How to Save My Frozen Orchids

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Mauve-hued cymbidium orchid blooms.
Mauve-hued cymbidium orchid blooms. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Many orchid species are tender tropicals that will be killed off by frost or an errant freeze. Some species such as cymbidium, however, are hardier and can be grown outdoors in temperate climates year-round. When a surprise freeze occurs and impacts your orchid plants, you can attempt a recovery, but it may take some time to see if your triage efforts can bring the orchid back to health and a productive flowering life.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Sharp, clean scissors or secateurs

Move the damaged plants in pots to a cool location with high humidity and bright, indirect sunlight. Provide good air ventilation such as in a bathroom with a window. Do not move the orchid immediately into a warm environment, as this can exacerbate drought stress and cause the freeze damage to become more pronounced.

Allow the soil medium to thaw and dry out. Allow the high levels of humidity in the air to support the plant, as adding water to the roots may exacerbate rot conditions.

Resume watering on the planting medium and roots when you see signs of new green shoots anywhere on the orchid plant. Use plain distilled or tap water without any fertilizer added for the first several weeks after new shoots appear.

Snip off any damaged leaves and stems later in the spring, after temperatures have warmed and you can really assess the effects of the damage. Foliage may die back and brown, become discolored or yellow or look waterlogged and darker in hue. Remove only those tissues that are clearly dead. Allow the plant the season to recover while maintaining your pre-freeze watering and fertilizing regimen.

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