Orchids are flowers native to tropical forests. They love warm environments with a lot of moisture in the air. Though they like humidity, their root system is very vulnerable to root rot when they wallow in water for too long.
As a consequence, watering is an essential but delicate stage when growing them.
Read on to discover how to properly water an orchid in a pot!
Best water to use for an orchid
Orchids generally don’t like limestone. That’s why it’s better to water them with soft water. Rainwater collected in a barrel is ultimately the best, but filtered water is also very good.
- Good to know: to remove calcium carbonate from tap water, just add a few drops from a squeezed lemon.
In any case, another important recommendation is to use water that’s already at room temperature: it helps avoid thermal shock.
Two methods to water an orchid
You’ve got two options to water your orchids: you can either dunk them in water for a few minutes, or water them just as you do other plants in the house. In both cases, avoid stagnant water which will inevitably lead to root rot on your orchid.
Dunking an orchid in a pot
- First of all, fill the sink or a pail with room-temperature water.
- Dunk the entire orchid pot in the sink or bucket, but don’t include the stem, leaves and flowers which should stay above water.
- Let it sit for a few minutes.
- Pull the pot out and set it aside for extra water to drip away, and then return the pot to its cachepot or basket.
Watering a potted orchid with a watering can
- Give your orchid a lot of water directly in the pot, until water drains into the cachepot or saucer underneath.
- Wait for a few minutes, giving the plant enough time to absorb the water it needs.
- Then, empty the pot or saucer so that there isn’t any sitting water left.
How often to water an orchid
Watering frequency for orchids depends on:
- temperature and air moisture of the room where it’s growing;
- blooming stage;
- type of substrate (some dry more or less quickly, depending on what it’s made from and how much there is);
- and the type of orchid you’re growing.
It’s said that an orchid in full bloom, in an indoor setting with temperatures that hover between 60 and 75°F (17 to 24°C) needs watering or dunking every 7 to 10 days on average. After the blooming, which corresponds to a phase of dormancy, you’ll need to water your orchi on average every 15 days to 3 weeks.
How to tell if an orchid needs water
If you’re not sure whether to water or not, there’s a simple trick to check whether your Phalaenopsis orchid needs water.
Observe its roots, which should be easy to look at through the usual translucent pot. (Note: don’t use an opaque pot!)
- If the roots are bright green, wait for a few more days before dunking or watering them.
- However, if they’re more on the grayish-white side (like a silvery color), it means they need to be watered immediately.
This trick only works for Phalaenopsis orchids (which are the most commonly grown ones, luckily). It won’t help you for other types of orchids. If you’re growing one such other orchid, there are two ways to tell if your orchid needs water:
- Dig your finger into the pot’s substrate. If it feels cool and moist, you don’t need to water yet.
- Lift the orchid’s pot. A light clump is a sign that the plant needs water.
In winter, heaters and radiators tend to dry the air in home out. To make sure your orchids have a high air moisture level, as is the case in their native environments, feel free to mist their leaves and aerial roots around once a day.
Use a manual hand sprayer filled with soft water.
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