Do You Cut Off Dead Orchid Stems? Avoid Killing Your Orchid

Do You Cut Off Dead Orchid Stems

If you own orchids and wonder what to do with the orchid stems after the flowers bloom and fall off, I have an answer for you. Dead orchid stems are unhealthy for your plants.

They should be cut off so that you can encourage new growth and trigger reblooming. If you cut off the orchid’s stems and they grow right back, they may produce beautiful flowers.

Also, your plant will look healthy and vibrant and not pale and sick. Dead stems make your orchids look unhealthy and weak. It may also inhibit further growth, especially if the roots of the orchid are dead also.

It is therefore advisable to cut them off as soon as the flowers fall off.

Why Orchid Stems Die

The blooming process for orchids takes away energy from the plants. As a result, the stems turn yellow or brown after the flowering process and die eventually. This is a natural process for most flowering plants and is not something to be scared of.

Orchids bloom at least once in a year. This is why many people love them. Under the right conditions and if properly taken care of, an orchid will rebloom. Cutting dead stems is an essential way of caring for your orchids.

When you cut off the dead stems in the plant, your plants can conserve energy and channel this energy into new growth that will produce flowers eventually. First of all, the plants will grow new roots. Then it will produce new stems and leaves and flowers. 

However, you have to exercise care when trimming your plants so that you do not destroy its chances of growing. It is essential to know how and where to cut. Many people do not know how to do this.

It is necessary to identify your spikes and stems so that you don’t end up trimming just the spikes instead of the stems. This will not in any way help as a dead stem cannot produce new health spikes. Thus, you need to cut right. If you have been wondering how to cut your dead stems off, here is a detailed guide to help you.

Identify the Orchids Species

You do not need to cut off stems of some orchid to trigger reblooming. Some orchids reproduce from the same stems if adequately taken care of. They know how to maximize their nutrients to grow new stems and flowers.

Therefore, it may be counterproductive to cut the stems off if it is not quite necessary. The first thing you need to note is the species of your orchids. For instance, the Dendrobium orchids will still bloom even if you don’t cut the stems after the flowers fall off.

However, most orchids need to shed the dead weight to rebloom.

Use the Right Tools

You cannot use any instrument to cut the dead stems off. Some people snip the stems with their hands or any tool they find. This is not advisable as you need to make use of a clean, sharp, and sterilized tool.

The best tools are sharp cutting tools like regular scissors, pruning scissors, or a sharp penknife. Therefore, you should ensure that you sterilize your tools before you get right into it.

You can sterilize your instruments by leaving them in hot water for a while or boiling them. You should also use a sharp tool to prevent a blunt cut and avoid any infection.

Also, do not snip anyhow; it is best to cut slightly downwards so that the stem has uneven ends. This encourages new growth.

Identify What You Need to Cut

Apart from dead stems, there are other things to look out for when pruning or trimming your orchids. Start by thoroughly inspecting your plants to identify all that needs to be pruned.

You should look out for dead leaves and flowers still on the plant and also dead flower spikes. You need a little knowledge of plant physiology to cut right, but it is not something that cannot be easily discussed in this article.

When orchid flowers fall off, there will be remnants of the flower spikes. The spike is what holds the flower directly. They are an offshoot of the stem, and matured spikes can be easily confused with a stem or a root. They are mostly green in color, and they bear the blooms.

There are also the stems with nodes on them. The spikes grow out from the nodes so you can easily use the nodes to identify your stem. They would both be brown or yellow if they are dead. 

Make the Cut

After inspecting the plants and identifying the dead stems, it is time to cut them away, and there is a little technique that you need to use, but it is not too technical.

Check for the node immediately below the one that bore the flowers and cut at least an inch or a few meters away from the nodes. A new spike grows from the nodes, so it’s best not to cut it entirely, especially if the stem is not completely brown.

However, if the stem is entirely brown, cut it down to the roots. This will encourage new growth as a dead stem is useless to your orchids. 

Trim Dead Roots

While your major pet-peeve might be the dead stems, do not ignore dead roots too. If you observe any dead roots when cutting, you should also trim them away.

This is why it is good to repot your orchids when pruning, as I will further discuss subsequently. You may notice dead roots creeping out of the soil, but what about those still in the soil. You can only find out if you repot your orchids.


After trimming your plants, you should repot them to get rid of any dead roots. You can use this opportunity to get a new soil mix for your plant also.

At this stage, the plant is ready to start growing again, and you can hasten the process by supplying it with the vital nutrients it needs to grow and bloom. A soil mix that is rich in nutrients can encourage your plants to grow.

If you noticed any creeping roots, it is probably a sign that your plants need a bigger container. You can use this opportunity to get a bigger pot of them. The right soil mix for your orchids, if you are repotting, should be a well-drained soil to prevent root rot, especially since you just trimmed off one or two roots.

You should repot at least once in a year or more depending on how often your plants bloom. 

Antifungal Treatment

Another critical step after cutting the dead stems off your orchid is to treat them. This will fight and prevent any infection or disease that may stall reblooming or new growth. You can make use of antifungal treatment.

There are also natural antifungals you can use to treat the pruning wound on your orchids to keep them clean. If the wounds get infected, your orchids may die. You will find out that healthy stems will begin to wilt and die. Therefore, antifungal treatment is essential.

Fertilize to Encourage New Growth

After cutting the dead stems and repotting the plants, you should frequently fertilize to encourage new growth. You should make use of a fertilizer with the right nutrients content for your orchids.

A balanced houseplant fertilizer will be just fine, or you can also opt for organic fertilizer. You can make compost yourself at home and add to your plants. Orchids are liberal with their fertilizer needs, and you can use what you have as long as it has the right nutrient content.

There is no need to spend a lot of money on special fertilizers. Since your plants will be regrowing, they need enough nutrients to rebloom. With the right supply of nutrients, they will grow new stems and flowers in no time. 

Water Consistently

You should also ensure that you water your orchids frequently to encourage new growth. Orchids are too liberal with their water requirement and do not need as much water as most plants do.

Therefore, you should ensure that you do not overwater your plants as this can lead to root rot. Make sure you monitor the plants and confirm that they need to be watered before you do so. You can assess the soil to know if the plant needs more water. Dip your fingers into the soil, and if it is dry and loose, it is a sign that your plants require more water. 

Finally, while it is essential to cut off dead stems, it is equally vital that you care for the plants after cutting off the dead stems. This is the best way to encourage your plants to grow into their healthy and beautiful self again. Orchids have a long life span, and they can stay with you for years if you treat them well and maintain them regularly.