Orchids, despite being tropical plants, struggle in scorching heat – excessive warmth can adversely affect their health. Let me share how to care for your orchid during summer and what to do if it starts wilting.
Summer is a period of active growth for orchids. In this warmer season, all vital processes are energized – leaves grow, flower spikes develop, and orchids bloom.
However, if the outside temperature soars and the blistering sun rays hit the flowers, delicate Phalaenopsis or other orchid varieties are at risk.
- The Dangers of a Hot Summer for Orchids
- How to Tell if Your Orchid is “Overheated”?
- Caring for Orchids in the Heat
- What Not to Do with Orchids in Hot Weather
- Caring for Orchids Before Going on Vacation
- Saving Your Orchid During a Hot Summer
The Dangers of a Hot Summer for Orchids
The optimal temperature for these plants is 64-77°F (18-25°C). A slight rise above this isn’t a big deal.
But if the air heats up to 95°F (35°C) and stays that high for a while, your orchid might stop growing, its immunity weakens, increasing the likelihood of diseases or even the demise of your indoor flower.
Hot days can pose multiple threats to orchids:
- Sunburns – Direct sunlight can scorch orchid leaves.
- Overheating – Long periods of high temperature can negatively impact the plant’s condition.
- Moisture deficit – In such weather, the plant will need more water, or it might dry out.
- Overwatering – Trying to compensate for the heat by watering too much can lead to root rot.
- Stagnant air – Insufficient air circulation, combined with heat, can foster rot, fungal, and bacterial diseases, which quickly infect the plants and are challenging to treat.
An orchid sunburn appears as a wet or dry spot. In the former case, there’s a risk of bacterial infection, making it hard to save the plant.
How to Tell if Your Orchid is “Overheated”?
Look for these signs:
- Leaves that feel hot to the touch,
- Yellowing areas on leaves and the stem,
- Wilted orchid leaves.
The first sign of moisture deficiency is limp and lifeless leaves. With excessive moisture, orchid leaves also begin to wilt, yellow, and eventually fall off. The roots start to rot.
To prevent this, monitor the condition of your plants and their environment.
Caring for Orchids in the Heat
To ensure your orchids thrive through the hot summer, let’s adjust the usual care routine a bit.
Protecting Orchids from Sunburn
First, move the flowers away from window sills where they’re exposed to prolonged sunlight. During hot weather, relocate them to shaded spots on tables, shelves, or even on the floor.
If there’s no suitable place, it’s okay to leave your orchid on the windowsill. But, put up some protection on the glass, like a shading film or a dense sheet of paper.
Blinds or roller shades are also great for shielding from the harsh sun.
Temperature and Humidity Control
If you have air conditioning, turn it on—it’s beneficial for the plants. Just make sure they’re not directly in the path of the cold air stream.
Without cooling devices, ventilate the room more often, preferably at night when the temperature drops.
Watering Your Orchids
Pay special attention to watering. Orchids need more water in the heat, as the higher temperature increases evaporation, and the roots dry out faster.
Water not on a fixed schedule, but based on the flower’s needs. It’s time to water your orchids when:
- The potting medium has dried out,
- The roots turn light green,
- You see a few drops of water on the inside of the pot,
- The pot feels light.
Use soft, settled water for watering. But be careful not to overwater—this is a common reason orchids die.
Increasing Air Humidity
Boost the humidity around your plants. Place containers of water near them or hang damp towels in the room.
You can also spray the room with a mister, but ensure the mist doesn’t land on the orchid leaves, as this can cause bacterial infections and rot.
What Not to Do with Orchids in Hot Weather
There are certain things I’d suggest avoiding during the summer period, as they can be harmful to your orchids. Let me walk you through them.
Transplanting is stressful for the plant. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, postpone this activity until the weather cools down.
In the heat, a weakened plant is more susceptible to rot and the development of bacterial and fungal diseases.
Spraying in hot weather can lead to sunburns on the leaves and rotting of the roots. Instead, gently wipe the leaves with a cloth when they’re not in direct sunlight.
Fertilizing is not a great idea in the heat. The high temperatures cause the plant to halt its growth and not absorb all the micronutrients. Plus, there’s a risk of over-fertilizing and “burning” the roots.
Avoid battling pests during hot, sunny weather. Some treatments may not work correctly at high temperatures. If needed, carry out treatments in the late evening.
Caring for Orchids Before Going on Vacation
It’s totally understandable to worry about your beloved flowers before heading off for a break. To avoid the disappointment of returning to wilted favorites, here’s what I do to prep them in advance.
When You’re Off on Vacation:
- If direct sunlight hits the flower pots, move your plants to a shaded spot or shade the window.
- Give your orchid a good “drink” the day before you leave and leave a little water in the saucer.
- To increase humidity, place containers of water near the pots.
If you’ll be away for a while, consider setting up an automatic watering system or ask family or friends to look after your flowers.
These steps should be enough to ensure your orchids stay healthy during your two-week absence.
Saving Your Orchid During a Hot Summer
If for some reason your orchids have been without water for a while and their leaves have become limp and wrinkled, don’t panic just yet. A dehydrated plant can indeed be revived.
Place the pot in water and leave it there for several hours longer than usual. In cases of severe dehydration, leave the pot in water overnight.
The situation won’t change until the moisture has soaked into all the plant’s tissues. But after 2-3 days, you should see positive changes.
Remember, only orchids with a strong and healthy root system can be thoroughly rehydrated.
In contrast, for overwatered orchids, drain the excess water from the saucer and limit watering for a while. Place the pots in a shaded area.
Move an overheated orchid to a cooler, shaded place for a few hours. But don’t water or mist it right away!
This could lead to root rot and yellowing of the leaves. The plant will need 3-4 days to recover. Be aware, it may not survive a second overheating.
If the sun has scorched the leaves, there’s still hope. Examine the burn. If it’s small and dry, don’t cut the leaf off; it will dry up and fall off on its own eventually.
However, if the burn area turns black and moist, cut the leaf off immediately. These are signs of rot, which can spread to the entire plant and be fatal.
Keep the affected orchid out of direct sunlight. And resist the urge to drench a weakened plant in water, as it can cause more harm.
Hot summers can be a real challenge for your beloved orchid. But with these tips, you can protect your tropical beauty from potential problems.