Orchid Watering Tips

Did you know that one of the most common causes of orchid death is improper watering, in particular, overwatering?

Learn the proper ways to water orchids with these tips.

Four Ways To Measure If An Orchid Needs Watering

Photo source: Our House Plants

Photo source: Our House Plants

The Pencil Trick

Get a pencil and insert the tip into the orchid pot. Make sure it touches the potting medium. If the lead part goes dark with moisture, then your orchid doesn't need to be watered as of yet. If the lead is unchanged though and comes off dry, it might be time to water your plant.

If you are hesitating though because you feel the pot still has some moisture, you can wait a day. It is better to underwater than overwater.

The Finger Trick

Similar to the pencil trick but this time, you are using your finger. You'll have to be sensitive enough to feel whether the potting media is moist or not. 

Root Color Check

The roots of orchids are covered by a thin membrane called velamen. When dry, the velamen is white or silvery in color. When moistened, the color is green or mottled. So, if your orchid roots are looking dry and silvery-white, that's an indicator for you.

Still, get into the habit of observing the color of your orchid roots when dry or watered. There are so many orchid varieties that there are many exceptions to the general rules.

Weigh the Orchid Pot

Once you get familiar with your plants, you will know how each pot will feel when wet or dry. If an orchid is too light, it most likely needs water. If wet, the pot will be heavier. Learn the feel of your potted plants to be able to gauge how much moisture is still in each pot.

How To Water Your Orchid

See how the plastic potted orchid is in a ceramic decorative pot. Photo Source: Brico Bistro

See how the plastic potted orchid is in a ceramic decorative pot. Photo Source: Brico Bistro

A lot of people water their orchids at home in their kitchen sinks. However, this is not advisable for beginners as you can accidentally get water on delicate parts of the plant or water unevenly and ultimately cause rot. Instead, let's use the following method for beginners.

Just to make sure I am describing this well, note that my plastic orchid pots have holes at the bottom. Then, I have a decorative ceramic pot that reaches up to the top of the roots of my orchid. This arrangement is important in getting the below done. (See top photo)

  • First off, prepare a container of tepid water. Let it sit uncovered for 24 hours. This will remove and dissipate harmful chemicals like chlorine.

  • Next, pour directly onto your orchid pot until the water reaches the rim.

  • Let your orchid soak for 10-15 minutes. (As you can imagine, the water isn't draining off because the plastic orchid pot is inside the ceramic pot with nowhere for the liquid to go.)

  • After, take out the plastic pot and sit your orchid in the kitchen sink to drain. Make sure it drains entirely. In the meantime, drain any remaining water in your ceramic pot.

  • Once fully drained, return the orchid to its decorative pot.

Ten Tips On Watering Orchids Correctly

orchids at home.jpg

Here are more tips on how to water orchids the right way. 

  1. Always water in the morning so they have the whole day for their foliage and crown to dry. Orchids should be dry as night time approaches.

  2. Water thoroughly so that your orchid roots are saturated. You know your orchid is completely hydrated when tiny droplets are sticking to the roots after watering.

  3. Tap water is fine to use for watering plants but if you start seeing deposits forming on your plants, this may be an indication of high calcium or mineral content. You may have to switch to another water source.

  4. Do not use distilled or softened water.

  5. Some serious growers swear by using rainwater for watering. If you have it, then use it. If not, use tap water that has been allowed to sit for 24 hours.

  6. If your house is very warm or has low humidity, you will need to water more often.

  7. The general cycle of watering is once a week during winter and twice a week on warm days. However, as mentioned earlier, different variables like humidity and potting medium affect plant moisture so this schedule is just a very general reference.

  8. Always check for airflow in your orchid roots and pots. Orchids NEED good airflow. One side effect of good airflow is that draining a freshly watered plant becomes easy.

  9. When in doubt if your plant needs a watering, just hold off for the day. Overwatering will kill your orchid more than underwatering.

  10. PRO-TIP: After watering, some growers put their orchids on humidity trays or saucers of gravel or pebbles and water. The pot is placed above the water line. This provides the plant with increased humidity and circulation while still keeping the orchid from being immersed in water.

Watch the Video

Here is a nice video we can all learn from. Samantha uses the finger method and the weighing method to tell if her orchids need to be watered.