I remember how nervous I was the very first time I watered my orchids. My head was filled with doubt: Am I doing it right? Is this too much? Is this too little? I questioned everything! Well, that was years ago. In fact, today I have over 50+ orchids (and counting) in my collection. My husband Bill thought it would be a great idea to share everything I’ve learned over the years with other orchid lovers. So today I am here to share my watering tips with you! Let’s get started!
1. Water in the Morning
I water my orchids first thing in the morning while our coffee is brewing. Watering in the morning ensures that the orchids dry out by nighttime when the temperature drops. Remaining wet at night (or in cooler temperatures in general) makes them vulnerable to nasty orchid pests and diseases.
2. Use Room Temperature Water
This tip is simple, use room temperature water. Never use water that is too hot or too cold for your orchids. Uncomfortable water temperature can result in damage to your orchids-and you don’t want that!:(
3. Water Quality
The kind of water you use will make a difference to your plants. My first choice is rainwater. Did you know the organic matter in the rainwater even nourishes the plants! I never miss the opportunity to collect rainwater for all of my indoor plants. I have a rain barrel that collects the runoff from the roof and I place buckets around the yard to catch all the rest. I store it in clean plastic gallon containers in my little shed.
Now, I know relying on mother nature for rain is not possible in all locations. Tap water will work just fine but you do have to be careful as our drinking water is often chemically treated with chemicals (like salt) that will harm your orchid if there is too much build-up.
My method for watering my orchids is easy peasy! I like to call it the “DRENCH and DRAIN” method! I fill a plastic tub (you can use your bathtub or kitchen sink) with several inches of rainwater or tap water if that is what you have. I then let my orchids sit in the water (about 50% of the pot should be in the water) for a few minutes making sure they each get a good drink.
Once the potting medium is thoroughly soaked, I let the orchids sit on a drying rack (or in the drained sink or tub) for a few minutes to make sure that all of the excess water has drained before placing them back on their shelves. I then give their leaves a light misting with a spray bottle. Once they are back in place I use a hand towel to dry off any water that might have splashed between the leaves. You want to make sure water does not collect deep down between the leaves because those areas can easily begin to rot!:?
5. How Often
In general, you want to keep the orchid potting mix moist. You can determine this by using your finger or a wooden chopstick from the Chinese restaurant. Simply poke 1 inch into the orchid medium, if the chopstick is damp/wet, your orchid is perfectly fine. It will take you just a few weeks to figure out what your watering schedule will be each week (once or twice a week, etc.).
BUT, there are few factors you should be aware of. The type of pot and potting medium you use does impact your watering schedule. For instance, both plastic pots and moss medium retain more water and stay wetter longer than clay pots and bark medium do. You also want to pay careful attention to the type of orchid(s) you have. Cattleyas, Cymbidiums, Phalaenopsis and Dendrobiums, for instance, each has different water requirements. In fact, most orchid problems (diseases and death) are the result of improper watering-usually overwatering.
Well, these are all the watering tips I have for you today! I hope they make caring for your orchids a tad bit easier.