Watering Orchids: 6 Care Mistakes That Even Experienced Gardeners Often Make!

by Kremy

Immersion bath, watering with a shot glass or just spraying the leaves: even experienced hobby gardeners make a few mistakes when watering orchids.

Watering Orchids: The Most Common Mistakes

watering orchids common mistakes what not to do

Orchids are among the most beautiful houseplants. With proper care, they thank you with delicate flowers that adorn the plant for months. This includes regular watering. But opinions differ on this point: Should you treat the exotic plant to a dip or should you water it from above? Can you use tap water? Questions upon questions. And of course, from time to time there are certain care mistakes to which the orchid reacts very sensitively.

Also read: 4 Methods to Propagate an Orchid: Which One Is the Most Effective?

Water the Orchid With Tap Water – An Absolute No-Go

watering orchids with tap water is bad for the plants


Wrong: tap water. It can damage the orchids. The chlorine content in drinking water is very low. Chlorine is added for disinfection only in exceptional cases and in such small quantities that it is not harmful to humans and animals. But orchids can be sensitive to it. They also do not tolerate calcareous water or water with a high salt content. At best the leaves will wilt, at worst the roots will burn and the plant will die.

Right: rainwater or distilled water.

Immersion Bath with Mineral Water: Not a Good Idea!

immersing orchids in water overnight is bad for the plants

Wrong: weekly immersion in mineral water.

If you want to water your orchids with mineral water, you should think again. Still mineral water in itself is not harmful to the plants – but if you don’t overdo it. Mineral water often contains salts and calcium and can damage the orchid. In addition, the amount of fertilizer must be adjusted accordingly, otherwise the result will be over-fertilization.

Right: Water with mineral water once a month during the flowering period.

The Flower Gets Too Much Water

water orchids with a shot glass and little water

Wrong: Water the orchid once a week. Everyone knows the rule of thumb: orchids are only watered when the substrate dries slightly. But often it is not possible to assess exactly whether and when the flower should be watered. Therefore, many people prefer to simply water the orchid once a week – usually on the weekend. Whether and to what extent the exotic plant needs water just then, is questionable.

Right: Do a regular test and water the orchid only when necessary. Insert a pencil into the substrate, wait 15 seconds and remove it. If it’s wet, you can wait to water it.  However, if it is dry, you should water the orchid.

Also read: When to repot an orchid? A precise instruction to know how often to do it + video

Watering Orchids: The Shot Glass Trick Doesn’t Work!

proper orchids watering methods

Wrong: 2oz/60 ml of water per week is not enough! There is always speculation on the internet that one shot glass full of water per week is completely sufficient for orchids. This is actually wrong, because the water requirement can vary greatly depending on the season, location and variety. In most cases, however, 2 oz/60 ml is not enough and the orchid will dry up.

Right: the flower needs to be watered really well from below once every 7 to 10 days. It is important that the substrate is really wet and the roots soak up water. After soaking, excess water should be removed or allowed to drain.

Immerse In Water Overnight? Orchids Don’t Like That At All!

You come back tired after a long day at work, prepare dinner, relax and recharge your batteries in front of the TV. And then you suddenly realize that the orchid needs to be watered. Said and done! At 9pm the plant is left in the sink overnight so that the roots can soak up water. Sound familiar?

Wrong: Immerse the orchid in the evening. Orchids are very sensitive to waterlogging and can wither quickly. In the evening, the absorbed water transferred, but remains for hours in the roots. The result – wilted, yellow leaves and rotting roots. The plant is slowly dying.

Right: Immerse or water the orchids only in the morning. Especially with immersing, when the substrate gets really wet, you should be very careful. It’s best to wait a few days and then do that in the mornings on the weekend than after work.

Be Careful, Never Water the Orchids with Ice Cubes

watering orchids with ice cubes tips and instructions

Wrong: watering with ice cubes is not a good idea. The trick, which is always recommended on the net, is quite simple. You take some ice cubes and put them in the root area. Ice melts and the orchid is supplied with water for a longer period of time. In theory it should work fine. Actually orchids do not like ice-cold water and the sensitive roots die quickly.

Right: orchids can easily survive two to three weeks without water. Water them the day before and put some water in a baking tray. Place several stones in the baking tray, the water should almost cover them. Place the pot on the stones. As the water evaporates over the next few days, the orchid will benefit from the humidity.

Also read: What to Do with the Aerial Roots of Orchids? Should They Be Cut?

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