How to Water Orchids

How to Water Orchids

In the spring, summer, and winter, water orchids once every seven days, and once every ten to fourteen days. To evenly moisten the soil, give orchids a good soak for 5 minutes, either under the faucet or in a bowl of water. To boost humidity, mist orchid leaves with water twice a week.

However, it should be noted that depending on a number of variables, including the potting medium (moss dries at a slower pace than bark), the season, and the individual environmental circumstances in your home, orchids may need to be watered more or less frequently.

The frequency of watering orchids is summarized in the following table:

Orchid Requirements:Orchid Watering Schedule:
Plants for indoor orchids:From spring to late summer/early fall, water orchids with a generous soak once every seven days or so.
Winter Orchids Indoors:In the late fall and winter, water orchids once every seven to ten days. Monitor the soil moisture and water when the top inch feels dry as indoor heating can dry out orchids.
Moss with orchids:As moss retains more moisture, you should wait until the top inch of the soil dries up before watering orchids in moss, which is typically once every 7 to 10 days in the summer and once every 10 days in the winter.
Flowers in Bark:In the early spring, summer, and early fall, water orchids in bark once every seven to ten days, and once every seven to ten days in the winter.
Orchid leaves that are misty:At least twice a week, mist the leaves of the orchids with water to simulate the humidity of their native tropical environment.

Knowing how and when to water orchids is crucial since they can suffer from difficulties related to overwatering as well as drought stress if they are either underwatered or the air is too dry.

The best way to water orchids depending on your environment and conditions, how to water orchids grown in moss or bark, and all the best watering techniques to guarantee a healthy orchid plant are all covered in the following paragraphs.

How Often to Water Orchids Indoors

Although there are many different species of orchids that may be found all over the world, the most popular household varieties are grown in tropical and subtropical regions with warm temperatures, high humidity levels, and loose, well-draining soil.

Orchids are sensitive to excessive moisture from frequent watering or from soils with slow drainage since they are so well suited to thriving in well-draining soil around their roots.

It’s crucial to replicate the average soil, humidity conditions, and watering for orchid growth at home.

Water orchids generously once every seven days or so in the spring and summer and once every 10 to 14 days in the winter. To replicate the preferred degree of humidity for orchids, mist the leaves with water twice a week. Once a generous soak, water again after the top inch of the potting material has dried.

It’s crucial to remember that how frequently you water your orchids might vary depending on a number of conditions, including:

  • the range of temperatures and humidity that is typical for your home.
  • Your pot or container’s size (smaller pots dry out much quicker then larger pots, read my article, choosing the best pots for orchids).
  • Whether the orchid is close to heat sources, draughts, or air conditioning currents.
  • The potting soil type (moss retains more moisture then bark).

Use your finger to feel the soil’s moisture content to determine how frequently to water orchids in your home based on the conditions there.

Delay watering your orchid for a few days if the top inch of soil seems significantly wet until the top inch of soil feels as like it is drying off.

To check whether the soil around the roots of the orchid is still moist or is drying out, another technique is to insert a wooden skewer into the potting media. The orchid should be watered as soon as the skewer feels dry to the touch.

You can even tell when your orchid needs watering by picking up the pot and feeling the weight after watering; when the orchid feels noticeably lighter, the potting medium is drying out, indicating the ideal time to water. This method requires consistent watering and drying out of your orchid over many months.

The ideal moisture balance for orchids indoors is achieved by letting the top inch of the potting media dry out between waterings. This meets their water needs and prevents issues like root rot that can arise from watering too frequently.

As indoor air is typically much lower in humidity than outdoor air and as orchids are tropical plants, they thrive in climates with 60–70% humidity, which can be easily replicated by misting the plant at least twice per week. Keep in mind that regular misting of the leaves is important all year round.

(Read my post on how to revive a dying orchid if your orchid is in danger of dying.)

How Often to Water Orchids in Winter

Even when cultivated indoors, orchids’ needs for moisture might vary somewhat with the seasons.

Due to the decrease in daylight hours and light intensity in the fall and winter, orchids require less watering than they do during the vigorous growing seasons of spring and summer.

However, because of sources of heat like radiators, fires, and forced air, the temperature range indoors can be pretty steady all year long and can even increase in the winter. This affects how frequently you need water your orchid.

In order to combat the low humidity, water orchids every 10 days or so and mist them every two days. Winter temperatures indoors might cause orchids to dry out more quickly. Determine how soon the top inch of soil dries out, then adjust how frequently you water your orchid as necessary.

Before rehydrating your orchid, always make sure the top inch of the potting medium feels dry. This equilibrium of soil moisture guarantees that the orchid does not entirely dry out while avoiding problems brought on by overwatering, such as root rot.

In order to imitate their more tropical, humid natural environment, it is crucial to wet the leaves frequently. The air indoors during the winter can be particularly dry for orchids, which depletes the leaves of moisture.

The orchid should remain healthy over the winter as long as the top inch of the potting medium is fairly dry between waterings.

The next spring, up the frequency of your watering again to around once per week.

How Often to Water Orchids in Moss

Because orchids are sensitive to root rot if there is excessive moisture around the roots for an extended period of time, watering orchids that are planted in moss can be challenging.

If you water your orchid too frequently, the moss it grows on absorbs and retains moisture, which can foster the conditions for root rot.

To ensure that your orchid remains healthy, careful monitoring of the moss’s moisture levels is necessary.

If your orchid is in a moss-based planting media, you may find out how often to water it by giving the plant a good bath first. Then, every so often, stick your finger or a wooden skewer an inch into the soil and see how long it takes for the moss to start to feel dry.

When you notice that the moss has dried out to about an inch, it’s time to water your orchid. The amount of time it typically takes for the moss to dry between waterings can vary depending on the humidity of your environment, the range of temperatures in your home, air currents, and the size of the pot.

In order to establish a humid microclimate that closely resembles the humid circumstances in the orchid’s natural tropical environment, shower the leaves once every two days or so, regardless of the potting media. Orchids prefer some humidity.

Method for Watering Orchids in Moss

The best way to water orchids in moss is to submerge the pot for around five minutes in a basin of water. This is all the time needed to sufficiently water your orchid and hydrate the moss because moss is an areaeted potting media.

After soaking for five minutes, let any surplus water drain from the orchids’ pot via the drainage holes on the base for around ten minutes.

After that, you can set the orchid pot on a saucer or tray to catch any spilled water, but it’s crucial to periodically drain any saucers, trays, or decorative outer pots of water to keep the excess from collecting around the base of the pot and soaking the orchid roots in soggy dirt.

This technique provides the moss a good soak, simulating the tropical environment of the orchids’ natural habitat, where there is frequently a deluge of rain that soaks the region around the roots of the orchids, followed by a dry period.

The top inch or so of the moss only becomes moist if you water orchids too lightly, and the water does not properly permeate the potting medium to reach all of the roots where it is needed. As a result, the orchid may experience drought stress, resulting in wilted, shriveled leaves and grey or white roots.

While watering under the faucet is a wonderful alternative, I find that placing orchids in a basin of water ensures that the moss is evenly moistened throughout the combination, allowing the roots to absorb the necessary moisture.

How Often to Water Orchids in Bark

How Often to Water Orchids in Bark

Water orchids in bark on average every seven days in the spring and summer and every seven to ten days in the fall and winter. To boost humidity, mist the leaves with water once every two days.

Nevertheless, depending on a number of variables, including the humidity and temperature range of your region, as well as the size of the pot, you might need to water your orchid more frequently or less frequently.

In order for your orchid to stay healthy, it’s critical that you create a watering regimen that takes into consideration the environmental factors in your house.

Accordingly, soak the bark first, then note how long it usually takes for the top inch of bark chippings to feel relatively dry before watering once again.

This can be done by frequently picking up the potted orchid immediately after watering it, and when it feels noticeably lighter, you know the soil has dried and it is time to water. You can also do this by feeling the potting medium with your finger to determine when the top inch feels dry.

Again, it’s crucial to sprinkle the orchid with water at least twice a week in order to mimic the tropical, humid conditions found there, as dry air in the home will deplete the plant’s leaves of moisture and cause it to dry up too rapidly.

(Check out my article on how to save a dying orchid.)

Method for Watering Orchids in Bark

Instead of watering little and often, orchids enjoy a cycle of watering when their potting media is moistened and then allowed to dry over the course of about a week.

The easiest way to water an orchid in bark is to submerge the pot for about five minutes, then let any surplus water drain out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

In their natural tropical climate, where they generally suffer a deluge of rain followed by a dry period, this method of watering is meant to mimic the watering circumstances.

Bark is extremely porous and aerated, which allows water to drain effectively while also absorbing some moisture so that the roots may receive the water they require without being submerged in an excessively wet potting mix, keeping the orchid healthy and preventing root rot.

Put the orchid on a saucer or tray to stop extra water from pouring inside your house, but make sure to clear the saucer or tray frequently to prevent water from pooling at the base of the pot, which might leave the bark potting mix too damp and foster the growth of root rot.

If you make sure that the potting mix is evenly moist and use enough water so that the surplus water trickles out of the drainage pores at the base of the pot, you can also water orchids in bark under the faucet.

I personally find it simplest to soak the orchid for five minutes in a basin of water, as I can water multiple plants at once and it ensures the bark mixture is evenly saturated, allowing the roots to effectively absorb water and remain healthy.

(Read my post on how to identify whether an orchid needs more or less water.)

Watering Orchids With Ice Cubes

The easiest way to prevent overwatering when watering orchids is sometimes suggested to use ice.

However, I advise against watering using ice cubes because they won’t water your orchids’ potting medium uniformly as they melt. Instead, I advise either using the faucet or submerging the orchids in a bowl of water.

The water may not get to all the roots where it is needed since the ice usually melts and typically only moistens a portion of the potting material.

It can be challenging to determine how much ice is necessary to adequately water your orchid because you run the risk of using too little ice, which would only saturate the top inch or so of the potting medium and expose the orchid to drought stress.

Additionally, although room temperature rain water is typically the ideal practice, ice is contradictory in temperature to the tropical habitats from which popular house plant orchids originate, and the discrepancy in temperatures might shock the plant (although tap water is okay too).

While it is possible to water orchids using ice cubes, this method is not recommended because it is difficult to determine how much water has been consumed and whether your orchid has received enough water to be healthy.

Watering Orchid Best Practices

  • As it is similar to the warmth of rain in their original tropical environment and helps lessen stress, watering orchids at room temperature is typically regarded as best practice.
  • In almost all households, tap water is suitable for watering orchids. However, if you live in a region where the water contains high amounts of chlorine, you should either use rainwater or let the water rest for 12 hours to allow the chlorine (and fluoride) to evaporate.
  • Since indoor air is frequently low in humidity, misting the leaves of orchids with water on a regular basis is advised. In drier climates, you should mist the leaves even more frequently. Misting once every two days aids in maintaining the ideal humidity level for orchids.
  • Before watering again, let the top inch of the potting medium dry out. This typically takes a week, but you may verify the soil’s hydration by weighing the pot (it should feel lighter as water evaporates during the week), using your finger, or using a wooden skewer.
  • Watering too lightly can prevent water from penetrating the soil by moistening the surface and not reaching the roots, producing drought stress. Always wet the potting medium while watering to ensure that it is evenly moist and then allow it to dry out.

Signs of an Over Watered or Under Watered Orchid

Signs of an Over Watered or Under Watered Orchid
  • The roots of orchids should feel firm and have a healthy green appearance, which suggests that the watering has been balanced properly. Orchid roots that have been overwatered appear brown or black and feel mushy. Overwatered orchid roots frequently have a foul odor, which may be a sign of root rot brought on by slow-draining soils or excessive irrigation.
  • Overwatered orchids develop yellow, drooping, and even wrinkled leaves, which show that the roots are unable to circulate water and nutrients throughout the plant.
  • Another indication of overwatering is flower buds that fall off before opening.

While underwatering can also be a prevalent issue for orchid house plants, overwatering can have a greater impact on orchids. Because of little or excessive watering, orchids may exhibit stress symptoms. Orchids that need more water:

  • Instead of being healthy green, the roots of an orchid that hasn’t received enough water may seem grey or even white and withered.
  • The same signs of overwatered orchids, including yellowing, drooping, and wrinkled leaves, can also occur with underwatered orchids. This is the reason why the symptoms are frequently similar: both overwatering and underwatering impair the orchid’s roots’ capacity to move water and nutrients throughout the plant.
  • Another indicator of stress caused by underwatering orchids is flower buds that do not open or that fall off.

(Several factors can cause orchid leaves to turn yellow. For additional information, see my article on how to preserve an orchid with yellow leaves.

Key Takeaways:

  • When the orchid is dormant in the winter, water it once every 10 to 14 days. Orchids require watering every seven days from spring to fall. To ensure that the potting medium is evenly saturated, give orchids a good bath. To increase humidity, mist the orchid leaves with water twice a week.
  • Every 7 to 10 days in the spring and summer and every 10 days or so in the winter, water orchids in moss by submerging the pot in a sink for two minutes. To prevent root rot, check the moisture levels of the potting medium frequently and adapt your watering schedule if necessary.
  • In the spring, summer, and winter, water orchids in bark once every seven days and once every ten to fourteen days. Water by submerging for five minutes in a basin. Bark mimics the aerated, well-draining growing conditions of the orchids’ natural environment and dries up more quickly than moss.
  • To satisfy the orchid’s watering needs and prevent root rot, frequently check the potting medium of your orchid and make sure the top inch dries out between bouts of watering.

FAQ

How do you water orchids in moss and bark?

Every time you water an orchid mix, make sure to thoroughly hydrate it. Then, let it almost entirely dry before rehydrating. Before watering, check to see if the moss or bark feels fully dry by sticking your finger into it up to the first knuckle.

How do I know when to water my orchid in bark?

The bark gets more absorbent over time as it decomposes. When using bark, water it liberally because it drains so well, then let the water run off. Many orchids, including cattleyas and dendrobiums, prefer to dry out in between waterings, which bark enables.

Do you water orchids from the top or bottom?

Make sure the water in the tray doesn’t reach the pots’ bottoms before placing your orchids on top of the stones and adding water. The air immediately surrounding the plant will become more humid as the water evaporates.

How do you water orchids in mulch?

How do you water orchids with bark chips?

The bark pieces need to be thoroughly saturated, which requires more than a little mist from a watering can. Placing the entire pot into a bowl as least as deep as the bark line is the ideal approach to water orchids that are housed in bark pots. Then, add enough water to the bark to completely cover it, filling the bowl to just below the pot’s lip.

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