Orchids: how to cut back the stalk

Updated February 21, 2017

Orchids represent a wide variety of plants that have different colours and bloom times. However, one thing that all orchids have in common is that the blooms develop atop tall, central stalks. These stalks are quite impressive when the orchid is in full bloom, but not very attractive once the blooms fade away. After the orchid blooms drop, you can cut back the stalk to improve the appearance of the remaining foliage.

Wait until the flower blossoms wilt and fall off the central orchid stalk and then wait until the stalk turns yellow or brown. The time for this to occur varies based on species.

Hold back the lower foliage of the orchid with one hand and trace the dead central stalk back to where it emerges from the centre of the orchid plant.

Measure up approximately 1 inch from the base of the stem and cut the stalk off using pruning shears or a scalpel, making the cut straight across the top. Do not prune lower than 1 inch above the base or you may injure the other foliage or the base of the orchid plant.

Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon in your hand and cover the cut end of the orchid stem with the cinnamon, which acts as a natural fungicide to prevent infection.


Some varieties of orchids bloom multiple times on the same stalk. Thus, leaving the stalk on the plant until it turns yellow ensures that you do not cut it off before it reblooms. If you are unsure whether your orchid will rebloom, examine the green stem to see if there are small green bumps, which are nodes. Cut the green stem off 1/4 inch above a node. If the stalk turns yellow instead of reflowering, cut it back to the base of the plant. Some orchid plants do not rebloom, but do produce small bulbs at the base of the stalk, which can be removed and planted.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners or a scalpel
  • Cinnamon
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.