How to Water Orchid Plants


Orchid flowers are highly prized and orchid societies around the world attest to the popularity of raising this plant. Many orchids are epiphytes which grow on trees so their requirements differ from other flowering plants. Watering correctly and keeping the air around the plant humid are important components of growing this finicky plant and producing blooms worth bragging about. Several factors influence the frequency of watering. An orchid in a large pot will require watering less frequently than an orchid in a small pot. Clay pots are porous and require watering more frequently than plastic pots. Loose bark is one type of growing medium used for orchids; it requires more frequent watering. Most orchids require watering once or twice a week when they are actively growing.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:

  • Waterproof tray
  • Decorative flat stones or marbles
  • Pot with drainage holes
  • Container to collect rain water
  1. Determine if your orchid is a Phalaenopsis by checking the label or inquiring at a nursery. This type of orchid cannot store water in pseudobulbs and will die if the growing medium is allowed to dry out completely. Special care should be taken to keep the growing medium moist.

  2. Avoid using tap water on orchids.

    Avoid using tap water on orchids.

    Orchids are sensitive to the salt that may be found in tap water (more than 875 ppm), so it is better to use rain water whenever possible. Collect rainwater by placing a container under a gutter spout during a rain storm or drawing water from a rain barrel.

  3. Fill a tray with flat marbles or stones.

    Fill a tray with flat marbles or stones.

    Orchids require 40 to 60 percent humidity which is much higher than is typically found inside a home. Create a humid environment by placing a waterproof tray with sides about one inch high in the location where the orchids will grow. Layer flat, decorative rocks or marbles in the tray. Fill the tray with rainwater. Place the orchid pots on the rocks. As the water evaporates from the tray it creates humidity around the orchid plant. Refill the tray as needed.

  4. Make sure the pot drains well.

    Make sure the pot drains well.

    Ensure that the orchid’s pot drains water adequately. Look at the pot and make sure that there are holes in the bottom large enough to drain water. Orchids should never stand in water or water-logged growing medium.

  5. Make sure the surface of the growing medium dries between waterings.

    Make sure the surface of the growing medium dries between waterings.

    Check the growing medium with your finger before watering. The top of the growing medium should be dry. If it is still wet, delay watering until the surface of the growing medium is dry to the touch.

  6. Determine a watering schedule for the orchid by noting on a calendar each time you water the orchid. Note whether the orchid requires water once or twice a week.

Tips & Warnings

  • Leave space around each orchid to allow air movement. This helps prevent fungal disease.

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