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Don’t know how to water orchids properly? Don’t worry, because many people share the same problem. Plant enthusiasts know that orchids have a notorious reputation for being high-maintenance flowers. If you want to enjoy the charming tropical blooms, have in mind that you should water them appropriately.
Knowing that orchids are the beauties of the tropical rainforests, you might be tempted to water them generously. However, have in mind that this practice can kill your plants. In this post, we share valuable information on how to water orchids. Once you are familiar with this exotic plant’s specific needs, we assure you that you will never kill any orchids again.
1. The Orchid’s Relationship With Water
Before we proceed to explain how to water orchids, it is essential to know how they work. Once you get it, you will understand their needs and implement a proper watering schedule.
Although these exotic flowers thrive in humid environments, they don’t like much water. Unlike other house plants, orchids are potted in bark or moss. Therefore, you can assess their water needs by inspecting the aerial roots. They have a thin covering called velamen, an essential indicator of the plant’s water needs. This tissue is responsible for preventing the water from evaporating, absorbing water, and supporting the plant. When it is wet, it has a green color. When dry, the velamen is gray. However, the color may vary between different orchid species.
2. How to Tell if Your Orchid Needs Water
One helpful method to determine the moisture is to test the potting medium. Put a finger about one inch deep into the potting medium and see if it is wet or dry. If you can feel that it is dry, it is time to soak your gorgeous orchids thoroughly.
Different orchid species will have different watering needs, so it is crucial to determine when your plant needs water. Have in mind that orchids can tolerate underwatering and not overwatering. High moisture levels will cause root rotting, which will kill your plant.
3. When to Water Orchids
As with other houseplants, a few factors will determine your plant’s water needs. Some of them are sun exposure, potting medium, orchid type, and temperature. If you grow these beauties outdoors, they will need more watering to make it up for moisture loss. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, the ideal watering schedule ranges from every five days to once a week.
The watering frequency isn’t the only thing that you should pay attention to, as you should mind the time as well. Watering your orchids in the morning is the right way to go, as there is plenty of time for the excess water to evaporate from the crown and foliage. If you do it in the evening, the water will settle and promote fungal growth.
4. How to Water Orchids
When it is time for watering, give them a big drink and let the excess drain from the pot. Place the orchid pot in your kitchen sink and give it a generous soak with warm water, with a temperature higher than 50 F. Orchid enthusiasts should know that cold water can damage the plant roots, so avoid it at all costs.
While other plants enjoy more frequent waterings in small amounts, the orchid likes to get a nice soak. Allow your potting medium to dry completely, and soak again when you notice clear signs of dryness. If you live in a low humidity area or your home gets hot, you will need to water your orchids more frequently.
5. Orchid Watering Mistakes to Avoid
To make sure that you will grow healthy and luscious orchids, you should avoid a few fatal mistakes.
Frequent Modest Watering
As we already mentioned, avoid frequent and small waterings. Remember that orchids like a deep-soaking, as they would get during a tropical rainstorm in their natural habitat. Ensure that the roots never sit in water, as this will cause rotting.
Following a Strict Watering Schedule
The watering frequency depends on many factors, so it is always better to inspect the plant before you proceed. These gorgeous tropical flowers will give off signs that let you know when they need watering.
Although orchids naturally live in a humid environment, you won’t replicate it with misting. If you still want to make your beauties feel like home, it is better to place a tray with rocks and water below the pot. Alternatively, a humidifier will do the job perfectly if you plan to go fancy with your plants.
Watering the Blooms
When watering, make sure to direct the stream to the potting medium. Otherwise, the water flow might damage the gorgeous blooms or even cause rotting.
Direct Sun Exposure
When the orchids are exposed to direct sunlight, the moisture will evaporate quickly. Make sure to move them to a spot where they can still get light but aren’t directly exposed.
6. How to Know if the Orchid is Dry
Orchid Underwatering Signs
If you notice that the aerial roots are grey, this is a clear sign of underwatering. They will appear dry and thin, so you will need to trim them to save your plant. Other clear signs that your plant receives too little water are yellow or dark leaves, which appear dry when you touch them. Although you will save the plant by trimming the dead roots, keep in mind that it will take long before the dry leaves recover.
Orchid Overwatering Signs
Healthy orchid roots will have a green color, meaning that they receive enough water. If you notice that the roots are brown and soggy, this means that you have overwatered your plant. This is a clear sign that you should stop watering your orchid since the risk of rotting is high at this point. If the leaves are yellow, make sure to inspect the roots. If the roots are mushy and black, this means that they are rotten. Soft leaves and dropping buds are other indicators of rotten roots.
Tip: Although rotten roots are an alarming sign, it doesn’t have to mean that your plant will die. Stop watering your orchid and wait for them to dry.