How to Water Orchids

Orchids, because of their wide variety of colors and sizes and gorgeous blooms, have become a favorite among people that like to keep plants.  Each orchid species will having their own water needs, those that come from an arid region will need less water than a variety that come from a lush tropical region.  Determine the correct type of growing conditions for the orchids you are planning to keep, and a definite part of this is determining how to water the orchid.

The orchids that hale from the tropical regions are used to lots of water from the large amount of rain they receive.  Tropical region orchids are also used to a humidity level of 80%.  Watering the orchid is a good substitute for a replacement of the rain.  But replacing the humidity for the orchid requires a little more ingenuity.  Keeping the orchid supplied with water is a good first start.  To create an artificially high-humid environment around the orchid start with a large shallow pan, the pan should be larger than the orchid pot.  Fill the pan with pebbles, decorative pebbles typical of aquariums would be a nice choice.  Add water to the pan to almost the top of the pebbles.  Place the orchid pot on top of the pebbles being sure to not allow the water to come in contact with the pot.

With all this talk of water and humidity a new orchid owner may think they need to keep the potting medium most wet all the time.  This would be a mistake.  The potting soil orchids are usually grown in is bark, and bark tends to hold the moisture while appearing to be dry.  Water orchids once a week or every other week, is a good rule of thumb.  Epiphyte orchids, growing up on tree trunks or branches, are used to their roots getting dry between waterings.

Orchids can also come from arid regions these orchids are going to have different watering needs than tropical orchids.  The orchids from an arid region are more often terrestrials.  The epiphytes from arid regions are usually found bordering streams where there will be more water available. These orchids have developed special characteristics to deal with the reduction of water.  Their leaves become very thick and fleshy with a heavy waxy covering.  The stomata that the plant breathes through may only be on the lower part of the leaf or in pits, and have large guard cells to protect against water loss.  Arid regions are often subjected to short periods of heavy rains and the orchids in these areas have developed to make the most of those rains.

The arid orchids are going to have a lower water need than tropical orchids, but can still be kept as a houseplant.  The orchid will still have a period that it goes through a growing season when it will need much more water than normal.

It may sound quite difficult to properly water an orchid, but just know what type of orchid you are dealing with and plan accordingly.  Until you figure out the best way to water the orchid be very aware of how the orchid is looking.  Watch especially for yellowing leaves, which is a sign of over watering.

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