Watering Orchids

How should I water my orchid?

updated 3/8/17

So someone has given you a beautiful orchid or you picked up one from your local grocery, what now?!

I normally wait for my new orchid to completely dry out before watering it for the first time. I do this because most of the orchids I receive have been over-watered before I got them. One of the major damaging things you can do to an orchid is over water it. You can actually kill it by over-watering it (it will get Root Rot). I explain this further below.

Note: You do want to make sure that there IS a drainage hole at the bottom of your pot. Click my post link on “READ THIS FIRST” if there is not because your orchid will die without drainage!!

How should I water my orchid?

I have consulted MANY growers/suppliers and orchid lovers on this. The best way (that I have found) to water an orchid (indoors) is the following;

IMG_1474

  1. Bring it to your kitchen sink
  2. Let faucet water “freely” run through the pot into the sink. Make sure you “flood” it enough so that water runs through the pot flowing out the drainage holes in the bottom.
  3. Leave it for a few minutes and then repeat (click on my other post for tips on fertilization).
  4. Take a paper towel/napkin and gently dab any extra water that has pooled in the leaf base.

Note: If your orchid is in a decorative pot with an inner plastic pot and you want to use the decorative pot. Take it out of the decorative pot and follow the steps above. Then wait to put the plastic pot back in the decorative pot – let it stand out for a few hours before putting it back in. This insures all extra water has drained out and doesn’t pool at the bottom of the plant. I personally don’t use this method because I like my orchids to have airflow and the use of photosynthesis. I discard their decorative pots and grow mine in clear plastic pots. 

If you water your orchids this way, the water will run through the orchid and the orchid can absorb what it needs while the rest of the water flows out. NEVER….NEVER…..NEVER let water pool at the bottom of your pots and never let it sit in water (as a normal houseplant would). Most normal houseplant like to have some standing water around them. Orchids, however, are different from normal house plants in that they will experience root rot (check out my post on root rot) if left in standing water. Root rot is literally when the base of the orchid starts rotting which spreads to the roots and then the leaves. It is very hard to manage but my link on it shows how to battle it once it starts. Root Rot is what kills most orchids and is why watering correctly is so important. It is also the most common mistake new orchid owners do. Don’t feel bad if you have discovered that you are watering an orchid wrong because it is so common. Most people see their orchid suffering and assume it needs more water – just like you would with a normal house plant.

How much should I water my orchid?

You want to wait to water your orchid until it has sufficiently dried out. Most of my orchids get watered every 10 – 25 days depending on when they dry out (what season it is), between watering. I keep notes on my orchids to keep track of when they were last watered and some need watering more than others. Despite what many websites say, there is NO set schedule for watering your orchids. If you live in Arizona as opposed to Florida your plants will dry out at different speeds. Also what type of orchid mix you use will dry out at different speeds. You eventually will “know” your own orchids and you will learn when they need watering.

How can I tell when my orchids need watering?

You can check to see if your orchid needs watering by pushing a pencil/wooden chopstick (or your finger) down in the soil and seeing if it absorbs a bit of water, if not, it’s time to water. I don’t use the pencil method because my orchids have been potted in clear pots (you can click on my post on clear pots) and I use premium sphagnum moss that is mixed with other ingredients. I can see when they need watering by looking at their roots (which turn a silvery green when in need of water) and when the moss gets “crunchy” to the touch. As shown below, the orchid on the left needs to be watered. The roots are dry, silvery and not bright green. The one on the left has been freshly watered and the roots are bright green.

Most orchids come in a pot that you are unable to see the roots and are potted in a bark mixture (which makes it hard to see if there is moisture left near the roots) – so that is why the pencil idea works. If you are lucky enough to get an orchid that has a clear pot then you can see if the mix is dry or wet and if the roots are dried out. I suggest eventually repotting them in clear pots.

Orchid Watering MYTHS

I have found all of these myths on orchid care cards I received with orchids I bought from local stores.

1. Use ice cubes to water your orchids. MYTH. I know that on a lot of those “orchid care cards” it says to put two or three ice cubes in the orchid once a week. The cold water will shock them, remember these are tropical plants that are used to living off trees in a very warm and humid environment (check out my post on orchids growing in nature). Now I know a lot of people who do this and it does not necessarily kill an orchid (orchids are very hardy) but a lot of these same people have had problems with their orchids re-blooming. I wonder if the shock of the cold contributes to this?

2. Water your orchids every 4 – 5 days (or whatever). MYTH. Orchids dry out differently so you can’t have a set method of watering them. You have to watch and see when they need water. You will have a set method once they are your own but that will depend on your climate and your mix. They will tell you.

3. Lots of people treat orchids like normal houseplants. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone’s orchids sitting in water. Most times it’s when people have watered their orchid, in its pot, and the outer pot has no drainage and upon lifting it out it is sitting in pooled water. YIKES! These orchids will die because their roots will rot in these conditions.

Hope that helps,

Hannah

Feel free to leave comments or questions. And email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com

269 Comments on “Watering Orchids

  1. My orchid has never rebloomed after the flowers that were on it at purchase died off. I read to move the plant into a spot where it has complete darkness at night but filtered sun during the day. This didn’t work. Do you have any suggestions. I’ve had it a couple years now.

  2. Just a comment:

    I have always read that orchids from grocery stores and places like Lowes need to be repotted ASAP because the medium used is mostly sphagnum moss meant to keep it moist without the proper watering they probably won’t get. So they stay too wet and will be getting root rot sooner or later if left in original pot. I have always repotted as soon as possible often finding masses of soggy sphagnum and rotting roots.
    I don’t think this is explained often enough to new Orchid owners.
    Thanks for your wonderfully helpful forum!
    Ingrid

    • Yes! I always say this,

      “Orchids sold from stores

      Many times when we get orchids into our homes they were mistreated before we got them. Mass production of orchids in green houses forces them into bloom (which in itself does not hurt orchids) and then they are shipped to stores. The shipping process is taxing to orchids and then they are placed in grocery stores etc. that over or underwater them and give them zero natural light.

      And A LOT of places sell orchids in pots with no drainage which exacerbates all the problems stated above because the roots are basically trapped in water and begin to rot (even though the blooms may look beautiful at the time).

      Then we get them, they begin to suffer and we think we have hurt an orchid when actually it was all the stuff that happened to it before we got it. It’s very frustrating but not our faults at all.”

      Hope that Helps,

      Hannah

  3. Thank you Hannah for your great help and very usefull info to save my dendrobium. I have a bit more confident now and will keep you update soon

  4. Hello Hannah ,
    I am a beginner , learning how to grow an Orchid and feel very glad to find your blog guiding me with this new exprience . I bought a Bohemian Rhapsody at an Orchid Show 14 days ago. I watered it twice ,once with fertilisers, then I noticed some soft ,wet leaves few days after wareing it the second time. The orchid looks withered naturally in its cycle,flowers and leaves are falling , even the new young leaves gradually turn yellow . I made the roots uneven, exposed and dry after poking my finger to the bottom, (this caused bark to fall into the hole and exposed the bases ). I left the Orchid like that for 3 days then after a pencil test (it was very dry )I decided to water it today, followed with fertiliser before rearranging the barks , roots and leaves .

    Two days ago i emailed you 2 photos : 1st – when first bought , 2 nd – when the base was exposed. I dont know how to attach these images to blog comments here.
    I worry that The Orchid will die , what should I do to save it ?Please help,
    I appreciate your advice.
    Warm regards !
    Rosie

  5. Beautifully written And very useful post!
    I water my orchids in the same way you suggests and they are looking fabulous. I wasn’t an expert to start with and I committed all the errors you listed. You cannot believe how frustrated I was. Then, studying about orchid I started watering exactly like you say….and they are now repaying me with wonderful flowers display ❤️

  6. Thank you for this post! I got my first orchid as a gift last year and now have five. The first one I got is currently re-bloomed and beautiful, and another is on its way. I’ve been using the ice cube method and it’s been working, but I think if I change a few things (like watering method, potting media, etc) I’ll have some more luck with the rest of them. Thanks for your help!

  7. So I have an orchid that was my parents and they were concerned they were killing it so they passed it along to me to try to save. I was going to water today and noticed through the clear pot that the roots are sort of white looking and there are tiny little spots on the potting medium. I was wondering what they tiny spots might be. I took a picture but not sure how to include it. The leaves are dark green and healthy looking, but that’s about the only part of the plant that looks healthy to me. It’s a beautiful orchid and I would love to be able to save it if you have any advice for me 🙂

  8. I have a question, my orchid is a “just add ice” grocery orchid but i thought that was crazy and have been giving it water every 2 weeks (it has a clear drain pot). I think it’s unhealthy though. Its still spiking but the main stem is a dark green/brown. The leaves are very dark and some are wilting. I got it in february. But i think the problem is that there is no sunlight in my apartment. Could that be the problem or am i watering it wrong? Can i use artificial light instead of the sun?

    Thanks ma’am, you are amazing ❤

    • Hi,

      It definitely needs natural shady sunlight or grow lights. I would only water it when it’s super dry and make sure it’s in a pot that has drainage. You can always send me pictures at myfirstorchid@gmail.com and I can take a look.

      Hannah

  9. I have found it useful to put clear pot into decirative pot with a “raised lump” in the base OR place something in the base to raise pot up so dtill has ability to drain

  10. Wonderful info!
    I use an orchid mix in the water runs right through it which has kept me worried that it gets enough. Apparently just the moisture passing over the roots is good enough! That’s a load off my mind! Do you think sphagnum Moss is better than orchid mix? And why? Thank you

  11. I’ve been intrigued by Orchids for a few years now. I am pretty good with house plants, but wanted to try something with flowers to liven up my collection. I have hesitated until 3 wks ago when I grabbed a grocery store Orchid (Phal) mini (2.5 in pot, maybe). I followed directions and gave it an ice cube every week…it had a clear plastic pot inside a decorative ceramic pot. All blooms flowered. They’re still holding on. But the leaves are soft, pea-green, and kinda leathery looking (imagine a soft potato you forgot about in the bin). I found your site and repotted it in big box Orchid mix in a 3.5″ plastic pot with drain holes. Roots looked kinda smooshy, some were wrinkly and grey/green. I did see a few light yellow ones that were kind of plump. I added more charcoal in the box mix, and watered it to get the bark wet and made sure it’s not standing in water. It was originally placed by the kitchen sink East/Southeast window. I have moved it to our bathroom, where it will get filtered bright light from the East. Will my leaves recover?

    • Hi,

      It may take some time but it can totally recover. A lot of damage was done to it before you got it with those pots. The best thing you can do now is only water it when it’s super dry,

      Hannah

  12. The secret to growing Orchids is to go on line and buy a pot that is perfect for orchids at repotme.com. They have what you need. I found instructions on line that tells all you need to know. It was my first orchids and they both bloomed beautifully. Good luck.

  13. Very informative, thank you. I underwatered my orchid. The leaves are green an stiff, there was a new leaf growing; but now seem to halt. Most roots have dried up some white-pale yellow and stiff. Have thoroughly water it as suggested- hope it’s not too late. I think I’m gonna cry- I love these plants!!

    • I water my orchids a few times a month – it’s far better to underwater them then to overwater them.

      Best of luck,

      Hannah

  14. Awsome Hannah! Thank you for the correct way to help this beautiful species to be cared as it should be.

  15. Hello Hannah. I am giving this a go. My phal orchid is in a bark mixture/clay pot. The pot feels dry, and the bark is damp about half way down with a depth of 3.5″. I don’t know if I should water at this point or wait. The roots didn’t look great to begin with but they are between light green and silver. Thanks for any advice!

  16. Just bought my first orchid, and I’m so excited! It’s so beautiful already. Is it true you have to use orchid ‘food’? I’ve bought a spray that says it helps give nutrients- will it be suitable/work?

    Thanks, Elise X

  17. Ty, I have had orchids outside that have managed to survive a blooming or 2, then get sick & die on me…. :idk why??? 😦
    My husband just brought me home a beautiful, what looked to be healthy orchid w/ no blooms, that he got from a friend who was moving. I was giving it 3 ice cubes about every 4 days. & have already had to cut off 3 leaves because they turned yellow. I’m going to let it dry out til crusty. Than try your watering method in the sink. Should I put it in my Bay window, w/ the rest of the plants? Or away from the sun altogether?

    • Hi,

      Orchids can be in direct sunlight or their leaves can get sunburnt. They like shady sun – like in a bay window.

      Hannah

  18. Thank you very much for this info, I’ve just moved in to my first home on my own and got a beautiful orchid as a house warming prezzie….. With your help I hope I make it as happy as I am in my new home xxx

  19. Hi Hannah,

    What type water do you use? My tap water has fluoride & chlorine in it. Thanks.

  20. I bought a phalaenopsis orchid at walmart a week amd 2 days ago. It says to do the ice cube thing for watering but after reading this, I wont. Didnt seem like 3 ice cubes would produce enough water once a week for the orchid i.m.o. But my roots are a grayish/white color, so I watered today, about half a cup. How long will it take for the roots to become green again, or will they ever? Any help would be really appreciated. This is my first orchid, have wanted one for years but have always heard theyre very hard to care for but i finally gave in. Plus, a couple of the leaves are getting kinda dry and crunchy. And the 2 bottom leaves are turning yellow, which I read is normal. I am worried about the roots and the few dried out leaves. I live in central Arkansas, I am not putting it in direct sunlight but am moving it to the window sill after the sun passes over my house. The room it is in is a west facing window so I get all the first bright morning sun of the day. The days now are about 70°-75° and nights differ between 45°-55°. But of course I close the window in the evening, as it is my bedroom. I just DO NOT WANT IT TO DIE!!! Please help in anyway possible. Any advice or anything I am doing wrong, please tell me. Thank you, Brandi.

  21. My leaves are turning yellow. Started from the bottom. Only 2 leaves left and has a slight whitish look. Is it a sign that the orchid is dying? How can I rescue it if it is.

  22. Thank you for this site. I have been a longtime houseplant owner for many years but i am new to orchids. I received several from my mom-in-law last month when she moved and had no room for them. I’m trying hard not to kill them early on and am excited about buds on one. She was an ice cube user and I had doubts on this. Thanks for setting me straight.

  23. Amazing!
    Clear and helpful.
    I was searching to know if I had to take the clear pot out and plant the orchids in soil! !!!!
    As I was thinking that the clear pot was low cost vase!!!
    So silly of me 😂😂😂!
    Know I know what to do. Thank you ✌😉

  24. What a delight, one of the rare articles that is correct, helpful and informative. Nice to hear from someone who obviously knows how to care for orchids. I have been growing orchids for years, and the misinformation out there abounds! And yes, don’t get me started on ice cubes! lol Crazy idea!
    It truly does make a difference where you live, the type of potting medium etc. in respect to knowing when to water……so I love this article-it is PERFECT-so if you want your orchids to live-keep this info close by! Thanks so much for writing this, it has been a real pleasure to read it. 🙂

  25. Hello,
    Thank you so much for the tips and pictures on this blog. It truly has been very helpful. Your link to potting in clear plastic pots seems to be broken on this page, so I wasn’t sure if that is something I should do. I was confused because I thought orchids need lots of ventilation and drainage, but then you advised in this blog post to pot in a clear pot, which I thought needed to be plastic from the looks of the picture.

    Either way, I had my orchid in a clear, plastic pot and all of its aerial roots had shriveled or rotted, and then I could see that some of the roots in the bark were yellowing and rotting. So I re-potted to a clay pot with drainage holes but I think I shocked it because now the blooms are wilting. I hope I haven’t ruined it. Any thoughts? Thank you!

  26. Hello! I have 3 Phalenopsis. And first Phalenopsis had a few blooms and about 4 Bud’s after they had all went through their stages I had some problems though I thought. Had taken it to the nursery and this gentleman just cut the limbs off, and it has been 3 months and I have not seen any spikes yet . And I had put it in a new clay pot. I don’t know if the pot is too big or not it has a lot of room. Would that keep it from growing spikes? Please let me know what I am doing wrong.
    Cerrina L.

    • Hi,

      Orchids bloom typically once a year. And I cut my spikes down the base so that isn’t a problem. When it grows new spikes they will be from an entirely different spot. You may not see spikes till late fall of this upcoming year.

      Hannah

      • Thank you. For answering back. Have a wonderful weekend

  27. Hi, I have a question. I’ve had my orchid for several months now and it’s been doing great. It came with 7-8 flowers which all fell off, only to be quickly followed by 15 NEW flowers! But now the stems are outgrowing their little standing-sticks (or whatever you call them) and are bending so much they’re curling inward. I’ve tried to hold up the one that bent the most with a wide rubber band attached to a dowel that is attached to something else. Seems a little awkward though. Was that the right thing to do, or should I not do that and just let it bend? Should I repot instead? I tried the other solution first because it would be difficult to repot it because I am a college student with limited resources for doing that.

  28. Hi,,
    I just received my first orchids plate as a gift yesterday ,,, after reading ur explanation about how to water it. When I took it out of the decorative pot I found that the roots are coming out from the bottom hole and couple are dying while another is covered with fungus ,,,, please help me
    Ps the plant looks heathy and good above the soil ….
    Thx u

  29. Hi! I just recently (4 months ago) got my first orchid, a miniature “Just Add Ice” Phalaenopsis, and I hadn’t worried too much about it (just followed the 1 ice cube a week instruction, keeping it in one place and out of direct sunlight) because it seemed to be doing fine. It still does, although I will try your watering and monitoring method instead. My question is relating to the fact that I have to leave my plant for about a month during winter vacation (I’m a college student, everyone is leaving and the dorm will be locked shut, so I can’t ask anyone to take care of it). I realize this is a horrible situation, when I got it I thought I would make friends with someone in this town who could look after it for me during vacations, but I haven’t. Can I please get any advice on what I should do to keep it alive while I’m gone, such as watering right before leaving, watering a tiny bit extra but making sure it drains, I even heard putting a plastic bag over it so condensation falls again as rain… Please help? I really have no one to water it for me, and I really care about it and want to keep it alive. Thank you so much.

    • Hi,

      Hmmmm a month is a long time. I water my orchids a few times a month.

      First make sure it’s potted in a pot with a drainage hole.

      No Drainage
      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/orchid-disaster/

      You could make it a humidity tray to help with moisture while you are gone…

      Humidity Trays
      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/how-to-make-a-humidity-tray/

      And I would just water it well right before you leave.

      Side note: mini orchids are kinda hard to grow sometimes. Since they are small and have been through a lot with the shipping process they have a tendency to not do well so if something happens don’t be too hard on yourself,

      Hannah

      • Thank you so much for your help! It’s in a decorative pot but with a clear pot with a draining hole on the inside, so I’ve been checking the roots recently and they look healthy, especially the lowest one. I also just compared it to pictures that I took the day I got it, and it looks exactly the same (minus the bloom, which ended, but the stem is still there and green). I will make a humidity tray and hope for the best. Considering it might also get a bit colder than when the dorm is habitated, should I leave it by the window (where it would get more heat from the sun but also more direct light which would make it lose water faster) or should I put it out of direct sunlight, but probably in a slightly colder environment?

        Thanks again!

      • I alway like for them to be close to a window for sunlight.

        As far as the pot goes… Just remove it from the decorative pot and don’t put it back in. Leave it in the inner pot. Orchids like air flow and clear pots also help with photosynthesis.

        And if the blooms are done cut the stem back the base because when it blooms again (sends up a new spike) it will be from an entirely different spot on the orchid. This also helps transfer the orchids energy to growing new leaves and new roots.

        Cutting a stem back

        https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/252/

        Best of luck,

        Hannah

  30. Hi Hannah,

    I have phaleanopsis orchid but today I noticed my flowers look drying and leaves got wrinkly and soft. My pot doesn’t have drain hole. Also I see roots came out and one edge looks dry. Do I water it too less? What should I do with my orchid? Also my orchid looks like have no soil only tree piece (look like tree piece). Is it fine for orchid? It looks very loose pieces.

    Thank you,

    Monica

  31. Ive always filled my pots (with no holes at the bottom) and left the orchid in there. This is probably why they take AGES reblooming. Now i know what to do next time. Thanks:)

  32. I’ve always watered mine once a week with very weak orchid feeder that’s room temperature and my orchids are beautiful !

  33. I like your blog, it explains very clear what to do for beginner like me. I got my first orchid from a local grocery and I had no clues how to take care of this little cutie. I have read several articles about orchid, but none of them gives me a clear straight forward explanation like yours. Thank you Hannah!

    Now, I have a question: how often do I need to locate my orchid to get the sun light?
    Right now, the orchid is located inside the bathroom and only gets light during morning time. As the day gone by (maybe around 9am or up), there is no more sun light going through bathroom.

  34. Hi Hannah, thanks for your website.
    I have a number of orchids in pots with drainage holes that are in a very hot sunny court yard. They get no shade.
    Because I can’t water them myself they get neglected. I am for ever asking my husband to water them and he is very reluctant so they dry out.
    Keeping all that in mind I just want to say that my orchids always flower beautifully and I now know that it is from not watering so often.
    My mum can’t stop her self from watering twice a day . All her orchids that she has had for years have now died.
    So anyone reading this should take Hannah’s advise.
    Thanks

  35. I have had an orchard for a little over a year. when I bought it , it was in full bloom. I was told I should re pot it by the person I purchased it from.
    I put it in an orchard pot with holes, and the roots have be growing out of them.
    the roots are silver so I haven’t be watering it enough according to you article. my question is should I be changing pots to one without holes.
    xaurorasheartx@aol.com

  36. Hi. I am Brazilian and I have a brand new Phalaenopisys Orchid at home, I live in a coast city.
    The medium temperature here is 27° C ( 80.6°F) and air humidity of 60%, how much water do you think I need to put in the plant and wich is the period of days that I should water it?

    Your post is very helpful but I need more help here because as the website name says, it is my first orchid.
    Thank you!!!

    • Hi,

      You can water it anytime during the day. You only water it when it’s dry and that can vary with different climates. So when you see that the mix is very dry flush it with water like in the above post. You let the water run through it and out the holes in the bottom for as long as it takes to get the all roots and mix wet.

      Hope that helps,

      Hannah

  37. I received my first orchid from my family this spring. I have been doing the soak method in rain water. I have lots all the flowers on one stalk once lead me to finding your blog. So my question is; I have softened water (well water that runs through salt) if I do the run water through the plant watering method with my tap water kill it? I am pretty sure I have killed other plants this way. I have access to rain water till winter would that be a better option?

    • Hi Amanda,

      I use tap water. I guess it depends on where you live but I am under the assumption that if it’s safe to drink it safe for your orchids.

      Hannah

  38. I left my orchids sitting in the water like a half full of the decorative pot for 5 days and when i got back from vacation i was surprised not even 1 single root got rot…i was really surprised! !! Just want to share i really dont know what happened into it bcoz i totally forgot to drained it before living home.

    • Hi,

      Wow!! That’s amazing! Hopefully the roots will stay fresh. I would let it completely dry out before you water it again.

      This is one of the reasons why soaking orchids had never been my thing. I am nervous I would forget them.

      Best of luck,

      Hannah

  39. Hi, Thank you for your response to my June 30th post. You guessed that I have a Phalaenopsis orchid & I received it this past Mother’s Day. I hadn’t watered it in a few weeks and was trying to get it to dry out. All the flowers have dropped off and now I notice that the stem has turned tan/light brown color and looks as thought it’s pealing. This is happening towards the bottom (middle). It looks nice and green below it and above it. I decided to go ahead and repot it yesterday. I took it out of its original plastic pot and removed all the damp compact moss and repoted it in Miracle Grow Orchid Potting Mix in an Orchid Pot that I bought at Home Depot. All the roots looked healthy and green. I also watered it with distilled water until it drained through the pot. So now I’m wondering what to do about the stem. Should I cut it off below that area which is about 4″ from the base or just leave it alone. I have another question for you.. I live in a town house with little natural light coming in and no south facing windows. I’ve been leaving it outside on nice days in a mostly shady area (from a large tree). It’s also been a bit humid out. Then I take it inside in the evenings. Is this okay to do, taking it in and out everyday? It will be in the 80s all week and the air will go on inside the house. Thanks so much for your help!!

  40. Will my Orchid live in my office at work without access to a window? It is brightly lit but there are no direct sunlight spots.

    • Hi,

      Orchids really need natural light. Is there a window at all you can place it by? Bright bulbs don’t give the photosynthesis it needs.

      Hannah

  41. I have a phal I received in 2008. It was bloomed at that time. It eventually lost its flowers and has only rebloomed once over the years. It is in a pot with drainage. It has been repotted twice over the years. It’s in bark mix. Fertilize occasionally. Sits on table 2 feet from north facing windows. I follow your exact directions on watering other than I water a little more often than you recommend. (Until now). What am I doing wrong that it won’t spike/flower? Leaves are beautiful and healthy appearing. Roots growing,even new ones. Would love your advice! Thanks!!

  42. I live near Chicago and I received an orchid on Mother’s day. They bought it from Trader Joe’s and I don’t know what type it is. Anyway, I think I might have over watered it a few weeks ago as two of the leaves turned spongy, they were heavy with water. They didn’t look good so I cut them off. Then some of the flowers started to droop, then one seemingly healthy looking leaf fell off on it’s own. It wasn’t getting very good light in side the house either. So for the past few days, I’ve been trying to keep it from dying. I let it dry out before watering again and I’ve been putting it outside to get some better light (indirect light). I just read your article above about the correct way to watering and will do it that way the next time. Is what I’m currently doing ok and do you have any suggestions as to other things I might want to do to save it. Also, I read that they like moving air and cool moving air at night, is this true? Thanks!

  43. I havr to little orchids that are just little baby plants. My big one is doing fine, but the baby ones are yellowing. I’m watering them the same, making sure that they don’t get overwatered, but I can’t help thinking I’m doing something wrong. They sit at windowsills, but I make sure if they’re in direct sunlight, it’s not a long time. I’m concerned that the small ones are dying. Any advice would be appreciated. I can email pictires, but I don’t know what the address to send them is. Thank you.

  44. I have an orchid of unknown pedigree (looks like it has some Cattleya heritage) in a clear plastic pot. The top half of the bark is dry but the bottom half is green. Should I just mist the exposed roots at the top and wait until the bottom is dry before watering?

  45. Hi,

    I have an orchid plant with two stems and a succulent. I was afraid to water it have only don’t it 30 days after I bought it and 40 days after that. It was thriving but it doesn’t have drainage. One orchid looks great and the other just recently began to wilt and the leaves look a bit translucent. What direction would you head in? The soil bark chip mixture is damp around both orchids but I don’t know if I should repot as there is a healthy looking one still in bloom…

  46. Hey there! I received a vanda orchid for Mother’s Day and it has been doing well. However, the first flower wilted off a few days ago, which is fine (I think), except tonight I noticed that the flower stalk is turning yellow right at the very top. Leaves seem to look OK though. I water based off of the instructions that came with the orchid: fill glass pot halfway with water and let it sit for 30 minutes, twice weekly. Then dump water out. There is no soil in the pot… It’s a large, clear cylinder pot and contains no drainage holes. When I water the plant, the roots are ashy looking when I water them and the pot sits on a window sill facing the north. I live in southeast Texas…. Would it be beneficial to place the pot on my covered back porch (faces north)? What causes wilted flowers/buds and flower stalk? Thank you so much!

  47. Hello Hanna,
    I have 2 orchids in clear plastic containers that are inside a decorative ceramic pot with no drainage. I read through your post and went to remove the plastic pot from the ceramic and I’ve noticed that one of my orchids has quite a few brown roots, and the other has root rot at the very bottom (there was standing water in it).

    Second, the first orchid with all the brown roots also has what appears to be black rot of some kind one of of it’s stalks. There are 2 of the stalks per pot, I don’t know if that’s normal or not.

    I should cut away all the root rot on the one with black roots, right? What should I do for the one that has almost all brown roots and the black stem?

      • Thanks Hannah,

        Should I repot now? Or treat with peroxide and wait?

        Also what should I do about the black rot or fungus (not sure what it is) on the stem? It’s above the roots, about 5″ up

      • Are they in bloom? You don’t want to repot while its in bloom.

        You can leave the rot on the bloom stem for now and cut the stem off once the blooms fall off. If the blooms have already fallen then you can cut the stem off and repot it.

        Hannah

  48. Thanks for advice.. I must have a very resilient variety as it appears to be surviving despite sitting in water.. Have been drying out as suggested and gona repot.. Cold here in Ireland, slower climate than the US of A….

  49. Great site for fledgling orchid growers!
    I am one of those who thought I should water more rather than less.. I have left the orchid standing in water for two weeks.. I have taken him out now and letting the roots dry out but there are a few brown bits of rot on the top roots at the base if the leaves. Other than that the roots look healthy green and the leaves are not limp.. Should I cut off any roots with brown? I take it the brown rotting parts are rot due to overwatering?

    • Hi,

      It was in standing water for two weeks? Yikes I would imagine the roots have rotted. I would completely repot it and cut off ONLY black mushy roots. Other then that let it completely dry out. Only water it when it’s very very dry.

      Hannah 🙂

  50. Hi, my phael’s air roots have begun to turn brown. I’ve had the orchid for about two months and when I got it only one small brown blemish was noticeable. I’m afraid I might be losing my orchid. I water it every 10 days or so and use the Miracle Gro Orchid food spray once a week. Two flowers have fallen in the last week! Please advise!

  51. Oh no. My orchid at work was over watered. Anything I can do now? It’s leaves are limp and I’m not sure it’ll make it. Suggestions? Or is all lost

  52. Thank you! Also found this article here and …new question sorry. Is it ok to use tap water? I read that it contains chlorine and all kind of bad stuff. I use tap water that I let it sit for few days for the bad things to evaporate before watering. Also considered buying still water without any minerals from the store, collecting rain or snow during winter. My orchid’s roots look green inside the pot, but on top, just where they start from the crow, they are not covered in bark (about half inch – 1 inch they are free of bark, should I cover them or let them like that?), and they look white-ish color, they turn green when watering, but in a day or two they go back to white gray color. So many things I don’t know about this. When I received this as a gift I almost threw it away but now I am trying to take care of it as much as I can. Thanks again for your help, glad I found your blog!

  53. This is just amazing. Stumbled onto this just in time because my orchid leaves are turning yellow and to add to that my kids have been busy with a scissors snipping bits of leaves away when I’m not looking 😩
    I am no longer panicking because I’ve had a quick read through of your website. Thanks Hanna x

  54. Hello I bought an orchid that is potted in a plastic pot with draining holes. That pot is set in a decorative pot. I realize it needs to come out of the decorative pot to be watered and to properly drain… But when it’s done draining can it go back into the decorative pot? Or do the roots need sunlight as well?
    Thanks for your time!

    • Hi Kristen,

      I would leave it out of the decorative pot for two reasons 1. You ever know if water is still gathering at be bottom and this can cause root rot pretty quickly. 2. The roots need to breathe and need air flow.

      Hope that helps,

      Hannah

  55. My boyfriend got me a beautiful Phalenopsis orchid for Valentine’s day and I had to bring it outside in the snowy weather to take it back to my room. A few days later, the flowers began turning brown and falling off along with the buds. I assume that this was because it was in shock from the cold and trying to recover. I now have it in a place that is not cold or drafty and I try to remember to give it some sunlight every day. I have been watering it a little, but not the way you recommend. It still has some roots that are light green/silvery. Should I just go ahead and run it under the sink and let it drain so the roots will be that healthy dark green, or should I let it dry out completely and then water it like you suggest?

    • Hi Caralea,

      The blooms falling off can be natural as shown here….

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/orchid-bloom-dying-naturally/

      The buds falling off is called Bud Blast as shown here…

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/bud-blast-2/

      You want it to completely dry out before watering it. And then you can water it the way I said.

      Is it by any chance potted in a pot without a drainage hole?

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/orchid-disaster/

      Hannah

      • Thank you for your help! I will wait until it dries out completely. It is potted in a clear plastic pot, with drainage holes, inside a decorative clay pot. Will my orchid recover from this? Also, how long should it take for it to recover and begin budding and flowering again?

      • Does the decorative pot have holes in it? If not it needs to be removed from the outer pot and not placed back in it.

        Normally orchids bloom once a year so you should see bloom stalks in the Fall.

        Hannah

      • I took a look at the “blooms falling off naturally” page you kindly provided, and it says that the stem will begin to die back too once this happens. The stem on my little orchid is still quite green and healthy looking, as are its leaves, which are dark green and stiff. Does that mean anything? I know it is not dead, but is there any chance of it creating more buds and blooming again before next year? I have no idea how long it was in the store before my boyfriend brought it home.

      • Thank you! Your website is so helpful; I’m so glad you decided to create it! The decorative pot does not have holes in it. I’ll remove it from there. Will anything happen (or not happen) if I do not cut the stem? Even though I know you know what you’re talking about, this is my very first orchid and I feel like cutting the stem, (or anything else green), which it worked so hard to grow, will be harmful to it. When would be a good time for me to cut the stem cut it near the base, slightly above the first node? After it begins turning brown or is it ok to do while it is still green?

      • Thank you for the sweet compliment!

        I am assuming it’s a Phalaenopsis orchid and if so yes it is ok to cut it. It won’t hurt it but if you want to wait till it turns brown then you are more then welcome too. Whatever makes you more comfortable. It won’t hurt it either way,

        Hannah 🙂

      • You are very welcome! Where exactly should I cut the stem? It has a branch off of the main stem, close to the top where flowers used to be. Will it just be a straight, green stick once I cut it? Will it ever re-grow the branch off of the main branch?

      • Hello again! My orchid has dried out and I watered it like you said. When I flipped in over to let the water drain, I could look through the holes in the pot and saw some white things in with the roots. This is a little alarming; I hope my orchid does not have root rot!

      • I’m not sure, but they look bigger than that. They are about peanut size. I think I only saw one of them.

      • I put actual packing peanuts in my orchids and so do a lot of growers. It fills up the extra room when they are in between sizes and orchids like them bc they can grow straight threw them.

        You can always send me a picture at myfirstorchid@gmail.com

        Hannah

      • I will try to send a picture, but I don’t think it is a packing peanut. It looks kind of fluffy and like it is growing on something.

      • Ok, thank you for that. Your website said that cinnamon is also an effective treatment for mold and common pests that attack orchids if you don’t have the spray. Will sprinkling cinnamon in the bottom of the pot kill this possible mold? How long do you think it will it take?

      • It can definitely help! I would treat it with hydrogen peroxide and cinnamon. Every other day for a week and then see how it is. Don’t water it while treating it with the peroxide.

      • I am taking it to the sink and flooding it with water until everywhere looks soaked. Then I take it out and set it on the table so it can soak up water and dry out again a few days later. It is in a clear, plastic pot with drainage holes in the bottom.

      • About the hydrogen peroxide, do I use it as if it were water and I was watering my orchid? Or do I flip my orchid over and try to get the hydrogen peroxide only on the affected area?

      • I put it on the effected area but it won’t harm your orchid of you use more like water and if the main root is effected then you do want to put it over the base.

        Hannah

      • Hello! Thank you for the helpful advise on how to get rid of the white clumps in my orchid. I sprayed the hydrogen peroxide on the roots just like you said and it cleared up two days later! Thank you 🙂

    • Hello again! There seem to be tiny winged bugs crawling around in the green, spongy stuff my orchid lives in. They look like gnats, but much smaller. Are these bugs a bad thing? Should I kill them? If so, how?

  56. my boyfriend got me this lil baby orchid for valentines day because it was the last one. i love it however ive tried to read as much as i can but i feel like it may be dying… idk how long it was in the store for, but hah i was totallt using the ice cubes, i stopped and actually watered it exactly like you said. but the flowers started to close, is it dying?! how to i fix it?! oh and the leaves have spots on them since i got them, is that normal?

  57. hello this is my first time on here I had a small orchid for xmas my daughter had it in her car for about three weeks so when I got it was dry so I watered it as you have said but the flowers started to drop and now the leaves have to can I save it I already have 14 and had no problem with them can you help me

    diane cronin

  58. Hi Hannah, my Phal leaves are striated and wrinkly. Have I been underwatering them? Are they dying? Please help.

    • Hi Diane,

      I would love to help!

      How long have you had your orchid?
      Is it in bloom?
      Is it potted in a pot with a drainage hole?
      How do you water it? How much and how often?

      Hannah

      • Hello Hannah,

        I noticed Diane never responded to your questions. I have two orchids in this state.

        They are planted in bark.
        They have open holes in the bottom of the pot.
        One is in full bloom.
        One has not bloomed in more than two years and acts as if its just hanging on…
        The roots appear to be more white than green on both, but I feel like I water them way too often compared to my other orchids.

        Stacey

      • Hi Diane,

        I am not able to reply to your response below, but I wanted to let you know that i did send photos of the orchids that are having problems.

  59. Hannah,

    First off – your site has helped me keep my first alive!! So thank you for all your great tips!

    I just received a orchid that came in a pot that doesn’t allow water to drip out and there is no internal plastic pot…. How can I water her?

  60. My child was a healthy specimen for about 4 months then it lost its flowers why?? I only water it every Sunday and it was always dry before watering.
    Will the flowers come back?? Hope so.

  61. Hi Hanna,

    I came across your site while looking for answers because I believe my orchid is dying. Is there any way to save an orchid from rotting roots? I have a phalae orchid.

  62. I been doing it all wrong for three mnths I used ice cubes every other day … The flowers have been blooming beautiful without any signs of stress… Maybe Ill keep up what I been doing it seems to be working just fine

    • Hi,

      You won’t really know how it’s doing till you see it’s roots. Orchids can “look” like they are doing well and then all of the sudden crash and all their leaves fall off. It’s happened to me.

      Plus “just add ice” orchids tend to be potted in pots without drainage holes which will most definitely kill an orchid over time as shown here…

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/orchid-disaster/

      I have friends who solely use ice and that works for them… So if it’s working for you then great!

      Best of luck,

      Hannah

    • I did that for 3 yrs with mine, it survived but never bloomed again. I finally took it to an orchid show last spring and learned the error of my ways. I have followed the advice of all of the crazy orchid people ( they are kind of like cat people) fingers crossed, I am hoping for a bloom this fall! Warning…… I took the orchid to the show on a cold day and when I went in they all said ” did you cover that orchid?”……. I was like ” what?”……..they acted like I took a baby out without a coat in the middle of winter. Sure enough, the leaves got frost bite, so much for my beautiful plant! It pulled through that, as well as the time I thought it would like to go outside for some fresh air and managed to burn its leaves in just a few hours….they literally turned black. Mistakes can be prevented by learning from other orchid parents.

      • Jaime,

        Ha! Your post made me laugh “crazy orchid people” hysterical! But it’s true. I take a way more laid back approach. My orchids are in the background of my life. Basically the only thing I really tell people is make sure your orchid has drainage (not pots without it) and you water it properly.

        All the other stuff is just if you really want to get into them. They can live without fertilizer etc.

        Good luck,

        Hannah

  63. Hi Hannah,
    Love your site, so helpful! I just brought home my orchid from work that had recently been ‘re-born’ after being dormant for months. It is in a clear inner pot, which is in a clay decorative pot. The roots on top are visible and my pot looks just like your pic above with the silvery green colored roots! I didn’t know that meant they needed water! Very glad I read that here, I’ve watered it the way you suggested. Anyway, my question is: how will I know if it needs to be repotted? Mine has alot of roots and one has even come out one of the drain holes and is growing around the bottom. I can also see 4 roots on the top, coming out of the bark. Thanks for your help!

    • Thanks Cathy!!

      I would love to help! Sometimes orchids have roots above the pot called aerial roots and they do tend to look silvery… I have a link on that…

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/aerial-roots/

      In general though if you have roots above and coming out below you will want to repot it soon. But you want to wait till it’s not in bloom. Repotting a blooming orchid can cause Bud Blast (orchid blooms fall off – I also have a link on that) because it shocks and orchid.

      Hope that helps,

      Hannah

  64. Hi!

    We have been given an orchid at my workplace from one of our directors from head office. My manager kills plants, and because I have an orchid at home I have been given responsibility for the one at work, despite much protesting on my part!

    I’ve been watering as and when required, and given strict instruction to everyone else to leave it well alone.

    Unfortunately this orchid seems to have been over watered, resulting in one leaf turning rapidly yellow/brown, and also by the stem on the leaf a rotting look.

    What would be your suggestion? I’m going to take the orchid home and try to maybe re-pot it over the weekend, cutting off any rotted roots and hoping to save it?

  65. Hello! For mother’s day I received a blue mystique orchid beautiful! I have new blooms that turned white, still beautiful. No browning or nothing is dying. But, my green leaves at the base of the plant it all looks lopsided, where it all seems to lean. I see roots, but is it suppose to be loose like you can almost lift it out? Is it suppose to grow like that or is it suppose to be standing upright in the middle? Thanks for your time! ♡my orchid! 🙂

    • Hi Tynanta,

      I would love to help! It probably needs to be repotted after the blooms fall off naturally. I have had orchids that bend like this under the pressure of growing blooms. It can be fixed by repotting it.

      Also if your orchids blooms turned white after – then they are most likely dyed blue. I have a post on dyed orchids.

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/dyed-orchids/

      It can be dangerous but if your orchids seems healthy then after it’s done blooming you can repot it in a pot that fits it better and make it centered.

      I don’t recommend potting them in a much bigger container. They like to be snug so pick one that is a similar size or tiny bit bigger. I have a post on repotting as well.

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/32/

      Let me know if you have further questions and you can always email me pictures at myfirstorchid@gmail.com

      Hannah 🙂

  66. i just got an orchid today, it’s a baby and i got in a small plastic pot thing (like you have above) but i can’t tell if it’s time for watering or not. it seems to be very dry near the bottom and top but some of the roots are pretty green. should i add a little water or wait a day or two? i’m also wondering how much sun does it need? orchids are my favourite flower so when you can reply it will be very much appreciated!! thank you!!

    • Hi,

      I would love to help! You can wait a few days if you like – it won’t affect it to wait. And when you do water it let water pour through like I mentioned.

      I have a post on Orchid Light Requirements – it depends on which type you have but most like to be in indirect sunlight.

      Hope that helps,

      Hannah

  67. Hi there, just received an orchid as a gift. My response to the giver was “oh no! So much pressure.” Not a gracious comment but I was overwhelmed with fear of killing the poor dear. I have softened water in my home. I think that might be bad for the orchid. But if I use purchased distilled water is that lacking the proper minerals? Tried looking around your very nice site but didn’t see this question. Please advise! Thank you kindly.

    • Hi Linda,

      Okay so I totally understand the overwhelmed feeling!! I felt the same way (5 years ago) and couldn’t find a lot of helpful information on the web for beginners. That’s why I started this blog.

      Orchids are super easy to grow once you get the hang of it. And many times this involves having a few die. Many people get them from stores that mismanaged them before they bought them and then the orchid suffers and people get discouraged and feel like they killed their orchid.

      The main thing you need to be worried about is watering it properly, making SURE it has a drainage hole (this is vital) and placing near a shady window. That’s it.

      Soft water is fine. If you can drink it the orchid can too. Just follow the tips on how to water in the above post and you should be ok (unless there is damage like I said from the store). Wait till it’s dry – not moist – dry before you water it.

      Best of luck and let me know if you have further questions,

      Hannah

  68. So hard to water it on time…
    My orchid’s in bark and it keeps drying out every 2-4 days. I always forget until the leaves are a bit wrinkled.
    Do you have any tips on how to water it on time?
    Thanks!

    (And yes I am the John who has left 50+ comments.)

    • Hi John,

      Good to hear from you again! Honestly I water mine three or four times a month so I am not the best at watering them on time. They are on some big humidity trays which helps. Maybe that would help you. My orchids don’t seem to mind the lack of watering – maybe they just got use to it 🙂

      Hannah

      • Thanks!
        John
        (P.S. I probably don’t know where I’d be with my orchids without your helpful guidance!)

  69. What can I do I am having to leave my orchids for at least Four weeks, can I set uk a capillary watering system? Or us it better y water them before I go and hope for the best ?

    • Hi,

      I would love to help! If it were me I would water them the way I water in this post and put them on humidity trays (I have a post how to make them).

      You CAN’T leave them in a self watering tray because their roots will rot. Orchids can’t sit in standing water like a normal houseplant or they get root rot (I have another post on this).

      Can anyone check in – in like two weeks and water them? I normally only water 2 or 3 times a month. They can go for a whole month but they will get super dry. But dry is better then rotting.

      Best of luck,

      Hannah

  70. Thanks for the helpful info. I have two dendrobiums that I can’t get to bloom

    • Hi,

      Thank you for the sweet compliment! Dendrobiums can be tricky. I had ones that never bloomed and my friend literally forgot about his and did not water it for forever and left it and it bloomed! Strange?!

      How are you watering it and how much? Does it have good drainage?

      They need more light then a Phalaenopsis – is placed near a window?

      Hannah

  71. Read all the qeastions and answers but can anyone tell me if a conservatory would be a good place to keep 2 orchids,thanks.

    • Hi,

      I would love to help. I am not familiar with your specific conservatory.

      Is it full sun? Is there a shady spot that gets a bit of sun?

      Also what type of orchids do you have? Some require more sun then others.

      Let me know and hopefully we can figure it out,

      Hannah

  72. oops, also wanted to let you know that ALL of them are still blooming with more blooms forming even after repotting them WITH the blloms on!
    They are in plastic pots with very good drainage but not clear! darn it.
    Maybe in the spring I will re pot in clear pots because I think that helps greatly!
    Thanks Hannah!
    Pete

    • Hi,

      I would love to help!

      So I found leaves to be droopy from either over or under watering them (like you said) or not enough natural light. Most places that are throwing away orchids after they are done blooming (my friends company does this as well) probably are not watering them at all or giving them water in containers with no drainage (which causes the roots to suffocate = root rot/droopy leaves). They also tend to keep them far away from windows with natural light because it is an office setting.

      It will take awhile for the leaves to perk up. Make sure they are dry before watering them again and make sure they have proper drainage and a natural light source.

      Hope that helps and good luck,

      Hannah

  73. Hi!
    Just found this blog! Lots of great information, thank you!
    Quick question. I have recently aquired about 14 phals. A friend of mine works at a store that THROWS them out after blooms start dropping!
    Great for us huh? LOL
    Anyway, some of the plants leaves are kind of softish and droopy. I remember years ago I tried my hand at orchids and I believe the same thing happened then too. As soon as I got the plants a few weeks ago I repotted them right away cause I didn’t like the way the media felt. I bought a nice bark type of media and added about 10% sphagnum for a little moisture retention.
    I’m only watering about every 8-10 days or so under the sink with a good drench but what causes the leaves to get like that ? I’ve read different things.
    Over watering and under watering.
    The ones that are soft and droopy were like that when I got them so I’m wondering if and how long they will take to get nice and firm like they should be..
    Thank You
    Pete (Florida)

  74. Happy Sunday, Hannah…
    Thank you so much for this very detailed, helpful and inspiring blog. I feel much better now. I received my orchid as a gift, I live in New York City, and it was sent to me from a place that specializes only in orchids and tropical plants. The presentation it came potted in, was a square glass vase, with a mixture of what looks like moss on the top and perhaps fir bark on the bottom. it does not have what seems to be most important – which would be a clear pot with drainage holes in the bottom, etc. I’m confused on what to do because I would think that from such a specialized nursery/florist, that they would naturally send out orchid gifts professionally potted in the most proper and healthy way…but I am reading so much about making sure your orchid is in a clear pot with drainage holes. I received my orchid about two weeks ago and it is stunning and lovely and healthy…but I can see at the bottom of the glass vase that it still has a tad bit of water around the fir bark(or whatever wood it is). Is my orchid going to be ok in this square vase with the potting materials? Or is it imperative that I remove the orchid and pot it in something else? It seems actually kind of difficult to remove… any advice would be lovely and so so appreciated. Thank you again for all your care and wisdom!
    I want my orchid to be happy and thrive!
    Jené

    • Hi,

      I would love to help!

      Yes it imperative that you get it out of that container. I have a post on what to do with a blooming orchid in this situation. It’s called “drop potting” the link is here…

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/orchid-disaster/

      And I agree that it’s very strange yet so very common for people to sell orchids like that – even high end places. But orchids will rot and die with their roots like that. That little bit of water will absolutely cause root rot (I have another post on that). It’s deceptive because your orchid probably looks great right now but I can tell you it was not grown like that at a nursery (meaning it was grown with drainage holes) – whoever sold it potted it in that pretty pot and they probably expect you will throw it away when it’s done blooming which most people do.

      Most people don’t take the time and energy to wait for another growth cycle to see blooms and just buy another orchid that is blooming.

      I suggest you find a similar pot with a drainage hole and drop potted as stated in the post above. Wait to water it till it has completely dried out. After the blooms have fallen you can follow the “How to repot it” blog entry and check out the roots. But for now just get it out that pot.

      Hope that helps,

      Hannah

  75. Hi, thanks for creating such a useful website! I’m new to orchids, only about 5 months and I have a really bothering problem that I like to ask for your help. My two phalaenopsis is in a bark and sphagnum moss mix medium and the top part always dries up after 4-6 days, however the bottom parts of the pot is still moist. I’m not sure when should I water because even though the top is bone dry, the bottom is still moist. The first phalaenopsis that I had suffered root rot because I was watering it when the bottom part are still moist. My orchid is in a clear pot and it has lots of driage holes, which is why I can see that the top part of the roots are starting to wrinkle without enough water, but the bottom roots are still green. I even repotted my orchid, placing larger chunks of bark at the bottom and more moss on top to hold in the moisture to balance out with the bottom, but nothing seems to work! What should I do? I really don’t want my second and only decent looking orchid to suffer again.

    • Also, is there anything I can do to help my first orchid to recover from the root rot, the leaves are really wrinkled and it tried to grow a new root, but it turned black after a while and stopped growing. Should I fertilize the orchids now? I heard you shouldn’t fertilize a newly bought orchid (my second orchid) or one with root rot (my first orchid), is that true?

      • Did you read my post on Root Rot? Follow those instructions and lay off fertilizing then until the rot is under control.

        Hannah

    • Hi,

      I would love to help. The top roots will always look drier then the bottom ones. This is very normal.

      Click on my link on Aerial Roots for more info on this.

      What you should do is wait to water it till the bottom is almost dry or completely dry. I wait till they are bone dry. Don’t worry about it getting too dry because over watering them will do way more damage then letting go a few days completely dry.

      Hope that helps,

      Hannah

  76. Hello!
    My boyfriend works at a hardware store, and he was given two orchids because they were “dying”. He gave one to me, and ever since then I’m afraid I’m going to kill it. It’s lost 1 leaf already, and it looks to me like there will be two more falling off shortly. I have it in a small terracotta pot in my bedroom (about 66ish degrees) and not in direct sunlight. I’ve fallen victim to watering with ice cubes, but I’m afraid I might over water if I put it under the faucet. I feel like the little plant is on his last leg, and I really want him to live…. can you help?

    • Hi,

      I would love to help.

      You can use ice. I just don’t personally like it. Overwatering an orchid is literally the worse thing you can do to an orchid. It causes root rot. Many times orchid leaves fall off in multiples because of root rot.

      I would wait to water till it’s really dry and then use my watering technique. As long as the pot you have has drainage holes.

      Don’t feel like your killing it because it was probably mismanaged before you got it. Orchids are grown in greenhouses and shipped to stores and then not placed by any natural light in the stores and usually over or under watered there. Plus you got ones that were already sad.

      If I were you I would repot them to see if the roots are rotting and then be super careful to not overwater.

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/root-rot/

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/32/

      Click on those links for help.

      Hope that helped,

      Hannah

  77. Okay, I’ve been reading this and I still have questions. I was given an orchid with white blooms and I was warned by the person who gave it to me, to not over water and she suggested that I put ice cubes in it once a week. After 4 weeks all of the blooms have fallen off and the roots are a grayish color. It is in a small clear plastic pot with moss. So should I repot, or just leave it in the same pot and let water run through the plant, fertilize and hope for the best. Help.

    • Hi,

      I would love to help! Overwatering is a major concern with orchids but as long as your waiting till they are almost completely dry before watering them you should be ok. The reason I am not fond of ice is because 1. It’s cold and orchids are not normally (in nature) given cold water 2. I don’t believe it is enough water to fully saturate the inner roots.

      That being said I know many people that water their orchids with ice and it works just fine – I just personally don’t like to do it.

      Your orchid blooms falling off is natural. I have a blog post titled “blooms dying – naturally” it explains this. When you receive an orchid as a present it was probably in bloom way before you got it and blooms can last a month to a few months.

      It is great that it is potted in a clear plastic pot – that helps a lot with viewing the roots. And you can wait till next year or this spring/summer to repot it. You don’t necessarily need to it now unless it’s under some sort of stress. Repotting season is normally in the spring/early summer.

      I would water and fertilize it and place it near a window. It will not bloom again until next year (depending on where you live).

      Let me know if you have further questions. Hope that helped,

      Hannah

  78. Hi, I am so glad I found your blog. I only own one phal that was given to me. After the blooms fell off I kinda neglected it I didn’t water it often but it’s still alive. Now I am taking care of it (babying). It only has 3 leaves and I looked the other day I believe another leaf is trying to form. It’s in a clear pot with holes with sphagnum moss only. I water it with Schultz Orchid fertilizer 19-31-17. I dunk it in the fertilizer water just like you said and it stays wet for a few days because the sphagnum moss seem to hold onto water. Then each day I keep checking to make sure it is drying. I let it dry out completely before watering again. I think I’m doing it right because so far I have lots of green roots and the leaves are green and healthy although it has 3 leaves. Oh, I live in Florida and was wondering would I be able to grow other type orchids in sunny hot Florida? Is it too hot to grow some of them and for them to bloom?

    Thanks for all your help Hannah! Now I’m going to read the rest of your blog.

    Thanks Rhonda 🙂

    • Hi,

      You are too sweet:) You can grow any and all types of orchids on Florida. My family lives there and they have had success with almost every type of orchids.

      Your seem to be doing well. I find the less I do to my orchids the better they are. I water them, fertilize them and let them be… It seems like your doing a great job! Keep it up,

      Hannah

  79. really confused here. I’ve watered all my orchids using ice cubes. My oldest one has been watered this way for nearly a year and a half and is very healthy. I am scared to switch to the flooding them in the sink technique at this point, it would be a huge change in what they are use to.

    • I say what works for you is great! I have just written what works for me and ice has not worked for me at all. But I have friends who use this method and love it – especially when you give it to a friend to watch while your out of town.

      If that works for you then do it. And your right it may be a big change to start flooding it.

      Hannah

  80. When I read your post about dyed orchids yesterday I noticed it mentioned the orchids & ice mess I’ve run into so I came to read this entry. Before I say anything else…”Where were you when I first started getting/growing orchids?!” The info you give is great, it’s easy to understand, pics included & you’re happy to help. I think I even noticed on the entry about dyed orchids that you went to your local plant lady to have a question answered that you weren’t sure about. There’s nothing worse than people who give answers to questions they don’t know, or only sorta know, the answer to! So I find this a GREAT place to get good solid orchid info.
    It can be a bit overwhelming when you get your first orchid because you usually fall in love w/it & buy several more. Then you’re really in deep because you don’t really know how to care for them! The worst “place” to get orchid info is on the hang tags that come w/the plant. IGNORE most all of what is said on those tags. If the info on this blog isn’t enough for you, & I think it should be, go buy orchids for dummies. Yes, they have an orchids for dummies book…I own it!
    Anyway, I’ve strayed FAR from what I came here for…ice for orchids. My Dad, knowing my love for orchids, bought me a beautiful orchid. He said ” Look, all you have to do w/this one is just add ice!”, thinking he’d found the worlds best answer to easy orchid care. I was beyond skeptical but I tried it out anyway. IT DOES NOT WORK! It is just another tactic to sell orchids. It preys on how most people have heard that orchids are really hard to grow/keep alive (not true) & so seeing this “just add ice” sounds perfect. Mine came in a horrible pot w/a really bad medium…I don’t even remember what it was. I had to repot it w/moss & thankfully it has stayed beautiful & healthy!
    Sorry this is so long but I want to add that while orchids should never sit in standing water they do like humidity & a good way to get it, w/o a mini humidifier, is to put some gravel (I used leftover gravel from our fish tank), a few pebbles, anything to keep the pot elevated & then add some water to the bottom of the pot. Be very careful not to get the water above the top of the gravel or you’ll kill your orchid like she said in the post!

    • Hi,

      I honestly don’t remember when I got my first one (my first plant that is – my first flower was from my husband). How funny is that? My first memory of them is having like 4… And then 6…. then 10…. then starting the the blog and now I have cycled through (I give away the ones I save now – my core 18 have stayed) over 40.

      It has been a strange fun trip and I am so glad I did it. And like you restated I am no expert!! I am just another learner like you guys. The only difference is I wrote down all the helpful and different info and then put it here.

      Last time I checked I had over 140,000 hits on this silly little blog – it’s a bit overwhelming but as long as people don’t think I “know everything” then we are good.

      I have learned so much since I started though and I am super excited to learn more!!

      Hannah

  81. I am fairly new to the Orchid world and according to most of you I am doing it all wrong. I repotted all my Orchids and they do not have drainage. I also water them every Sunday with a weak Orchid fertilizer and every two weeks in the winter. They seem healthy and I just now have a new stem with lovely yellow Blooms on it. However I do have two plants with very wimpy leaves and no sign of any new stems. After reading most of the posts I am now among the confused..

    • Marge,

      I would love to help:) Just to be clear its just me writing this blog (“according to most of you”) comment. What are you confused about? How can I help?

      Hannah

      • Hi Hannah: What I meant was that when I read all of the comments I was doing the wrong things such as repotting without drainage. I am now wondering if I should repot the three that don’t have drainage and if that,s why the leaves are all wimpy and they aren’t happy.

      • Marge,

        Got it:) I had no idea what I was doing when I started this orchid thing years ago and it’s so frustrating because there is a lot of information that contradicts each other and not a lot of helpful basic information for beginners (like me). I hope I can help.

        Orchids are unlike most plants in that they can experience root rot quite easily.

        I have a post on this… Which explain it further but basically if an orchid is in a pot with no drainage the roots may sit in standing water. If this happens then the orchids roots will most likely rot and the plant will die.

        This may be why the leaves look sullen.

        Here is the link

        https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/orchid-disaster/

        Hope that Helps,

        Hannah

      • Thanks Hannah. I am going to repot the three that are in non draining pots. They will be a real challenge as my daughter gave them to me because they were looking very sick. I will give them a chance for a few months but I may have to toss them out. I read the information you suggested.

      • Hi again Hannah. I found two of the three pots have drainage holes. One of them I left alone. Another one I removed from the pot and then found the drainage hole. I trimmed off the dead roots and put it back in the pot. The third one I removed from the pot and my husband drilled a couple of holes in the pot. I trimmed it up and planted it back in its pot. It will be a miracle if it survives but worth a try. I gave them both a drink of fertilizer but not sure how often I should do that.

      • Marge,

        That sounds good! I don’t what type of fertilizer you use.

        The kind I use I mix with water. So I water and fertilize at the same time.

        I would follow whatever instructions they say.

        Hannah

  82. Hi, Hannah.

    I have a red and yellow cattleya.

    I discovered that the cheap mix I began with wasn’t allowing my orchid to drain. So, I repotted it with BetterGro bark. I think it’s draining better now. However, I’ve got what looks like mildew on the stems of the sections that will eventually flower. There’s an outer layer, kind of like onion skin, on these stems. I tried peroxide for the rot on these parts, but I think the stem’s skin prevents it from getting through to the problem.

    Is it a bad idea to remove the skin? I don’t wanna lose my plant!

    Also, is there any place besides repotme.com to buy clear pots?

    Thanks for this blog forum! A really helpful resource!
    Emily

    • Emily,

      I am glad I can help:)

      You can get clear plastic orchid pots at a lot if places – like amazon or your local flower shop. Google clear plastic orchid pots…

      I would not peel the skin off of the plant. I would pour the solution in it and repeat it in a few days. See if its working first and then if need be you could repot it.

      Hannah

  83. Hi Hannah,
    Have another watering question.
    I use the spagnum medium from repotme. Wen I fertilize my plants I prepare the Feed Me formula in a gallon of water. I pour that in the pot until it drains.I do not water it first. I think that would make my orchid too wet- not just moist.
    My orchids in 6 inch pots usually will need watering again in 7 days. My 3 inchers need attention in about 5 days.

    Another question-
    I live in New York where we have hot,humid summers. Would recommend using humidity trays in those condition?
    Thanks in advance-
    Michele

    • Michele,

      Hmmmm so I re-read the fertilizer instructions in the repotme page and according to them YOU are doing it right.

      I will most likely keep doing it the way I do it because I like to literally flood my orchids with water when I water them. Like drench them. I do this because I wait for my orchids to completely dry out before watering them (on the repotme page they say to wait till they get almost dried out – so they would still be a bit moist). I was always scared I would get root rot or my orchids would be too wet if I watered them more frequently.

      I also do this because I have watched the way orchids grow on trees in Florida – where my family lives – and the orchids there get drenched with water when it rains and then get super dry in between rainy times. And they seem to love this.

      Of course I let the water drain out the bottom of my pots and never let them sit in water but I do flood them more then most people. And my orchids are thriving…

      As far as humidity trays go – I am a firm believer in them and love them! You can buy them from repotme or make them yourself. I have done both. It’s amazing how quickly the water evaporates and really makes you think about the moisture around the plant.

      Hannah

  84. Hi Hannah
    I’m so confused about watering, like so many people are. I’ve been instructed by David from Repotme that I should water when I feel with my finger that the top of my medium is dry and crunchy and the inside is somewhat moist. That phals like to be evenly moist. Am I misunderstanding his instructions?
    My medium is Repotme Imperial Mix. Mostly moss.
    Another question if I may- Can you use the dunking method of watering with orchids planted in moss? -don’t do it myself- just curious.
    Thank-you in advance.
    Michele

    • Michele,

      I love David from repotme he answered a ton of my questions and I use the same moss. The reason I tell people to use the pencil or your finger method and test for dryness is most Phals are planted in mixes that you can’t tell when they need to be watered by the “crunchy” moss feel.

      Most people I know have them potted in some form of bark or moss that is not a high grade and seems to never dry out.

      In both cases the only way to tell if its dry and needs to be watered is to stick something down in them.

      With my own orchids I just feel the top like you and David said. If your read my post on high quality Sphagnum Moss I explain why I love it so much and how easy it is to tell when it needs watering.

      But I understand how my post could be confusing. I will work on it tomorrow and hopefully make it better! Thanks for the feedback,

      Hannah

      P.S. I think I made it clear in another comment section but I have never used a “dunking” method.

  85. Hi Hannah,

    I have decided to water my orchid using the method stated above, however, no water drained out over the sink (I assumed it must have just been very thirsty) and the potting material has been very wet and warm for 2 days now. I worry that the roots will start to rot or grow fungus! There are drainage holes in the bottom and I have a fan turned on in the room to circulate the air a bit… any other suggestions?

    Thank you!

    Kelly Randall

    • Hi Kelly,

      I would love to help.

      So you let it stand under the water for awhile?
      If the water wasn’t flowing out of the bottom was it just washing off the top?

      My orchids are normally pretty wet for at least a couple of days after and then moist for at least week afterwards. So I would not worry about it being wet as long as it dries about before you water it again.

      Hannah

      • thank you! I let it stand under the water for about 10 seconds, no water washed off the top. I’ll just wait until it’s bone dry to water it again 🙂

      • Kelly,

        I normally just keep it under the sink until water runs though it – normally over 10 seconds.

        That is what I do though… I would wait till yours dries out before you water it again and then try to place it under water for longer.

        Hope that Helps,

        Hannah

  86. Hi Hannah,

    Thanks so much for this information! I really appreciated your “Myths” section…there is so much misinformation out there that can confuse first-time orchid owners like myself 🙂

    I have a watering questions for you: I recently purchased an orchid from the store, and when I water it about once a week, the roots within the clear container remain green and well-hydrated as seen in your Left picture. However, I also have roots at the base of the orchid stem, which are above the potting mixture (wood chips and peat moss), and they are dry, hard and gray like the ones seen in your Right picture. I’m confused…should I be watering my orchid more often to keep these top roots moist? Do I then run the risk of overwatering the orchid?

    • Sona,

      Hi:) I would live to help. Those roots on top are called ariel roots. Do not worry about them at all!! They are always like this…ugly and dry looking. Sometimes they even grow in between the leaves and are all twisty and weird.

      As long as your roots under the soil look good – then your orchid is good.

      When I repot my orchids I sometimes try to bury those ariel roots…but when you do this make sure you soak the entire plant in water which will make those roots more malleable and then they can be buried. If you don’t do this they will break in half. If they do ever break sprinkle some cinnamon on them (natural fungicide).

      Hope that helps,

      Hannah

  87. I just got my blue mystique orchid today put 3 ice cubes in the pot well it came in a clear plastic pot but also in another pot that didnt have any drainage and a tiny bit of the roots got brown and mushy. so I clipped them but at this very moment i dont have any of the supplies to repot it. What should I do?

    • Hi Patience,

      I love that name:) is your orchid still in bloom? If so I would do nothing unless you think it is major distress. You don’t need to repot it immediately. You can send me a pic at myfirstorchid@gmail.com if you like.

      If the roots that are deep down in the soil are rotting then yes – you do need to repot it. You can go to your local potting place and get a simple orchid mix. I like my mixes from http://www.repotme.com but others will work just fine.

      Also I would not water it with ice – even though the card on those orchids says too. But I am sure you read my opinion on that in the How to Water you Orchid post.

      Hannah

  88. i have Cattleya orchids and Phalenopis orchids. I’m wondering if I can use the same orchid potting mix for them. By the way, your site is very informative!

    • Jennie,

      Hi and thanks! I get all my mix from http://www.repotme.com. I get different mixes for different orchids they have ones for all different types. I know there are similar components to the mix but I do think they differ. You may want to look at that site and see what they recommend. I personally would get different ones but that is just what I do.

      Hannah

    • I have an “Classic orchid mix” from WillGro, it’s suitable for both Phals and Cattleya, so I guess it might be okay.

  89. I think if you really like doing thing on days of a week you can make that happen. Combining potting material and how hard you pot the mix, it should be possible to get some kind of order.
    John

  90. Anyway, To type the happy face you need a space between the other letters. This:) will not work. This : ) without the space will.
    John
    Sorry for the additional post.

  91. I think the problem that ice-cubed orchids don’t bloom is because the orchid gets used to the cold temperature so you will have to lower the temp even MORE to get the plant to notice it. But by then, the temp is is below minimal for the orchid to survive. So…

    • John,

      This is an interesting idea but my reasons for not liking the “put 2 or 3 ice cubes in your orchid once a week” is because…

      1. There is no “set” watering rule when it comes to orchids. Meaning…. giving it the same amount of water at the same day of the week is not right. Orchids dry out at different rates and need to be watered when they are completely dry. Not damp….DRY.

      2. I don’t like putting ice cold “anything” on my orchids because they are tropical plants.

      3. I actually don’t think orchids get enough water this way. One ice cube is probably like a tablespoon of water and putting a couple of tablespoons of water in your orchid is not enough. They designed to be in rain forests where there is a burst of rain and then nothing for a bit except humidity.

      In a pinch I am sure it’s fine to use ice cubes…let’s say if someone is watching your orchid while your out of town but overall I think it’s easier and better to water it in your sink as I describe in the above post:)

      Hannah

      • Yeah, I know that. I just dunk them in the sink. I still have leftover ice cubes that are going to become part of my humidity dish. The dishes are so small I always spill them on the way from the sink the the window 🙂
        John

  92. I just received an orchid plant and it lives in water. Literally, there isnt any soil. The person who delivered it said to change the water every day, but Im having trouble finding what the best water to use is, etc.

    Any advice would be great!

  93. thanks very much, very helpful! as you predicted i was gifted this gorgeous guy and didn’t have a clue. phew!

  94. This may be answered elsewhere on your site, but are there any orchids that can grow in the yard or in pots outside on a porch or patio? It is sub-tropical here in GA, although the winters can be cold with occasional snow. I think orchids would make beautiful additions to a flower garden.

    • Yes! You can grow all your orchids outside…in places like Georgia. If it gets below 40 degrees you will want to take them inside but they will love the dappled light of a porch or somewhere that has shade and sun. They don’t do well in direct sun all day… Like a tomato plant. In nature they are in jungles and receive light but not burning or scorching light (over 95 degrees). Just make sure you put them on humidity trays or mist them so they don’t get too dry… Oncidium, Dendrobiums and Cymbidiums love more light then a Phalenopsis… But as long as they aren’t scorched they will do fine! They do need to be in pots though and they need special soil.

      Thanks for the comment and feel free to follow up with another question. If you click on my page, at the top there is a link to the most common orchid questions … That will show how to make a humidity tray etc. And now that you asked I will make sure I put that on my list … I will do a post on a growing orchids outside 🙂

      Hope that Helps,

      Hannah

    • I live in Southern California and we frequently have winter nighttime temperatures down in the 30s. Most cymbidiums can go down to freezing and most Australian dendrobiums can go down well into the 20s. Also, try Mexican Laelias which are also quite hardy. Most of my collection remains outside year round and I bring them in over night if we are expecting an extended time at or below 32. A suggestion – look at the web site for Santa Barbara Orchid Estate. They specifically list plants that are “temperature tolerant” meaning that they can survive low overnight temperatures. Also, regarding light levels. Many of these same plants that I mentioned can stand pretty high light levels. Just keep them under partial shade during the hottest period of the day. I have numerous cymbidiums, dendrobiums, and laelias that get nearly full sun.

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