How to Care for Orchids – Watering Orchids and Damping

how to care for orchids

How to Care for Orchids –

Watering Orchids

The watering orchids procedure is perhaps the most difficult cultivation procedure for the beginner orchid grower to understand. Judgement and care is required. This applies to any house pot plant anyway, but orchid plants do have their special requirements. A carefully watered orchid collection can be left unattended for a short period of time with no ill effect, provided you look after their ventilation and shade provision. Although other plants left for the same amount of time, would not be able to cope with the lack of water, this is one of the many advantages with growing orchids.

Rain-water is always preferable to tap water and a tank to receive this, placed in your orchid house will ensure that the water temperature will be near to that of the house in cold weather. Mains water, if it is non-alkaline, can be used in some areas. Cold water shouldn’t ever be used. Water well when watering at all; sufficient should be given to wet the whole of the compost. Never water a wet plant. The timing between waterings will depend on many factors such as the type of orchid, the weather and the temperature.

Overwatering is without doubt the main cause of unsuccessful cultivation, the waterlogged compost excludes the air that is so important to the roots of the orchid plant. Many beginner orchid growers take this advice to the extreme and let their plants become tinder dry. This can be equally disastrous, except when the type of orchid requires a hard dry rest to encourage flowering. This rest is given during the winter.

If drainage is correctly provided and the compost is not too tightly packed and hence of the right, porosity, there is less danger of overwatering. Perhaps the main cause of damage is too watering the orchid plants too frequently. This applies especially when the plants are not in full growth, either early or late in the season and in the winter and also in dull weather when drying out of the compost is not so pronounced.

how to care for orchids - watering orchids Each plant should be treated as an individual. All of one type may not need the same treatment, but it is an advantage to stage their growth, together, when one can be compared to another, thereby gaining experience. A watering-can with a fine spout is perfect for this purpose as the amount of water can easily be controlled when watering plants on the benches in the greenhouse. Orchid plants in hanging pots tend to dry out and those in baskets even more so, as they are close to the glass walls of the greenhouse. They should be immersed in a bucket of water to just over the rim of the pot.

A well-established plant with a healthy active root system and good drainage in its pot will require liberal watering throughout its growing season. Recently repotted orchid plants require much less water and are best grouped together at the shadier end of the orchid house. Signs that they need water are not always easy to observe, but if there is any doubt, it is best not to water the plant until the following day or until the next regular watering time. Live sphagnum moss on the compost surface becomes yellowish when dry and this can be used as a guide that water is required.

Lifting the pots (a wet one is obviously heavier than a dry one) does give some indication, especially if this is coupled with feeling the texture of the compost. Another test sometimes used is to pour a small quantity of water on to the compost and if this is soaked up readily, the orchid plant will require no further water. A practice sometimes used for testing other plants in loam compost is to tap their pots, however this is not recommended, as it is both deceptive and unreliable.

How to Care for Orchids – Damping

Damping is the process of spraying the floors, walls and stages of the orchid house in order to increase the atmospheric humidity which is so essential for the continued health of the orchid plants. Greenhouses vary considerably, one can be naturally dry whilst another can be naturally moist, but as a general rule, damping should be done between two to three times each day according to the time of the year and the weather. More damping would be necessary on hot dry days and none at all on the coldest days.

Damping is best carried out just as the temperature starts to rise, but not when it is falling. Ordinary tap water can be used for this purpose, so as to conserve rain water supplies. Special care and attention is required in the autumn during particularly dull mild spells when little heating is being used; note that the atmosphere can become excessively moist at these times. During winter months, the greenhouse atmosphere will often become dry due to the greater heat being provided. Damping should then be increased slightly but only if the temperature is to be maintained, as any marked decrease in temperature would result in over-moist conditions.

22. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Orchids, Plants & Trees | Tags: , , | Comments Off on How to Care for Orchids – Watering Orchids and Damping


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