orchid plant care

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.

Watering Orchids is the most important aspect of taking care of orchidsBeautiful Phalaenopsis Orchids


Many people think that more water is better. That's not true.

It is better to err on the side of not enough water, instead of too much.

The correct amount of water is better.


Plants need water to carry their nutrients around in the plant.

They also use water for turgidity to hold themselves upright.

They can't live or function without water.




how to water Orchids

When you water, do it thoroughly.

Water until you see it coming out of the bottom of the pot.

This flushes the extra salts out of the pot.

How 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.

It also depends on the type of orchid.

Terrestrial orchids are watered more often than epiphytic orchids.


what do you mean ---

epiphytic and terrestrial orchids ?

Watering Orchids is the most important aspect of taking care of orchidsBeautiful Phalaenopsis Orchids

how to water Orchids

When you water, do it thoroughly. Water until you see it coming out of the bottom of the pot.

This flushes the extra salts out of the pot.

How 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.

It also depends on the type of orchid. Terrestrial orchids are watered more often than epiphytic orchids.


what do you mean ---
epiphytic and terrestrial orchids ?




watering the two types of orchids


TYPE ONE
- Epiphytic orchids
generally live up in trees. Occasionally they may live on rocks.

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 also causes them to dry out faster.

Epiphytes - MUST DRY OUT between watering.

  • In nature this type of orchid would have dry periods without regular water.
  • Epiphytic orchids have adapted themselves to their growing environment.
  • They have grown enlarged stems called pseudobulbs.
  • The enlarged stems allow the orchid to store extra water.
  • Examples are; cattleyas, oncidiums and dendrobiums.
  • Just look at their stems for pseudobulbs.


How to Grow and Water Roses


Orchids with pseudobulbs must dry out before wateringEpiphytes Have Pseudobulbs

TYPE TWO - 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.

Terrestrials - MUST NOT DRY OUT between watering.

  • Terrestrial orchids have only leaves.

  • Their leaves are thinner and they transpire water faster.
  • 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 more water.
  • Examples are; paphiopedilums, called Lady Slippers, phalaenopsis, sometimes called Phals or a Moth Orchid.

Watering Orchids, Terrestrial Orchids such as Phals and Paphs need constant moistureTerrestrials Like Constant Moisture

WHEN TO WATER ORCHIDS

Over-watering is the most common cause of orchid demise.

Roots require air as well as water. If you keep the roots constantly wet, the roots will rot. The plant will decline and possibly die.

  • First the surface of the potting medium must be dry. When the top surface is dry there is still water down in the pot.
  • Second pick up the pot to see how heavy it is.
  • Roots require air, so correct orchid plant care says - Don't water when the pot still feels heavy. 
  • Only water when the pot feels at least half of the weight it was 10 minutes after it was watered the time before.
  • Water early in the day. The leaves must be dry before night. Wet leaves during the night time encourage leaf diseases.

When to water orchids, Papillo OncidiumDon't Water If The Pot Still Feels Heavy
When to water orchids, Papillo OncidiumDon't Water If The Pot Still Feels Heavy

Roots require air as well as water. If you keep the roots constantly wet, the roots will rot. The plant will decline and possibly die.

  • First the surface of the potting medium must be dry. When the top surface is dry there is still water down in the pot.
  • Second pick up the pot to see how heavy it is.
  • Roots require air, so correct orchid plant care says - Don't water when the pot still feels heavy. 
  • Only water when the pot feels at least half of the weight it was 10 minutes after it was watered the time before.
  • Water early in the day. The leaves must be dry before night. Wet leaves during the night time encourage leaf diseases.

orchid plant care -  lesson 1

My first orchid was a lovely Cattleya orchid. I lived in central Florida and my 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 I 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 in the ground.

It didn't make it thru the summer before IT CROAKED!

I had successfully grown various house plants. I didn't understand why the orchid had died when it had done so well outside hanging under a tree.

I had to learn proper orchid plant care.


Cattleya Orchids are epiphytes and they must dry out before wateringCattleya Orchid
Cattleya Orchids are epiphytes and they must dry out before wateringCattleya Orchid

She was familiar with taking care of orchids and was pleased to take charge while I 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 in the ground.

It didn't make it thru the summer before IT CROAKED!

I had successfully grown various house plants. I didn't understand why the orchid had died when it had done so well outside hanging under a tree.

I had to learn proper orchid plant care.


So what did I do wrong?

Planted in the soil it's roots couldn't get enough air to dry out before the next summer rain came along.

  • I had no idea what epiphytic and terrestrial orchids were.
  • I didn't know Cattleya roots had to dry out before watering.
  • Originally it was planted in bark, so it could get air around it's roots.



orchid plant care - lesson 2

When I got my second orchid is when I made more boo-boos taking care of orchids.

I bought a lovely Lady Slipper. A few days 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 while. 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!

Lady Slippers are terrestrial orchids.Lady Slipper Orchid
Lady Slippers are terrestrial orchids.Lady Slipper Orchid

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 while. 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!

So what did I do wrong?

I had no idea that there were two types of orchids and that each type had their own growing requirements. Especially when it came to watering them.

  • Ephiphytes and terrestrial orchids are watered differently.
  • Terrestrial orchids must not dry out completely.
  • Never fertilize a dry plant, especially if it looks peaked already.

What exactly is Fertilizer?


orchid plant care is easy

Speckled Phaleanopsis OrchidPhaleanopsis Orchid
Speckled Phaleanopsis OrchidPhaleanopsis Orchid

These were my lessons on taking care of orchids. So don't feel bad if you have done something similar. We have all done dumb things!

There are many Types of Orchids and it is a such pleasure caring for them.

Now that I know how to do it.

Orchid plant care is easy when know if your orchid is an epiphyte that lives in the air or a terrestrial that lives in the ground. Then you confidently know how to water them.

Learn from my mistakes and enjoy growing your beautiful orchids.


Return from Orchid Plant Care to Growing Orchids








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