Orchid Water Requirements: How Much Water Do Orchids Need

A woman spraying a potted orchid with water
(Image credit: ArthurHidden)

Orchids get a reputation for being finicky. A lot of people don’t grow them because they’re thought to be too difficult. While they’re not the easiest plants to grow, they’re far from the most difficult. One key aspect is knowing how and when to water an orchid properly. It’s not as mysterious as you might think, and once you know what you’re doing, it’s remarkably easy. Keep reading to learn more about how to water orchids and orchid water requirements.

How Much Water Do Orchids Need?

Perhaps the biggest mistake people make when growing orchids is overwatering them. Despite the fact that they’re tropical and like humidity, orchid water requirements are actually pretty low. In general, orchids like their growing medium to dry out between waterings.

To test this, put a finger in the growing medium. If it’s dry about an inch (2.5 cm.) down, it’s time for watering. For indoor plants, this will probably translate to about once a week. It will be a bit more frequent for outdoor plants.

Knowing how to water orchids is important too. When it’s time to water, don’t just moisten the top of the potting medium. If your orchid is growing in a pot, set it in the sink and gently run warm water over it until it flows freely from the drainage holes. Never use cold water – anything below 50 degrees F. (10 C.) can seriously damage the roots.

How to Water Orchids

There’s more to knowing when to water an orchid than just the frequency. Time of day is also very important. Always water your orchids in the morning so the moisture has time to evaporate. Watering orchid plants at night allows water to settle into nooks and crannies and encourages fungal growth.

While they don’t do well sitting in water, orchids do like humidity. You can create a humid environment by filling a tray with a layer of gravel and adding just enough water that the gravel isn’t quite submerged. Place your orchid’s pot in this tray – the evaporating water from the gravel tray will surround your plant in moisture without waterlogging its roots.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.