Last Updated on February 21, 2023 by Mattias
Orchids belong to the family of Orchidaceae, a popular flowering variety mainly consisting of vibrant and colorful flowers. These tropical plants are uniquely distinguishable from others due to their symmetry and characteristics.
Orchids are beautiful flowers that are a classic addition to your indoor plant collections, but proper care is needed to ensure their healthy growth and survival.
If you are wondering how often do you water orchid plants, then keep reading this article to find out.
How Often Do You Water Orchid Plants?
Generally, orchid plants should be watered every 7 to 10 days. But remember that this decision varies based on the home environment, orchid species, and time of the year.
In summer, you may find your orchid to be thirstier and water it twice a week or once every 3-4 days, whereas it may only need water once every 10 days in colder months. Just ensure it doesn’t go unwatered for more than 2 weeks.
Take a look below at some of the most influencing factors that ultimately determine the decision of how often do you water orchid plants.
Factors That Influence How Often Do You Water Orchid Plants
Firstly, the species of your orchid plant will play a significant part in determining its watering needs. Each type of orchid is different and has a specific set of requirements, so unless you have proper knowledge of each species, we recommend you keep one orchid variety at a time.
For instance, paphiopedilums and phalaenopsis orchids need more frequent watering because, unlike other orchid varieties, they deplete their reserves much more quickly.
Miltionopsis, with its thin leaves, also needs more water than other species. Once you excel in interpreting one variety’s watering needs, you can always add more to your collection.
Your orchid plants appreciate a gentle airflow and stay happy in the fresh air. Airflow dries out the excess moisture from the plant’s leaves and ultimately saves the orchid from fungal diseases and bacteria.
But remember that If orchids are exposed to heavy airflow, the evaporation rates will be higher, and water will dry out faster. This means that orchids under a high airflow need to be watered more often.
Excess dry air results in the plant’s dehydration, so select a suitable place for your orchid.
The general temperature in your location and the time of the year certainly play an important role. As mentioned above, you’ll need to water your orchids twice a week in the summer.
That’s because sun exposure and heat intensity are high during warmer months, and your plant tends to dry out faster. You only need to water it once every 7-10 days in colder months because these plants go into a state of dormancy as soon as winter approaches.
They will need less water during these months and some space to relax, but checking in every once in a while is never wrong. Since the temperature isn’t high, the soil will remain moist for longer anyway.
Orchids can be potted in various mediums. Ranging from tree bark mix to moss, you have a ton of choices. Many people don’t realize that the growing medium also changes how often you should water orchids.
For instance, if you have potted them in a bark mix, they will most probably repel water initially, and you’ll need to soak the plant entirely and water it once a week. Meanwhile, orchids in moss will dry out slower and need water once every two weeks.
Just to be sure, always check moisture content before watering the plant.
Humidity is just as much of an important factor as the rest. Epiphytic orchids usually love high humidity and thrive in such climates, but this particular environmental feature influences your watering schedule greatly.
As you may know, humidity is the moisture in the air. When in high humidity, an orchid’s root absorbs its essential water supply from the surrounding air and doesn’t rely on you for water intake.
The growing medium will stay moist for longer, and the plant will remain self-sufficient. If you live in an area where climatic conditions include high humidity, you’ll need to water your orchid plant less often.
Humidity can be increased locally by placing 7-10 ice cubes in the pot or container or misting the leaves with regular water spray. Your plant will appreciate this action but remember to do it in moderation.
How Often Do You Water Indoor Orchid Plants?
Orchids are mostly kept as indoor plants, and moth orchids are their most popular. It is relatively easier to take care of an orchid. Considering that their aerial roots join with the host and absorb water from surrounding roots, you’ll need to create a similar environment.
Orchids can be grown in bark chips, wood chips, sphagnum moss, and other potting mediums, but epiphytes are most likely to grow on tree bark because their natural habitat is tropical rainforests.
All of the factors listed above ultimately help you decide how often do you water indoor orchid plants. If the plant is exposed to direct sunlight, it will dry out more quickly. Furthermore, the season, time of year, humidity, and species variations will also apply to indoor orchids.
Still, generally, you should water indoor orchids once every 7-10 days to ensure their good health. Just make sure to check the moss moisture before that. If it feels damp, then hold off on watering.
How To Know When Orchid Plants Need Water?
One of the great ways to analyze your orchid flower’s watering needs is by learning to interpret its roots and velamen. In case you don’t know, velamen is a tissue-paper-thin membrane surrounding your orchid’s roots.
This helps in mineral transfer and adjustment to rough surfaces, but most importantly, this membrane soaks up large amounts of water. If it looks dry or silvery, it indicates the plant’s thirstiness. Meanwhile, a green or mottled velamen will surround your freshly watered orchid.
Another method is a good rule of thumb to remember. You can check the moisture content in the pot and determine whether it’s time to water. Perform a touch test by sticking your finger in the growing medium; if it’s dry to the touch, that’s your cue to water right away.
If the below-listed signs are visible in your orchid, then that’s a clear indication that your orchid needs more water.
Signs that your orchid is underwatered
- Limp and wrinkled leaves
- Wrinkled pseudobulbs
- Shriveled roots
- Distorted new leaves
- Soft flowers
What is The Best Way To Water Orchid Plants?
Besides the appropriate timing and the right amount of water, the correct method also matters greatly. Now that you know how often to water orchid plants, let’s see the best way to water them.
When watering orchids, the best way is to water them as thoroughly and densely as possible. Your orchid plant loves a heavy flow of water. The general recommendation is to take your plant out of its decorative pot and put it in a kitchen sink. You can also dunk it in a bucket as long as it’s filled with water.
The main goal is to saturate the velamen and hydrate the plant, properly growing medium and roots. Water your plant generously and let it flow freely from the bottom of the pot. Adding drainage holes in your potted orchid is also suggested so the soil will not get waterlogged.
You can use tap water as long as it does not contain chemicals such as chlorine. Salty or distilled water is probably the worst choice, so avoid them at all costs. Use simple lukewarm water instead of cold water because it can damage orchid roots and shock the plant overall.
As for the best time, early morning is typically suggested because the temperature is neither too high nor too low for the plant. The growing medium will have enough time to dry out until nightfall, and low heat intensity will ensure that the water doesn’t evaporate all at once.
Common Mistakes While Watering Orchids
Now that the best way is explained take a look at some of the most common mistakes gardeners make while watering orchids.
Your orchid is more likely to die because of excess water than underwatering. That’s because the roots do not like to sit in wet soil. Soggy soil attracts fungal diseases, including root rot.
When that happens, plants lose their ability to transfer nutrients properly, leading to root rot. They begin to drown, suffocate, and die. Too much water can also lead to crown rot and other fungal infestations.
Here are some other signs of overwatered orchids.
- Leathery leaves
- Leaves looking limp
- Growth of pleated leaves
- Yellow leaves
- Soft and mushy orchid plant
- Rotting smell
Your orchid is an expressive plant; if it’s not okay with your watering patterns, it will let you know. One of the fatal mistakes a gardener can make is to neglect these obvious signs.
Remember that your orchard is supposed to be fat and plump during the growing season, and if that’s not the case, then re-examine its needs.
It’s okay for an orchid to look dry or shriveled during winter months, and there’s nothing to worry about. Be it the signs of overwatering, underwatering, or potential disease. Always keep an eye out for your plant.
Watering at night
Watering your orchids at nighttime is undoubtedly the biggest mistake. If your plant isn’t completely dry by evening or nightfall, the chances of bacteria and diseases rise significantly.
There is no sun to evaporate the excess water during nighttime, so your orchid will sit in waterlogged soil for a long time.
The same signs as overwatering will occur and damage your plant to a great extent. Waterlogging can also attract several other diseases, so make sure to set a watering schedule in which plants are dry by night.
How Often Do You Water Orchid Plants Summary
Orchids are beautiful plants that will add an aesthetic touch to your house, office, or essentially anywhere they are places. They are a great addition to your collection, with decorative pots and a blooming appearance. In this article, we discussed one of the most common questions: how often do you water orchid plants?
People often neglect its watering needs which eventually leads to its demise. We hope this article helped you understand how often, how much, and when to water orchids, along with the knowledge of factors that influence these decisions.
No one wants this lovely plant to die on their watch, so we also talked about common mistakes you can make with your orchids. Take a look at them, and avoid them next time.
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Meet Mattias Jonsson, the head of content at RainSaucers. Passionate about gardening and water-related topics, he’s dedicated to providing expert information and resources to help improve your home, health, and wallet. Learn from his research and experience.