How to Remove Damaged Orchid Leaves


Orchid leaves talk to you, but you have to pay close attention and listen carefully. Leaves indicate overall plant health, nutritional condition and even the presence of dangerous pathogens. But simple leaf damage can occur from inappropriate or rough handling of an orchid plant. Careless or improper packing can result in leaf damage during transit. Orchids exposed to too much sunlight can easily sustain burns on their leaves. Whatever the reason, the damaged portion of a leaf will quickly die and turn dark brown or black, and feel dry and papery to your touch. The damage will remain entirely localized, and won't spread or progress until pathogens enter the plant through the untreated injury. Infections and secondary diseases facilitated by leaf damage will maim or kill your orchid. You'll need to act quickly and remove the damaged section before it's too late.

Step 1

Examine the affected leaf carefully to ascertain that simple leaf damage is the culprit. The discoloring will appear suddenly and be localized. This can be easily remedied by removing the damaged portion.

Step 2

Use a sterile new single-edge razor blade to remove the damaged area of the leaf. Make a clean, crisp cut completely across the leaf's entire width through healthy green tissue, directly below the black or brown discoloration. Discard the blade--don't use it on another plant.

Step 3

Apply a good fungicide for orchids to the entire wound according to the packaging instructions.

Step 4

Look for signs of sun damage. The affected leaf will yellow if the plant receives too much sunlight. Extreme overdoses cause actual sunburn, killing overexposed areas of leaves. The dead spots will be non-progressive and confined to the damaged section.

Step 5

Repeat steps 2 and 3. It isn't necessary to remove entirely yellowed leaves, just the damaged portions. Discard the blade--don't use it on another plant.

Step 6

Evaluate the sunburned plant's lighting conditions and adjust as necessary to avoid recurring damage.

Step 7

Check for nutritional deficiencies and pathogens as causes of leaf browning or blackening. The leaf begins to die and blacken from the tip. Discoloration spreads downward toward the plant as leaf death progresses. Then opportunistic fungi attack and feed on dead and dying leaf tissue, producing a yellow band between the dead and healthy portions of the leaf.

Step 8

Remove the damaged area of the leaf with a sterile new single-edge razor blade. Make a clean cut well into the healthy green tissue, directly below the yellow fungal band adjacent to the black or brown tip discoloration.

Step 9

Apply a good fungicide for orchids to the entire wound according to the packaging instructions.

Step 10

Discard the blade--don't use it on another plant. Pick up and destroy the diseased plant material--don't toss it onto the compost heap. Disinfect your work area to prevent spreading disease to other plants.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be very careful when handling razor blades. Don't try to tackle more vigorous tasks such as cutting tough rhizomes with them.

Things You'll Need

  • Disposable single-edge razor blades
  • Fungicide for orchids


  • You Tube: How to Remove a Damaged Orchid Leaf
  • American Orchid Society: What's Wrong with My Orchid?

Who Can Help

  • You Tube: Leaftip Dieback
  • YouTube: All About Orchid Leaves
  • AllExperts: Orchids, Phalaenopsis Leaves, Remove or Not?
Keywords: orchid, damaged orchid leaves, how to remove damaged orchid leaves

About this Author

Axl J. Amistaadt began as a part-time amateur freelance writer in 1985, turned professional in 2005, and became a full-time writer in 2007. Amistaadt’s major focus is publishing material for GardenGuides. Areas of expertise include home gardening, horticulture, alternative and home remedies, pets, wildlife, handcrafts, cooking, and juvenile science experiments.