Humidity and Orchids

Do orchids need humidity?

Updated 3/1/17

These are my orchids above. Orchids LOVE humidity! The natural environment of an orchid is a hot, humid and rainy jungle. In this environment orchids are naturally designed to have their leaves funnel rain and humidity down to their roots. 

Because of their need for humidity, I place my orchids on humidity trays. As the water in the humidity tray evaporates it rises thereby increasing the humidity around the plant. Humidity trays allow water to collect in the base while the plant is suspended ABOVE the water, so their roots aren’t wet. Orchids do not like to have their roots and the bottom part of their pots soaking in water. Most house plants like water left in their saucers. NOT ORCHIDS, their roots will rot if this happens (check out my post on root rot) and they will die if left untreated!
Orchids also benefit from being close together because this helps to raise the humidity among the plants. Orchids love humidity and air movement. Try to have a good balance of humidity and air movement. Not too much and not too little.

You can buy a humidity tray or you can make one from a pan filled with stones (I have a post on how to do this). I purchased the three-tier tray from rePotme and I also have made my own.

If you live in a super dry house you may even want to put a small humidifier near your orchids. 


Hope that helps,

Hannah

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

26 Comments on “Humidity and Orchids

  1. Several of my Orchids leaves are turning yellow. This is a hanging plant with long roots, over 24 inches. Every couple of days I spray the roots with water from the kitchen sink. This plant lived outside all summer and I brought it inside about 6 weeks ago. It is very dry and I have only the one plant.

    • Just to let you know, your advice about humidity caused my orchid (my very first one) to start sending up a bloom stalk almost immediately after I placed a small humidifier (like you would use for a baby) right next to. The last bloom just opened and it has 15 blooms in all. Since I live in the desert, I am double excited about this. I’m sure the extra humidity in the room probably helped me too.

  2. Hello again!

    My orchid is in my office, which has AC (warm/cold) on most of the day, which I can imagine to be quite drying!

    I have ordered a cheap £2.00 humidity meter – I don’t suppose we could speak numbers here at all? Do you know how humid your room is? Or does anybody have a recommended number they could advise me with?

  3. I am so happy to have found your orchid blog! I got my first orchid (a Phal) in January a year ago and it still has not re-bloomed. It seems healthy enough and is now producing a bunch (4-5) of air roots, but so far no bloom spike (at least as far as I can tell). I re-potted it after it stopped blooming. I am wondering if this is a light problem, but unfortunately I live in an apartment and have access only to north or west windows. Seems like the west windows are way too bright so I have the Phal in the north window as close to the window as I can get it without it actually touching. I fertilize with orchid fertilizer every time I water and I use a tester to be sure it needs water. I’m going to try your suggestion about using a small humidifier since I live in the desert. Do you have any other suggestions for how I can get this to bloom?

  4. Hi Hannah,

    I received a Phalaenopsis Orchid as a gift about a month ago. The directions say to water it by soaking the entire pot in water for 5 minutes or by putting ice cubes on it. It’s planted in bark in a clear plastic pot, so I’m not sure how to tell if it’s dry because there’s no soil. I’ve soaked it twice, and put 2 ice cubes on it once. Am I watering it too often or too little? I have it in a large bright room. It is far from the window, because the directions say that it needs bright, indirect light. But the blooms are already falling off, and it seems like the last bud just began blooming a week ago. (I was also worried about the bottom leaves turning yellow, but just read you post that that is normal.) I’m just wondering if I need to do something differently, or whether this is normal.

    Thanks for your help!
    Amy

    • Hi,

      I would love to help.

      As far as watering. I water my orchids this way…

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/hello-world/

      I have never liked soaking an orchid in water because that is not how water gets to an orchid in nature. It flows freely through the orchid. I would be concerned that my orchid would get root rot this way.

      And I explain in the link above why I don’t like the ice method. I know people use this method and I also know that it does work but again this is not a natural way to water an orchid.

      You can tell if you orchid is dry in bark by pushing your finger or a pencil down into the mix and feel for moisture. With a pencil you look for moisture on the pencil tip.

      I wait to water till my orchids are very dry.

      “I have it in a large bright room. It is far from the window, because the directions say that it needs bright, indirect light.”

      It needs to be close enough to a window that sun has the opportunity to hit even if for an hour. Indirect light can simply be through a window. If you worried the window is too bright – you can tell by touching the orchids leaves. If they are hot then it’s too close.

      “But the blooms are already falling off, and it seems like the last bud just began blooming a week ago.”

      Blooms will fall off naturally pretty soon after getting an orchid because they were probably in bloom awhile before you got them as explained here…

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

      Bud blast is different…

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

      Is this what is happening? Or is it normal shriveling off and dying.

      Let me know if that helps or if you have further questions,

      Hannah

  5. HELLO!

    Thank you all for the helpful information…I live in Michigan and I have two full size phals, a mini and just today I purchased a cream and green vanilla bean orchid! It is about a foot long right now. They are all in terra cotta pots. For air circulation around the roots I added a few stones to the bottom of each pot followed by ferti lome brand orchid mix for the phals. For the vanilla bean I packed a bit of the spag moss around the roots surrounded by the orchid mix and topped with a bit more spag. I’m also using the MSU, Michigan State University, special orchid fertilizer which is 13-5-15. I use it every 4th watering year around.

    My question is firstly, does anything i’m doing raise a red flag? Second, has anyone ever grown the vanilla bean orchid? If so, what do you think of my methods so far? I’m really hoping that I don’t kill this one- it’s the most expensive of the four. I’m very excited to have my own vanilla beans even if it takes a few years for it to mature.

    Does any one know the difference between the green leaf vs the cream and green or the pale green with dark green versions of the vanilla orchid? I have a spider plant as a houseplant and I’ve noticed that if i plant the seeds from my cream and green version it sprouts a totally green plant. Could this be the case with the vanilla orchids? Any comments or suggestions are welcome- thanks everyone!

    Heidi

    • Hello Heidi,

      I would love to help. I am going to cut and paste your questions to make it easier.

      “Thank you all for the helpful information”

      You are very welcome!

      “My question is firstly, does anything i’m doing raise a red flag?”

      Nope, everything you said sounds great!

      “Second, has anyone ever grown the vanilla bean orchid? If so, what do you think of my methods so far?”

      I have not grown this type of orchid so I am sorry but I don’t have any answers to this. I even googled it to see what it was.

      “I have a spider plant as a houseplant and I’ve noticed that if i plant the seeds from my cream and green version it sprouts a totally green plant. Could this be the case with the vanilla orchids?”

      Orchids can change colors based on their soil. I have bought pink orchids and the next year they were white.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful with the vanilla orchid!

      Hannah

  6. Hi Hannah,

    I very rarely Mist my orchids because that makes the medium moister than it would normally be. I water my orchids when the medium becomes crunchy.
    You could see why misting would confuse me.
    We use the same medium. How does it affect you.

    Thanks again,

    Michele

    • Michele,

      I use to mist my orchids all the time. I just don’t have the extra time to do so now. Life got pretty busy. I think they would be fine either way but you would need to just stay in top of them. Meaning your right about it getting the top of the mix wet and therefore harder to tell (because we use the same sphagnum moss) when there is the “crunchy” feel.

      Even though the leaves and the top of the soil is getting a bit wet this doesn’t mean the soil deep down is getting wet so you would still need to water them at the a similar time frame.

      Hannah

  7. Hi Hanna,
    I have stopped filling my humidity trays because it is very humid without them.

    Do you think I should fill them anyway?

    Thank-you in advance-

    Michele

    • Michele,

      I live in St. Louis where it’s pretty humid as well. I keep them on humidity trays all year round. I don’t think they can get too much humidity. I try to create as much as a “jungle environment” as I can:) and I also think this lets me water them less frequently.

      Hannah

  8. Hi I’ve recently obtained a Phalaenopsis orchid and I have had some people tell me that I should mist the leaves regularly but then other people say that I shouldn’t. I am getting rather confused. If I dont mist but have a humidity tray will that be alright.

    Amanda

    • Hi,

      Misting is fine as long as water doesn’t pool at the orchid leaves base. If this happens get a paper towel and soak that up.

      I use humidity trays (I LOVE THEM) and I mist them when I have time (I have a small child right now) and the orchids seem fine with both. Good luck!!!

      Hannah

  9. When the water funnels down on the leaf, wouldn’t it just go to the roots? If that’s not the case then I wonder how natural orchids survive.
    John

    • John,

      Yes, it would just funnel down to the roots in nature. At our homes sometimes there is little environmental help like air movement and the fact that we have them so upright in pots (in nature they would not always be so upright)…therefore water can pool in the bottom of their leaves and not evaporate or funnel right away. That is why I take a paper towel and sop up any extra water (after watering the) that is down and pooling in their leaves.

      Hannah

  10. hi,thanks for the reply.I have read your post on watering,and I just water when my plant is nearly dry.That is when I put my finger in the pot and it;s almost completely dry.my orchids in bark so it takes a few days to dry,and it’s a good indication when my top leaf goes ever so slightly limp too.
    Although it’s not in a clear pot i must be doing something right,because it’s got a new leaf.
    May I ask a question please?Are orchid leaves supposed to be the same size all up the plant?.my leaves are all different sizes,a couple are huge and a couple are quite small.It looks a bit odd. Especially on the one side, the leaves are much bigger on left side than right. Maybe it’s been in the shop window on the left side a bit to long?.I don’t know. thanks again. : )

    • Hey,

      No…orchids leaves will be varying sizes throughout their life span. New leaves shoot from the middle and the bottoms leaves eventually turn yellow and fall off. It’s a cycle. Without new leaf growth, your orchid won’t produce new blooms.

      In general the bottom leaves will be the biggest and the leaves on the inside will be the smallest (and will get bigger and bigger).

      Some of my orchids have had the same leaves for a year…they are healthy but not healthy enough to produce new leaves and thus don’t produce new blooms. I am waiting patiently for them to start this cycle .

      Does that answer your question?

      Hannah:)

  11. hi, thank you for this post.It has been very helpful to me to learn why my orchids kept having their aerial roots shrivel and die all the time and then the plants died.very frustrating.I now have a humidity tray under my latest attempt at keeping an orchid alive.Ive had it 3 months now.It is doing super.The flowers and spikes are off, it is a very strong plant, and now it has a new leaf growing!.At last!.leaf no.8. Thank you for your blog,it is very helpful.I am actually keeping an orchid alive for a change.I have been learning from your blog all about what to do and what not to do.So thank you for all the info.My orchid was a birthday present to myself so I’m wanting it to live,and it is doing brilliant. thankyou so much.

    • Veronica,

      I am so glad it helped!! If you have any questions… At all…please ask. Orchids seem hard to grow but once you got the hang of them they get easier.

      Did you check out the post on watering… That is a common mistake people make that can easily kill an orchid.

      I made so many mistakes at first and even now some orchids will die and I have tried everything:(

      Hannah

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