How to prune orchids

Why is pruning important for orchids? Horticulturists recommend it for one or all of the following reasons: to remove broken dead or diseased branches, to encourage flower and foliage development, to control the size and the shape of the plant, to increase structural strength and to rejuvenate old flowering branches.

The right time to prune orchids:

When is the right time to prune orchids? The old adage that says that the best time is when the shears are sharp holds true for many plants. Late fall is a good time because dead branches are easily seen and removed and pruning in the fall or late winter will remove flower buds and reduce, or eliminate flowering.

The procedure for pruning:

If the flowers have all died then when should you prune your orchids or cut the stalk back and how far? This is part of the basic care of orchids. Once the stalk of the orchid turns yellow or brown, it is obvious that no blossoms or plants will be produced. Then you can prune your orchids to within an inch from where the blossom stalk originated on the plant. You can also prune orchids when they are green if you don't mind losing potential blossoms. Another option to prune an orchid is to just remove the end of the blossom stalk to shorten the stalk, but retain an enough part so that it may bloom again. If this is done, cut it back to about 1/4 inch above a node which is indicated by a small leaf-like bract clinging to the stalk.

Effects of pruning:

Pruning your orchids stalk or spike should not cause harm to the plant. However, some orchids may produce new bloom shoots from the nodes on the old blossom stalk, while the other orchids may produce small baby plants (pups) from these nodes. The new plants may be removed from the mother plant and potted once they develop roots. There are of course some orchids which do neither of these things. In any case, it doesn't hurt the orchid if you remove the old bloom stalk; you may just miss some new blossoms or a baby plant.

The eye is the knot where the flowers originate from. About one or two new spikes will grow again from the eye (knot) if the mother plant is strong enough to do so; or will grow next season. Prune the spike as soon as the flowers are finished or dead otherwise the mother plant will not grow well.

Pruning for Cymbidium, Dendrobium and other orchids:

After the blooming period, carefully lift the orchid from its container, prune off dead or damaged roots and then repot using a fine-grade fir bark, and water.

Pruning for Phalaenopsis orchids:

When the orchid finishes blooming, cut the bloom spike to the base of the orchid. A new spike will appear the next year.

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