What Is Orchid Bud Blast – What Causes Orchids To Drop Buds

Image by Ineta McParland

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Despite not having brains or nervous systems to warn them of danger, scientific studies have shown, time and time again, that plants have defense mechanisms. Plants will drop leaves, buds or fruits to divert energy to the root and survival of the plant. Orchids are specifically sensitive plants. If you’ve found yourself wondering “why is my orchid losing buds,” continue reading.

What is Orchid Bud Blast?

When orchids drop their buds, it is commonly called bud blast. Likewise, when orchid’s drop their blooms it is called bloom blast. Both conditions are the orchid’s natural defense to something going wrong in their present growing environment. Orchids are very sensitive to environmental changes. In stressful situations, they drop buds to divert energy to the stems, foliage and roots.

Orchid bud drop can also be a sign of overwatering or under watering. Many orchids are sold as “just add ice” orchids, with the idea that by giving these orchid plants three ice cubes each week, they will not suffer from overwatering and root rots from soggy soil. However, orchids also absorb water from humidity in the air, so in dry environments orchid bud drop can be a result of under watering and low humidity.

What Causes Orchids to Drop Buds?

Orchid bud blast causes also include improper lighting, temperature fluctuations, fumes, or pest infestation.

Orchids cannot tolerate bright direct sunlight, but they also cannot tolerate very low light levels. Bud blast can also occur from extreme temperature fluctuations, such as drafts from open windows, air conditioning, heat vents or even the oven. Being indoors all winter, then being set outside in the spring can be stressful enough to an orchid to cause bud blast.

Orchids are very sensitive to pollutants. Chemical cleaners, smoke from cigarettes or cigars, fumes from painting, fireplaces and engine exhaust can lead to orchid bud drop. Even the ethylene gas given off from ripening fruit can affect an orchid.

Fumes or drift from herbicides, pesticides and fungicides can also lead an orchid to drop buds in self-defense. On the other hand, aphids, thrips and mealybugs are common pests of orchid plants. An infestation of pests can lead any plant to drop buds or leaves as well.

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