Watering Question

Thanks to Patti R., who recently sent me a question about a confusing orchid care article. Patti was understandably stumped by a gardening column in a normally reliable California newspaper. The column has repeatedly advised Phal growers to water their plants only once every 3 weeks. Patti asked:

I know this can’t be right. I grow orchids at my home 20 minutes from Sacramento. I also have a few more at my office. I’ve accidentally killed phals by allowing them only two weeks without water. How can anyone water once in three weeks?

Well, Patti, some people can water once in 3 weeks, but this really illustrates the problem with one-size-fits-all orchid care instructions. Soundbites may be dangerous to your orchid’s health. I would guess that the author of the advice grows Phals potted in moss in perfect greenhouse conditions. Many orchid pros water once every 3 weeks. They pot the Phals in tightly packed moss, which acts like a sponge. It can hold a lot of water, especially in high humidity. With a goal of minimizing water use, they’ve set up their growing environments accordingly. So it is possible.

Of course, most home or office growers don’t have optimal conditions. Even if your orchids grow in moss, your light levels, humidity, air movement, and temps vary. Each of these affects watering frequency. If your orchids are potted in bark, then you need to consider that it can dry quicker than moss. That’s why an orchid care regimen needs to be flexible, and soundbites do not account for fluctuating conditions. If a formula says “once every 3 weeks,” or “3 ice cubes per week,” take that as a starting point. Then, you need to pay attention to your plants. Check these helpful watering tips, and create your own schedule.

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4 Comments on “Watering Question”

  1. Orchid Food Says:

    Dendrobium orchid has to be repotted in spring after blooming, once every other year. Choose the potting mix according to the pot size and plant size. For a small plant use grade fir bark, while for a plant bigger than 6’’ choose medium grade bark. You can also use long-fibered sphagnum moss.

    Orchid Food

  2. nancy Says:

    I have seen so many orchid instructions that contradict one another. There really can be no substiute for paying attention to your plants (like you say) and experimenting a little. Good info!

  3. Christopher Murray Says:

    wonderfully put, very informative. I ponder why the opposite experts of this sector don’t understand this. You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  4. Coral Oliveira Says:

    I always was interested in this topic and still am, regards for putting it up..