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How to Water Orchids in Moss — An In-depth Guide

How to Water Orchids in Moss — An In-depth Guide

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Orchids are famous for their elegant, paper-like blooms. Native to the tropics, orchids are epiphytes, which means they grow on top of other plants without draining their hosts of their nutrients. 

Orchids grow off the sides of trees and are therefore potted in either bark chips or moss. These potting mediums mimic orchids’ natural environment and helps ensure their hydration needs are met. 

Orchids can be fairly picky about the amount of water they receive, and their watering needs differ depending on the orchid potting medium they are growing in.

Make sure you inform yourself about how to keep an orchid growing in moss happy before you commit to buying or re-potting an orchid in moss.


How to water orchids in moss

Water orchids growing in moss thoroughly and then allow them to dry out almost completely before re-watering them. To water orchids in moss, you can either submerge their nursery pot in a basin of water, water them from the top, or place ice cubes on top their moss and allow them to melt. 


How much water to give an orchid growing in moss

Do not water orchids growing in moss on a schedule, because how regularly an orchid needs water will change regularly based on the particular temperature and light conditions they are experiencing. 

Insert a finger or wooden skewer into the moss, and if it comes out dry up to approximately the depth of a knuckle, it is time for a thorough re-water.  

As a rule of thumb, it is better to underwater orchids than to overwater them. This will prevent you from having to try to save an orchid with rotten roots

Orchids can last for several weeks with no water, and orchids will wilt as the result of underwatering only once they have been severely neglected.  

That said, do not mistake symptoms of underwatering with those of overwatering! Orchids will also wilt when they have been overwatered and have developed orchid root rot as a result. 

An orchid growing in sphagnum moss generally needs a little bit less water than an orchid growing in bark, for the simple reason that moss retains water for longer than orchid bark does. 

If you have previously grown orchids in bark, beware that you will need to adjust your watering habits when growing orchids in moss.


What time of day to water orchids 

Water your orchids first thing in the morning. Doing this prevents water from sitting between the orchid stems and leaves for a long time, something that can cause rot. 

To be on the safe side, you can gently wipe down the leaves of your plant with a dry cloth after watering. 

Watering early in the day also allows some of the dampness at the top of the moss to evaporate over the course of the day, which means the stems of your orchid are less likely to be left sitting in too much water. 


The different methods for watering orchids growing in sphagnum moss

One way to water orchids growing in sphagnum moss is to submerge the plant in its nursery pot into a basin or a sink full of water. 

Allow your orchid’s roots and potting medium to remain in the water for as long as it takes for the moss to absorb enough water, which will usually take about five minutes. 

After this, remove it from the water and allow it to drain out. If you keep your orchid in a decorative pot, you can return it to its decorative pot after an hour. 

Another way to water orchids in moss is to water them from the top. Begin by pouring water slowly, as dry moss is not very absorbent and will likely reject the first few pours of water. 

Once the moss has been sufficiently wet it will start to take in the water more readily. Make sure you give it a good soaking. 

If you are watering your orchid in moss from the top in its decorative pot, drain the decorative pot of any excess water half an hour after watering. 

Alternatively, you can water your orchid in the sink and allow it to drain out for half an hour before returning it to its decorative pot. 

A third method for watering orchids in moss is to use ice cubes! 

Once your potting soil has dried out down a knuckle’s depth, place three to four large ice cubes on top of the moss, ideally without letting them touch the stems or leaves of your orchid. 

As the ice cubes melt, they will soak into the moss and rehydrate the potting medium.


What kind of water to give orchids

In their native environment, orchids are watered by the rain. To best recreate an orchid’s natural home, you can collect rainwater and use it to water your plant. 

Rainwater contains nitrogen, which plants love. 

If you are watering your orchid using ice cubes, you can also freeze rainwater and treat your orchid to rainwater ice cubes.

You can also use tap water for any of the three watering methods suggested in this article. It is best, though not strictly necessary, to leave tap water to sit for twenty-four hours or filter it before using it on orchid plants. 

It can be beneficial to gain a better understanding of what the best water for houseplants is before becoming a plant parent to something as picky as an orchid.


Frequently asked questions about watering orchids in moss


Should I mist my orchid if it is growing in moss? 

While many people assume that orchids should be misted because they are a tropical flower and are partial to a good amount of humidity, this is not necessarily true. Misting tends to leave water droplets plants, which can cause orchids to rot. Instead of misting orchids, try using an orchid humidity tray.


Does how much water an orchid in moss needs depend on the pot it is in? 

It is true that orchids grown in moss are highly sensitive to the containers they are in, and the amount of water they need changes as a result. If an orchid is growing in a terracotta pot, this will absorb some of the water from the moss, and your orchid will therefore need to be watered slightly more regularly than one growing in a plastic, glazed or glass pot.