Orchid blossoms are some of the most delicate flowers available to home gardeners, and thus pruning requires some care and attention. The exotic petals, forming on a long stalk, seem to breathe and glow with life. All good things must come to an end, however, and those blooms you love will wither. You can promote the health of your orchid, and encourage it to bloom again, by pruning away the wilted and dead materials.
Before you begin, you will need to invest in very sharp pruning shears. Orchid pruning shears come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but shears with long, needle-nosed blades are best for overall pruning. If you choose to use shears from your garden, you'll need to disinfect them before you use them on your orchid to ensure that you're not bringing disease from your yard into your house and infecting your orchid. Your garden shears should also be sharpened, to ensure that you can make clean cuts without tearing your orchid plant. Wash your hands as well, to ensure that you don't bring germs to your orchid.
There are hundreds of species of orchid, and each has slightly different pruning requirements. In general, as the blossoms dry and fade from your orchid, cut them off at the stalk with your very sharp pruning shears. Some species of orchids lose their blooms one at a time, while others lose all blossoms at once. When your orchid has no more blossoms whatsoever, it's time to prune the stalk. Moth orchids (also known as orchids in the phalaenopsis family) can produce new blooms on the stem that just held blossoms. Grasp the end of the stem and look down for new nodes. These small bumps will produce new clusters of flowers. Prune the stem to 1/4 inch above the node. Most other species of orchid will not produce flowers on the same stalk. Use your sharp shears to remove the stem down to the base of the plant. Your orchid will then expend energy on producing a new stem, and new flowers. You can follow this same technique on your moth orchid as well, but it will take longer for your plant to produce new blossoms on an entirely new stem.
Your orchid plant is made up of more than just a flowering stem. By caring for the roots and leaves of your orchid, you'll help ensure that all parts of the plant stay healthy and strong. These steps can be followed at any time. Just remember to use your sharp shears, and clean them before you start trimming your orchid. Gently lift your orchid out of its container and inspect the roots. These should be thick and white or green in color. Snip off any roots that are black, brown or withered. After this root trim, place your orchid in new bark and water. Inspect the leaves. Healthy orchid leaves will be firm and deep green. Remove any leaves that are yellow or black by cutting them at the base of the orchid plant with your sharp shears.