Orchid Leaves Splitting—Causes and Treatment Guide

Orchid Leaves Splitting

Orchids (Orchidaceae) are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful plants that ever existed. Growers and collectors put a great effort into keeping the orchids safe and healthy to maintain their amazing beauty.

Orchid leaves splitting is caused by a number of things. Mostly the culprit is lack of delicacy when handling the plant and also incorrect watering. This article will help you understand how to avoid the damage and how to deal with it when it happens.

Why Do Orchid Leaves Split?

There are several causes of Orchid leaves splitting despite being well-taken care of. That means that these causes are not directly related to poor maintenance.

So what are these causes?

Irregular Watering

Irregular watering of orchids will most likely result in the splitting of leaves, particularly the phalaenopsis orchids.

The phalaenopsis orchids are known for their firm leaves that are attributed to the turgor pressure in the plant maintaining the shape of the leaves.

However, when the phalaenopsis are insufficiently watered, it will cause wrinkles to the leaves and start to wilt.

By the time you water them again, the leaves will swell with water, trying to regain their standard shape. This process causes tension within the leaves, causing them to split.

The tension will target the weakest part of the leaves, which is the vein. The vein is located in the middle part of the leaves, so they will split in half.

Hence, if you are growing phalaenopsis orchids, you better keep the watering schedule active.

Low Humidity Areas

Concerning irregular watering, low humidity levels can also affect the leaves negatively.

The lack of moisture will have a significant impact on the strength and stability of the leaves. This will eventually result in the splitting of the leaves.

Some varieties of orchids, such as phalaenopsis and moth orchid, are the common victims of low humidity since they have firm leaves.

If you live in an area with low humidity, it is best to choose a different variety of orchids aside from phalaenopsis and moth orchids.

However, if you really love the looks of phalaenopsis and moth orchids, just make sure you don’t place them in an area with low humidity levels.

You can also improve the humidity levels in their area by putting a humidifier or pebble tray.

Just make sure that to put enough humidifier or pebble tray to accommodate all the orchids in the area.

Too Much Direct Sunlight

Common orchid houseplants, like the phalaenopsis orchid and other kinds of orchids, struggle when exposed to direct sunlight for more extended periods.

Most orchids prefer to live under partial sunlight, and exposing them to excessive direct sunlight will cause sunburn.

When the leaves are burnt, they will dry the leaves and crack from the weakest part, which is the vein.

That’s why leaves will split when exposed to direct sunlight for more extended periods. So, better watch the sunlight exposure in the area where you locate the orchids.

Rough Housing 

Another reason why Orchid leaves split despite taking great care of them is roughhousing. Even though you provide them with all the essential elements to thrive, the leaves will most likely split in half if you handle them roughly.

Sometimes, you may not notice that you are handling them without care, which is a severe problem.

There are instances when you need to prune or transfer them from one area to another, and maybe:

You feel tired, and your weariness makes you inattentive of how you are handling them.

Or perhaps you are preoccupied, and your mind is elsewhere, causing you to be rough and careless.

Thus, always be gentle when housing or handling them for any purpose.

Dropped Orchids

Most orchids are grown a few meters above the ground, and there will always be those unlucky days that they will fall.

When they do, the orchids will sustain some damage depending on the harshness of the drop. You may not notice the damage at first, but it will eventually manifest.

The leaves of orchids are firm to the touch, but they are delicate. That being said, they will easily split or break entirely if dropped.

Hence, you must hold them carefully when transferring them or individually check their pots to see if everything is in perfect position.

Children and Pets

You may have taken them out of the equation, but your children and pets are sometimes the reason why the Orchid leaves split.

Children don’t understand how delicate the orchid leaves are and if they mishandle those leaves, it will result in the splitting of the leaves.

The same goes for your pets. Dogs and cats love to play around, and if they happen to stumble in one or more orchid pots, that will also result in the splitting of the leaves.

Even their paws and claws can easily damage the leaves, which will then cause leaves to split in half.

Secondhand Plants

Buying secondhand orchids can also be the reason why the orchid leaves are splitting. There’s no mystery involved when you buy or sell orchids.

There are instances that what you have purchased may already be facing problems that you hadn’t noticed when you bought them.

But you have to understand that it is not the previous owner’s fault nor your fault. The causes can be either one of the problems mentioned above.

Nevertheless, dealing with the splitting of orchid leaves is now your responsibility.

Can Split Orchid Leaves Be Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no way to fix the orchid leaves when they split. But that doesn’t mean it is the end of the whole plant. In this case, prevention is better than cure.

Since the splitting of leaves is incurable, the best way to counter it is by preventing it from happening. Here are some tips you can do to help you with that:

Regular Watering

Since irregular watering is one of the leading causes of splitting, you should know by now the importance of regular watering for your orchids. But do not overwater them.

Put enough water not to make the leaves dry; otherwise, it will result in leaves splitting.

Place Your Orchids In An Isolated Area

Putting or orchids in an isolated area keeps them safe from the hands of your children and the claws of your pets. You can install a fence or cover the area with a net to ensure no one enters the space that can cause damage.

Keep The Humidity Perfect

Since orchids love moisture, you should not forget to keep the humidity levels adequate at all times.

Be sure your humidifier or pebble tray is enough to cater for all the orchids in your housing area.

Place Them Under Partial Shade

Do not let your orchids be exposed to direct sunlight to prevent sunburn. You can either install a roof to get them protected from direct sunlight but still get the partial sunlight they need or put them anywhere in your house where they can receive partial sunlight.

Handle Them With Care

Orchid leaves are delicate, hence always handle them with care. When you need to transfer or prune them, never grab the leaves because you will damage them.

What Are The Other Things To Do When Orchid Leaves Split?

Aside from preventing the splitting of leaves from happening, here are some steps you can do when the leaves split:

Cut The Split Leaves

Since the split is permanent, the best way to get rid of it is by cutting off those split leaves. There is not much threat when the leaves split other than the aesthetics.

No one wants to look at split or ugly damaged leaves because it destroys the beauty of the orchids.

However, there are instances wherein the split invites bacteria which will eventually infect the other parts of the Orchid.  It is possible that this may happen because a split is an open wound in the leaves.

When you remove the split leaves, it will keep the plant safe from infection and restore the beauty of the plant. But remember, always use a sterile cutting object to avoid inviting bacteria.

Know The Split

There are two types of split: horizontal split and vertical split. When the leaves have a horizontal split, it may be the result of physical trauma.

Physical trauma is not caused by natural factors but by certain actions committed by either your children or pets damaging the plant.

For example, if they’re in a pot and it gets knocked or knocked over when the orchids fall hard, it causes them physical trauma that breaks the leaves horizontally.

However, there are cases when the leaves will split vertically. But usually, a horizontal split is caused by physical trauma.

Vertical split, on the other hand, is caused by natural factors, as mentioned above.

It could be excessive direct sunlight, irregular watering, and low humidity leaves. In such cases, you can save the orchids by fixing these natural causes.

But there will always be those instances that luck may never be on your side. One day, you just notice that the leaves of your lovely orchids are splitting in half.

You are puzzled as to what happened despite taking good care of it.

Indeed, it’s disappointing and frustrating to see that your well-cared-for orchids are splitting. Luckily, this article will help you understand the reason behind the splitting of orchid leaves.

But most importantly, our treatment guide should assist you in recovering the orchids.

Final Thoughts

So yes, Orchids are succulents – who knew? Many of you didn’t, and why should you?

The Orchid has always carried this aura of being a ‘cut above,’ or something extraordinary and in a class of its own, so no one ever refers to it as a succulent Orchid plant!

In a way, that impression is correct, and the Orchid is still considered as extraordinary and glamorous, and very stylish – and rightly so.

With its stunningly beautiful, elegant, and most graceful blooms, one can easily view it as the plant of celebrities. It still carries that old Hollywood allure and speaks to us of film stars and fascination.

Back in the world of succulents, it is widely known that the most delicate part of said succulents are their leaves.

Wherever possible, please don’t touch them. Just a tiny scratch on a succulent’s leaf will be permanent. Unfortunately, the powdery coating on specific succulents never grows back and bears the mark of damage forever.

Today, orchids are more popular and available than ever. Orchids love hot and humid atmospheres, and every time you take a bath, you create the ideal treat for an orchid.

So the next time you treat yourself to a long soak in the tub, treat your Orchid leaves too by letting it spend that time with you in your bathroom!

Jenny Marie

Tribal Writer


Edited By

Patricia Godwin


Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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