How to tell if an orchid is sick

Sick orchid

If we have a sick orchid We must pay attention to it and provide it with the necessary care as soon as possible. Because these are somewhat delicate plants, and a fungal infection or an insect infestation can quickly destroy them.

The problem is that we are not always aware in time that something is wrong with our plant. Therefore, we are going to tell you which are the most important signs that you should pay attention to.

Main diseases and infections of orchids

Common diseases of orchids.

Like any other plant, the orchid is susceptible to getting sick as a result of infection and suffering from attacks by insect pests. Among the main conditions that can cause an orchid to get sick are the following:


Botrytis or gray mold is a fungus which causes spots on the leaves, flowers and pseudobulbs. You can recognize it because It has an appearance similar to a gray powder.

Another common fungus in orchids is rhizoctonia, which pcauses the appearance of spots on the roots and pseudobulbs. If your plant is affected by this fungus, you will notice that it does not grow as it should.


If you have an orchid that is sick with a virus, the most common thing is that it has been affected by Cymbidium Mosaic Virus (CymMV) or by the Odontoglossum Ringspot Virus (ORSV).

Both are quite common and cause flower deformities, leaf spots, and decrease plant vitality.

Another virus to take into account is the Tomato Mosaic Virus (ToMV), which It mainly affects orchids of the genus Phalenopsis, causing the appearance of spots and malformations or distortions on the leaves.


The most common are pseudomonas, which cause the appearance of necrotic spots on the leaves and pseudobulbs.

Mites, aphids and mealybugs

When it comes to pests, the most common in orchids are mites, aphids and mealybugs. These insects all act in a fairly similar way, because They suck the sap from the plant and weaken it. This ends up causing marks to appear on the leaves or flowers.

If the infestation is very serious, the insects can consume the entire life of the plant and leave it completely withered in a very short time.

Sick orchid: signs that should set off your alarms

Signs of alarms in orchids.

If you take care of your plants, you can surely Quickly identify the presence of a problem. But there are some conditions that go unnoticed until the plant's health is severely compromised.

Therefore, we recommend that you periodically inspect your orchids and check that everything is in order. Paying special attention to the following symptoms that can alert you that something is wrong:

Color change in leaves

When a plant is sick or being attacked by insects, it is common for a change in leaf color to occur.

Yellow spots. They can be a symptom of illness, that The roots are rotting, that there is an infection, or that the orchid does not have its nutritional needs well covered.
Unusual stains. If you see irregular black or brown spots, this is a symptom of the presence of fungi, bacteria or viruses.

Deformities in leaves or flowers

You know very well the particular shape of orchid flowers and also their leaves. But a sick orchid It can suffer malformations in both parts or only one of them.

  • Distortions. If there are leaves or flowers that have distorted growth, this may be evidence that there are viral infections or that the plant is not in the best environmental conditions for it.
  • Premature fall of flowers. It indicates that the orchid is under stress or has problems with its roots, but this phenomenon can also occur as a result of a disease.

Loss of turgor

Orchids have a turgid touch both in its leaves and in its flowers, so when faced with changes in its appearance we must act quickly.

If the leaves begin to show a wrinkled appearance or folds appear on them, They could be warning us that the plant is dehydrated or that there is some type of problem with the roots.

Root rot

It is good that the roots of the orchid receive direct light, which is why we use transparent pots. This also allows us to see the state of the roots and take advantage to better understand the health status of our plant.

If the roots have become soft to the touch, turned dark, or even give off a bad smell, this is a clear sign that they are rotting. If you have overwatered, you have to act quickly to save the plant.

Stunted growth

The orchid is a slow-growing plant, but it is unusual for it to go for a long time without generating new shoots. If you notice that yours is not growing, it is possible that there is a problem with the roots, that it is suffering from nutritional deficiencies, or even that it is under stress.

Changes in the color of the culture medium

To detect a sick orchid we will also pay attention to the substrate. If it turns out that, for no apparent reason, it decomposes, it means that there is some problem with irrigation or with the substrate itself, and that can directly affect the health of the plant.

Presence of pests

This is what a sick orchid looks like

The insect infestation may not be visible to the naked eye, but its effects will be noticeable. If sticky spots begin to appear on the leaves of your orchid, Most likely it is being attacked by aphids or mealybugs.

In case you observe any of the symptoms that we have detailed, or any other that seems abnormal to you (the plant gives off an unpleasant smell, does not bloom, etc.), it is time for you to investigate further to detect where the problem is.

An early diagnosis willand it will be easier for you to address the cause of your plant's discomfort and increases the chances of recovery. If you have doubts, you can always consult a specialist to find out what is happening to your sick orchid and what you can do to cure it.

Phalaenopsis are orchids that bloom in spring
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