Orchid leaves are firm and green when the plant is healthy. The surface is smooth and shiny. Even when an Orchidaceae is purchased, particular attention should be paid to the condition of the leaves. If these change and become limp and withered, then the plant is not doing well. It is usually due to the wrong watering, both too little and too much water can cause limp and wilted leaves.

Possible causes

If the decorative orchid suddenly has wilted and limp leaves, it is because the roots cannot absorb enough water. But there is not always a lack of water behind it, too much water can also damage the roots so much that they no longer absorb any more water and the leaves can no longer be optimally supplied with moisture. In order for the plant to recover quickly at the first signs, appropriate measures to help must be taken immediately. Therefore, the following points should be checked and corrected immediately when the first signs of leaf change appear.

detect damage

If the Orchidaceae is properly cared for and if it is healthy, then the leaves are plump and smooth, they shine in a strong green and grow upright. In the case of damage to a diseased orchid, on the other hand, the leaves look like this:

  • limp
  • powerless
  • hang down withered
  • lose green color
  • show wrinkles and folds
  • Edges turn yellow
  • at the end leaves are yellow overall
Note: If you have decided to buy an orchid, you should pay particular attention to the leaf structure. If this shows even the smallest defects, then you should not decide for this plant, because it could already be damaged due to incorrect storage in the trade.

recognize the cause

If the damage described above is present, either already advanced or only showing small signs, then the appropriate measures should be taken immediately in order to find the possible cause first. Because limp and withered leaves can indicate various causes. In such a case, it is important to look at the roots first. Only then can it be decided what the rescue of the Orchidaceae must look like. When investigating the cause, proceed as follows:

  • look at roots
  • these must be firm and green
  • clearly visible in the transparent pot
  • otherwise remove the plant from the container
  • muddy roots, too much water
  • light, almost white roots drought

lack of water

Lack of water in Orchidaceae is often the cause when the leaves lack vigor and show signs of limp and wilting. If there are still buds on the plant that have not yet blossomed, then there can also be a drop here if not enough water has been poured. An orchid should always be kept slightly moist, the soil in which it is cultivated should never become completely dry. In the event of a drought, the following measures must be taken immediately so that the plant does not suffer any further damage:

  • Dip the orchid with the pot in water
  • during a longer time
  • until no more air bubbles rise
  • Soil should be completely saturated with water
  • then place on saucer
  • pour out the saucer after a while

It is better than watering the orchid afterwards if the pot has lost a lot of weight, i.e. the soil has become dry again, to dive again.

Note: If the orchid has been suffering from drought for a long time, the limp and withered leaves will no longer straighten up. These will turn yellow and then fall off by themselves. If you continue to pay attention to sufficient watering, the Orchidaceae will sprout again.


In the opposite case, however, it can also be that the orchid was watered too much, the water cannot drain off and waterlogging has occurred. Even then she shows this by withered and limp leaves. Because rotting roots due to too much moisture and water in the soil and on the drainage plate mean that no more water can be absorbed and the plant dries up, as suspicious as this sounds. If waterlogging was found to be the cause, the following measures should be taken immediately:

  • Orchidaceae immediately remove from the pot
  • Carefully remove soil or orchid substrate
  • rotting roots are brown and mushy
  • these must be removed
  • Use a sharp and disinfected knife
  • remove all flowering stems
  • Concentration on the formation of new roots is thus promoted
  • Rinse the root ball carefully under water
  • then let it dry well

Only when all the measures described above have been carried out should the plant be put back into fresh substrate. In the period that follows, only the aerial roots should be sprayed with water. The pot should only be watered once new roots have formed. However, if too many roots have been damaged, the rescue may have been in vain.

Natural aging process

If only one leaf is hanging, it becomes limp and changes its dark rich green to a lighter colour, then this can also be the natural aging process. Because from time to time the existing orchid leaves are renewed. In such a case, the oldest begin to weaken. Unlike drooping leaves caused by lack of water or waterlogging, these old and dying leaves are not harmful to the orchid. Therefore, they do not have to be removed, but the following procedure should be used:

Note: Even if it does not look particularly nice if the decorative orchid has a yellow leaf, you should still avoid cutting it off, because the wound inflicted in this way could allow germs to penetrate the plant and possibly a healthy Orchidaceae damage.

Wrong location

Wrong location can also be to blame for wilted and limp leaves. If the roots and the substrate have been checked for possible dryness or waterlogging and if these are not the causes, then the location should be considered. This can have the following defects:

  • too dark
  • a bright location without direct sun is ideal
  • East or west windows are ideal
  • Relocate the orchid immediately
  • too many temperature changes
  • Room with different daily temperatures unsuitable
  • not right next to a heater
  • air too dry
  • a humidifier helps


Used irrigation water is not free of bacteria and viruses. And an orchid that has already been weakened by a care mistake is more susceptible to diseases. This can lead to stem rot, in which bacteria get onto the base with the irrigation water and cause it to rot right here. Irrigation water that gets onto the leaf axils can also promote the disease. If limp and withered leaves all turn yellow, the plant can no longer be saved and should be disposed of in the residual waste. On the compost, the bacteria could later cause further damage in the garden.

pest infestation

A pest infestation can also be the cause of wilted and limp leaves. Then the pests usually sit on the underside and suck out the liquid. Often the pests are also close to the roots and thus damage not only a leaf but the entire plant. Pests on orchids include the following:

  • Thrispe
  • resembles small flies
  • drown in water
  • Submerge the entire pot for about 30 minutes
  • Scale insects sit on the leaf
  • wash off
  • spray with soap and vinegar solution
  • Repeat actions over several days
Tip: If home remedies no longer help against the pests, then you should use special insecticides. During the infestation, you should place the orchid far away from other plants, otherwise the neighboring plants could also be infested.

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