Phalaenopsis Orchids are the most popular houseplant orchids. I’ll show you how to water Phalaenopsis orchids (moth orchids) so that they can live longer, flower and thrive.
How Often Should I Water My Phalaenopsis Orchids?
As a general rule, I water used to water mine every 7-14 days with room temperature reverse osmosis filtered water only. Now that I’ve moved to the desert, that has changed. This will vary for you also.
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I wish I could tell you exactly how often to water your phalaenopsis orchids and how much water to give them and be done with this post. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer.
When it comes to watering any plants there are lots of factors to consider that’ll make the amounts and regularity vary. I’ll go over all those factors so you can see what will be the best for your own situation.
Here are things to consider when watering Phalaenopsis Orchids:
This is one of the things you must get right: always let the water drain thoroughly drain out of the pot. Orchid roots don’t like to be constantly wet. These plants are epiphytes which means in nature they grow on other plants and not in soil. A very common way to kill your orchids is to over water or let them sit in water which leads to rot.
If your orchid is planted in a plastic grow pot placed inside a decorative one, always take the grow pot out of the decorative one for watering. If your decorative pot has a drain hole(s) in it, then the water was a way to get out and that’s what you want.
When watering your phalaenopsis, do so thoroughly. Don’t splash a bit of water here and there every other day. This can only lead to rot. If your orchid has gone bone dry, you may need to soak it for 10 minutes but make sure all water drains out.
Pot Size and Material
Orchids come in different sizes. I have a miniature phal in a 3-inch pot. This orchid needs watering more often than the larger ones in 6″ deep pots. An orchid in a larger pot will need watering less often, but will need more water quantity-wise.
The material of the pot will also make a difference. Those in plastic will dry out a bit slower than those planted in porous terra cotta.
The Planting Medium
These orchids can be planted in orchid bark, moss or a mix (mixes might include bark, small rocks, moss, sponge rock, and even cork). Don’t even think about planting them in the soil. If your orchid is planted in bark you’ll need to water it more often than if it’s planted in moss.
The bark will help the water drain with ease where the moss will hold the moisture longer. I prefer the bark or mixes which are predominantly barked because the watering is much easier for me to get right.
Phalaenopsis orchids in bark get watered every 7 days & those planted in moss get watered every 12 to 14 days.
Some of the popular ways to top dress orchids are moss, bark, pebbles and glass chips. Any of these will make your orchid dry out a bit slower.
What’s the temperature and humidity in your home?
Depending on where you live, your home temperature and humidity will vary so you’ll need to adjust the watering accordingly. Orchids do best with humidity levels between 55 and 75%. I used to live 8 blocks away from the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara, CA. Now, I live in the Sonoran Desert in Tucson.
The temperature and humidity conditions in my home have changed drastically.
Now I need to water more often. Instead of every 7 to 14 days, I now water every 4-7 days. When the humidity is particularly low and temps are high, I’ll soak my orchids for 15 minutes to make sure they get a good drink.
If your home conditions are naturally humid your orchids will only need regular watering. But, if your conditions are dry I’d recommend spraying the leaves with a water mister every couple of days. Be sure to avoid misting the flowers.
Other ways to increase humidity for your orchids is to place the plants on top of wet stones or by getting an air humidifier. I keep mine on top of pebbles in a saucer filled 3/4 of the way with water. You want the pot to be resting on top of the stones and not submerged in the water.
A small humidifier close by will do but just make sure it’s not too close because you don’t want to burn the plant. Another great way to up the ante is to keep them in naturally humid places in the house like bathrooms or kitchens. Make sure there is plenty of natural light for them.
Water frequency also needs to be adapted for the different seasons. Air conditioning and heating systems tend to dry the air, so take that into consideration too. Plants need to be watered less in winter because there is less light and this is the season when they rest.
What’s the right kind of water to water my orchids with?
My tap water in Santa Barbara was extremely hard so I had a reverse osmosis drinking water system. I used potassium chloride in the tank outside and that’s what I used to water my orchids and houseplants.
There are lots of opinions regarding what’s the right kind of water for orchids. Some use distilled or purified, others reverse osmosis and there are those who like to collect rainwater. Do a little research on your own regarding the water you’re using and see what’s best for you. Your tap water may be just fine.
Unless you’re using rainwater, you’ll need to supplement with fertilizer so your orchids get the nutrients they need. This is the fertilizer I use on mine once a month at 1/2 strength. It was recommended by a wholesale phalaenopsis orchid grower.
How to water your phalaenopsis orchid with ice cubes and why I don’t
Watering your phalaenopsis orchids with ice cubes seems to be pretty popular even though I’ve never tried it. What I found out after some research and asking around is this:
– For small size, orchids use 1 ice cube a week.
– For bigger orchids do 2-3 cubes a week.
The theory behind using ice cubes to water your orchids is that they’ll absorb the water slowly rather than all at once. This will prevent them from drowning. It’s a slow drip watering technique.
I don’t water my Phalaenopsis orchids with ice cubes for 2 reasons.
I can control the chances of overwatering by taking them to the sink and letting the water all drain out. That’s the way they get watered in nature as they’re growing on other plants and rocks and those showers blow through. Second, these are tropical plants which like cozy conditions when it comes to temperature. I can’t image they like frozen water melting into them!
The reasons why these orchids are oh so popular are many
– They are easy to find. You’ve probably seen them while shopping at Ralphs, Trader Joes or other big box stores along with garden centers and florists. There’s no shortage of them.
– Phalaenopsis orchids are not toxic to cats or dogs, making them a good candidate for pet lovers.
– These orchids are one of the easiest to care for and are pretty resilient.
– They can be used to decorate and cheer up any space because of their cheery faced flowers which can be found in a variety of colors. You can even find them in gemstone colors like sapphire and emerald!
Next time you are watering your precious phalaenopsis orchids remember
– Don’t overwater them; either by doing it too frequently or letting them sit in water.
– Don’t use water that is high in salt or minerals.
– Consider the environmental situation they’re in to determine how often to do it.
Do you have anything to share about watering your Phalaenopsis orchids?
Please let me know in the comments below!
Happy indoor gardening,
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