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How To Prune Orchids

How To Prune Orchids? Simple Yet Effective Guide

It’s always nice to have some blooming flowers in your garden. They smell good, they look good and some are even edible. But, what if you don’t have a garden?

No need to put yourself down! You too can grow beautiful flowers. There are flowers that you can grow without needing plots of land or good soil. There are plants, called epiphytes (air plants), that do not need to be planted. These plants hang, they mostly get their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain and debris around it. In nature, epiphytes mostly hang on to other plants merely for physical support. They are not parasitic in nature.

One such plant is famous for its beautiful blossoms, like the wisteria or the rose of sharon plant. I am talking about the orchids which can easily be grown in pots. They are one of the most beautiful flowers you can find with their exquisite colors and fragrance. What’s more, their long-lasting blooms make them a prime choice for growing. However, to ensure your plant blooms properly, you need to prune your plant. Pruning is essential for the overall health of the plant and will make your plant last longer.

Pruning is also known to get the most blooms out of a flowering plant. Pruning might seem quite easy if you have seen seasoned gardeners do it. But pruning is not as simple as it seems. You have to know how best to prune the specific plant. You have to know where to cut, when to cut and what to cut to get the best results.

Now don’t start whining over how difficult pruning is or how you don’t have enough time. In reality, it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. You just need to follow all of the steps mentioned in this how to prune orchids guide and you are good.

No need to hire a professional to take care of your plant. You are the professional!

Blueprint to Pruning Orchids the Right Way

When to Pick up The Shears?

Before we go into the detail of how to prune orchids, we need to know when to prune first. As soon as you see the last of the flowers taking its final breaths, it’s time to pick up the shears. Some suggest that you should start pruning as soon as the flowers start withering away while others are of the opinion that you should wait till all the blooms are gone. Both approaches aren’t that different. You could experiment with both.

Good news is you don’t have to prune your orchids frequently. An unspoken rule of orchid pruning is that “you only prune as often as your plant blooms”. Most orchids bloom once a year, however there are varieties that bloom more than once.

The First Step: Disinfect your Shears

Most people don’t realize the importance of this step. If rough, dirty or infected shears are used to prune the orchids, you would only harm your plant. Instead of beautifying the plant, you are actually hurting it. Diseases and infections would manifest in the plant and the plant could potentially die.

Shears can be cleaned with a sterilizing solution or with the good old hot water and soap. Just make sure that no soap remnant stays on the shears before pruning.

Also make sure that the shears are sharp. The sharper the shears, the cleaner the cut. You don’t want to tear up and mess with the fibers of the stems of the plant you are cutting. A cleaner cut means a healthier orchid.

The Second Step: Examine the Spikes

Next thing to know is the condition of the spikes: whether they are green and healthy or brown and unhealthy. Also, you should know whether your orchids are single spiked or double spiked. The pruning method can differ according to the condition of the spikes.  

The Third Step: Trimming Orchid Leaves the Right Way

For Fresh Healthy Spikes

If the leaves are still fresh, you should wait for the blooms to fall. After that, cut back the spikes to within one inch if there is still time in dormant period (fall) to give your orchids a chance to rebloom.

If the dormant season is right around the corner, you had better trim the stalk to within one inch of the base. Make sure to not cut into the nodes because that is where the next bloom would occur. For those who do not know, Node is the brown ring around the stalk of the orchid from where the new growth would sprout in the coming season.

For Unhealthy Brown Spikes

Trim off the whole unhealthy spike just above the node. These spikes won’t grow any flowers the next season so cutting them off to encourage new growth is better. If there are yellow or brown spots on the stalks, it is best to cut them. They are either dead or ridden with disease. Cut them off to avoid the festering of the disease and allow healthier stalks to grow.

Is Double Spike Orchard Trimming any Different?

The orchids can be single spiked or double spiked. For double spiked orchid trimming, cut one spike to the base of the plant while the other spike should be cut one inch above the lowest node.

Remove Dead Infected Leaves

When trimming orchard leaves, always remove the infected leaves when you spot them. Infected leaves are usually identified by their yellow color and sometimes spots. When you see your orchid spikes turning yellow or developing spots, remove the leaves to the base to protect other leaves from being affected.

The Fourth Step: How to Prune Orchid Roots?

Orchids tend to outgrow their original pots. This happens more often than not. When this happens, orchids then have to be repotted. Before repotting them, it’s a good practice to prune their roots.

How to prune orchid roots effectively? Follow these three steps.

  1. Remove moss from the roots.
  2. Prune any dead or rotted roots to the spot from where they emerge or join with other roots.
  3. Repot in a clean sterilized potting medium.

Rotten roots can be identified by their dark color and mushy texture. Roots get rotten most often because of overwatering. As was already mentioned, orchids are epiphytes. They mostly get the water they need from the air or from rains. If your area is dry, it is best to water your orchids not too often.

Easy! Wasn’t it?

Don’t water orchids for some time after potting as the orchids need time to recover from the pruning cuts. Only water when the plant feels dry.

Other Tips: Taking Care of Your Orchids


Orchids, unlike most plants, need indirect sunlight for it to bloom its full potential. The most efficient way to provide your plant with the right amount of sunlight is place it beside a window which faces east or west. If there are no available windows in your home, a fluorescent light will do.

To know if your plant is getting too much direct sunlight, look at the tips of the leaves. If there are black tips on it, then the plant is getting sunburned. Place it on another area where there is less direct sunlight.


Orchids thrive in temperate climates, not too cold and not too warm. Moderate room temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is optimum. Orchids also do not do well when the temperature drastically changes, so it is best to keep them indoors.


To sum up, always prune after the blooms have withered. To promote flower growth, prune the spikes to about 1 inch from the stalk. Remove any dead or diseased leaves, usually having a yellow color, as soon as possible. Don’t cut into nodes. If the spikes are fresh and there is still time in dormancy, cut the spikes to about 1 inch from the stalk. But, if the dormant season is near, trim the whole stalk to an inch from the base above the nodes.

Pruning is not the only thing which guarantees a strong plant with lasting blooms. However, it is definitely an important part if you want to have a healthy plant. If the plant is healthy, the blooms will be beautiful and lasting. Other than the annual (or in some cases biannual) pruning, orchids don’t require any special care. Just make sure that the plant is exposed to abundant light and are provided with just enough water.

Follow the tips in this How to prune orchids guide to ensure a healthy looking orchid which would bloom every year for many years!

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