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Diagnosing Watering Problems in Phalaenopsis Orchids

December 7, 2012

Many phalaenopsis orchid growers have trouble diagnosing watering problems, because the symptoms of overwatering and under-watering can be very similar. Both overwatering and under-watering will cause damage to the root system of your orchid and eventually lead to dehydration. You will know your orchid is dehydrated when you see that its bottom leaves are yellow and wilted, and its buds are falling off instead of opening (bud blast).

Follow these steps to find out whether you have overwatered or under-watered your phalaenopsis orchid.

  1. Pull the grower pot out of the decorative pot and look at the roots.
  2. Roots that are green, plump, and stiff are healthy. Roots that are brown and mushy mean you’ve overwatered and should allow more time between watering. Very grey and shriveled roots with little or no growing tips mean you need to increase watering levels. There is no need to take the plant out of its potting media, unless you are changing the potting medium or moving your orchid to a larger pot.
  3. Additionally, while you are inspecting the roots, if the potting medium has a sour smell or is mushy and has changed in appearance, it may be time to consider changing out the potting medium.
  4. There are several growing mediums perfect for repotting orchids. Typically though, you should select from a chunky bark mix or spongy moisture-absorbing sphagnum moss mix.

Check out our Orchid Care Watering section to learn the best and easiest way to water your phalaenopsis orchids.