- How to Water Orchids
MY FIRST TWO ORCHIDS CROAKED! lessons in how to water orchids
Orchids are intriguing, but I killed my first two.
Then I learned how to water orchids, later there was a whole greenhouse full of orchids and blue ribbons at
You can successfully grow orchids. Learn from my mishaps.
My First Orchid Was a Beautiful Cattleya
- Watering orchids is the most
important aspect of orchid plant care.
Correct watering was the first thing
I had to learn about orchid care. I killed some on the way until I learned how
to water and fertilize orchids correctly.
If you had a few plants CROAK on the
way - don't worry you are in good company.
how to water orchids - lesson 1
- My first orchid was a lovely
Cattleya orchid. We lived in central Florida and the landlady offered to hang it
in the branches of her large oak tree.
She was familiar with taking care of
orchids and was pleased to take charge while we was busy working.
- It flowered
and prospered under her tree.
When we moved away into a very small
house, I had no place to put it inside. So I decided because it had done so
well outside that I would plant it outside under a tree.
- It didn't make it thru the summer
before IT CROAKED!
It was a mystery to me why the orchid died. It had done so
well outside hanging under a tree, but now it died! I had to learn proper orchid plant
why did the cattleya croak?
- The beautiful cattleya was an epiphyte. Their native habitat is in trees. That's why it grew and flowered hanging in my landlords oak tree.
It dried out between waterings. It was planted in bark and in a pot with slots on the side. That simulated its natural tree environment. It got plenty of air around its roots.
My landlady watered it once a week, so it had time to dry out before it was watered again.
- When I planted it in the ground, the roots couldn't get the air they required. In the ground the roots didn't dry
out before the next summer rain came along.
The roots promptly rotted and the plant died.
- I had no idea what epiphyte and terrestrial orchids
- Originally it was planted in bark in a slotted pot, so it got air
around its roots.
- I didn't know the roots had to dry out before
how to water orchids - lesson 2
With my second orchid
I made more boo-boos of how to water orchids.
A few years later, I got a lovely Lady Slipper. Later I told someone that I didn't know how to take care of orchids.
- They told me, "Let it dry out
before you water it." I felt guilty because I had already watered it once.
I thought they must be right because
my cattleya had died from getting too much water.
So just to make sure it dried out, I
decided to wait a week. It started looking a bit peaked. The leaves were
getting pale and it just didn't look the same.
- I thought maybe it needed some
fertilizer. So I gave it some liquid fertilizer that I gave to my other house
plants. They liked it.
But the Lady Slipper didn't like it.
It shriveled up and died. IT CROAKED!
Some lady slipper orchids grow wild in the United States.
what happened to the lady slipper?
I still didn't know how to water orchids. There were two
types of orchids. And each type has their own growing requirements.
Especially when it comes to watering orchids.
- Ephiphytes must dry out before watering.
- Terrestrial orchids must not dry out completely.
- Also, never fertilize a dry plant, especially if it looks
epiphyte vs. Terrestrial orchids
Cattleyas Have Pseudobulbs
Epiphytic orchids live up in trees. Occasionally they may live on
They do not take any nutrients from
their host trees. They get their nutrients from the air, water and debris that
collects on them.
This type of orchid would often go
without water in their natural habitat. They also receive more sun which
causes them to dry out faster.
- Epiphyte orchids have adapted themselves to their
growing environment. In nature this type of orchid would have dry periods
without regular water.
- They have grown enlarged stems called pseudobulbs. The enlarged stems allow the orchid to store extra
water. They also have heavy, thick leaves to keep the orchid from transpiring excessive water.
- Examples are; cattleyas, oncidiums and
Lady Slippers Have Only Leaves
Terrestrial orchids generally live on the ground in the soil and organic
matter. They get their water and nutrients
from the soil.
This type of orchid does not
normally go without water in their natural habitat. They also receive less sun
in the dappled shade under the trees.
- Terrestrial orchids have only leaves. Their leaves are thinner and they transpire water
- They live where they get regular water. Their roots are able to store a certain amount of
water. But they have no pseudobulbs to store extra water.
- Examples are; paphiopedilum, called Lady
important orchid care for beginners
Both of my lessons in orchid care were about how to water orchids.
people think that more water is better. That's not true.
is better to err on the side of not enough water, instead of too much. That's good orchid care for beginners.
correct amount of water is better.
Orchids can't live or function without water. They
need water to carry their nutrients around in the plant. They
also use water for turgidity to hold themselves upright.
how to water orchids
you water, do it thoroughly.
until you see it coming out of the bottom of the pot. This
flushes the extra salts out of the pot.
often you water depends on the plant's growing environment and the pot size. Orchids
in smaller pots and in warmer environments are watered more often.
also depends on the type of orchid. Terrestrial
orchids are watered more often than epiphytic orchids.
orchids need to stay moderately moist, but not soggy.
Water them when they are dry on top of the potting mix.
- Epiphytic orchids must dry out between waterings.
Pick up the pot and feel the weight of the pot. It should be a about half as light as it was 10-15 minutes after its last watering.
- Never fertilize a dry plant.
If the orchid is dry, water it and wait until the next day to fertilize it.
The leaves must be dry before night. Wet leaves during
the night time encourage leaf diseases.
Phals Are Easy to Grow!
These were my lessons on how to water orchids. So don't feel bad if you have done something similar.
We all have done dumb things!
- Once these important lessons are learned, growing orchids is a snap!
There are many Types of Orchids and it is such a pleasure caring
Orchid plant care is easy!
Ask, is your orchid is an epiphyte that lives in the air or a terrestrial that lives on the ground?
Then you will confidently know how to water your orchids.
Learn from my mistakes and enjoy