11 Reasons Why Your Orchid’s Leaves Are Droopy

Orchids are beautiful and delicate flowers that can really brighten up a room. However, orchid leaves that are drooping or wrinkled can detract from the plant’s beauty and be cause for concern. There are a number of potential reasons why an orchid’s leaves may start to droop. Being aware of the most common causes can help you identify the issue and take steps to revive your orchid. Here we will explore the 11 most likely reasons your orchid’s leaves are getting droopy, and what you can do about them.


One of the most common reasons for droopy orchid leaves is overwatering. Orchids prefer a thorough watering followed by a dry period where the potting media is allowed to almost fully dry out before being watered again. Too much moisture around the roots can lead them to rot, which prevents the plant from taking up water and nutrients properly. The leaves will start to wrinkle, droop and turn yellow or brown if the roots have been damaged by overwatering.

What to do:

  • Check the potting media with your finger before watering. Only water when the top few inches feel dry.
  • Remove the orchid from its pot and inspect the roots. Healthy roots should be green or silvery-white, and firm when gently squeezed. Rotten roots will be brown or black, mushy or hollow.
  • If rotten roots are found, trim them off with sterile shears. Repot in fresh orchid potting mix, water sparingly until re-established.


While overwatering is more common, leaving an orchid too long between waterings can also cause the leaves to wrinkle and droop. If the potting mix dries out completely, the roots don’t get the moisture they need to supply the plant with water and nutrients. The leaves will become dehydrated and start to wilt.

What to do:

  • Water the orchid as soon as you notice droopy or wrinkled leaves. Place the entire pot in a bucket of room temperature water and allow it to soak for 15-20 minutes until thoroughly rehydrated.
  • Pay careful attention to watering needs. Orchids should be watered whenever the potting mix is mostly dry. The frequency depends on factors like temperature, humidity, light levels, and potting medium.
  • Increase humidity levels around the orchid by placing it on a pebble tray, misting frequently or using a humidifier. This will help the plant stay hydrated between waterings.

Improper Light

Getting the right amount of light is crucial for orchids. Too much light can scorch and dehydrate the leaves, while too little light will starve the plant. Both extremes can cause the leaves to become limp, wrinkled or spotted.

What to do:

  • If the leaves are dark green and feeling leathery or crisp, the plant is getting too much light. Move it further away from the window or use sheer curtains to filter the sunlight.
  • If the leaves are yellowish-green or feeling thin and limp, the plant needs more light. Place it in an east or south facing window if possible. Grow lights can supplement natural light in darker conditions.
  • Pay attention to how the orchid responds over a few weeks after any light adjustments, and tweak the location or intensity as needed.

Low Humidity

Orchids naturally thrive in humid environments. When humidity drops too low, the accelerated transpiration can cause the leaves to lose turgidity and droop or wrinkle. This often happens in dry indoor environments, especially with forced-air heating or air conditioning.

What to do:

  • Place the orchid pot on a pebble tray filled with water, making sure the pot itself does not sit in the water. As the water evaporates, it will increase humidity immediately around the plant.
  • Use a humidifier in the room to raise ambient humidity levels. 40-50% humidity is ideal for orchids.
  • Mist the plant frequently, especially in warmer and drier conditions. The evaporated water on the leaves will temporarily boost local humidity.
  • Move the plant to naturally higher humidity areas like the bathroom or kitchen when possible.

Cold Drafts

Sudden temperature changes and cold drafts can shock orchids, causing the leaves to droop or wrinkle as the plant struggles to adjust. This often happens if an orchid is placed too close to a drafty window, air conditioner vent or exterior door.

What to do:

  • Evaluate the environment and move the orchid away from any cold draft sources like open doors/windows, AC vents, fans, etc.
  • Make sure night time temperatures do not drop below 60°F (16°C). Move to a warmer location or use a portable heater if needed.
  • Enclose the pot in a plastic bag or sleeve to hold in warmth and humidity. Remove during the day once temperatures rise again.
  • Insulate the windows or position room dividers to block cold air flow where the orchid is located.


Common orchid pests like aphids, mealybugs, scale and spider mites can all cause damage that leads to limp, wrinkled leaves. They suck out plant juices, leaving the leaves dehydrated. Excess sap excretions or webbing left behind can also block photosynthesis.

What to do:

  • Check the undersides of leaves for any insects or tiny webs/dots of residue. Use a magnifying glass to look closely, as some pests are very small.
  • Treat infestations immediately with horticultural oils, neem oil, insecticidal soap or other targeted pest control methods. Repeat treatments may be needed.
  • Remove badly damaged or infested leaves and isolate the plant from other orchids until the issue is resolved.
  • Improve air circulation and growing conditions to deter future pest issues.


Fungal or bacterial diseases can also make orchid leaves limp and unsightly. Common culprits include fusarium, verticillium, bacterial brown spot and blights. Damage is often focused on the outer edges or tips of the leaves at first.

What to do:

  • Inspect for any spots, lesions or dark water-soaked areas on the leaves. Look for ring-shaped spots or concentric brown circles that may indicate a fungal infection.
  • Remove and destroy any infected leaves. Disinfect shears between cuts to prevent spreading. Avoid wetting foliage when watering.
  • Apply fungicides or copper-based bactericides according to product instructions if disease is severe. Improve air flow and reduce water on leaves.
  • Water early in the day so the leaves dry out fully. Space plants for good air movement to avoid diseases spreading.

Poor Nutrition

An orchid without proper nutrition can fail to thrive and its leaves may droop and wrinkle as a result. Insufficient nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium or trace elements can all negatively impact the plant’s health over time.

What to do:

  • Review your fertilizing routine. Orchids need regular weak feeding, such as weekly or biweekly. Use a balanced fertilizer made for orchids.
  • Check if the potting mix needs refreshing. Old mix breaks down and lacks nutrients. Repot every 2-3 years with fresh orchid potting media.
  • Consider moving the plant to a better quality potting mix designed for orchids. Avoid cheap general purpose mixes without the proper drainage.
  • Improve light conditions if possible, as more sunlight will drive increased nutrient requirements. Supplement with foliar sprays.

Insufficient Air Circulation

Stagnant, still air around an orchid can lead to environmental issues that cause limp leaves. Lack of air movement leads to increased humidity right around the plant, raising disease risk. It also causes temperature fluctuations and pockets of cold air that orchids don’t like.

What to do:

  • Use small fans to create gentle air movement around the orchid. This simulates breezes and prevents stagnant pockets of air.
  • Make sure the pot and leaves are not crowded by other plants, furnishings, or being hidden away in an enclosure. Allow space for air to circulate.
  • Move the orchid to a windowsill or location with more natural air movement if possible. Just avoid cold drafts.
  • Turn the plant periodically so all sides get evenly exposed to circulating air. This prevents one side from staying perpetually still.

Natural Aging

As orchids mature and reach the end of their lifespan, gradual overall decline can occur. Older leaves naturally droop, wrinkle and yellow before eventually dropping off. While normal, if happening too quickly it can indicate an underlying cultural issue.

What to do:

  • Review care practices to identify and correct any potential problems accelerating leaf loss, like improper watering, diseases, pests or light/temperature issues.
  • Accept that older lower leaves will need removal as the plant ages. But upper leaves should still be plump and green on a healthy orchid.
  • Consider dividing large mature plants to rejuvenate them. The repotted divisions will create new growth and replace older leaves.
  • Provide excellent care tailored to the orchid’s needs. While aging is natural, good care maximizes leaf health and longevity.

Insufficient Water in Pseudobulbs

For orchids that form pseudobulbs like Phalaenopsis, wrinkled leaves can indicate the pseudobulbs have shriveled due to lack of water stored within. As water reserves in the pseudobulbs decline, the plant cannot keep leaves fully hydrated.

What to do:

  • Look for shriveled, deflated or wrinkled pseudobulbs. Gently squeeze to check if they are soft and limp instead of firm.
  • Increase watering frequency slightly if pseudobulbs are dehydrated. Allow them to fully rehydrate and plump up again before resuming a normal schedule.
  • Be sure to allow enough dry time in between waterings. Overwatering can destroy healthy roots and make matters worse.
  • Provide higher humidity to reduce transpiration and water loss. Misting more frequently can help perk up leaves.
  • Move to slightly lower light if drying out too rapidly. Higher light increases water demands.

Repotting Shock

Repotting is stressful for orchids, and they may show signs of transplant shock afterwards for weeks or even months as they adjust to their new environment. Droopy or wrinkled leaves immediately after repotting is common.

What to do:

  • Avoid disturbing the roots any more than necessary. Water sparingly until it re-establishes and shows new root growth.
  • Keep the plant in the same light and temperature conditions it is accustomed to after repotting.
  • Use the same potting media it was previously planted in, or adapt it gradually by mixing a bit into the old mix.
  • Apply a dilute concentration of orchid fertilizer or vitamin B1 drench to help reduce shock after repotting.
  • Be patient. Monitor closely but allow the orchid time to recover and adapt before changing conditions further.

How to Revive an Orchid with Drooping Leaves

If your orchid’s leaves have started to wrinkle, droop or yellow, don’t give up on it yet! Here is a summary of steps you can take to help revive and restore its health:

  • Identify and address the underlying cause, whether it’s overwatering, insufficient humidity, pests, or any other issue. Correcting the cultural problem is crucial.
  • Trim off any severely damaged or diseased leaves. Use sterile shears to prevent spreading infection.
  • Water thoroughly and allow the potting mix to completely saturate. Let excess drain fully.
  • Move to brighter filtered light if leaves are yellowing or limp. Provide shade if sunscalded.
  • Apply a balanced orchid fertilizer more frequently to nourish the plant back to health.
  • Repot if media is old and breaking down or roots are damaged. Refresh with new orchid mix.
  • Increase humidity around the plant by using a pebble tray, misting, or humidifier.
  • Ensure good air circulation with fans. Stagnant air encourages problems.
  • Be patient and consistently provide good care. It takes time to rehabilitate an ailing orchid.

With attentive attention and some TLC, you can nurse your orchid back to gorgeous green health. Don’t give up too soon! Follow these tips to diagnose the problem and get those droopy leaves standing upright and beautiful once again.

Frequently Asked Questions About Droopy Orchid Leaves

Why are my orchid leaves limp and wrinkled?

The most common causes of limp, wrinkled orchid leaves are improper watering, low humidity, unsuitable light levels or temperature extremes. Overwatering and underwatering can both lead to droopy leaves, so ensure the potting mix moisture is optimal.

How do I fix drooping orchid leaves?

First identify and correct the underlying cause, whether cultural like insufficient water or humidity, or pests and diseases. Trim off damaged leaves, improve care like light and nutrients, and allow time for recovery. More humid conditions will perk leaves up.

What do I do if my orchid leaves are turning yellow?

Yellowing orchid leaves often indicate too much sunlight. Move the plant further away from windows and provide gentle air circulation. Rule out root rot and increase watering frequency if leaves are yellowing from dehydration. Apply fertilizer regularly.

Why are the leaves on my orchid dying?

Dying lower leaves is normal as orchids mature and shed older foliage. But if many leaves are rapidly dying, the cause is likely cultural like overwatering, pests or diseases. Review care for any issues, trim affected leaves and improve conditions like air flow.

How long does it take for an orchid to recover from drooping leaves?

It can take weeks or a few months for an orchid to fully recover after experiencing drooping, wrinkling or yellowing leaves. Be patient and consistently provide proper care. New leaves will slowly grow vibrant and upright as health improves.


Limp, wrinkled and unsightly orchid leaves are never a welcome sight, but they are a signal some kind of cultural correction is needed. By observing exactly how and where leaves are affected, you can deduce the probable cause and take remedial action. Providing appropriate care tailored to your orchid’s needs will get it back on track to producing gorgeous foliage again. With a little time and TLC, your orchid’s sad drooping leaves can return to their former glory.