Few houseplants are as beautiful and meaningful as orchids, which come in many different types. Orchids have a reputation for being tricky to grow, but that’s not necessarily the case. Some growers have even had success growing orchids in water. In this article, we’ll examine whether you can grow orchids in water.
Can Orchids Grow in Water?
Orchids generally fall into two types; epiphytic orchids and terrestrial orchids. Epiphytic orchids latch onto host plants or trees, whereas terrestrial orchids need to grow in soil.
Epiphytic orchids can grow in water, but terrestrial orchids can’t so check which type you have. Common types of epiphytic orchids include Dendrobium orchids, Phalaenopsis orchids, and Vanda orchids. Common terrestrial orchids include jewel orchids and lady’s slipper orchids.
Growing orchids in water is known as hydroponics or water culture. Although epiphytic orchids don’t require soil to grow, they don’t like sitting in water all the time. The most common method involves keeping them in water for two days and then letting them dry out for five days.
It’s much easier to grow new or young orchids in water than older plants. If your orchid has grown in an orchid potting mix for years, it might not adjust well to growing in water.
How to Grow Orchids in Water
Although growing epiphytic orchids in water sounds relatively simple, it does come with specific care requirements. You’ll have to monitor the roots carefully and be vigilant for any signs of root rot. Here’s an in-depth guide to growing epiphytic orchids in water:
- Choose a container that’s large enough to hold the roots while providing some extra growing room. It’s also worth selecting a fairly tall container to help support your orchid.
- If your orchid was previously growing in soil, lift it out of the previous container. Gently wash all the old growing medium away from the roots.
- Examine the roots and remove any that are dead, diseased, or rotting by snipping them off with sharp, sterile scissors. Gently tease apart any tangled roots.
- To better anchor your orchid, add a layer of pebbles to hold the roots in place.
- Place your orchid in the container and add enough water to cover 1/3 to 2/3 of the roots. Always use room-temperature distilled or filtered water. Try not to get any water on the leaves as they will rot.
- For best results, let your orchid sit in water for two days. Then tip away the water and leave your orchid to sit in the vase for five days. Then, add some fresh water for two days and repeat.
- Alternatively, you can leave your orchid sitting permanently in water and change the water once a week. If you use this method, only cover 1/3 of the roots with water each time.
While you can grow epiphytic orchids in water, this method isn’t suitable for terrestrial orchids. Let your orchid sit in water for two days before letting it dry out for five days. This helps prevent root rot and other problems. With proper care, orchids can live for years to come. Enjoy!
For more, see our in-depth guide on how to deal with orchids dropping leaves.