Overwatering is the No. 1 reason Phalaenopsis orchids fail. Tree-growing orchids in their native tropical environment, Phalaenopsis orchids have thick, fleshy roots that are designed to absorb moisture from the air. To mimic their natural growing conditions, orchid growers pot these plants in loose, coarsely-cut, bark-like medium that promotes air circulation around the roots and provides fast drainage after watering.
Water with Caution
Used to caring for house and garden plants that require nearly daily watering, first-time Phalaenopsis orchid owners are frequently over-zealous about watering their new orchid. However, overwatering can prevent orchid pots from draining correctly, causing water to collect in the pot and saturate the orchid’s roots. Not designed to withstand submersion, roots may soon start to soften and rot can set in rather quickly. If the situation is not corrected promptly, root damage can become irreversible and cause the orchid to fail.
Watering in Dry Environments
Knowing how to correctly water your Phalaenopsis orchid is the first step to a long and rewarding relationship. Generally, Phalaenopsis orchids planted in bark-like media should be watered once a week. Some Phalaenopsis orchid hybrids such as Just Add Ice Orchids can be watered with ice; however, ice cannot be used to water all Phals. It’s always best to follow the directions on the plant tag. During hot, dry summers, you may need to water your orchid twice a week or increase room humidity. This is also true if you live in an arid climate such as Arizona or New Mexico. After watering, check the pot for proper drainage and remove any excess water.
For more tips on growing orchids in dry climates, watch our Caring for Orchids in a Dry Environment video.