Watering orchids ‘correctly’ is ‘vital’ – water temperature is ‘key’

Alan Titchmarsh details method for keeping orchids flowering

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Phalaenopsis orchids are popular due to their dramatic appearance, and one single flower spike can produce many beautiful booms. What’s more, this houseplant can last for several years if they are cared for correctly. However, overwatering is one of the most frequent causes of plant death, especially in winter, so it is important to be mindful of how much and what water you are giving houseplants.

The winter months can be tough for houseplants due to a lack of natural daylight and an increased temperature in the home due to central heating.

This can cause the temptation to water the plant a lot, thinking that it will be drying out quickly. However, lots of houseplant enter dormancy during the winter months, which means they need less watering and lots of rest.

The period of dormant happens to orchids when temperatures drop and it may last up to nine months. An orchid which is dormant may not have any flowers and the stem may turn dry and brown.

Despite this, orchid owners should still water their houseplant every 10 days, according to houseplant experts.

Experts at Baby Bio® told Express.co.uk: “Watering your orchid correctly is vital to keeping it happy and healthy. 

“Orchids are susceptible to root rot, so it will eventually die if it is allowed to sit in wet potting mix. Likewise, roots may shrivel and dry out if conditions are too dry.

“In winter, watering once every 10 days is usually enough to keep it thriving, but it is always best to check the dampness of the compost before watering to ensure you aren’t overwatering it.

“Ideally, you’ll want to water it when the potting mix is almost dry, but not completely dry. During the winter months, you can also mist your orchid lightly to increase humidity as central heating can cause dry air in the homes.

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“But be careful because you do not want to soak the leaves or leave them damp as this can lead to mould, fungus and leaf rot.”

Most houseplants are sensitive to tap water and require filtered water or rainwater in order to thrive. While orchids can be watered using tap water, the experts said the “key” is in the temperature of that water.

Most orchids are native to areas in southeast Asia, and therefore are acclimatised to warm, tropical rains.

The houseplant experts added: “We recommend traditional watering from above using tepid water, as opposed to using ice cubes to cold tap water, as cold temperatures can shock the roots and prevent healthy growth.

“If your orchid is potted in a grow pot, you can also water by filling the outer container with tepid water so that the whole compost in the pot is covered.

“Leave to stand in the water for one hour, then drain off the water. Leave to drain for another hour to avoid it sitting in water, then put the water to one side, as this can be used to water your other houseplants.

“Once your orchid has completely drained off, replace the inner pot into the outer decorative pot.”

It can be hard to know when and how much water to give houseplants, especially during the winter months. 

However, there are signs to look for which will indicate if you have underwatered or overwatered your plant.

The pros said you can tell if your orchid is over or underwatered by looking at the roots. If they appear soft and brown, this is a sign that they have been sat in water and not been able to effectively drain, causing root rot.

Baby Bio® experts continued: “If they appear dry and shrivelled, this could indicate that they haven’t had enough water over a period of time. Healthy roots will be firm, plump and white.

“Another easy way to tell is by inspecting the leaves – limp or yellow leaves is often a sign of overwatering, while wilted or wrinkled leaves suggest the orchid needs more water.”

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