Cutting orchids: You should avoid these 5 mistakes…

If you want to prune orchids, you should follow a few basic tips. Here are five common mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.

Orchids are popular houseplants. To ensure they live as long as possible and keep producing new flowers, it is important to prune orchids. You don’t cut off the leaves (as with other plants), but the roots and stems.

The roots only need to be pruned every two to three years – i.e. whenever you repot the orchid. You may need to remove dried stems more often. If you make mistakes when pruning orchids, the plants can be damaged and, in the worst case, even die.

1. Pruning orchids: Remove the right roots

Before you start cutting orchids, you should find out exactly which roots you can cut away. This is because it is easy to remove healthy roots and cause damage to the plant.

If you lift the plant out of the pot, you will usually see brown, yellow, white, green and possibly black roots:

  • Brown, yellow and black roots can no longer absorb nutrients. You should cut them back as they take up valuable space without fulfilling any function.
  • Green and white roots, on the other hand, are still intact. You should not cut them away.

2. The right pruning

Another common mistake when pruning orchids is cutting them back too hastily. Sick roots usually develop rotten spots, which promote the growth of fungi and make the plant more susceptible to disease.

  • All roots that are not green or white should therefore be cut off directly at the base.
  • You can shorten whitish to greenish-grey roots.
  • If you have a poorly cared for orchid with many rotten roots, you may have to thin out the plant almost completely.
  • Don’t hold back in this case either! Orchids can usually grow new roots quickly and efficiently, which will provide them with a much better supply of nutrients.
  • You should also remove the stems of the orchid if they are brown and dried out. Cut them off directly at the base.

3. Pruning orchids: With the right tools

If you want to cut orchids, you should not use household scissors. These will hardly be able to cut through the sometimes very thick roots. If you try anyway, this can lead to injuries in the root area.

Therefore, use sharp secateurs or bonsai shears. Also make sure that you clean the shears well before using them. Otherwise it can easily happen that pathogens are transferred to the sensitive plant.

4. Do not cut the orchid leaves!

You should not remove leaves if you want to cut orchids. If the leaves turn yellow or dry out, they will eventually fall off by themselves.

If you cut them off, pathogens can develop at the cut site.

5. Rest after cutting

Have you cut your orchid and now it looks completely bare and shows no more signs of life? This is completely normal. Especially after an intensive flowering period, the plant needs time to regenerate. The orchid will not produce any new shoots or leaves for the time being.

However, this is no reason to dispose of the plant prematurely. Give it some time and you will probably soon be able to discover new shoots again. Incidentally, you do not need to water or fertilize the plant after pruning.