My orchid is done blooming. Should I cut the spike or not?
Should I cut the spike off my Phalaenopsis or Doritaenopsis Orchid now that the flowers are nearly all spent?This question has been asked numerous times on many forums, and the answer you will mostly get is No! "The plant may grow a new spike from a node on the old spike ". "I never cut flower stalks off unless they turn brown" and "No one cuts the flower spikes plants growing in nature".Not bad advice really, especially if you are a new grower and want to see flowers and gain experience.
BUT, If you ask this question of long time orchid growers, you will get a different answer. There are other orchids apart from Phalaenopsis that flower again from the original spike or form keikis on the flower spike. Some species orchids also bloom sequentially.
Some specific examples: Doritis pulcherrima x Phal. decumbens. This is a miniature that blooms sequentially and will also form side branches. Plant started flowering in December and was then benched at three Society meetings. Still flowering at the end of March but flowers were getting smaller and there was a long naked spike with many flower scars. So I chopped the spike off at the base and the new leaf that is growing is larger than the existing leaves, so perhaps the next flowering will be even better.
Large Standard Pink or White Phalaenopsis. Once the flowers are spent cut the spike off at the base so that the plant can use resources into growing new leaves and produce a better flowering next time.
Species Phalaenopsis orchids. Depends on the species. Some flower for years from the same spike and should not be cut.
Hybrid Equitant Oncidiums. Cut the spike off. Sure they may throw a side branch but the flowers are always smaller and few in number.
Epicattleya Nebo. I left some of the flowering heads on last season. Keikis have grown there that if left will bloom and there will be flower spikes on growths from the top and bottom of the plant. My object is to put this plant in a show so I will cut those top flowering heads off. This advice applies to all reed stem Epidendrums, but if you want the plant as a garden subject the plant should be left to do its thing.
Anonymous Long Time orchid Grower
The Phal shown in the picture is Phal. Nancy Gordon "Dave's" (Phal. Deventeriana x Phal. venosa), an evergreen spike showing several years of growth. The photo is provided by Charles D. Moulton
Image by: Charles D. Moulton
Phal. Nancy Gordon "Daves"