How to Identify a New Orchid Root vs. Flower Spike

Something is poking out of the base of your orchid plant. Is it a new root, or—even more exciting—a flower spike? It can be hard to tell the difference, especially for orchid beginners. In a Phalaenopsis orchid, both roots and spikes are usually green when they begin to emerge, which makes it that much harder to distinguish the two.

I’ve found that with orchids, the easiest way to learn is with our eyes. So, I write bearing visual aids.

The long silvery thing in this first photo is a healthy, dry root. And the small green nub you see to the right of the long silvery root is a new root beginning to poke out from the plant stem. New Phalaenopsis roots usually appear with a green tip, and as they grow longer they will become silvery near the base of the plant. If you click the photo to view the larger version, you will see there are actually two new roots coming in – the green one on the right that I already mentioned, and a second one just above the longer silver root.

New orchid root
New phalaenopsis orchid root

This next photo shows a brand new flower spike growing out of the base of another one of my Phalaenopsis orchids. It’s a slightly brighter green and a tad flattened, with what looks almost like a tiny mitten at the tip. It’s this mitten shape that, for me, is what most easily distinguishes a root from a spike.

New orchid spike
New phalaenopsis orchid spike

In the third photo you can see both a new root (silver, on the left) and a new spike (green mitten, on the right).

New phalaenopsis orchid root and spike
New phalaenopsis orchid root and spike

Cool, huh? I’m always excited to see ANY new growth on my orchids – whether it be a new root, spike, or leaf – because new growth is a sign of a happy and healthy plant. Of course I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more spikes, because that means MORE FLOWERS! but I’ll take new roots too. Growing orchids at home sure is a good way to strengthen your patience muscle.

Updated to add: I receive many questions from readers about orchids that have leaves and roots growing off of the spike. These are called keikis (baby orchids), and they can be viable plants on their own once their roots grow long enough. I have written a separate post about keikis and what to do with them. Read all about keikis here. 

P.S. For another great source of information about how to successfully grow orchids, I recommend signing up for a [Affiliate Link] free Orchids Made Easy newsletter from Ryan “The Orchid Guy.” He brings tons of tips and advice straight to your inbox, every day!

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  1. Once again Sarah – you make my experience as a first time orchid owner (moth – easiest of them all I’m finding) – even better with your pics / descriptions. Finding it even better then the books I take out from the library – tho’ they are handy – but I find your writings very informative.

    If only I had more room on my kitchen counter for another orchid (they are addictive). I’m already dreading when I go on a month holiday – who to trust – or just bring it with me. Do you think it will survive living on a 30′ sailboat for a month in September?

  2. Thanks for the nice comment, Anna – I’m so glad you like my posts!!

    I would imagine that if you can provide the orchid with similar conditions on the sailboat as it has at home (lighting, humidity, temperature) then it should be ok. I don’t really have any experience with temporarily moving an orchid so don’t quote me on that. 😛

    What you could do, too, is join an orchid forum (I like and start talking to people there. You may be able to find someone in the community who lives in your area who could come “orchid-sit” and water your plants for you. If you’re comfortable with that kind of thing. 🙂 Good luck!!

  3. I have a miniature orchid, I believe of the phil family. After the blooms died, I cut the stem to about 2 inches. This was back in April. Now, I have a new flower spike growing from the base of the plant and oddly, new roots and a flower spike from where I cut the stem 2 inches up. What am I supposed to do with this? I’m super excited, but do I cut the new root/stem system and give it its own pot or just leave it alone to do its thing?

    1. Hi there and thanks for your question! First of all, it sounds like your orchid is doing really well, so nice work! New growths are super exciting. It sounds like you may have what is called a keiki, which means “baby” in Hawaiian. Keikis can grow off of a flower spike or sometimes even from the base of the plant, and they can be removed from the “mother” plant and potted on their own once the roots reach a certain length.

      None of my own orchids have sprouted a keiki, so I don’t have any experience with this, but here are a couple links with info/advice on what to do with a keiki:

      Good luck!!

  4. I think I have a new spike coming in, but its tinier then the ones you have pictured. Its growing up though, which is what makes me think it’s a spike. And it’s coloring is neither silvery nor bright green, but a green with a purplish hue.

  5. Hi everyone!

    I’m new at this. I have 2 orchids and they are growing beautifully. They continue to grow new leaves and roots, which some roots are jeeeez 7 inches long or more straight up, the other one I got in February and is already growing roots and leaves. They seem to be very happy. I believe the older one that has its upright growing roots must be re-potted and don’t know how to do it correctly without hurting it since the roots are so long and growing straight up. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I received them as presents, one a 1 1/2 years ago and one in February. They seem really happy. I put them in an east facing window and turn them daily. I allow them light most of the day but not direct. I feed them a orchid mix of miracle grow with water that the box said for regular watering should be used so it very weak on the miracle grow. I’d send pics but am not computer savvy enough. If you e-mail me please make sure you put orchids in the subject or I’ll probably end up spamming it.

    1. Hi Dana, thanks for the comment! It sounds like your orchids are doing great. Are they Phalaenopsis (moth) orchids? Those are the most common orchids found in stores. It’s very common for that type of orchid to grow roots outside of the pot—they are referred to as “aerial” roots. Many of my Phals have them and I usually just mist them with a little water once or twice a day to keep them moist in between waterings. It can be very hard to get the aerial roots into the pot without breaking them. You could try soaking them in water to make them easier to bend, but they still might break. If you’re not able to get the roots to stay inside the pot, that is fine. Orchids grow in the wild with exposed roots all the time.

      Good luck and happy growing!

  6. Hi

    Thank you for clearing up the difference between new root and flower spike, I have a lovely orchid that has flowered since last August, I repotted it recently as it had grown out of the small pot it was in, and bought some new orchid compost and a spray of food, it is now growing a root and a flower spike (with mitten) I am surprised it has survived as I also have a young cat who has managed to knock my orchid off the sill so many times, I have it in a west facing window.

  7. I have a quick question for you. I have 2 roots that have a greenish node coming out of the end of the root. I have not seen this before on my orchid. Could you tell me what this is?

    1. Hi Allison, is it just the tip of the root that is green? Or is it more like a separate growth coming off the root? I’ve noticed that oftentimes a new root will be green at the tip but silvery along the rest of it. Do you have any photos you could show me?

        1. If you upload the pics to a site like Flickr, you can post a link to the pic here in the comments. Otherwise you can email to me, brooklynorchids [at] gmail [dot] com.

  8. I recently noticed significant growth on my phal and got mucho excited thinking that I’m getting 8 flower spikes. Then I thought to myself how that could happen. I started searching for information on cyberspace and stumbled upon your blog entry. This entry is definitely very helpful in distinguishing between the two!

  9. Hi

    I have a phalaenopsis orchid and it looks as if the orchid is growing a second orchid from the top of a stem. I thought it was another flower growth until its turned into two big leaves just like the base. So basically I have my original orchid and at the top of one of the stems (10 inches up) I have another base with new roots and stems hanging in the air. Do I try to cut this off and plant it in moss?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Nicole, it sounds like you have what is called a keiki, which means “baby” in Hawaiian. Keikis can grow off of a flower spike or sometimes even from the base of the plant, and they can be removed from the “mother” plant and potted on their own once the roots reach a certain length — I’ve read that around 2-3″ is good. So take a close look and see if it’s growing any roots yet — if not, that’s ok, you can just leave it attached to the mother plant. Congrats and good luck!

  10. i have my first orchid from a friend,,, it just bloomed and spike turned dry,, i trimmed it as i thought i have to 🙁
    please advise what is the best thing to do for it to produce a new flower spike.
    appreciate your response.

    1. Hi there and thanks for your comment. Trimming the spike once it finished blooming was the right thing to do. This will let the orchid focus its energy on putting out new leaves and roots and eventually, a new spike! Make sure you fertilize your orchid about once a month if you don’t already, and keep it in bright but indirect light. Don’t over-water it, and it should stay happy. 🙂 I hope that helps—good luck to you!!

  11. Hi there and thanks for you blog, I got a phalaenopsis orchid as a gift about 4 years ago and it’s flowers lasted for quite some time but didn’t grow any new buds. After it had finished flowering the stem just dried up and died, back then I didn’t know to trim above a node, i eventually cut it right back. However I carried the pot of leaves from new home to new home and this spring a new spike grew and it has been flowering ever since and has lots of Ariel roots. My question is, when it come to trimming after it has finished flowering, do I trim above the last node, ie, and the top of the stem or at the first node at the base of the stem, I have read differing reports.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi there, thanks for your comment! Nice job on getting your Phal to rebloom! Once it has finished flowering you can cut the spike just below the first node that bloomed. Doing this can sometimes cause an orchid to put out a side spike which might produce some blooms. I usually cut the spike at that spot after flowering, and then if it doesn’t produce a side spike within a month or two I will cut it down all the way at the base so that the plant can focus on putting out new roots & leaves. I hope that helps, and good luck to you!

  12. I hate to be the one to say it but the picture isnt helping. Ive found 2 nodes and they are both white and residing under leaves but both are growing upwards. both are about an inch long and i dont know if my orchid doesnt understand that roots grow dowards or if they are leave nodes. They dont look anything like the pictures xD someone help me! I might add my orchid has somewhere around 16 leaves. Its a phalaenopsis orchid. Im starting to think I maybe have 2 orchids smushed in side by side as it appears to have 2 root bases but im not sure.

    1. No worries, I’m not offended. 🙂 If the growths are white they are most likely roots, which are often covered with a whitish-silver substance called velamen, which takens in nutrients from air and water. And orchid roots sometimes grow up or sideways or anywhere except inside the pot. These are called aerial roots and they are completely normal. Can you post some pics online and link to them here so I can see what you are describing? It can be hard to tell what’s going on without a photo.

  13. Thanks for your blog, it has helped alot. However, I’m still a little confused by my little guy. This link should allow you to see the pictures I’ve taken:

    As you can see, I have already treated one of them as a spike (the old spike died off about a year ago), and from what I’ve read on here it seems as though both are new spikes because neither have got a whitish-silver look to them. However, I’ve also read that new spikes grow from the crotch of leaves, which I don’t think these are…

    Please can you verify which, if either, are new spikes?


    1. Hi Andrea — it does look like both are spikes! With Phalaenopsis orchids, spikes usually grow from between the leaves and not from the middle of the top leaf. Congrats on your spikes and I hope you get some nice blooms soon!

  14. I happened upon your site when I was trying to figure out why my orchids were putting out new leaves and roots like crazy, but no bloom spikes. The next day I was watering my orchids – and miracle of miracles, the first one I watered had a little green “mitten” – I was incredibly excited. Then… the second one I watered also had one! All together only 3 of my 7 Phals had bloom spikes emerging, but what a happy birthday present that was. Thanks to your excellent photos I KNEW I had bloom spikes and it will be fun to watch them grow and turn into blooms. Thank you for the great information!

  15. My phal just developed its first flower spike since I’ve had it for 2 years. It seems that the spike is growing very slowly though. It appeared about a month ago and has only grown about an inch or so. Is that normal? It has been growing lots of aerial roots and a new leaf about every 5-6 months so I assume it’s healthy!

    1. Hmm, it’s hard to say but it sounds like it’s doing well. The new roots and leaves are a positive thing but the spike growth does sound a tad slow. Have you ever removed the orchid from its pot to see how all of the roots are doing? Maybe your orchid is just a slow spike grower. Keep me posted and good luck with it!

      1. I have not removed it from its pot yet but I can see that many of the roots are white and are actively growing. I don’t see any brown or mushy looking roots. I think it is getting sufficient light as well. I will just keep an eye on it! Once I saw the spike I became very excited but I hope it continues to grow and eventually develops some flowers! Thanks for your input!

  16. Hello! I have this orchid for a year and a half. It is so happy in my north facing window on long island. My new stem appears to have a root, new leaves and all. What do I do? It is so delicate, how can I send you a picture to get your advice?

  17. hello, I have a nice orchid that started to drop its flowers,for about 2 months ago, but the last 3 flowers at the end of the stem, about 8 inches long, did not drop and I have been enjoying them very much. I noticed a root shoot off of the tip where the 3 flowers are and now I also have a leaf starting too. I have never had that happen, to start a whole new plant, sort of like a spider plant. I dont know if I should cut it and try to get a new plant or to keep it hanging there for a bit more. it will eventually get too heavy and pull the stem down. usually I trim the stem when the flowers fall and put the plant in a north facing window for the winter, then get new flowers later. but I have never had one that didnt drop its flowers and decided to start a whole new plant.

    1. Hi Natalie, congrats! You have what is called a keiki—-it’s a baby orchid. You can leave it on the spike and let it grow as is (if you do this you can stake the original spike so that the plant doesn’t fall over). Or, when the baby plant has at least two or three roots that are at least 3-4″ long, you can remove the baby from the mother plant and pot it on its own. Very exciting!

      1. I have a friend that has an orchid that has 2 bloom shoots and both have sprouted babies…I never knew they did this & its very exciting. I told her I would check and see if I could find out what to do and thanks to your website I got my answer. Thank you so much!!

  18. Very interesting post. I ended up in this site looking for information on new flower spikes in orchids.

    I found the distinction between new roots and new flower spike very clear and useful, but as I read through people’s comments a new question arised: what’s the difference between a new flower spike and a keiki?

    Also, the reason why I am researching this topic is as follows. My orchid’s flowers died sometime ago, and, following the information on the leaflet that came with it, I pruned the flower spike just above the next “eye”. Now from there I’ve got two new branches, that are going to flower. I’m happy about that. But I’m worried about the following: if I keep on pruning the orchid down when the flowers die, does that mean that my plant will keep on getting shorter and shorter?

    Many thanks.

  19. I have an observation more than a question. Why do my phaleanopsis orchids first develop an aerial root, then put up a flower spike? Is there a reason for this–such as, to further support the weight of the flowers that will be blooming, or ?? I have noticed that all have done this, except one. The one that didn’t do it, has ended up on the floor several times, knocked out of the planter. . . maybe it just gave up with the support idea and decided to bloom anyway?? Just wondering it there might be a reason for the aerial root that develops before the flower spike blooms. Thanks!

    1. Thats a really interesting theory. I haven’t always noticed aerial roots developing before spikes, but I would guess that the root development is more to support the nutrition of the coming spike than physical support. Or it could be a combination of both!

  20. Hi have had a shop bought Phalaenopsis for about six months when the flowers died I followed your advice and cut back the flower spike to 1″ and six new roots have appeared but no sign of any new flower spike. I live in South Africa and it is summer.
    Also the pot does seem somewhat crowded but in general the plant seems quite healthy as it is producing new leaves please can you help as am excitedly awaiting the flower spike

  21. Hi there! I love your board! You’ve got great advice for orchid fans 🙂

    I have 3 orchids in my care at this time, 2 of which I’m nursing back to health and to my surprise and delight, they seem to be catching on – the foliage is getting its turgidity back, the roots are re-establishing and (best of all!) one has a new spike coming! (Little mitten!)

    The trickiest part I’ve been trying to figure out is what to do with the old spikes? I cut them back with the thought that they would rebloom, but I believe I cut them back too far…I went all the way down to where the first set of old leaves were. One has what looks like a new bud in an old leaf location, so I cut that one just above that little bud. But I think I was only supposed to cut the spikes a couple inches from the end. Oops!

    What should I do with the old spikes at this point? Will they re-grow from where I cut them or should I just cut them back entirely and allow the orchids to focus their energy foliage and producing new spikes?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi CeeCee and thanks for reading! Congrats on the new spike! 🙂

      With the old spikes, I think it’s best to cut them back at the base to allow the plants to focus on growth, especially for the orchid that is already growing a new spike. Generally, if you want to try and encourage an orchid to rebloom from a spike, you should cut the spike just below the last node where the blooms sprouted from. Doing this *sometimes* makes the orchid product a side shoot from the top of the spike, but it always takes away energy from the rest of the plant’s growth.

      I hope that helps! Happy growing to you!

  22. This is excellent. i’m proud to announce that it would appear that I have a my first ever flower spike on my first ever orchid. YAY, my grandma will be so proud of me!

  23. Hi, I just found this page as I was Googling to find out about Orchids. I know nothing about them, except that I love the way they look. I am a total “Plant Dyslexic” and have killed everything, except a rubber tree plant, that I have come into contact with. So this brings me to my question and the reason I was googling about Orchids…..this past weekend my best friend got married and her cake had fresh orchids all over it. The cake decorator left a bucket of, what I will call, Orchid stems, and my friend sent one home with me. It has about 10 pale green flowers with dark maroon-ish centers. There are about 6 new buds at the top of the stem. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I had it in a glass with about 1/4 inch of water until I read that Orchids do not like too much water. I was hoping I could grow some roots on this stem and plant it. The flowers that were near the bottom started to turn yellow and some easily fell off as I was moving it. I have taken it out of the water and dug a shallow hole in the pot with my rubber tree and I have planted in there for the time being to see if it will survive. Is it possible to grow new roots on just a stem of a Orchid, and if so how would I do this? I realize I cannot keep it with the rubber tree plant, but for now, that is the only pot and dirt that I have. Could someone please help me? Thank you.

    1. Hi Vickie, thanks for commenting. I’m sorry to say that you aren’t going to be able to grow new roots on a cut orchid stem whether you plant it in soil or keep it in a glass of water. Once the flower stems (spikes) have been cut off, there isn’t a way to regrow a plant from there. If you really want to try your hand at growing an orchid, I suggest picking one up at your local Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Trader Joe’s! These stores generally have some really affordable, easy care orchids.

  24. Thank you for all the great information on your site! I have had my moth orchid for three years now and this year I haven’t gotten any new spikes:( The first year I had one spike that reblommed after pruning and I got two spikes the second year! I have a lot or aerial roots and have gotten three new leaves this year so I thought my plant was happy. I work all day so the temp in the house is usually between 55 to 65 degrees during the majority of the day(heater off) and then around 73 degress from about 5:00-10:00(heater off again at bed time). I water my plant as soon as I see the dirt looking dry and I feed it about every other month with miracle grow house plant formula. Any suggestions on how to get a spike or do you think it is already too late? Thanks

    1. Hi Melissa, I don’t think it’s too late for your orchid to spike again. It sounds like your plant is in good shape since you have new roots and leaves — that’s a good sign. I am thinking the temperature could be why your orchid hasn’t spiked this year. Moth orchids tend to spike when the temp is 10-15 degrees cooler at night than during the daytime, and it sounds like your house is the opposite — cooler in the daytime and warmer at night. If it’s possible for you to get the orchid into a cooler area at night for a few weeks that might encourage it to grow a spike. Good luck and happy growing!!

  25. ive looked at different sites about repotting my orchid and they say to use bark? They just seem to have moss when you buy them so i’m confused. What do you suggest? Thanks, Monica

    1. I imagine you are talking about the flower spike when you say the “stock” where the blooms are? If so, it sounds like you have a keiki, which is a baby orchid that grows off of the mother plant. If you’d like, you can remove the keiki from the mother plant when it has 2-4 roots that are at last 2-3 inches long. Then the baby plant can be potted on its own! Or you can choose to leave the keiki on the main spike and allow it to grow bigger before removing and repotting.


    1. Hi there — it sounds like you may have a keiki, which is a baby orchid that grows off of the mother plant. Check out my response to Vanessa just above your comment — she has an orchid with something similar happening!

  26. Hi I have an Orchid a friend gave me, small 1″ to 2″ white flowers. After the first flowers died back I cut back to the base of were the flowers started. Then it bloomed again spiking about 3″ below the first spike. I pruned that spike leaving about 3″ now I have a third spike coming in it is only about 2″ long now. My question is should I prune back the 6″ Y above this new spike. It is kinda ratty looking but I do not want to jeopardize this plant that has provin itself so resilient to my naivety.

    1. Hi Alison, it sounds like you have quite the orchid! I would recommend trimming the spike above the new side shoot that’s coming in. That will help the plant reserve a bit of energy and let it put that energy toward blooming. Once the current side spike finishes blooming, you should cut the whole spike down at the base so that it can focus energy on making the plant grow bigger. Good luck!

  27. I just got my second phal about 1 month ago in full bloom. The roots looked thick, green and healthy. The leaves also looked good. About 2 weeks ago, the blooms slowly started to drop off and then a leaf on the bottom turned yellow and fell off. I ignored it, thinking that it was just an old leaf. That trend has continued and now about 3 leaves have fallen off. Today a nice green one broke off when I barely touched it. I’m thinking it might be crown rot. At the base of the plant one side is somewhat yellow and I peeled off a thin layer off dead “crust” where the dead leaf was Underneath there is a softer, small black area on one side of the base of the plant. I’m always careful to avoid the leaves and crown when I water, but perhaps this was going on when I bought it but now is just worse. Is there anything I can do if it is crown rot, and is this contagious to my other healthy phal. If so, how do I prevent it from spreading? Thanks guys! P.S. I took pictures of it, but not sure how to post them on there.

    1. Hi Jessica, it is hard to tell without seeing photos but it does sound like crown rot. Rot can involve bacteria or fungus, so it is possible that your other orchid could get infected. I haven’t actually dealt with crown rot yet on any of my own orchids, but this website has some info on what you can try:

      You mentioned that the roots looked healthy when you first got the orchid——what are the roots like now? If they have begun to rot you will want to trim the rotten parts off with a sterilized blade or shears. Good luck!

  28. I cannot figure out what I am looking at. All roots look greenish And one looks brown. Blooms are drying up. Have I destroyed my plant? I think plants are allergic to me. Help!

    1. Hi Dawn,

      Orchid blooms typically only last for a few months, and depending on how long the blooms were open before you got the plant they may not last very long after you first bring the orchid home. But this doesn’t mean that the plant is dying! Greenish roots are a good thing. The brown root is most likely rotten and should be trimmed with a sterile razor or shears. I recommend reading through my blog posts with orchid beginner tips for advice on how to care for you orchid:

      Happy growing!

  29. I have an orchid that has had gorgeous flowered stem for over a year. It is now growing another flower stem, a new leave and lots of roots. There are still lovely flowers on the first stem. Do I wait to cut that stem until all the flowers have fallen off? It also has one leaf that is turning yellow… do I wait for it completely die… or can I trim it now? How will I be able to re-pot if it always has flowered stems??

    1. Hi there — is the second flower stem an offshoot of the first, or is it a completely new stem? If it’s a completely new stem, than you can cut the first spike down at the base once it has finished flowering, which shouldn’t affect the flowers on the second stem. But if it’s an offshoot of the first stem, then I’d wait to cut until all the blooms have dropped.

      With regard to the yellow leaf, these things usually end up drying out enough that they fall off on their own. But if you want to trim it, make sure you do so with sterile cutting instrument.

  30. Hi Sara,

    I inherited a flowerless orchid plant from a former coworker. I think it’s a phalaenopsis orchid. I know nothing about orchids and began watering it along with my other plants. Several weeks ago, a number of scary looking shoots began protruding from the soil. I had no idea what was happening to this plant and searched for information on orchids when I found your post. I am now sure these are roots (thanks to your detailed descriptions and beautiful photos). About 3 or 4 weeks ago, a flower spike appeared! Again, your photos and descriptions made it easy to identify the spike.

    The spike is now 6 inches tall. It is growing alongside the original stem. There is a rod in place supporting the original stem and it’s pretty close to the new spike. I’m thinking it would make sense to attach the new spike to it. My only concern is that the spike is growing at an angle and it’s kind of stiff. I’m afraid I might damage it if I were to try to attach it to the rod right now. Will it get more flexible as it grows? How long should the new spike get before I support it? Also, should I cut off the original stem which looks like it was trimmed but still stands about 12 inches tall? I’m now very attached to my new orchid and would appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks much!!

    1. Hi Deb, it sounds like your orchid is doing really well and I’m glad I could help!

      I recommend trimming the old spike (stem) at the base. Then you can take the support rod out and place it near the new spike so that you can attach it without having to worry about breaking it. What I like to do when I’m concerned about breaking the spike is to just attach it to the support rod near the top, so that the spike has to bend less. Usually you can train the spike to bend a bit over time, slowly moving the attachment piece (clip, twist-tie, etc) down the spike every few days. And as the spike grows taller, you can then add more clips or twist-ties upward. Does that make sense? I hope that helps!

  31. Hi,
    I’m a new orchid owner. I have a baby plant and plan on purchasing a six inch tomorrow. I’m so excited. My question is how often should I water, right now it’s once a week. When should I fertilize and what kind of fertilizer? Lastly, where can I get more information so I can be an orchid pro. Their names are Lena (baby) and Sofia
    (6 inch). Happy Growing!!!!!!!!!

    1. Hi Harriet, I actually don’t recommend watering with ice cubes. That is more of a marketing tactic than a proper orchid watering technique. I’ve written a post about how to water an orchid that I recommend you take a look at:

      And I’ve also written about how to fertilize, which you can check out here:

      I hope that helps! Happy growing!

  32. Question, next to the blooms of my orchid there are little thumbs or mittens growing out of the tops of bloom spikes that are in bloom, are those new blooms growing? I can’t seem to find a site that shows them or talks about them (I’m a new Orchid mommy, I received one as a gift, within 2 months I now have three), and one of my big orchids, all Phalaenopsis, are dropping some blooms, but I have these nice green stems growing out with these little mittens that are green with purple tips and my Phal is purple. I wish I could show you a picture. But, if you have any idea what I am talking about…PLEASE let me know, I don’t want to cut anything back if there is new growth! Thanks… and great blog!

  33. I am enjoying your well-worded advice.

    I have four orchids left by my mom when she passed in July Two are larger, in six inch pots (that are too large, I think.) The other two are much smaller, and their original root systems are encased in a soft-plastic tube surrounded by spanish moss in a tiny clay pot. All are very healthy, putting out many new roots.

    Even with their differences, they are all on pretty much the same watering and fertilizing schedule (weakly-weekly with periodic flushes of clear water.)

    I am considering repotting all of them into a single container. Do you have any thoughts on that?

    Also, should a support for the (hoped-for) flower spikes be put in at the time of repotting, or can one place a spike without damaging the plants?

    Thank you for your consideration!

    1. Hi there and thanks for reading! I definitely don’t recommend potting more than one orchid in one container. If one happens to have any health issues it could spread to the others. Keeping them separate is for the best.

      I’d wait until a spike begins to grow before you put a support in the pot. You can insert one near the spike when it appears, taking care not to damage any nearby roots.

      Happy growing!

    1. Hi Rachelle, you can train a new spike with a stake, but you don’t have to. However, doing so can help keep the orchid plant from topping over once the blooms have opened up, because they can get quite heavy. It just depends on how big and sturdy the plant itself is. Happy growing!

  34. I have an orchid with two stems and a new baby orchid plant is growing from one of the stems. What shall I do? The new plant does not have aerial roots.


    1. Hi Ariel, congrats on your baby orchid! You should leave the baby attached to the spike for now and see if it starts to grow roots. If it does, you can wait until it has at least 2 or 3 roots that are each at least 2-4 inches long. At that point you can remove the baby from the spike (with a sterile cutting tool) and pot it on its own. Good luck and keep me posted!

  35. I tend not to drop a leave a response, but I read a
    few of the responses on How to Identify a New Orchid Root vs.

    Flower Spike | Brooklyn Orchids. I do have a couple
    of questions for you if you do not mind. Is
    it just me or does it give the impression like some of these responses look like they are left by brain dead
    visitors? 😛 And, if you are writing on additional social sites, I’d like to keep up with you. Could you make a list of all of your social community pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  36. Hi, my orchids don’t appear to be getting any leaves (as of June 8), although I repotted them in March and they seem to be doing very well. I upped the fertilizer, have them in a decent window, on a humidity tray and have a small fan on them. Will they spike in the fall if they don’t get a new leaf? They are my babies! Thank you!

    1. Hi Marianne, no new leaves don’t necessarily indicate no new spike. It sounds like you’re growing in good conditions, so just remain patient and hopefully you’ll get a spike later this year! Good luck and happy growing. 🙂

  37. Hi my “new orchid plant ” was beautiful !!!!! for a few days then one by one all the flowers dropoped ! three months later… I have a healthy strong plant…when will I get a flower stem again ? I cut the existing one down, short , opps ! Lynn B.

    1. Hi Lynn, orchids typically bloom annually, around the same time each year. So you may have many months to wait for it to produce another spike and flowers, but trust me — the wait will pay off! Good luck and happy growing!

  38. Thanks for this post, it’s so easy and helpful! I just discovered a knob growing out of my orchid this morning and I got excited. Then these quick reference stabbed any delight about a flower away quickly. 🙂

  39. I have a new root an a new flower spike!!! But now what? Do I need to do anything different to get flowers? Fertilizer or anything? Right now I’m just watering when roots r dry. I cut the old flower spike after flowers died off, maybe 3 months ago?


    1. Hi Eric,
      Congrats on the spike! What you need to do, honestly, is to just keep up with your basic orchid care (, and be patient. If you haven’t been fertilizing your orchid, now would be a good time to start doing so regularly…check out my post on how to fertilize:

      Good luck and happy growing!

  40. hi

    I have a dying phal. orchid and all the roots apart from one are dead and the one living one is about 1/2 an inch long both of its two leaves are yellow and brown what can i do to save it


  41. I have an orchid my husband bought me and I’ve never had one before. Now after reading this I know I have TONS of roots all growing outside of the pot. I haven’t encouraged them to grow one way or another but how do i get them into the pot when they are growing quickly and longer then what the pot will hold? Do I slowly start pointing them down ward into the pot? The older ones are starting to dry out too. So I should start misting them correct? If I could upload a picture I would. Or should I repot and try to cover them in the new bark mixture?

    1. Hi Marty, I’m unable to see the photo you linked to. Feel free to email it to brooklynorchids [at] gmail [dot] com and I’ll take a look!

  42. I left about 6 inches on my flower stem when I cut it back. Now I have leaves and roots well established far outside of the planting medium. Should I cut this off and start a new plant? If so, how?

  43. Hi there,

    Thus morning I noticed a small spike ground out of my orchid. When I went to loft up the leaf and take a closer look, the spike broke off without me even touching it. What will happen now? Will the spike continue to grow even though the top part has been broken? The spike was o ly a few centimeters in length…

    1. Hi Jennifer, unfortunately I’ve never seen a spike continue growing after breaking off (I’ve certainly broken spikes myself, and it’s heartbreaking). You never know, though — if the orchid is happy enough, maybe it’ll put out a whole new spike for you!

  44. thanks so much for the photos. I was hoping I had a flower spike (finally) on my orchid, but it’s just an upward-growing root. Darn. But my plants do look healthy and enthusiastic, so someday I’ll luck out and have a flower spike.

  45. Thank you so much for the fantastic pictures and description. This is my first orchid and I bought it last December with blooms and they lasted and bloomed again for a few months but then the spike died and it quit growing any new leaves so assumed it was dying. I have continued to care for it and last week I noticed a new leaf and then a few days later I saw new growth that looked different and I said to my husband I wonder if those are a new spike or a root? So I did what we do these days and I googled it and found your site. I have both a spike and a few new roots. I’m so excited!! And just when thought that I had killed it!!

  46. Hi! I have a Phal that has a new spike and wondering if I continue fertilizing it every other week until it’s in full bloom? Hadn’t fertilized it until I cut off the spike from last season’s bloom, so not sure when to stop now. Appreciate any detailed help on this — thanks!

    1. Hi Veronica, you don’t need to do anything with new roots on an orchid – just let them grown however they want to grow (even if it’s outside the pot). You can mist them a couple times a day in between waterings if they dry out quickly.

  47. Good after am a inexperience orchid owner this is my 2nd one my 1st dye after i left in care of my mother while on vac. my 2nd one has bloom twice already now i see new root and also a new stemp growing i have no idea what to do as there are green root on the buttom of the base i will attach a picture to see if i need to transfer it to another pot i love this flower and flower in general is like my baby i want for it to be ok any help would be gladly aprecciated.

    1. Hi Carin, thanks for your comment. If your orchid has never been repotted it’s a good idea to do so, to make sure the root system is healthy. If there are any rotten roots you should trim them away using a sterilized cutting tool, and then you can likely repot into the same pot using fresh potting medium. Orchids like to be “pot-bound” meaning they don’t like to be in a pot that’s too big for their root system. I recommend reading over some of the first few articles listed on my FAQ page here for basic orchid care:

      Happy growing!

    1. Hi there – that does look like a Phal, but I couldn’t even begin to tell you what type. It may be some kind of hybrid, but if you’re really interested in finding out I recommend posting over on The folks there might have more insight than I do. Good luck!

  48. thanks for that. Yes I suspected it was a phal but no idea which one it is. The thing is, I’ve pollinated a Gold Staff with that, so I should really find out what type of phal that is :-)! Thanks for your answer anyway, I will try in the forum

  49. I don’t have any questions as I’ve read through practically 5 years of Q&A! This is such a great page for so much wonderful knowledge on the subject matter. I just wanted to express my appreciation for all the help you’ve given me by giving all these other people assistance.

  50. I think i have a new plant growing out of the top of the stem where the flowers we’re i am new at this so what is it looks like new leaves not flowers????

  51. I have never tried raising orchids.before and know nothing about them ,would like to learn since one was given to me . Mine had a root when I received it but it looks as if it has died . The plant has a long stem that is about a foot tall ,looks as if it has tiny duds beginning to appear up the stem . I really don’t know what kind I have .Maybe you may help me know what kind it is .

    1. Hi Ernestine, thanks for your comment. I can’t really say what kind of orchid you have without seeing a photo of it, but it’s most likely a phalaenopsis, aka a “moth orchid.” Those are the most common household orchids and are the type you usually see for sale in grocery stores, big box home improvement stores, florists, and more. You can find all kinds of tips on how to grow them on my FAQ page here:

      I hope that helps!

  52. I finally was able to make my orchid bloom. The hardest thing to do is making sure you can keep your plants alive. I take my plants out of what they came in and repot in wood using a a pot 1″ bigger. I water each day with the tips of my fingers like a small rain fall about 1/4 cup. Then I make sure that the wood stays damp by putting wet paper towels over and the wood. Every day I do this and my orchids are beautiful
    I have now added a small cold water humidifier and the orchids went wild. Remember it’s mostly about keeping the wood damp. Never leave water and under your he pot

  53. I am new to Orchids and absolutely love them. So far I only have the one phalaenopsis and after the bloom died and I cut back the stem I re-potted into a 3″ pot. After many many videos of re-potting I am so glad that I did because the roots were staying way too wet in the original potting mix (mainly moss packed around the root); I re-potted with the correct potting mix for orchids. It’s been about 1 month and I have a new growth coming out between the leaves & thanks to your information above I believe it will be a bloom. I believe the best advice for newly purchased orchids is to re-pot them after the bloom dies.

  54. Thank you for clarifying! Unfortunately, before I found this site I thought the long roots were spikes and encouraged them to grow up by attaching them to the rods used for the flowering spikes when I received the orchid. What do I do now? Will they lay back down? I have 7 roots 6-8 inches in length outside the pot. They are silvery,but have brown tips. I know nothing about orchids (obviously) &have never fettilized it. The leaves are green and roots are growing-do I need to? Let me know if I should try to send you a picture. Thank you !

  55. Hi Sara! Orchids do tend to grow aerial roots, so this is quite normal. It sounds like maybe the brown tips are due to the roots not getting enough moisture. I’d recommend misting these roots at least once a day with water from a spray bottle, to keep them from drying out too much. You could try soaking the roots in water for an hour or so to see if you can get them pliable enough to go back inside the pot, but if you try this I would be REALLY cautious, because the roots can break off easily — especially if they’ve been trained to grow upward like you mentioned. Misting is probably the better option.

    In terms of fertilizing, you should do it about once a month. Even when the leaves and roots are growing, the orchid still needs some nourishment that it can’t get from plain old tap water. You can read some tips about fertilizing here:

    Good luck and I hope that helps!

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