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So you found a sticky substance on one of your Orchid’s leaves, the spike or even around a new Orchid bud. Should you panic? No, at least not at first. If what you find is what I think it might be, this sticky substance is referred to as “Orchid Nectar”, “Orchid Honey” and even “Honey Dew” in the Orchid community and is very common and completely harmless. Those who have tasted it describe it as very sweet.
The first thing you should do is try and find the cause of where the sap is coming from. In my case, it was easy…I just looked up and saw the nectar dripping off the end of the flower spike, which appeared to be rotting. My remedy was easy, I cut the rotting end of the spike just behind it, right above the node prior to it. Then I dabbed Cinnamon on the end of the Orchid spike to prevent any type of bacteria or virus entering through the open wound.
It is, however, important to wipe clean the nectar off the Orchid leaf. If not, you’re basically giving an open-door invitation to every mealybug or other unwanted bugs and insects in the area to clean it up for you, causing a possible disaster to your Orchid collection and surrounding plants.
On a side note, be sure to ALWAYS use sterilized cutting tools BEFORE cutting anything off your Orchid. My preferred method is Isopropyl Alcohol, or Rubbing Alcohol. I always clean before and again after, each use, not taking any chances.
What Causes this Sticky Orchid Sap?
The exact cause is really unknown. Many believe it to be a lure to draw in pollinators, but on the same token, it might lure the wrong kind of insects. Bees use this as a source of nectar when they are being starved for lack of wild flowers and general blossoms.
Can this Sticky Sap Cause Orchid Problems?
Although finding this sap on your Orchids is a sign of good health, yes, it has the potential to cause problems if not cleaned off right away. If left alone, it may lead to a bacterial infection. Be sure to check the area for small round spots, which could be an indication of Scale, or even Aphids, sucking insects that produce same type of sap, that must be treated immediately.
How to Remove the Sticky “Orchid Nectar” Droplets
A piece of gauze, paper towel, Q-Tip or tissue dipped in warm water does the job of removing the sticky droplets from the leaves.