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How to water orchids

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

When you know how to water orchids, your green thumb status will be assured

When you know how to water orchids, your green thumb status will be assured

Many home flower growers consider blooming orchids to be the Holy Grail of houseplants. While it doesn?t take being Indiana Jones with a green thumb to capture this prize, it does take care and patience, especially when it comes to watering.

Knowing how to water black velvet jewel, phaius and hybrid orchids is the secret to having these fragrant flowers growing in your home.

The first step in watering orchids is to remember that they are tropical plants that ideally prefer an environment consisting of heavy rains and high humidity. Since this is usually impractical in the average home, we have to devise ways to get the right amount of water to our orchids with the tools we have available and without over- or under-watering them. Although it seems contrary to the tropical environment that orchids come from, it’s over-watering that is the most dangerous to home flowers.

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Determining when to water your orchids is both a science and an art. The best rule of thumb is to water your plants when they are just beginning to dry out. This applies to almost all orchids, although the soil for cattleyas and oncidiums can dry out completely because they are good at storing water.

Many factors will affect the time between waterings, including humidity in the room, temperature and the type and age of the potting mix. There are a few simple ways for determining the right time to water. The top of the potting soil should appear dry. If the orchid is in a clay pot, the pot will feel dry. Another simple test is to insert a wooden skewer or pencil into the soil – if it comes out dry, it’s time to water.

Once you’ve determined the right time, poke your finger into the soil so you know what dry soil feels like and hold the pot so you know what a dry one weighs. This will help the next time.

When your orchid tells you it’s ready for water, take it to the sink in the morning so the plant has all day to give the leaves time to dry. Tap water is best, but remember that treated water has a high salt content that can harm plants. Make sure the water is warm because cold water can cause root shock.

If you’re watering with a hose from the sink faucet, make sure it has an adjustable sprayer or water diffuser and keep the pressure low. A watering can with a diffuser can also be used. Water the plant gently but thoroughly until water pours from the bottom of the pot. Two short waterings a few minutes apart works better than one long soaking. Allow the water to drain completely, then hold the pot to determine what a watered plant weighs.

Return the plants to their growing spot and don’t let them sit in standing water. If you keep the pot in a saucer, empty the saucer as soon as water accumulates or place it on a humidity tray to allow the evaporated water to continue to moisten the soil.

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If you felt the dry soil and weighed the dry and watered pots, you should have no trouble noticing when your orchids need watering again and how much to give them. With care, patience and proper watering, growing orchids doesn?t have to be as hard as living in the jungle.

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