- Growing Orchids In Water: Caring For Orchids Grown In Water
- Can I Grow Orchids in Water?
- How to Grow Orchids in Water
- Growing Orchids In Water: Is It Madness Or Is It Possible? Learn How You Can Grow Orchids In Water
- Two, Four, Six, Eight, Let Your Orchids Propagate: Multiplying Your Orchids
- Is My Orchid Dead? Here are Four Signs That Say It Is
- Is My Orchid Dead? 4 Telltale Signs
- Help Saving a Phalaenopsis Orchid with severe root rot
- Water Beads for Plants
- Update on Full Water Culture Experiment
Growing Orchids In Water: Caring For Orchids Grown In Water
One of the more collectable plant families are the orchids. Orchids grown in water are a new cultural adventure for serious collectors. Hydroponic orchid growing is also called water culture and may prove to be the solution for an ailing orchid. The method is actually quite easy and fairly foolproof, requiring only an appropriate container, water, sterile tools and a little patience. Learn how to grow orchids in water with this quick tutorial.
Can I Grow Orchids in Water?
Orchidscan be pretty fussy about their growing environment. Soggy or infected media can cause health deterioration and other issues if improperly maintained. Most growers use a bark mixture especially made for the plants, but there is another method that is even more effective and quite surprising…water culture. While you may wonder, “Can I grow orchids in water,” this technique is simple enough even for a novice and it may help improve the health of your plant.
Orchids are primarily epiphytic, but some are terrestrial. Each variety will have its own media preferences but, on average, any type does well in a good orchid mix. Plants that come directly from a nursery, however, may have their roots wrapped in sphagnum moss. This is good at keeping the roots moist but bad at letting them dry, and can also harbor pathogens.
If you see your orchid looking peaky, it
may be time to un-pot it and examine the root condition. Visual inspection is the easiest way to determine if the plant has any root or pseudobulbissues. Hydroponic orchid growing may be the solution to a plant that is remaining too wet. It relies upon a rotation consisting of 2 days of soaking in water and 5 days of drying out (usually, but each plant is different). This more closely mimics the plant’s wild experience and lets roots breathe.
How to Grow Orchids in Water
Orchids grown in water experience what epiphytic forms of the plant might undergo. Epiphytic orchids grow in very little soil and grab much of their moisture out of the air. This means the moisture is consistent, in most cases, but never excessive or boggy. Growing orchids in water provides the plant with a cultural situation that allows just enough moisture during the soaking and then allows the aerial roots to dry to prevent pathogens.
Simply un-pot the plant, remove any media (including moss and bark bits) and gently tease the roots out from their tight little tangle. Then rinse the roots well and, using sterile pruners, gently cut away any discolored or rotten material. Your plant is now ready for its water bath. Some growers like to use an antifungal powder, hydrogen peroxide or cinnamon to further clean the roots. This is not necessary in hydroponic orchid growing unless your plant has a serious rot problem.
You can place your orchid in any container with enough room for roots to grow, but it is fun to use glass so you can observe the progress of the plant. The container doesn’t need to be very deep but high curved sides can help support the plant and keep it from flopping over. Many hydroponic orchid growers also use clay pebbles in the bottom to help support roots and rise the crown from the moisture to prevent rot.
The medium might seem to be straightforward – water – but there are good and bad types. Some municipalities treat their water until it is laden with chemicals and can be quite toxic to plants. A better route is using rainwater, or distilled. It is important to use tepid water to avoid shocking the plant.
Another note…some growers simply leave their orchid in the water all the time with weekly or biweekly water changes. Others swear by soaking the orchid for 2 days and then allowing it to dry for 5 days, but you can actually do it either way. Observe your plant carefully for cues on its continued growth and health.
Growing Orchids In Water: Is It Madness Or Is It Possible? Learn How You Can Grow Orchids In Water
One of the basics of growing orchids is to not over water them or they will surely die. So when you hear someone saying that they are growing these types of plants in water, you think to yourself if it is really possible or are they just out to get you and make you kill all your lovely orchids?
Orchid water culture is a very uncommon practice. Most horticulturists may not agree that it works but there are reported cases where growing them in water has been made possible. Whether it is the country or area that they live in with specific conditions or another matter unknown to man that makes it possible for them to grow these special plants in water; nonetheless, growing them in water has worked for them.
It is not recommended that you grow your orchids in water if there is nothing wrong with your special plants or if your they are healthy and doing well in their own respective potting mediums. The growing orchids in water cases that were reported were unhealthy and dying plants. Due to hopelessness of the case and a brave attempt to save these well loved plants, the orchid grower experimented to put the them in water and see if they will survive.
Water Therapy For Sick Orchids
If you find that there are no more options available for your beautiful but unwell orchids then water culture is the last resort to save them, this is how others have done it:
- Clean up the dead roots (cut them using sterilized scissors so they won’t rot and affect the rest of the plant while in water.)
- Place your orchid in a container that is filled with water
- Make sure that only the base of the plant is touching the water and not the rest of the plant so that it does not induce rot
- Add water every few days when it has evaporated or change the water every other week when the water becomes unclear
- When the new roots grow long enough to be a few centimeters long, repot your orchid
As said before, water therapy may be the last resort or solution to dying orchids. If you are at the end of your rope and do not know what to do to save your dying precious orchid, there is no harm in trying it.
One of many fundamentals of rising orchids is to not over water them or they may absolutely die. So while you hear somebody saying that they’re rising a lot of these vegetation in water, you suppose to your self whether it is actually potential or are they simply out to get you and make you kill all of your pretty orchids?
Orchid water tradition is a really unusual observe. Most horticulturists could not agree that it really works however there are reported instances the place rising them in water has been made potential. Whether or not it’s the nation or space that they dwell in with particular situations or one other matter unknown to man that makes it potential for them to develop these particular vegetation in water; nonetheless, rising them in water has labored for them.
It’s not really useful that you just develop your orchids in water if there’s nothing flawed together with your particular vegetation or in case your they’re wholesome and doing effectively in their very own respective potting mediums. The rising orchids in water instances that had been reported had been unhealthy and dying vegetation. Because of hopelessness of the case and a courageous try to save lots of these effectively liked vegetation, the orchid grower experimented to place the them in water and see if they may survive.
Water Remedy For Sick Orchids
In case you discover that there aren’t any extra choices out there on your lovely however unwell orchids then water tradition is the final resort to save lots of them, that is how others have performed it:
- Clear up the lifeless roots (minimize them utilizing sterilized scissors so they will not rot and have an effect on the remainder of the plant whereas in water.)
- Place your orchid in a container that’s stuffed with water
- Ensure that solely the bottom of the plant is touching the water and never the remainder of the plant in order that it doesn’t induce rot
- Add water each few days when it has evaporated or change the water each different week when the water turns into unclear
- When the brand new roots develop lengthy sufficient to be just a few centimeters lengthy, repot your orchid
As stated earlier than, water remedy could be the final resort or answer to dying orchids. If you’re on the finish of your rope and have no idea what to do to save lots of your dying valuable orchid, there isn’t any hurt in attempting it.
Two, Four, Six, Eight, Let Your Orchids Propagate: Multiplying Your Orchids
By Steven A. Frowine
In This Topic
- Making more orchids by dividing them
- Separating babies from their parents
- Making more orchids from cuttings
- Producing plants from back bulbs
Because orchids are slower growing than most other plants, the process of multiplying them takes more time. To rear an orchid from seed to bloom can take as long as five to seven years! The other methods I show you in this topic are much quicker, but they’re still not as speedy as reproducing common garden plants. Multiplying your orchids is worth the effort, however, because orchids are valuable plants that will keep growing forever.
Dividing Your Orchids
Dividing orchids is the surest and swiftest way to increase your orchids. This method only works with sympodial-type orchids (ones that grow sideways across the top of the pot like cattleya, shown in Figure 8-1). Just about all the orchids in this topic.
For the cattleya types, you want to have divisions of at least three or four growths (called pseudobulbs). For other types, you can divide them with fewer growths, but for best results, the larger the divisions the better.
You may want to divide your orchid because
The plant has grown too big to handle.
You want to share or trade a piece of the orchid you have with another plant lover.
The rhizomes (creeping stems of the orchid) are growing over each other in a tangled mess.
When cutting the orchid plant, use a very sharp knife or pruners that have been sterilized to prevent disease spread. After you’ve divided the plant.
Figure 8-1: When dividing a cattleya, try to have at least three, if not four, front growths.
Do not divide your orchids when they’re too small or when they don’t have enough growths. The largest divisions with the most pseudobulbs will grow quickest to blooming plants. You’ll always get the best blooming from your orchids when they have multiple divisions or growths.
Dividing a large orchid with many growths can be confusing. Make a drawing of the plant growth pattern on a sheet of paper, and mark where you’ll make your cuts before you start doing it, as shown in Figure 8-2.
Figure 8-2: Making a drawing showing how a large orchid will be divided helps simplify the process.
Giving Babies a New Home
The Hawaiian name for baby is keiki. Interestingly, the orchid crowd adopted this name to refer to a baby plant, especially one that sprouts on the stem of a mature orchid.
Some plants, like the phalaenopsis, sometimes produce babies on the flower stem (see Figure 8-3). When this happens, leave these young plants on the flower stem until they’ve developed several roots a few inches long.
Figure 8-3: An orchid “baby,” or keiki, being removed from the mother plant and then potted.
When an orchid grows very tall and has extending roots from its stem, you can create more plants by cutting out the top several inches of the orchid stem that contains the roots and potting it (this is known as topping an orchid). The bottom half of the plant will then usually form baby plants that will sprout along the stem. These babies can eventually be cut off and planted. Figure 8-4 illustrates the three steps of topping an orchid:
1. Remove the top portion of the stem, allowing ample roots.
2. Pot the portion you’ve just removed.
3. Leave the mother plant in its original container and wait for the baby plants to sprout from its stem.
Figure 8-4: The three stages of topping an orchid.
Producing New Plants from Cuttings
Some orchids have canes, or long stems, that you can cut up into pieces called cuttings. Here’s how this works (see Figure 8-5):
1. Cut off one of the long stems or canes with sharp, clean pruners.
2. With a sharp, sterile knife, cut sections of the cane so that each section contains at least two nodes (the regions of the stems where the leaves used to be attached).
Nodes are marked by circular scars around the stems.
3. Lay the cut stems or canes horizontally, half-buried, on a bed of damp sand or sphagnum moss in a shallow container.
4. Cover the container with glass or plastic wrap to hold in the moisture.
5. Place the container in a warm (70-75°F/21-24°C) area where it will get diffused but not direct sunlight.
About 6 inches under a two-tube fluorescent fixture would be ideal. In a few months, small plants will sprout.
Figure 8-5: Producing more orchids from stem or cane cuttings.
Growing Orchids from Back Bulbs
After some types of orchids, like cymbidiums and oncidiums, bloom, their older stems, called backbulbs, eventually lose their leaves and become lifeless looking. If you leave them in the pot, they probably won’t ever produce new growth. If, however, you remove them from the main plant and handle them in a special manner, they can produce new young plants.
Here are the steps to follow (see Figure 8-6):
1. Cut off from the mother plant the older back bulbs that no longer have leaves.
2. Put a 2-inch (5-cm) layer of damp sphagnum moss in a plastic bag.
3. Place several of the backbulbs with their bottoms about one-fourth buried in sphagnum moss in the plastic bag and seal it.
Put this bag in a warm (70-75°F/21-24°C) spot that receives bright diffused light, not direct sunlight. In about two months, you should start to see some new growth.
4. When the leaves are a few inches long, place the young plants as a group in a shallow container in diffused light.
Let them grow for several months. Then transplant them into their own pots.
Figure 8-6: Growing new orchids from backbulbs.
Growing orchids from seeds: Leave it to the pros
Raising orchids from seeds is not a simple task. In fact, it’s quite complicated — and it wasn’t until the 1920s that the professionals figured it out. The biggest problem is that the orchid seeds are naked, which means they don’t have their own food source like most other plants. As a result, to successfully grow them, you have to provide them with a nutrient solution along with a special fungus that makes this food available to them.
All this is done in laboratory flasks. The seed is incredibly small — one seed can weight as little as 35 millionths of an ounce! They’re so small that a seed pod a few inches across can hold over 100,000 seeds.
Growing orchids from seeds is not something recommended for beginners. Leave raising orchids from seeds to the experts.
If you’re really interested in growing orchids from seeds, you can try a compromise: Get small plants that have already grown for a year or more in shallow containers outside of a lab environment (see the figure). This is a fun and inexpensive way to have some extra orchids to trade or give to friends. If you’re new to this, start with fast-growing types like phalaenopsis. If you’re lucky, you’ll see blooms in a few years.
Is My Orchid Dead? Here are Four Signs That Say It Is
This is no time to be asking “Is my orchid dead?” The season of life (spring) is almost here. If you’re waiting for your orchid to come back, it’s very likely it will— unless it’s showing these four signs.
Orchid flowers are beautiful when your plant is finished blooming. But this time of year it can be tough to tell if your orchid is just resting or dead. While orchids are easy-to-care for plants, they do have ways to tell you that it’s time for a replacement.
Here are the four signs you should be looking for.
Is My Orchid Dead? 4 Telltale Signs
It Has No Roots
Healthy roots mean a healthy orchid. While it might seem odd that an orchid would have no roots, this can occur if your orchid has been overwatered.
Overwatering can lead to root rot, which if severe enough could damage most or all of your orchid plant’s roots.
Root rot makes roots appear brown and mushy, and because nutrients are delivered to the plant via its root system, having no roots is almost certainly a death sentence for a plant. When inspecting your orchid’s roots, remember healthy orchid roots should be plump, green and firm.
While most cases of root rot are fixable, if your root rot is extensive enough that all of the plant’s roots have turned brown and there are no healthy green areas left, it may be time to discard the plant. Another sign your plant’s roots are unsalvageable is if the area that connects the roots and leaves is mushy.
The Crown is Rotten:
Check the center of your plant. Is it discolored or brown? Or is the base of its leaves discolored and mushy looking? If so, you may have a case of crown rot. In nature, Phalaenopsis orchids are exposed to moving air, and because they’re placed in pots for home decorating, they’re more susceptible to crown and root rot.
Rot can spread quickly and it is possible to not notice your plant is suffering from it until its leaves have turned yellow or black.
It’s Not Producing Viable Buds
Bud blast is a common affliction for Phalaenopsis orchids. It causes the flower buds to wither and fall from an otherwise healthy-looking plant. And while there are several reasons behind bud blast, sometimes an orchid has a genetic mutation and it cannot produce viable blooms.
It Has a Severe Mealybug Infestation
Mealybugs are annoying pests that feed on an orchid. Though an infestation can be eradicated using rubbing alcohol, insecticides or horticultural soap, there are times when the infestation is so severe the plant should be destroyed. If you notice signs of decline like unhealthy-looking leaves, buds or stem, and you’re unable to control or eliminate the infection, you should consider disposing of the plant.
Thankfully, Phalaenopsis orchids can endure a variety of ailments and still come out looking beautiful. But if you notice any of the above signs or your orchid isn’t recovering from an infestation or case of rot, you may want to consider replacing it with a new, healthy orchid.
Help Saving a Phalaenopsis Orchid with severe root rot
Curlgirl’s advice about not planting until you have done any painting, repair, or roofing is spot on. I know it’s difficult to wait (it was 5 years of waiting for me after we bought our old house) but it is well worth it to avoid damage. Are you aware that there is a perennials forum, a Shrubs forum, a New England Gardening forum, and a Landscape Design forum all over on the Garden Web side of things? You can get both plant and design advice there as well as here. I would find it useful to have you go and stand out by the street (or property line if this is a side entry) about opposite the main door and take one photo head on, one of what you see when pivoting to the right (with a bit of overlap with the center photo), and one of what you see when pivoting to the left (with overlap) to give an idea of the whole view and how the dooryard fits into it. Currently I am not sure of the fence style and why it will be put there. Does it turn the corner and run parallel to the front of the house? Does it have a functional purpose or is it there for ornament? Would you consider one on the left side as well? Gardenmaid has given you a good list of plants that will be happy in zone 6 MA in part shade. Climbing Hydrangea is probably too big for that spot (it’s a narrow chimney) since it needs a substantial support like a large wall, other masonry surface, or tree trunk since it can grow 30′ or 40′ and more than 10′ wide given a surface to cling to. You don’t want it growing on your wooden clapboards as it will damage them. However, there are three species of Hydrangea shrubs that will do well in part-day or bright shade: H.quercifolia AKA oak leaf hydrangea, H. arborescens (Annabelle, Incrediball among others) and H. macrophylla AKA big leafed hydrangea as well as the quite similar H. serrata. H. arborescens is hardy to zone 3, but will sucker some and need annual removal of suckers to keep it in bounds. Here’s my Annabelle after letting her get out of control. Blooms start some time in June and continue all summer and into the fall. For the big-leafed hydrangeas (both macrophylla and serrata), be sure to get ones that are reblooming so that if a late frost or especially cold winter kills back the buds that you will still get summer bloom. There are lots of reblooming varieties available, both mopheads like the ‘Let’s Dance’ series ‘Forever and Ever’ series and lacecaps like ‘Tough Stuff’. They don’t sucker. Oak-leaf hydrangeas don’t grow around me, but should be fine for you. Ask on the Hydrangea forum or the shrubs forum for more info. Some other perennials to look at: Leucosceptrum ‘Gold Angel’ has gold to chartreuse foliage and is 2 1/2′ tall with flowers that are small, so the foliage is the real ornament Solomon’s seal is a slowly spreading arching foliage plant that has different heights depending on species and some variegated types lady’s mantle AKA Alchemilla, has different species that are different sizes, but all relatively low Cimicifuga (now changed to Actea) racemosa AKA bugbane can have maroon or red leaves and has tall wands of white or pink flowers Astilbe has ferny leaves and feathery flowers in shades or red, pink or white Coral bells (Heuchera) and foamy bells (Tiarella) and their cross Heucherella all have ornamental leaves and foamy spring flowers. Iris crestata AKA crested iris which is a short-statured spring bloomer with white or blue flowers Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’, a groundcover that has bright blue flowers and is an easy going plant that rambles around without overwhelming its neighbors Digitalis AKA foxglove is a self-seeding biennial or short-lived perennial with tall spires of pink or white flowers. In the sunnier spots, you might try a clematis on a trellis. Look for lists online of shade-tolerant clematis, though they will want at least 4 hours of sun. Hellebores are a very early spring bloomer. Other shrubs: Microbiota decussata AKA Siberian cypress or Russian arborvitae is about the only evergreen you can get to grow well in shade other than broad-leafed evergreens like rhododendrons and mountain laurels. It stays low and gets wide, looking a bit like a spreading juniper. How were the yews growing? If they were dense and full, you may have more light than you think. Rhododendrons are a great choice, and most of New England has perfect soil for it. See what is available at local nurseries and be sure to pay attention to size of the variety since they can get huge (20′ x 15′), though many stay small. Nursery tags may give size at 5 or 10 years, so look them up in a reputable source such as a botanical garden’s website or Rhododendron.org’s plant database. Mountain Laurel are another great part shade evergreen with spring flowers in shades ranging from white through reddish pink. Witch hazel (Hamamelis intermedia) is a great early spring bloomer (Feb.-March) that will grow to a very large shrub if you have room. I really like the generous depth of the beds you currently have. When planting, you want to space plants so that you leave a foot or two between the plants’ ultimate size and the house so you can get in for painting, cleaning windows, and other maintenance without stepping on plants or having to prune them severely. Have some plants that occur in generous swaths or that repeat several times along the length of the bed as that will make it look more pulled together. Visit lots of garden centers and resources like the Arnold Arboretum or the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Look for gardens you like that have similar shade conditions and ask the owners or take photos of plants and post on the Name that Plant forum to get them ID’ed. Here’s a link to some photos I took of a MA zone 6 garden that has largely shade. The photos are all of New England gardens, but my post of Marie’s garden is on July 26, most of the way down the page. If you want good nursery suggestions, ask on the New England forum.
Water Beads for Plants
You’ve probably seen these crystal water beads in flower vases at wedding receptions. But did you know…they’re also a fun and easy way to grow many house plants?
Plants don’t actually need potting mix to grow. They merely require water, air and a source of nutrients for their roots. These water gel beads provide the air and water — all while giving the plant a creative new look.
These beads are an inert medium, made of water-absorbing polymer gel. Dried crystals are tiny, then swell up as they absorb water. An ideal replacement for potting mix, this “crystal soil” helps to maintain moisture for house plants, by releasing water to the plant as needed.
Why grow house plants without soil? Here are a few advantages:
- If you — or anyone in your family — has allergies, you’ll eliminate fungus (mold) irritations by going soilless. And you can say goodbye to those pesky fungus gnats that like to hide in soggy potting mixes.
- You’ll water less often because the beads release water slowly as plants need it. Hydroculture also takes away the risk of over- or under-watering your plants.
- Root rot is not a threat because the water-soaked beads allow a little air between them. Also, any standing water is easy to pour off.
- Nutrients are supplied through the water with water-soluble fertilizer. That means your plants can grow more foliage rather than putting energy into growing roots.
How to Use Water Beads
Put the dried gel crystals into a large bowl and cover them with water. Add more water as needed, allowing them to absorb as much water as possible. This will take several hours. The beads will swell up before they’re ready to use. Drain off any excess water.
Pot your plant like you would in soil, placing the water-soaked beads on the bottom of the container, positioning the plant roots over it, then surrounding the roots with more beads. You don’t need to fill a vase to the top with beads; try to keep the top of the plant above “soil line” as it was before.
Do not put water beads under a grow light or in direct sunlight because heat will damage them. It’s a good idea to choose plants that prefer indirect light. Some good candidates are arrowhead plant, Chinese evergreen and lucky bamboo.
I’m back! I know, it’s been awhile since my last post (as usual). My orchids are still adjusting to our new apartment, and though I’ve lost a couple that were doing poorly even before our move, most of them seem to be pretty happy here. I’ve also achieved my first African violet bloom in about two years!
Lately, I’ve been attempting to revive my Mule Ear Oncidium, which I grew mounted on a slab of tree fern for years. After our move I un-mounted it from the slab, which was beginning to disintegrate, and cut off a whole hell of a lot of rotten roots. The plant has put out many new growths over the years but it has never really thrived or bloomed, and it had become clear to me that it was time for a change. I mean, look at the base of this poor thing:
Not to quote our president, but…Sad!
A reader named Lois recently commented that sometimes growing a sick orchid bare root and misting it can help, so after I cut the rotten roots off of this plant I decided to try the bare root-and-mist method. Though the orchid is in pretty dire shape, you can see in the above photo that it now has a few roots beginning to grow off of some tiny new pseudobulbs. So that’s promising! (Thanks, Lois!)
Then this week, I remembered something that a commenter on my Facebook page brought up: water culture for orchids (thanks, Teresa, for bringing it to my attention!). I started Googling and found a ton of YouTube videos on full water culture (FWC)* for orchids. Seriously, if you search “full water culture orchids” you’ll get about 32,500 results. From what I can tell, a woman named Samantha (see her feed here) has had a lot of success growing her orchids using full water culture, and she’s inspired a lot of others to do the same. She also started the Facebook group (Water Culture Orchids & General Care) that Teresa had mentioned on my page, so I joined it this week to learn more.
So, what exactly is full water culture for orchids? All it is is growing an orchid bare root in a container with a bit of water. That means you won’t use any potting medium! I know, it sounds a little crazy (honestly, my first thought was “that cannot be good for orchids”). But when you think about it, most common household orchids are epiphytes, which are plants that, in the wild, grow attached to tree trunks, logs, rocks, and other natural features. So in the wild, epiphytes grow at least somewhat if not entirely bare root. They don’t usually grow with their roots immersed in water, either, so that’s why I was a little suspicious of FWC. From what I’ve watched and read online, FWC can be good for orchids that have a poor root system by drastically increasing the humidity around the base of the plant. Maintaining a high humidity level can sometimes encourage an orchid to put out new roots (remember the sphag & bag method that I never actually had any luck with?). I can imagine that long term immersion in water might lead to root rot, but it seems like an interesting method to try on orchids that need a little healing.
Bit of a side note: there’s also a growing method called semi-water culture (SWC), which more closely mimics the way orchids grow in the wild. With SWC, you soak the orchid’s bare roots in water for two days, then let it sit bare root for five days. This method is more natural for orchids, but requires more effort on the grower’s part. SWC differs from the semi-hydroponic growing method (I know, SO MANY GROWING METHODS!), another orchid tactic I’ve tried with little success. Do you see a pattern here? 😛
Anyway! After watching a bunch of videos about growing orchids in FWC, I decided to conduct a little experiment on a few of my own orchids and see if it really works! Of course, it made sense to use the Mule Ear Oncidium as my first test subject, because its root system is currently in the toilet (not literally; then it would already be growing in FWC, haha). I washed a clear plastic hummus container and sterilized it with rubbing alcohol, then added a bit of tap water and unceremoniously plopped my horribly depressed orchid into it. Ta-da!
A couple leaves are bleached due to my putting it by a window with too much light. Oops.
One key to growing orchids in water, according to YouTube videos, is not to submerge the plant too much. With a Phalaenopsis, you should only add water to the container up to the base of the plant—you don’t want the water reaching the level of the bottom leaves. Otherwise you will likely cause the leaves to rot. It sounds like some folks have luck merely suspending their plant over a bit of water rather than allowing the roots to soak in water. Whatever you do, you want at least some of the roots to have exposure to oxygen (and air circulation, which is important for orchids no matter your growing method).
I decided to try full water culture on two other orchids that aren’t super happy right now. One of them is the Dendrobium kingianum that I bought during the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden a couple years ago. This lovely orchid was doing so well for some time after I brought it home, but it has deteriorated.
Most of the roots you see were hollow and rotten.
As I found out yesterday when I unpotted it, it barely has any viable roots left. There are a few tiny new growths with some nice new roots coming out of them, so that’s good, at least.
This orchid definitely seems like a good candidate for a water culture revival!
The third orchid I selected for my water culture experiment is a NOID Phal that has also gone downhill over the years, though it actually has a few decent roots left:
Here’s the Phal in a glass vase with water.
A few additional details I’ve read regarding FWC maintenance:
- • Add water as needed to maintain the starting level.
- • If the water starts to get murky or green, wash the container, rise the roots, then add fresh water.
- • Hard water is not recommended! Soft water is better.
- • Fertilize lightly once or twice a week by mixing a very weak orchid food, letting the plant soak in it for 10-15 minutes, then changing out the fertilizer water with fresh water.
From what I’ve read, it can take months for an orchid to adjust to FWC and start putting out new roots, so patience is paramount. I’ve only just placed these three orchids in FWC in the past 24 hours, but I’ll update you on their progress here (also on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter)!
*Another term for this growing method is orchid hydroponics.
Update on Full Water Culture Experiment
Mid-may, I started an experiment with Full Water Culture and keeping phals in only water. It’s been an incredible success – just look at how many roots are popping out and you can see the growth of the leaf with a hole in it – it’s a full leaf now. Here’s the before – you can see the newest leaf that I accidentally stabbed a hole in is completely and fully grown in the new album… with a new leaf popping out from the crown.
Roots were in poor shape and I was snipping off papery, flaky, mushy roots almost every week. Only 3-4 original roots stayed firm and those were the ones that started sprouting new roots from the bottom. The majority, I snipped off as soon as they got mushy. I cleaned it/snipped something at least once a week. In the first two-three weeks, I changed the water twice weekly – basically when it gets a little cloudy from the organic matter breakdown. Now I only change it once a week and I’ve been soaking it in fert/kelp extract that I water my other plants with for about 30 mins – hour when I water my orchids on the weekend.
About 90% of the roots you see in the album are NEW ROOTS. The dark green ones are old. ROOT PORN!!
FWC does not mean fully submerging the entire root system, just about 1/4 – 1/3 of the roots in water. Just look at this absolutely insane root development in about a month and a half! It definitely needs a larger bowl (I’m cheap) but very easy to care for and was the only orchid that did not require attention when I went back home to California for a week.
Totally loving this FWC concept and hoping that more people get onto this trend. I think oncs and phals would be great for trying FWC.