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I have this white flower orchid (Phalaenopsis), for many years now. I got it as a present once, I think more than 15 years ago. And ever since it survived and produces new branches each year, but... most of the buds seem to become yellow (and drop off) before they open up into flowers. Usually a few buds will make it into flowers, but most of them just drop off before that. My question is, what is the cause of that? Can I prevent it? Like you can see on the picture, this year I even have 3 branches (new record), but the first yellow buds already appear before the first flower!

Hope to find some real orchid experts here. The plant is kept in the living room close to a west facing window, but about a meter away from it so it does not take direct sunlight. I give it water every week or every two weeks (depends on how dry the wet/soil is). During spring/summer it gets some liquid fertilizer.

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This could be Orchid bud blast. According to this article,

When orchid flower buds turn yellow, they're typically also dried out and withered. This is usually a case of bud blast, when the buds shrivel and fall from their stalks before they blossom, advises Missouri Botanical Garden.

A shock from a sudden change in environment is the leading cause of bud blast. Changes could include a drop in humidity, a change in lighting or extreme temperature fluctuations. Sometimes other problems, such as insufficient nutrients, a poor watering schedule or air pollution, can also cause buds to yellow instead of mature.

I've had pretty good luck growing these in a south facing window (I'm near 45 degrees north latitude so that may not work out in more southerly locations) and watering once a week by soaking the entire pot in water that has about half-strength all-purpose fertilizer for about an hour (although I've been known to forget and let them sit overnight LOL). Keep a regular watering regimen and go easy on the fertilizer. I once heard the adage for this orchid is to "fertilize weakly weekly". Seems to work for me. I fertilize it every time I water, all year long.

You may have to experiment a bit to figure out exactly what the plant needs that it's not getting.

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    Orchid bud blast! Did not know it had such a cool name. I'll try some fertilizer, thank you for the advice. – benn Jan 23 at 18:31
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    My experience with them is that they're super easy. Mine sit by a south window, and get pretty warm in the summer and are subject to pretty chilly drafts (gets below zero outside) in the winter, so I'm a bit skeptical of the claim they're sensitive to temperatures. I've got one I've had 10 years old now, it blooms at least once a year. – DCookie Jan 23 at 20:51
  • Informative answer; with good fundamental care Orchids can be quite resilient; also, maybe go very weakly with specialised fertiliser for Orchids is good :) – M H Jan 24 at 2:43

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