Basic Orchid Care

Watering your Orchid

Most orchids need their roots thoroughly soaked about once per week, allowing the roots to dry in between.

Watering in a semi-hydroponic system

As part of the semi-hydroponic system, we use special containers.  Holes are drilled at approximately 1″ from the bottom.  These prevent overwatering of your orchid as the excess will drain out.  This reservoir should be filled by pouring weakly fertilized water from the top until the level reaches the holes.  This should provide enough water and nutrients to feed the plant for approximately a week.  Make sure that there are no signs of moisture in the container before refilling.



Watering in a traditional orchid pine bark mix or sphagnum moss

Watering for traditional orchid mixes can be tricky.  There are several important factors:

  • Orchid pots should have plenty of drain and air flow holes.  Water from the top until the entire root structure is completely saturated.
  • If watered properly, organic mixes will eventually break down or compress, which will not allow your orchid’s roots to breathe.  It is recommended to remove all old mix and replace it with fresh mix every one to two years.
  • Orchid fertilizer can be applied according to the manufacturer’s directions, either a weak solution at each watering, or a full dose once per month.


There are many successful ways to grow an orchid.  We choose the semi-hydroponic system because we find it easier to water and maintain, and it is less disruptive to the orchids.

Further reading:

Fertilizing your Orchid

Because orchids are not grown in soil, there are nutrients and minerals they are not exposed to.  Fertilizer is an important part of making sure your orchid thrives and blooms.  We use Michigan State University Orchid Fertilizer and have had excellent results over a long period of time.  It comes in two varieties.  Because our greenhouse collects rainwater, we use the RO/Pure Water formula.





Fertilizer instructions for use in semi-hydroponic system:

Mix 1/4 teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of water.  Use this solution for weekly filling of reservoir in the container.

Light Requirements

For almost every orchid genre, the light requirement is “as much as your plant can handle until it burns”.  As with all flowers, the correct amount of light governs the number and size of blooms, as well as color intensity.  In most cases, your leaves will tell you what you need to know:

  • A pale, light green color usually indicates that your orchid is receiving the most light it can handle
  • Yellowing leaves are a sign of too much light, which can cause black burn spots on the leaves
  • Lush, dark green leaves might look beautiful, but your orchid is telling you it needs more light and may not be getting enough to produce blooms

Further reading: