The Watering Mistake You're Probably Making With Your Orchids

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Let’s be real here – we all know that when it comes to plant ownership, there’s a little bit of a hierarchy. Sure, we could all coddle a cactus and soothe a spider plant. But some leaf babies, like the fiddle-leaf fig and the glamorous zebra plant, are much higher maintenance.

And then, there’s the notorious, the impressive, the ultimate sign of responsible plant parenting; orchids.

The beautiful blooms have earned a reputation for being pricey and very, very tough to keep alive. And while Good Housekeeping (among others) says that the flower isn’t as frustrating as many think, it still has some very particular demands – like how it can be watered.

So, we thought we’d share a common orchid-watering mistake with you, and give you further advice on how to saturate its roots.

Step away from the tap water

In general, plants much prefer rainwater to tap water. And this is especially true in the case of fussy orchids.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) shared that “Tap water can be harmful, so use boiled water or rainwater if possible.” This is because the plant’s soil reacts badly to the chlorine present in most tap water.

“Tropical orchids don’t fare well in very dry air, so mist the leaves regularly,” the RHS add – though they reckon too much water can cause damaging root rot. Orchids aren’t beating the “tough customer” allegations any time soon, are they?

The American Orchid Society suggests putting a pencil in your orchid’s soil to see if it’s wet enough before adding any more moisture. “The point of a sharpened pencil, when inserted into the medium, will darken with moisture if the plant has enough water,” they say.

The site advises that you water your plant the day before it dries out completely to avoid root rot and overwatering. And once it does become time to hydrate the flower, they recommend soaking its soil (or any other medium) in lukewarm water for fifteen seconds, letting it dry out for fifteen minutes, and then placing it in a pot with good drainage. “It may appear dry but it has had enough water,” they reassure orchid owners.

And while you get to that, I’ll stick to my beloved, low-hassle aloe vera plant (look, some of us are more neglectful plant parents than others).

Here’s a master at work: