When do I water my orchid? is one of the most frequently asked questions I would say with regards to orchid culture and would expect it to be too as it is a very important part of growing any plant never mind orchids.
The simple and most accurate answer would be ‘when the plant needs it’ but this wouldn’t be of any help at all if you don’t know when. Firstly you need to know the needs of the orchid in question as you cannot give the same watering schedule for example to a Disa and Cattleya, these are on opposite ends of the scale!
Once you have an idea of the conditions the orchid requires then you can try and implement it the best you can, with the majority of orchids it would be wise to let the potting mix slightly dry between watering especially with orchids with pseudobulbs as these have water stored, you are more likely to kill an orchid by over watering than under watering. And by over watering I mean frequency not the amount at any one time, I have a saying ‘ if in doubt leave watering out’. There are exceptions and Disa is one of these as they like moisture at the roots at all times and literally sit in water!
A good way to learn when to water is too get used to lifting the pot and feeling the weight, when light it is time to water. The use of clear pots is a very easy way to see when to water, you can also use a wooden skewer that you insert in to the potting mix which will water mark the skewer given you a indication whether to water or not. You can also insert a finger in to the potting mix or what I do on regular occasions is to carefully tip the plant out of the pot and inspect the mix and the roots. Over time you will learn when to water and simply putting it you will just know when to water, believe me!
It is also good to let the water that you choose to use to become the ambient temperature of the room the orchids are in to prevent shock and damage to the roots. Or warm the water up a little, don't use cold water.
Phalaenopsis are the most popular orchid houseplant for sure so I will use that for an example on how to water.
Phalaenopsis have no water storage like orchids with bulbs or canes which indicates they require a consistent watering cycle with no winter rest like cool growing Dendrobiums or Cymbidiums.
With that in mind this doesn't mean Phalaenopsis need to be wet or moist all the time, if I advised to keep moist all the time you will more than likely over water and this will kill the roots.
What I will advise is to give a wet then dry cycle and this can be achieved very easily. Many will have their orchid in a clear pot, which will then be in a decorative pot or pot cover. Just pour water through the pot/root surface, this will run through the clear pot and fill the pot cover, lets call this an orchid bath! Let your orchid relax in the orchid bath for 15 minutes or so, then remove and drain any surplace water from the clear pot. Discard the water in the pot cover or use on other houseplants to save waste! That's the watering done so enjoy your Phalaenopsis and don't water again until the potting mix has become dry.
Orchid having a bath-Best way to water!
Don't fall in to the trap of keep trickling water through the top, you will at some point have too much water in the bottom of the pot cover which will rot roots. If this is too high maintenace then you need to just make sure that when you do water you pour enough water through the pot to really soak the roots.
Imagine a Phalaenopsis in nature on a tree branch and when it rains it absorbs all the water it needs whilst it can!.
And don't forget to feed your orchids, we have two of the best orchid feeds there is available for sale.