How to Kill An Orchid

Most people prefer to keep their orchids alive, but some people are dead-set on killing them. If that’s you, then you’ll enjoy this handy list of tried-and-true orchid destruction tips. If you prefer to keep your orchids alive, avoid these common mistakes:

  • Overwatering — This is a quick, easy, and common assassination method. Excess water rots the potting media, and eventually suffocates the roots. To speed things up, allow the flower pot to sit in a tray of water. This will quickly cause the orchid roots and potting media to rot. Death within a week. The tray of water and rotting roots may stink and attract flies, so you get a bonus.
  • Underwatering — Just forget to water. This method is very effective, however, during winter dormancy it may take months for orchids with pseudobulbs to die. If you’re trying to escape suspicion, you may want to dribble a few drops on the plant. Whatever you do, do not give the plant and potting media a thorough soaking, even if water runs out of the holes at the bottom of the pot. This will greatly delay death by underwatering.
  • Temperature extremes — It’ll help to identify your orchid so you know its proper temperature range. Armed with that knowledge, you can be creative. Open a window next to a Phal when it’s near freezing outside. Keep a Masdevallia in a warm kitchen (closer to the stove is better.) Place an orchid next to a heating vent which is blasting hot air. Take a warm grower, like a Vanda, and stick it outdoors in Calgary in February.
  • Strong sunlight — While this may have no effect on some varieties like Vandas or Cymbidiums, except to make them bloom, direct sun will burn Phals, Paphs, Masdevallias, and Miltonias. It works best in summer, but may not work at all in winter. Modern car windows filter some sunlight, but the added bonus of the car heating up in the sun can kill an orchid during the time it takes to do a little shopping, or eat lunch. It’s multitasking.
  • Low light — This is your best option if you want a very slow death for Phals and Paphs, since they tolerate some degree of low light. For Cymbidiums, Dendrobiums, Oncidiums, and Vandas, it will be quicker, since they need bright light or full sun to thrive. When you want to kill by low light, find a dark corner, and place the orchid victim in it. Keep it away from any windows. Do not supplement its light in winter. Some orchid varieties may surprise you by lasting for months or even years in low light. Don’t worry; they won’t bloom before they finally perish.
  • Stale or dry air — Stale, stuffy air can cause health problems for both people and orchids, so if you choose this method, you probably shouldn’t spend too much time with your victim. Stale air encourages nasty microorganisms and pests, and they’ll overwhelm your orchid eventually. To cut off air movement, lock the plant in an unused room, or overcrowd it with other plants. Keep it away from fans or windows. Dry air will quickly make flowers drop, and wilting leaves will soon follow. Dry air also invites pests, especially spider mites. Do not provide humidity or good air movement, or you’ll drive the pests away. If you don’t have dry air already, heating and air-conditioning systems usually dry the air efficiently.
  • Too much fertilizer — A single excessive fertilizer dose can burn an orchid’s roots and leaves, but probably won’t kill it. Rather than the orchid maxim “weakly, weekly,” which teaches that orchids prefer a weak nutrient solution, try “fertilize forcefully.” Heavy doses of fertilizer given at frequent intervals will stop that orchid from ever bothering you again.

Explore posts in the same categories: Fertilizing, Growing, Problems, Watering

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7 Comments on “How to Kill An Orchid”

  1. Thom87 Says:

    Thanks I needed that this morning

  2. Sebast24 Says:

    What’s up, Sebast Here, I enjoy this site I could definitely get involved here.

  3. nancy Says:

    good one 🙂

  4. AboutOrchids » Blog Archive » Sinister Draculas Says:

    […] Ghost Orchids, dead orchids, and weird orchids can spook you, but it’s the creepy Draculas that can scare you […]

  5. JJA Says:

    its funny cause its true!

  6. choyo613 Says:

    Great post! lmao

  7. CC190 Says:

    -’: great blog a good read
    i always love to read about stuffs like this one *~~