In the fourth part of our mini-series, “How to Take Care of Orchids“, we will discuss the water requirements of orchids.
A regular watering schedule is paramount to successful orchid growing. Obviously, without water an orchid will die but it is not simply a case of giving your plant a drink whenever you remember.
Firstly, a little information on the water that you will use. Ideally the water should be rainwater collected from outside. Tapwater contains chemicals that are not good for your orchid (such as chlorine), however if you have no choice tap-water is better than no water at all. The temperature of the water is also important. It should be around the same temperature as the environment around the orchid. Rainwater brought in from outside will probably be much cooler than your orchid so you should leave it inside for a couple of hours to warm up before applying it to your plant.
Generally, orchids should be watered around once a week in normal conditions moving up to twice a week in particularly warm conditions (such as in the middle of Summer). The potting medium you are using will also affect the regularity of your watering. For example, bark or fern will dry out much quicker than peat moss. As a general rule, you should water your orchid just before it becomes completely dry.
Paphiopedilum orchids should be kept moist at all times, Dendrobiums can be allowed to be almost dry before re-watering and Phalaenopsis orchids should dry out completely before re-watering.
It is best to water your orchid in the morning (the earlier, the better) so that it is dry by late evening. This allows the plant to concentrate on it’s growth during night instead of sucking up water.
To water you orchid, remove the pot from the stand and pour your water (hopefully warm rainwater evenly over the potting media). The best place to do this is outside or in the sink as most of the water should run straight thorough the media and out of the bottom of the pot. The trick is to make the media slightly damp. This will provide plenty of water for your orchid.
Your orchid pot should never be allowed to stand in water as too much water is often more dangerous to orchids than too little. If the roots are too wet, they will decay and the foliage will turn yellow.
Periodically, you should add fertilizer to your water to make sure your orchid is getting the nutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorous & Potassium) essential to it’s survival. This is the subject of part 5 of our mini-series How To Take Care of Orchids.
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 1: Choosing Your Orchid
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 2: Potting Media
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 3: Light
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 4: Water
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 5: Fertilizer
How to Take Care of Orchids Part 6: Temperature & Humidity