It does not matter if orchids were received as a gift, or if they were planted simply to provide aesthetic beauty, there will be time when the flowers begin to fade. Because the orchid is such an exception and out-of-the-ordinary type of flowering plant pruning them can be accompanied by anxiety. Pruning orchids can be beneficial for the plants and is not a difficult task as long as one is careful about how it is pursued.
Why prune orchids?
As a general rule, orchids will not need pruning as they have very little foliage or blooms. However, these delicate flowers can benefit from an occasional pruning for several reasons. By pruning away unproductive parts of the plant it can offer more nutrients to the rest of the plant. For this reason, it is essential to remove only portions of the plant which are diseased or dead. Removing dead leaves, stems, blooms and stems can be very beneficial for the health of the plant. Never cut off healthy leaves from an orchid. Any leaf or stem which still has any amount of flesh will still be transferring nutrients to the roots. Wait until the leaves have turned yellow and withered and can be gently removed by a simple tug.
Tools Needed for Pruning Orchids
Select either a single edged razor blade or a pair of hand pruners. The perfect pruning tool for pruning orchids will have three characteristics: sharpness, slices without crushing, clean with no remaining plant residue like sap or tissue. The way to ensure that pruning tools are kept clean and disease free is to clean them with a common household disinfectant before storing them after they are used.
Pruning Diseased Orchids
It is necessary to prune any part of an orchid which becomes damaged or diseased. This will prevent the disease from spreading throughout the plant and causing further damage. When dead or broken leaves and stalks remain are left on an orchid, the plant can be vulnerable to diseases and pests. In many cases, pests are attracted to sections of a plant that is damaged or weak. Be sure to properly discard the damaged portions which have been removed. Do not put plant material which has diseases in compost since it can end up spreading infection to other plants.
Pruning Overgrown Orchids
Sometimes leaves on an orchid will grow very large which can make them dangerously heavy. They may also become too numerous for the plant to remain healthy. Pruning the plant will help clean it up so that it will have a healthier environment for growing. When an orchid grows too tall and becomes leggy, it is important to pinch the stems back in order to help the orchid become fuller by adding newer healthy growth. Prune the stems back after the flowers have discontinued blooming and as they begin to die.
Pruning Orchids when Repotting
Repotting orchids is the perfect time to prune back any dead, damaged or diseased portions of the roots. This should be done prior to adding new soil. Even the healthy roots can benefit from a light trim as it will help them generate new, lively root growth once the plant has been replanted. Just be sure that the pruning instruments are sharp and cleaned well with a disinfectant between uses. By disinfecting pruning tools after each use, spreading diseases can be prevented. It is also good to prune a few of the leaves while repotting an orchid. This can help reduce some of the stress that the repotting process can put on the orchid.