How to Water an Orchid Plant

Water an orchid according to its needs image by melodi2:


The orchid has a long and distinguished past. In the 18th century, orchid collecting began in earnest and because of this, orchids became rare to all but those who were wealthy enough to afford them. There are more than 28,000 orchid species today, and many gardeners are enthusiastic orchid growers. If you are growing orchids, pay close attention to the special needs of your specific orchid species and provide proper amounts of water, light and fertilizer to ensure the health and vitality of the plant.

Step 1

Determine what type of orchids you are growing because the water requirements vary. If there is no label on the plant, your best option is to try to match your orchid's characteristics to a labeled photo of an orchid. Compare the shape of the blooms, the colors, the size and the pattern of the petals to try to identify the orchid. If your orchid is not in bloom, compare the leaves.

Step 2

Water the orchids in the morning hours on days when the sun is shining brightly. This will help any residual water evaporate more quickly from the orchid's foliage. Water orchids by pouring water onto the soil around the plant or by placing the container in another container of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Immerse the growing container up to about 1/2 inch below the top rim. Wipe off any water droplets from the foliage with a soft cloth after watering. If you leave water on the orchid, it may harm the plant.

Step 3

Give orchids growing from pseudobulbs (interior water-holding reservoirs) less water. These orchids are able to store water within their systems so you should allow the soil to dry out somewhat between watering. Give these orchids water approximately every five days. If these orchids are outside in very warm weather, they may need water every three to four days. During the winter months, water these orchids once every 10 to 14 days or so.

Step 4

Provide Phalaenopsis orchids with water more often than pseudobulb orchids. These orchids do not have the same interior water systems, but they can store a small amount of moisture in their leaves. Allow the soil to dry out for one to two days between watering Phalaenopsis orchids.

Step 5

Give terrestrial orchids more water. This group of orchids prefers consistently damp soil as opposed to the other groups, which will not tolerate constant dampness. Provide enough regular water that these orchids sit in moist soil.

Step 6

Plant terrestrial orchids outside in the ground when it is warm, if you desire. Plant these orchids in rich soil with adequate drainage and make sure that you provide large amounts of water each week. Move these hardy orchids back inside before a frost. Be careful not to place greenhouse or tropical orchids outside in the ground, however. These orchids will not survive in the dense soil of the ground.

Tips and Warnings

  • Orchids growing in hanging baskets or pots will dry out faster than orchids growing in pots on the ground. Orchids grown in clay pots will dry out faster as well. Check these orchids more frequently and water according to the guidelines. Orchids generally outgrow a container every two years. When this happens, the roots will grow out and over the sides of the container. These roots are called "aerial roots." It is important to keep these roots moist while they are exposed as you wait for the proper time to transplant the orchid into a larger pot. Mist the aerial roots as often as necessary to keep them moist. Be careful not to spray the foliage when you spray the roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Room temperature water
  • Soft cloth


  • Growing Orchids
  • Orchid Care
  • Identifying Orchids
Keywords: orchids, orchid care, orchid growing

About this Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator and regular contributor to "Natural News." She is an accomplished gardener, seamstress, quilter, crocheter, painter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator and she enjoys technical and computer gadgets. Hatter's Internet publications specialize in natural health and she plans to continue her formal education in the health field, focusing on nursing.

Photo by: melodi2: