Orchids: Common trials and tribulations in caring for this much-loved plant

Kifumi with orchids in shop.jpg

Nearly everyone can appreciate the beauty of an orchid in bloom. Not only is it breathtaking, but it’s also an extremely long-lasting flower – sometimes blooming for months! But what do you do with an orchid when it has been over a year and has not re-bloomed? Or what if the leaves are starting to turn yellow? These are very common challenges for orchid-lovers and Kifumi has some simple solutions for these tribulations and more!


  • Common challenge – The orchid has not re-bloomed.

    • Culprit – Quite often the orchid will not re-bloom if there isn’t enough ambient light or you don’t fertilize regularly.

      • Orchids LOVE light! Not direct sunlight – this will burn their leaves, but rather bright rooms with indirect light. If you are growing in a place that doesn’t have a lot of ambient light coming in or you don’t have many windows, there is always the option of using artificial light.

      • Feed your orchid regularly with a high-quality, all natural fertilizer. Exotic Plants has quite a few great options, but I’m partial to the Age Old Sea Kelp product. It’s important to know that natural fertilizers contain exponentially more nutrients than artificial ones.

      • The other secret is to place your non-blooming plant outside or in a cold room when the temperatures begin to drop at night (late October/November is usually a good time if you live in Northern California). Do this for a few consecutive nights, but remember to bring your plant back inside during the day. This can “shock” your plant into sending out a new bloom.


  • Common challenge – The orchid’s leaves are turning yellow and dry.

    • Culprit – Not enough water, too warm temperature or too much light.

      • Orchids are just like any other plant, they need the right amount of water, light and environment to grow. They love bright light, but not direct light, which will burn or kill the leaves.

      • While you don’t want to overwater them, they also can’t grow without sufficient water. When is the right time to water? Pick up the plant (without its pot). If it feels light, it’s ready for water. You can also feel the potting mixture for dampness. If there is any moisture at all, it’s not time to water yet. If you see that the roots inside the planting medium are turning grey, they may be dying and not getting enough water.

      • Orchids like temperate climates – think Santa Barbara, CA. Growing them in Sacramento, CA is do-able, it just means you can’t leave them outside in the 110 degree heat in the summer. It’s a sure-fire way to kill your plant.


  • Common challenge – The leaves are dark green and wrinkly-looking.

    • Culprit – Lacking light or water, or dying roots.

      • First, take a look at the health of the roots within the potting mixture. If they look grey, light beige, white and/or brittle, they may be dying. Exotic Plants can help you determine which roots can go if you bring your plant in and ask. Dead roots do not allow the plant to absorb water as it should and will add to dehydration.

      • Lacking light or water will also lead your plant’s leaves to look too dark and/or wrinkled. Ideal orchid leaves are a light green color. If they start looking forest-green, you’ll want to move your plant closer to a window that supplies plenty of indirect sunlight – or consider artificial light if a good window isn’t an option. As stated previously, be sure you are watering adequately, but not over-watering.