Do orchids like to be wet or dry?

Answered by John Hunt

Orchids have a unique watering requirement compared to many other houseplants. They prefer to be kept slightly on the dry side, rather than constantly wet. This is because orchids are epiphytic plants, meaning they naturally grow on trees or rocks in their native habitats. In these environments, they have limited access to water and rely on their specialized roots to absorb moisture from the air and rainwater that trickles down.

To replicate their natural conditions, it is important to allow the orchid’s growing medium, such as bark or moss, to dry out partially between watering. This ensures that the roots have a chance to breathe and prevents them from sitting in water for extended periods, which can lead to root rot and other issues.

When it comes to watering orchids, it is best to water thoroughly but infrequently. This means watering until water flows out of the drainage holes of the pot, ensuring that the roots receive adequate hydration. However, it is crucial to let the growing medium dry out before watering again.

One common mistake many orchid owners make is pouring water directly onto the center of the plant, known as the crown. This can lead to the accumulation of water in the crown, which increases the risk of crown rot and fungal infections. Instead, it is recommended to water the orchid at the base of the plant, allowing the water to soak the roots and the growing medium.

To determine when to water your orchid, it is helpful to observe the plant and its growing medium. Orchids typically prefer to dry out between watering, but different species and hybrids may have slightly different requirements. You can check the moisture level by gently sticking your finger about an inch into the growing medium. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. If it still feels slightly moist, it’s best to wait a little longer.

Another method to assess watering needs is by observing the weight of the pot. A dry orchid pot will be significantly lighter compared to a fully saturated one. By lifting the pot, you can get a sense of how much moisture is present in the growing medium.

It is important to note that the watering frequency and amount may vary depending on various factors, such as the type of orchid, the pot size, the humidity level, and the temperature in your specific growing environment. Therefore, it is crucial to adjust your watering routine accordingly and pay attention to the specific needs of your orchid.

In my personal experience, I have found that allowing my orchids to dry out slightly between watering has resulted in healthier plants with stronger roots. I have seen significant improvements in their overall growth and flowering when I adopted this approach.

To summarize, orchids prefer to be slightly dry between watering. They are adapted to their natural epiphytic habitats, where they rely on their specialized roots to absorb moisture from the air and occasional rainfall. Watering thoroughly but infrequently, and avoiding pouring water over the crown, helps maintain the optimal moisture balance for orchids. By observing the plant and its growing medium, adjusting watering frequency, and being attentive to individual orchid needs, you can ensure the well-being and long-term success of your orchid.