I need to do to get these plants to bloom? The temp in the room during winter is a little cool perhaps. 60-70 range. A litlte higher in summer. Is the room to cool for orchids to bloom?

    • Tony,

      I would love to help!

      I have repotted several orchids that have taken a few years to rebloom because they were traumatized before I got them being over or under watered. Also they go though a lot of stress being shipped to stores etc. Often times I just gave them lots of love and was patient and they eventually rebloomed.

      I have a few questions

      1. Are you orchid sitting in the water trays? Meaning are they in standing water?

      2. Are they growing new little leaves from the center and shedding older leaves at the bottom (by shedding I mean are they turning yellow and falling off)?

      3. Are they growing new roots?


  23. Should I cut the roots that are rotting and mushy? Will they affect the healthy roots if I don’t cut them off?

    • Suzanne,

      Yes, cut off the rotting dead roots when you go to repot them. It helps facilitate new growth and also makes room for the new growth in the pot.


  24. Hi, I hope you can help me.
    I recently bought an Orchid and everything was going, well it’s even opened up new flowers. But i’ve noticed some white fluffy mould on one of the roots that poke out the top of the pot – all the others look fine and mould free.
    Also, on one flower there are some brown spots.

    Any idea what this is and how i can fix it?

    • Hi Georgina,

      I would love to help:) sometimes orchids do get spots on the leaves…it’s normally not something you need to worry about. As far as the mold goes…is there a way you could send me a pic at myfirstorchid@gmail.com? Sometimes people confuse the white dry parts of an arial root as mold but sometimes it is mold. If it is you can dab some rubbing alcohol on it and see if it goes away. I have this product called Physan 20, which you can get online of from http://www.repotme.com, which I use when I see mold or fungus. You dilute it and pour it over the spot. But alcohol will do as well. Just dab it with a clean cotton ball.

      Hope that helps and feel free to ask anymore questions,


      • My first orchid, one of the roots are at the surface with it’s tip at the surface got mold on it, I cut the moldy part of, the orchid is in bloom, I applied cinnamon to the wound (rePotme.com suggestion), will the orchid be okay?

      • John,

        It’s hard to say if your orchid will be fine without knowing if mold has gotten into the roots but I am sure that it is probably fine. When I see mold on my orchids I normally pour the solution of Physan 20 on them…I got that from Repotme.com. This works well because you can pour it through the pot and let it drain out. When the solution hits the mold – it literally bubbles up and washes it off:) I think you can also do this with a solution of rubbing alcohol.

        I don’t normally cut the roots off unless they are rotting but you didn’t hurt your orchid by doing this and the cinnamon was a good tool to use:)


  25. The roots are almost all rotted, it doesn’t sit in water and I follow your watering suggestions… HELP!!! Can I save it?

    • Hey,

      I would love to help out, but I need a little more info.

      Is this a new orchid you just got?
      How long have you had it?
      How can you tell the roots are rotting…clear pot or did you take it out to repot it?
      What do the leaves/blooms look like?

      Let me know and we can go from there….orchids can survive a lot of things so don’t give up yet,


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