A question I get from time to time is about the lifespan of an orchid in a home. The easy answer is that they can live indefinitely, but how do they do that?

Monopodial orchids, like Phalaenopsis, Vanda and others, grow leaves from the top of the central axis. Throughout their lives they will continuously form new leaves while shedding bottom ones and the axis will keep growing and produce roots. In the case of terminal spikes, orchids don’t necessarily die, they can propagate through keikis.

Sympodial orchids, like Cattleya, Oncidium, Dendrobium and others, grow through new pseudobulbs, multiple structures of the same plant. Even if a section of the orchid disappears, the plant itself doesn’t die but continues to grow and multiply.

Deciduous orchids like Catasetum and some Dendrobium species, will lose leaves regularly and look dead, but in fact they will just continue to grow when the appropriate season comes.

Annual orchids like Habenaria and Pleione orchids, will multiply through tubers, so even if the plant dies every year, new plants will sprout in the growing season.

An orchid can die mainly due to disease or pests which destroy the entirety of the plant or the main growth structures.

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